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Blame The Victim, Sports Fans: It’s Going To Be An Exciting Season for Misogyny

| September 11, 2014

When they were back on speaking terms.

When they were back on speaking terms.

By Diane Roberts

Sing along to the fight song; holler with the crowd; watch the ESPN cameraman get a shot up that cheerleader’s skirt; and smell the testosterone on the grill — it’s football season, that special time of year when men are men, and women, er, are not.

I’m here to tell you, sports fans, it’s going to be an exciting season for misogyny, both on and off the field.


How ‘bout that Ray Rice! The Baltimore Ravens running back has been “suspended indefinitely” by NFL commissioner and noted feminist Roger Goodell, who originally gave Rice a two-game suspension.

Goodell claims he’s just now seen the whole videotape, including the part where Ray punches his then-fiancée’s lights out. I guess two games seemed about right based on the bit of the video where Ray drags Janay Palmer out of the elevator like a sack of old clothes, leaving her to lie face down in a hotel corridor. Because, you know, no biggie.

There are loads of possible mansplanations: she could have accidentally banged her face on his fist. She could have become possessed by demons. She could have mouthed off and forced him to hit her.

As ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reminded the ladies back in July: “let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.” Girls, quit making dudes mad enough to beat you senseless!

But now that the NFL has gotten to the bottom of this sorry episode, Rice is out, verboten, exiled, suspended indefinitely. That’ll teach football players to stop solving problems with violence, yeah?

Not that Rice is the only football player known to slap the missus around: San Francisco 49er Ray McDonald was arrested for “suspicion of felony domestic abuse” on Sept. 1. Seems he whupped up on his pregnant girlfriend at his 30th birthday party. He’s still playing. Carolina Panther Greg Hardy’s still playing, too, though he was convicted of assaulting an ex-girlfriend in July. His case is on appeal.

Fans are surely appalled. Enraged. Up in arms demanding justice and zero tolerance for domestic violence. We’re all feminists now, aren’t we? Anyone? Mr. Goodell?

Uh, yeah. Well, I listened to NPR’s well-judged Sept. 8 story on Ray Rice, then had a look at the website to read some thoughtful comments. Among the 680-plus, some expressed predictable disgust with Rice and the NFL’s frozen-molasses reaction to domestic violence.

But there were many, many insisting:

  1. She hit him first; he merely defended himself.
  2. She pissed him off — don’t you know you shouldn’t antagonize somebody who weighs 220 pounds and bench presses 450?.
  3. The whole thing is the fault of the women’s rights movement.

I’m not making this up. There were scores of comments along the lines of “She slapped him! He had every right to hit her,” and the bizarre “Don’t start a fight you don’t intend to finish!” Some cited the “domestic violence industry” — obviously somebody profits from getting beaten up.

A guy using the nom d’Internet “Beefmachine” opined that Janay Rice either needs to “work on her right cross or her self-control.”

This was National-freaking Public Radio, y’all. If you want to see worse examples of victim-blaming and punch out-celebrating, check out the comments on ESPN and Sports Illustrated: all knuckle-dragging, lizard-brain, screeching Id.

Remember last season when FSU’s star quarterback Jameis Winston was accused of rape? The young woman was called a prostitute, a slut, a gold-digger. She received death threats and had to withdraw from classes.

Remember when then-Miami Dolphin Jonathan Martin went public with Richie Incognito’s bullying? Players and fans figured it was his fault: Giants safety Antrel Rolle harrumphed, “You’re not a little boy. You’re not a freshman in college. You’re a man. You’re a grown-ass man.”

Others called Martin a “coward,” told him to “man up” and fight Incognito, reminded him that football is “a man’s game” or just cut to the heart of the matter and called him a “pussy.”

To recap: America loves football. Women, maybe not so much. Fighting? Hell, yeah! Talking? What are you, a wuss? Or, even worse, a girl?

