I don’t know what’s worse, Ravens football player Ray Rice knocking his then fiancée, now wife, unconscious in an elevator, the NFL protecting him, or women defending Rice for punching “an unarmed woman.” All of the above are equally repugnant. But a woman, saying Rice’s wife Janay Palmer deserved it, is disturbing.
“She hit him first and any woman who hits a man deserves to be hit,” described a woman interviewed by NBC News. The woman was describing the video of Rice knocking out Janay in response to her slapping his body in an elevator of the Revel Hotel in Atlantic City. So, it was okay for Rice to respond by whacking Janay in the head unconscious and then drag her by her feet like a slaughtered animal out of the elevator?
“Why is it that the victimizer becomes the victim? Why is it that we want to protect these men? What is it about our society? What is it about us, as women, that we feel a need to protect them?” Robin Givens explained on the Today Show about her abusive marriage with professional boxer Mike Tyson.
An unarmed woman never, ever “deserves” to be punched or beaten by a man. Absolutely never! As a young woman, my parents taught me it’s not normal for a man to hit a woman and if a man ever as much as threatened me, he wasn’t a real man and I needed to run as fast as I could.
Yet society at large, as Givens elaborated, usually blames women who are victimized by men. In fact, it is very difficult for women in abusive relationships to get restraining orders to keep abusive boyfriends or husbands away from them. And even when women are successful, abusers often violate their restraining orders because law enforcement isn’t effective in enforcing them. In many cases, the result is women, who are victims of domestic violence, end up being seriously harmed or killed by their abusers.
With that said, why would any woman defend an abusive tyrant like Ray Rice? Because society tells women every second of each day that we’re nothing in life without being someone’s wife or girlfriend.
In fact, I would posit society holds married women with children at a higher regard than married women without children. A few weeks ago, when I was guest hosting WMAL’s Mornings on the Mall radio program with co-host Larry O’Connor, one of the topics was the media’s obsession with whether or not Jennifer Aniston is going to have a child. Many males phoned in and said they view married women with children as better than single women or even married women without children.
Through movies, fairy tales, the prom, and some parents, girls are socialized at a very young age that they must find prince charming and that even settling for an abusive man is better than no man at all. There’s no place for the single woman at dinner parties or galas. This is part of the reason why abused women stay in relationships with their abusers. Because society frown’s on single women.
By not pursuing an aggressive investigation against Rice, the NFL was telling women like Janay to “get over it, you’ll lucky to married to a rich, albeit a wife beater, football player.” But if an investigation confirms news reports the NFL saw the video of Rice punching his wife and Rice admitted to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in June that he did hit Janay, the message of professional football is clear. The NFL promotes and protects players knocking each other around on the field and battering their women off the field.