I hold the unpopular opinion that people are solely responsible for their actions as individuals. Let’s use the Ray Rice case as an example. Unless you live under a rock, and I just may want to join you there, then you have seen the video, played and re-played ad nauseum, of Ray Rice and his then-fiance, Janay, in an elevator. Spoiler alert: Janay ends up unconscious after moving toward Ray, and Ray hitting her.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: I don’t condone Ray Rice hitting Janay. I also don’t condone Janay hitting Ray (which is captured on the video but is glossed over and brushed aside, presumably because she is just a girl and can’t actually inflict any damage, right?) I oppose violence of any kind in any relationship.
When Janay decided to marry Ray Rice one day after his indictment, she essentially announced that she accepts his behavior and the parameters of their relationship. I personally would find those parameters unacceptable. She evidently did not. Her choice, her prerogative, but in doing so, she can hardly be considered a hapless victim.
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Anyone remember that catchy little saying? How about “You teach others how to treat you”?
Already I hear the screeching cries of victim-blaming, but “Why did you stay?” is a valid question. Very few people fall into the category of completely trapped and incapable of ending a relationship. Feeding a victim mentality and pretending everyone in an unhealthy relationship is a cringing, helpless weakling absolutely incapable of changing his or her circumstances is not productive or realistic.
Attacking the NFL is barking up the wrong tree. If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was fired tomorrow, and if the NFL collapsed and ceased to exist, would domestic violence miraculously screech to a halt?
What if women and men were held equally accountable for violent behavior? What if little boys and girls were taught “Don’t hit anyone” instead of simply “Don’t hit a girl”? What if female sexuality and violence were not enmeshed and served up together as juicy entertainment? What if all boys and all girls learned to be independent and bold, self-respecting and respectful of others?
I have never been involved in a violent relationship. That is not a coincidence or sheer luck. I have not narrowly escaped an inevitable female fate by the sheer skin of my teeth. Rather, it is a conscious and deliberate set of circumstances, because I value myself and made a purposeful decision that there are certain behaviors and attitudes I will not accept, and that is non-negotiable. Is it a luxury or mere luck that I put serious thought into my standards and stick to them? Hardly.
I could go on. It doesn’t matter, though, because the witch hunt against the NFL has already begun, and lord knows lemmings love to leap mindlessly and thoughtlessly onto the newest bandwagon. It is taboo to question why people tolerate certain behaviors against themselves, even though that dialogue could benefit the very people we ask. We claim to be horrified if a man hits a woman, yet we pay dearly for “entertainment” that reduces women to mere objects, and we shred a man to bits if he doesn’t project the socially acceptable level of testerone-laden macho-ness we crave and demand.
Domestic violence is undeniably a loathsome problem in our society. It’s not going anywhere, any time soon. Vilifying the NFL is nothing but a convenient smokescreen preventing anyone from having to make real changes to work toward much-needed and long-overdue societal improvements. Why don’t we just march on with an indignant air, pantomiming the motions of giving a damn while clutching stubbornly to attitudes and expectations that perpetually and maddeningly feed the problem? You know…the way we always have.