As Ray Rice said at his press conference in May — the one where he apologized to everyone except Janay — “Failure is not getting knocked down, it’s not getting back up.”

Diane Roberts lives in Tallahassee. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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27 Responses for “Blame The Victim, Sports Fans: It’s Going To Be An Exciting Season for Misogyny”

  1. Seminole Pride says:

    We all knew Ray Rice actions were inexcusable, and he was given a 2 game suspension. But now it is starting to look like he as well as his wife are the victims. Did it really take a video, to fuel more fire on this unfortunate incident. Ray Rice has been going to counseling and doing exactly what the NFL ask him to do. The real problem is how could a State’s legal system, the largest Sports entity in the world, and that State’s police force try to ignore this, and pretend like nobody knew what the other parties were doing. Complete corruption. I hope the harshest punishment comes down on those that are expected to uphold the laws, and a business that is suppose to operate on morals and integrity, and they should be held accountable and responsible to the highest degree of our laws, just a simple football player with serious behavioral issues.

  2. Merrill says:

    Reading this article in context makes it even more troubling! The context? Our own Congressional Representative Ron Desantis voted a resounding “NO!”on the bill extending the Violence Against Women Act!

  3. Groot says:

    If Ray and Janay are to stay together and they have indicated that they will stay together, then they have a lot of work to do with mental health professionals. In the meantime, we should let the court system do it’s job. Also, no game checks for this family in 2014, so they’re going to feel that in the pocket book. If they successfully complete mental health therapy that the court will require and when Ray has finished his time or fine or whatever the court decides and if there are no incidents for at least 6 months, I think he should be allowed back in the league but not with the Ravens. Now, Goddell, he’s another matter. He may be gone over the cover up and handling of this.

    • Nancy N. says:

      “let the court system do its job” – you mean the system where the head prosecutor personally took over the case to give him a misdemeanor slap on the wrist diversion program that is completely unheard of disposition for that kind of case in that jurisdiction according to the other outraged prosecutors in the office, who are complaining loudly to the media?

      The justice system is unfairly harsh on black men. Unless of course you are rich and can play football. In which case you get a free pass entirely.

  4. Sherry Epley says:

    Thanks Merrill for pointing out the Desantis vote. Ron Desantis, Rick Scott and ALL of his cronies need to go!

    Yes, the underlying culture in the USA that still defines women as 2nd class citizens is very deeply rooted in our history. What we are seeing in the 21st century ingrained culture of the NFL is a terrible and tragic symptom of a historical cancer born of the male domination of our planet.

    A troubling prospective that seems not to be in the headlines is the actual erosion of respect for women and woman’s rights issues in recent history. . . often by conservative factions:

    1. The Equal Rights Amendment – Stopped!

    2. The Right to Equal Pay for Equal Work – Stopped!

    3. The Multiple Attacks and Degradation of Roe vs Wade

    4. Budget Cuts for Support of Families of Single Parents (most often female)

    5. A Welfare System that Motivates Having Children Poor Women Cannot Afford ETC ETC ETC

    Please pay attention to the twisted comments noted in this article. . . unfortunately, not everyone in our country is reasonable and psychologically healthy. We all must be vigilant in supporting women in the USA as well as other countries!

    Violence against women should NEVER be tolerated!

  5. tulip says:

    Big deal, Rice gets no more paychecks for awhile. He has already gotten 22 MILLION of his pay. I think he can “scrape by” on that.

    No matter what the sport, many of these athletes seem to think they are Gods and because they make a lot of money for their particular team, the coaches and administrators overlook bad things the athletes do and seem to think that beating a woman no big deal. Maybe some of these men should be physically beaten up themselves, left defenseless and see how they like it.

  6. Pay Back Time says:

    That woman should have shot him. Assault is an ASSAULT. Payback is what’s missing in this politically correct society. If people would stand up for themselves and PAYBACK the assailants then there would be LESS of this nonsense to waste time reading about. EYE for an EYE !

