Thursday, September 11, 2014

Some Questions About Domestic Abuse and The Whole Ray Rice Thing

I don't follow sports. Wally keeps me updated on the interesting stuff, and I never hesitate to share my amateur, detached, layman's opinion, usually very strongly. 

Which might be the case here. 

But please help me sort out this Ray and Janay Rice thing*, because right now, it feels like the NFL is unsuccessfully chasing down public opinion, attempting to placate a crowd that can't make up its mind and likes drama for the sake of drama. It feels like middle school. Or election season. 


Picture Source

Are women a weaker sex? Is it men's job to protect them?

If the answer is "Yes, and therefore, men should never hit women," then why is the Ray Rice assault just now becoming an issue? Why would we even need to see video footage to demand justice? Ray Rice told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell back in June that he hit Janay, and we all saw the video footage of him dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator. 

When Goodell acknowledged the initial 2-game suspension wasn't sufficient, NFL policy changed to penalize domestic abuse with a 6-game suspension, and everyone seemed okay with that (at the time). Now we see new footage of the same event, and act shocked that he actually hit her. 

Where was the public outcry back in June or July, when this was all over the media? Why is Ray Rice just now being terminated from the team? Why is the National Organization of Women just now petitioning for Roger Goodell's resignation? Why should seeing a video of an event we know occurred make any difference? Unless we all got it wrong in the first place -- not just Roger Goodell, and not just the NFL. And shame on us for needing a video to realize how awful domestic abuse is.

But back to the question -- Are women a weaker sex? And is it men's job to protect them?

If the answer is "No, we're all equals, and men don't have an innate obligation to defer to women," then should it be taken into consideration that Janay Palmer allegedly hit Ray Rice first? Should this be a case of disorderly conduct or fighting in public instead? Should they both be charged with assault? Or just the person who's not as beaten up? 

Be assured, I'm not advocating domestic abuse here. I just wonder where the line is between two people getting in a fight, and domestic abuse. 

- Is it dependent on one person being physically larger than the other? 
- Or one person having a more powerful weapon? 
- Or is it dependent on the moment when the fight turns from verbal abuse to physical abuse (whoever throws the first punch)? 
- What if they're both sized equally, and the fight looks fair? Would it still be more the man's fault? 

That an intimate relationship even reaches the point of physical violence is tragic. But I don't think domestic abuse is as simple as media and public opinion are treating it. Things usually escalate through stress, disrespect, resentment, anger, verbal abuse through to physical abuse. And I don't think it's a men-versus-women issue. I think it's a people issue. 

I'm not advocating that victims of abuse stay in an abusive relationship. In fact, I think anyone who's even in a disrespectful friendship should just walk away, if it can't be repaired. Oftentimes, children are involved, and I'll clarify in advance that never in any circumstance would I think child abuse is explainable or acceptable. Child abuse is never a fight between equals that got out of hand. I'm glad we have shelters available for domestic abuse victims, in particular the children who are caught in the middle. 

I don't know what happened between Ray and Janay that night. I don't know them. I don't know their relationship. They haven't asked for my help or my opinion. For now, they've asked for privacy. 

So for now, can we back out of their business, back off the public opinion ping-pong game we've been playing with the NFL, and just wait patiently together for the next big social media scandal? I'm sure it won't disappoint. 


Post from Janay Rice in response to the release of the elevator video in September, and the public outcry that followed.
Picture Source

*Last February, Ray Rice got in a fight with his then-fiance, Janay Palmer, and punched her unconscious in a casino elevator. In July, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave Rice 2 games suspension. It made the news, everyone was upset that domestic abuse was obviously less an issue to the NFL than substance abuse (myself included), which carries a 4 game suspension, and come August, the NFL increased the penalty for domestic abuse to a 6-game suspension. Things calmed down, and football season commenced. In September, the video was released from February of Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer in the elevator. It's a violent clip, people got angry, the NFL terminated Ray Rice from the League, the Baltimore Ravens cut him from the team, and the National Organization of Women is demanding Roger Goodell's resignation. 

No comments:

Post a Comment