As a final word on the Ray Rice case…
After listening to various people comment on the Ray Rice assault, the suspension, the press conference, and the role he played (or lack thereof, depending on one’s perspective), I come away with one impression: people’s take on the assault says something. For me, it speaks to how much they value men AND women.
Saying Ray Rice was provoked suggests that he has no control over his actions. As an athlete, if he can control himself enough to juke a player out of his jockstrap, he can certainly control himself enough to not hit his wife. (Parenthetically, Mrs. Ray Rice wasn’t just hit. She was knocked unconscious. Do you know how hard you have to hit someone to know them unconscious?!) See, I studied psychology, and I have a love-hate relationship with the subject. I know all about theories on controlling emotions and behaviors. Here’s my take – we can control our emotions, but only sometimes. Here’s what I mean (and this is a surface level example, so bear with me) – whenever I arrive late to work, I feel rushed and hurried, and I let that feeling taint what I do, how I do it, and when I do it. But, I could certainly choose to do a mental check-in, and decide not to let my tardiness affect the rest of my day. (It’s positive thinking, or whatever you want to call it.) In the one scenario, my actions (being late) caused my emotional response (rushed). In the other scenario, I gained control of my emotions to put forth a healthier action/behavior.
So even if you go off the notion that Ray Rice was provoked, what does it say about him, that he would resort to hitting his wife (and let me reiterate, Mrs. Ray Rice wasn’t just hit. She was knocked unconscious. Do you know how hard you have to hit someone to know them unconscious?! Sorry, I know that’s overkill!) whenever he’s angry, upset, frustrated, or….(gulp!) provoked! When you use the Ray Rice was provoked argument, it say something about how you see men – that they can beat the crap out of someone if they get angry, upset, frustrated, etc. Wait, I’m sorry, I thought there was never a time or place for a man to hit a woman. (Yes, that’s sarcasm you smell!)
So was Ray Rice really provoked? Or are people justifying his act because Ray Rice is a man, and his wife is a woman. Let me ask this another way – do we accept the violent act because Ray Rice is a man and his wife is a woman? You can say no, it’s never okay to his a woman. But, the words – he was provoked – say something much deeper.
Let’s look at this from a 30,000 feet level, and peel back the layers where our musicians sing/rap about hitting women, and when they do in real life, we give them second chances and see their apologetic actions as endearing. (See Chris Brown) Ditto movies, TV shows, and magazines. Was Ray Rice really provoked, or was he merely existing, as a man, in our society where we tell men (both covertly and overtly) it’s okay, you can hit women…just make sure you apologize afterwards. You can even be redeemed! Let’s look further, shall well – what about politicians and political pundits who say damaging things about women, about how women can’t be raped because their bodies have a way of “shutting that thing down”? Or the scores of men who try and take away women’s reproductive rights? So was Ray Rice really provoked, or was he merely breathing, as a man, in our society where we tell men it’s okay, you can control women…it even says so in the bible! Don’t stop there, let’s look even further – what about the countless men who abuse the women in their lives and are never held accountable? According to RAINN, 97% of rapists never spend a day in jail. That means only 3% of rapists are convicted! So if rape is such a horrible crime, why don’t more men who commit rape spend time in jail? Here’s a dirty little secret – because, for many of us, domestic/dating violence, like sexual violence, is only bad when it’s happening to you, or someone you know. When it’s happening to someone else, that’s when people will say – she provoked it. When it hits close to home, though, then it’s time to march or raise money. Then it’s time to take action.
Worse, we don’t convict abusers and rapists because, well, we tell ourselves they didn’t mean it…she put herself in that situation…she let it happen…she provoked it. And when we say those things, what we’re really saying is, men have a RIGHT to act a certain way (violent, sexual, sexually violent, etc.) and if women don’t want to get caught up in that, they should not date men, they should not let abuse happens, they should not wear short shirts, or they should run like hell the first time an argument with a boyfriend ensues. When we say Ray Rice was provoked, we are granting abusers and rapists all the privileges in the world and we are failing to hold them accountable for their actions. Instead, we are putting the blame and onus on the woman. Wait, I’m sorry, did I just write that?! Yes, when we say Mrs. Rice provoked her husband, we are blaming HER for the incident! We are blaming her for her victimization. Wait, who was it that was knocked unconscious. That’s right…Mrs. Rice. But, she should have known better, right?! Because, after all, getting beat unconscious comes with being a woman, right??!!? (again, more sarcastic odor) When you say bologna like she provoked it, it say something about how you see women – that they can be hit, abused, knocked unconscious, raped, and exploited all because a man got, angry, upset, frustrated, or just felt like it.
So don’t tell me that a man shouldn’t hit a woman, BUT…, and then go on to give some BS rational. Because when you say Ray Rice was provoked, what you’re really saying is, it’s okay for a man to hit a woman, because…
When men talk about the Ray Rice case and say things like, she provoked it, for me, it says something about how those men view and value men (and men’s actions) and, more importantly, how those men view and value women.
The conscientious men out there will get it, and will know that this does not even apply to them. For all the other men, here’s a mirror, maybe it’s time to take a look at your reflection.