  7. m&m says:

    NO MAN HAS THE RIGHT TO HIT A WOMAN. If they stay together the next time could be fatal. There will be a next time..

  8. TeddyBallGame says:

    Misandry much?

  9. w.ryan says:

    He slugged her knocking her out. That was really bad but what if she struck him first? He must hold his retaliation because she is a woman? Would her slap be considered abuse? If she is his equal and vice versa and she struck him then why is this incident being magnified to should a level? Shock value? If this is the course of events then he defended himself. The media sides to the path of popular opinion and also sways public opinion. What about Jay-Z and that incident. Jay-Z held remarkable restraint. Boy… if he hit her back! Domestic violence is pervasive in our society and must be addressed. And since the NFL is ripe for the picking why not use these athletes; who bash their heads together and physically abuse themselves for our amusement, as scapegoat instead of the larger mass. Sure they make good money but they sacrificed their entire lives at great expense to get where they are. Mean on the playing field but meek off it. Violence do beget violence.

  10. Sherry Epley says:

    Give me a brake! Yes. . .adult women should have equal rights to men! But that does not mean that it is OK for a 130 lb woman to be cold cocked by a much larger and stronger man. Next are we going to say that children’s rights to not being beat up should only be enforced when the child did not hit first????

    Did anyone see any bruises on Mr. Rice? Did anyone hear him say “she” hit me and hurt me badly? Come On!

  11. Rick says:

    Well go figure. None of these bone headed, unimpressive, athletic abusers don’t happen to surprise me one micro iota. Look at the way they’re pampered & camouflaged in highschools & colleges when they phuck up. It’s completely overlooked & washed under for the big important game. Big fluckin whoop.
    I’m guessing all the broken jaws & ribs that they’ve violently delivered are completely insignificant & pointless in the instructors & coaches eyes. How sad.
    I have personally seen it. Granted this was awhile back, so maybe today it’s different, like with the unicorns flying over Palm Coast.
    Granted, there are many worthy athletes, minus the drugs & abuse so to them, with all due respect, I humbly tip my hat.
    Unfortunately, as in any other group, team or company, it’s always the efdup few that present the destructive reputations.
    Thank You.

    • Richlin Ryan says:

      “Don’t hate the player hate the game” The NFL is a Business built around merchandising male aggression accentuated by scantily dressed cheerleaders( I encourage you to looking to how these women are treated). For years a player was encouraged to execute his opponent with the hardest and most deadly hits, and if you were on the receiving end, take it like a man and walk it off.
      It is only with in the last few years that the nature of the game has taken on a more humanistic nature. New rule and regulations has changed the way both the player and fans see the game. This year we had the first openly gay player drafted. College rules are being challenged. Players head injury is finally being addressed.
      When we know better we should do better. Ray Rice did knock his girlfriend out, and accepted the blame for his part . This is a fact. Raven did hit Ray and accepted her part in accelerating the situation. This is a fact. The police didn’t charge him, the NFL made their ruling, the couple reconciled and decided to keep their family intact. Last I new this was a free country and a women or a man is free to make choices. We may not agree with it, but who are we to judge. Finances played a roll in all choices that were made. I don’t know of any other profession were hitting your spouse could get you indefinitely banned.
      Allow Ray to make a living and support his family. Allow Raven to make the choice to stay and seek counseling, or leave and collect child support and spousal support from a working NFL player. Let the NFL do better in educating and counseling all players about domestic abuse. Just like any other abusive behavior treatment is key for all involved. This heavy handed approach that was taken here punishes the perpetrator and victim alike.
      People take a breath and step back.
      I prefer Ray playing in the NFL, getting treatment and taking care of his family than in jail like millions of other African American men unable to benefit society.

      • Nancy N. says:

        Wow, a little information is a dangerous thing.

