A grown man approaches his elderly mother and punches her in the face. He grabs his sister by the throat and chokes her. He kicks his daughter in the stomach. Then he goes out for a night with the guys.
Shocking! Disgusting! Of course. Abuse of any kind is wrong. I wonder though: Why would men who probably wouldn’t think of punching or kicking their own mothers appear to have no problem leveling their wives or girlfriends? How can a man who holds his young daughter in his arms turn around and take a swipe at the mother of his child? It just doesn’t make sense. We watch Ray Rice cold cock his wife into unconsciousness and drag her limp body from an elevator like a sack of potatoes with disbelief. Why would a man do this? How would Rice react if someone did that to a sister or to his daughter one day?
Janay Rice, you may be a loyal Baltimore Ravens fan and named your young daughter Rayven, but don’t take one for the team. You may believe you are financially dependent on your husband and can’t walk away from your marriage, but you should not take the abuse or make apologies. If he takes a hand to you will he do the same one day to your daughter?
We are mothers and daughters, sisters and wives. We are nurturers and givers, often too selfless and generous in our love. What we are not intended to be are human punching bags, target practice or objects of ridicule. Until men learn to use their voices against domestic abuse and not their fists against their wives or girlfriends, we will continue to hear these stories. Another women will be victimized or worse, murdered. Women will continue speak out in protest, but men’s voices in support aren’t nearly loud enough.
I also think there are some double standards among those who have the ability to take action and speak out. A black sports hero pummels his wife and I don’t see Al Sharpton and his convoy stepping up for some sound bites, but he’s front and center to rally support against violence when a white policeman attacks a black man. Where are the organized marches against the abuse of women? Are we too gender blind?
Sports analysts discuss how recent stories of spouse and child abuse among players are giving the N.F.L. franchise a black eye. It’s the victims who are receiving the black eyes who matter. The N.F.L. franchise will still prosper; football is a national past time. No one is turning off the television to miss a game.
What we are missing is an opportunity to educate. I’d like to see the N.F. L. redistribute Ray Rice’s salary to create a public service campaign against domestic abuse. I’d like to see all the money plowed into television advertising for an N.F.L. line of sportswear jerseys for women into an educational program to help women who are victims of domestic abuse. The N.F.L. has the voice and the audience of so many men in this country. Think of the impact it could make.
That’s taking one for the team.