A few months ago I wrote a piece about the sad state of chivalry and dating, and asking women to demand more from us (men). The post centered around the idea that, while men are at fault for not being more chivalrous, as long as women allow them to behave that way and still get what they want (sex, relationships), then nothing will change. It’s not to say that women are solely to blame, but only that they do play a role. If a child repeatedly misbehaves and the parent simply allows it to continue, don’t we blame the parent as much as (or more than) the child? All I wanted to come from my article, was for women to realize that they deserved better treatment from men – but to get it they needed to demand it.
In the wake of the Ray Rice domestic assault (abuse just doesn’t feel harsh enough), I came away feeling even stronger about this sentiment. While Ray Rice’s actions are unjustifiable, egregious, and disgusting – what almost bothers me more is that Janay is so strongly behind him. From the day this situation became public, including yesterday after the video came out, she has been apologizing and standing up for him. The sad part is, this is not abnormal behavior on the part of battered women; in fact it’s actually the norm.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of seeing it.
I’m tired of seeing politician’s wives stand next to them at the podium and say “we’re working through this as a family.” I’m tired of seeing the police show up at the scene of a domestic abuse situation, only to be apologized to and asked to leave by the women who called them in the first place. I’m tired of seeing Janay Rice stand up and defend the actions of a man who calmly and viciously cold cocked her. The men who commit these acts don’t deserve their spouse’s defense or apologies. They deserve to face the consequences of their actions…alone.
Throughout my life I’ve had very close encounters with domestic abuse. From my family being the victim of it at the hands of my stepfather, to dating 2 girls who had come out of abusive relationships. The hardest part for me was trying to understand how these various smart and successful women could allow themselves to stay in relationships like this. I saw these women, including my mother, make excuses for their significant others, take the blame for the abuse that they received. I witnessed these women have their self-worth eroded to the point where they questioned the reason to be alive. Yet, having seen all of this, I can’t help but wonder why women allow themselves to stay in these situations? What has our society done to our women to allow a woman like Janay Rice to sit up in front of microphones and defend Ray Rice?
Is it that she is showing the signs of an abused woman who is starting to believe that she deserved to be knocked out (which she didn’t, and no woman does)? Is it because she loves being married to a wealthy professional athlete and is afraid her cushy lifestyle may be at risk if she comes out against him? If you’ve seen the way some women chase after “ballers” it’s not impossible to believe. Either way, I expect more from Janay, from women in general and society at large. Women can no longer be made to feel at fault, or powerless, or like the law will go against them. They need to have the strength and support to hold the men who commit these acts fully responsible for their behavior. I’m just so tired of seeing women either unwilling or unable to walk away. It’s one of the saddest things in the world to witness; a person in constant pain and danger, who is unable to simply walk away from the situation.
In my opinion, we’ve reached a point that borders on the civil rights movement in the type of action that needs to be taken. Women need to stand united as a gender and say no more. We will no longer stand by our cheating politician or abusive athlete husbands. We will no longer be afraid to report a physical/sexual crime against us. We refuse to allow ourselves to be devalued anymore. They need to demand this of themselves and bind together to support each other.
None of this is to say that women are at fault, in anyway, for the atrocities inflicted upon them initially. Us Men need to start treating our women better. In all areas of life, and in all meanings of the word. We need to fuck the “bro code” more, and start worrying about what is right and what is wrong. However, women need to also step up and stop enabling the negative behavior from continuing.
This isn’t about physically standing up as much as it’s about emotionally standing up. You have to start valuing yourselves higher. You can’t allow men to disrespect you by treating you like a prize that’s to be won and then discarded. You can’t disrespect yourself by latching onto men with power, money or looks – just for those shallow reasons alone. And you must do a better job of building each other up, to be able to handle such situations.
In the end, Janay Rice shouldn’t be alone in defending Ray’s actions… she would be surrounded by other strong women (and men) who are building her up to have the strength to walk away.
One small footnote. While I do believe that everyone deserves second chances, no matter how heinous the crime, I think the NFL handled this situation completely and utterly incorrectly. The idea that Ray Rice was only cut because of the social media outcry after the video became public is ridiculous. If they even slightly knew what really happened in that elevator, that type of cold cruelty on his part, should have demanded an immediate suspension. However, it’s not until the public calls for his head that anything happens. It’s no different than the NBA turning a blind eye to Donald Sterling’s well known racist beliefs… you know, until TMZ got a hold of his voice on an audio recorder. It is exactly this lack of moral fortitude that lead’s women to feel powerless. Why report a crime or incident if it’s so easy to just sweep it under the rug? But hey, that would require someone being proactive rather than reactive; and that’s apparently much too much to ask.