        You said the police didn’t charge him. Ray Rice WAS in fact indicted on a felony charge by a grand jury. Until the head prosecutor stepped and gave him a sweetheart deal that let him plea to a misdemeanor and enter a diversion program that will let him avoid jail and have the offense wiped from his record if he meets all conditions of his plea. This deal has been described by the other prosecutors in the office as unprecedented for a case such as this and they are loudly complaining to the media.

        You don’t know of any other profession where hitting your spouse would get you indefinitely banned? If it hadn’t been for him getting the “I’m a famous football player” treatment, he would have been convicted of a felony. There are PLENTY of professions you legally cannot work in with a felony on your record, and many others where it is practically impossible to find a job with such a record.

        Bottom line, the man committed a serious crime that the law says calls for several years in prison. Something tells me you wouldn’t be in such a hurry to have him walking around and not in jail if he were your neighbor, not a millionaire football player.

        Oh and your concern for Ray’s wife in this situation would sound a bit more sincere if you knew her name. It’s Janay, not Raven. The Ravens are the team he plays for…Freudian slip, maybe, about where your concern really lies?

  12. w.ryan says:

    There is no excuse for beating anyone up! If I hit people I expect to be hit back! I question the notion that if there was abusive conduct by one, regardless of sex, should the more muscular person not retaliate in the same instance? I wanted to be an athlete too! I’m not hating them for getting where they are. It’s hard work. Lets talk about other professions that don’t get penalized when they do wrong or beat up on women. Lets’s talk about unarmed men being killed by the authorities and a million dollars collected in defense of the assailant. It always comes down too the easiest to pick on. No one’s excusing abusive men and we shouldn’t but lets be fair as to who gets picked on. Fire him for hitting his wife because the masses saw it unauthorized on television? In their moment of perceived privacy something ugly happened regretfully. Then months later derail their make up and recovery and the lessons learned. This changes their financial world only to emphasize that domestic violence is wrong and to inform her that she is a victim, Well…twice over she is a victim by the media and the righteous do gooders that want to prove their point. Regardless of the punch. her life is changed for good because her husband can’t make another dollar. His professional training vacated changing her children and her financial situation forever! They should both sue TMZ for releasing this video outside of the elevator video’s true intent and purpose.

  13. confidential says:

    This should be greatly resolved by having our beloved and rough around the edges Football Starts of any other sport too, signing a NFL, etc. clause in their contracts (that probably does not exist now) that while under contract they aware/agree under penalty of dismissal/suspension for maybe like 2 years or more if proven/found guilty of crimes as: domestic violence, public substance abuse, physical fights in public or private with injuries and any other crimes deemed by a criminal attorney (as I am not one), as a bad image at least for their minor young fans that follow them an our society civilized behavior. They will sure, be more careful of their actions.

  14. nomad says:

    @w.ryan

    He instigated it by spitting on her, first. She responded by pushing her hand against his chest. He responded with a knock out punch. Clearly he was intent on escalating the conflict knowing he was the victor. He spat on her? Why? So, let me ask you…why do men hit? You sound like you would personally know why….

  15. ted bundy says:

    don’t hit anyone unless you want to be hit…it’s plain and simple..no exceptions PERIOD!!!

  16. Devrie says:

    In terms of equality, we talk about understanding people’s differences so as not to take advantage of those differences. Nobody should “hit” anyone, as it’s a ridiculous way to make a point. That said, if some guy and I were arguing, and he lightly smacked me in the face, and I pulled out a cast iron and whalloped him in the face , injuring him, that would be grounds for some serious legal inquiry. He shouldn’t have smacked me, but it would be more wrong for me to lay him out.

    Yes, people shouldn’t hit. Whether a woman is slapping or using her words, unless she’s injuring someone, she shouldn’t get “put in her place,” and the same holds true for men. If you have the capability of seriously injuring someone, then you shouldn’t someone else’s crappy behavior as an excuse to do that. A man who can do that to a 130 lb woman who isn’t a a fighter or a strong woman is ALWAYS going to win using his might.

    All I know is, in school, I got messed with. One girl shoved me. I shoved her back. We both got suspended. I teach my toddlers that “hitting back” isn’t excusable. Walk away. Tell me. Deal with the situation. It’s even less excusable when one person knows damn well that “hitting back” isn’t some pre-school flutter finger fight, that “hitting back” could put someone in the hospital, bruise her seriously, or knock her out.

  17. w.ryan says:

    Well that’s interesting. Stand your ground laws states that you can retaliate, We just ended a ten year war in retaliation for 911, Some one better tell our politicians the bill should state turn the Other cheek. Fact is this family is being hurt by the media for a mistake they are trying to get past. There is no other reports that states Ray Rice has prior instances of abuse. We all f-up from time to time. But don’t take away my ability to support my family for self indulgence.. Ray Rice is being victimized along with his wife for her second & counting and their family for everyone to make a point about domestic abuse. I don’t see anyone making this kind of a stance for the violence perpetuated on unarmed men of color by law enforcement.

    • Nancy N. says:

      ” I don’t see anyone making this kind of a stance for the violence perpetuated on unarmed men of color by law enforcement.”

      Really? You’ve obviously been off the planet since that little thing happened in Ferguson, MO lately then. Welcome back.

      If you need some more examples, try reading the article on Flagler Live today about the Department of Corrections guards that were just arrested for brutality. Good reading.

  18. Sherry Epley says:

    @ w.ryan “I don’t see anyone making this kind of a stance. . .” remember Flaglerlive published this article just a few days ago: http://flaglerlive.com/70132/police-deadly-force-florida/

    I commented, w.ryan, and so did you! There are those in this community who do speak out against racism and police brutality. AND, we also believe that women and children and men should NEVER be used as punching bags. . . these things are not mutually exclusive!

    Trying to excuse domestic violence by comparing it to war or saying that human are naturally violent is insane! Should be not be striving toward evolution of our species AWAY from the cave and towards civilization? Can we not control our vicious animal instincts?

    THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST ANYONE!

  19. Groot says:

    More worried about the guy who beat his 4 year old child with a tree branch than the guy who beat his fiance. Both are evil, and vile behaviors but one was adult on adult, the other was adult on a small child. I think Ray and Janay can work it out with a lot of therapy, not sure about Adrian. He beat up a 4 year old.

  20. w.ryan says:

    I agree…there’s no excuse for Domestic Violence. But there are underlying reasons that this happens. The problem with the Ray Rice coverage is that Janey is the poster child unwillingly. Then her life is further compromised by changing her financial situation along with her families. She has no choice based on the exploitation over and over by the media and all of the other groups that want to prove their point. She certainly is the victim. But small, weak or otherwise no one should hit another. But if I pick a fight with a bigger person thinking he’s not going to hit me back because he/she is bigger. That’s ridiculous! If you don’t want to get stung by bees you don’t stir the nest. To substantiate this I spoke of “Stand your Ground” and Iraq and how this conflicts with what we preach in contrast with what we do. Strange how even the holy bible is conflicted. I appreciate your stance with Police prosecution but if you follow all of these threads it’s obvious the negative comments with the amount greater is troubling. It’s not new and there has been no fix! It’s also obvious that the focus on athletes and the punishment are far beyond fair and balanced. Adrian Peterson illustrates they are not all right in the head by beating a four year old with a switch not understanding why nuances of his action were wrong. If we want o hold these athletes at such high accord then we should do so to Politicians, Police Officers, Judges, and everyone else that are relevant in a more substantial manner to our society. My heroes are my Mom and Dad and people who’ve done great things. I enjoy being entertained by entertainers and don’t blur he line. As for the underlying reasons for Domestic Violence lets propose counseling instead of making the situation a further bludgeoning experience.

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