America doesn’t really hate domestic violence.
If we hated domestic violence there would have been outrage when former NBA guard and now coach Jason Kidd was arrested for battering his then wife. But there wasn’t. There were no suspensions or endorsement withdrawals. No Jason Kidd jersey buy-back or trade-in programs. No remonstrations; that’s because America doesn’t really hate domestic violence.
If we hated domestic violence there would have been boycotts of boxer Floyd Mayweather’s most recent pay per view fight. After all he’s actually been convicted and served prison time for domestic violence and is currently being sued by a completely different woman for assault. Instead of boycotts however, Money Mayweather earned $32 million before he even stepped in the ring, netting millions in additional revenue from pay per view buys at $78 per view, and millions more from the ticket sells of a nearly sold out fight. By the end of the night Floyd Mayweather’s earnings had reached approximately $420 million for a career measured by punches thrown vs punches landed inside the boxing ring; a career that should probably be marred by the punches thrown vs punches landed outside the boxing ring, but that has yet to be seen. That’s because America doesn’t really hate domestic violence.
If we hated domestic violence there would be mass protest each and every Thursday, Sunday, and Monday when 1 of the 14 active NFL players with a history of domestic violence, takes the field. Except there isn’t. No suspensions. No withholding of pay. No burning of Brandon Marshall, or Dez Bryant, or Santonio Holmes jerseys, just to name a few. Nope, for the price of admission or simply a decent HDTV, you can see them on the field any given Sunday. Why? Because America doesn’t really hate domestic violence.
If we hated domestic violence we wouldn’t continue to allow cops who beat their significant others to protect and serve us when domestic violence is twice the national rate among law enforcement officers. Instead we turn a blind eye, giving free reign to the badge and gun, and then wonder why reports and recordings of police brutality are on the rise. That’s because America doesn’t really hate domestic violence.
If we hated domestic violence there wouldn’t be a list of nearly 100 celebrities – men and women who’ve won Oscars, or Emmys or sports MVPs and remain widely popular in spite of their history of domestic violence. That’s because America doesn’t really hate domestic violence!
America only hates seeing domestic violence.
*In walks NFL running-back Ray Rice and then-fiancé Janay Palmer into an elevator.*
In February of 2014, the Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice knocked his fiancé unconscious with a single left-cross blow to her jaw. What the public eventually saw from the incident was the aftermath of the altercation: Ray Rice dragging a lifeless Janay by her shoulders off the elevator. That’s what we saw. That’s what the NFL claims it saw. And that earned Rice a charge of aggravated assault with a penalty that could have equaled up to as many as 5 years jail time, but ultimately resulted in a pretrial intervention program for first time offenders. He was then penalized by the NFL with a 2-game suspension to be served at the start of the 2014 season.
There was public commotion regarding the mildness of the penalty levied by the NFL against Rice; some were advocating for more games suspended, others for equity among the NFL’s policies for disciplining players for certain misconduct such as smoking marijuana (1 year suspension in some cases) vs. domestic violence, but few were calling for a lifetime ban of Rice. That is, until TMZ released never before seen footage from within the elevator that shows Ray Rice delivering the punishing punch to Janay’s face. The resulting public outcry was deafening. Women’s groups, devout football fans, husbands, brothers and even Rice’s fellow footballers were screaming for his banishment from the NFL for the remainder of his lifetime. It didn’t take long for the Baltimore Ravens to release Ray Rice from their team, and the NFL followed by increasing Rice’s 2-game suspension to “indefinite.” In a matter of a few hours, Ray Rice had fallen from Super Bowl winning NFL running-back, to unemployed, and possibly the most hated man in America at that time.
Domestic violence was the topic of discussion on every media outlet; Janay Rice – now wife of Ray Rice, was the new face of battered women around the country, and Ray Rice was the new fist of batterers. But why now? What had changed between February when we saw Ray Rice drag a limp Janay Palmer off an elevator, and September when we saw him knock her out cold? What was different now? The result hadn’t changed; Janay was still an unconscious woman lying lifelessly on the ground while her fiancé stepped over her like a floor mat. Wasn’t that image enough to convince us that whatever happened in that elevator was reprehensible and worthy of severe reprimand?
Because America doesn’t really hate domestic violence; America only hates seeing domestic violence, and seeing is believing. Without having read the book, we knew exactly how the story began based on how it ended. Yet somehow that wasn’t enough. Domestic violence alone isn’t enough, and seeing domestic violence is too much. The NFL didn’t swiftly revise its punishment against Rice because they suddenly grew a conscience. They didn’t even change their stance because of what they saw; Ray Rice is suspended from the NFL indefinitely because of what WE saw, not because of what THEY saw. You see the NFL is just an extension of America, and America doesn’t hate domestic violence – we only hate seeing it.
When will we begin to hate what we do not or cannot see but know is wrong? When will we begin to truly hate domestic violence to the point where we not only hold public figures accountable, but we hold personal, private figures culpable as well? Our fathers, our brothers, our uncles, our friends? What will our suspensions be for them? For the %15 of women who perpetrate domestic abuse against other loved ones? Will we continue to look the other way, remaining accomplices in what we choose not to see and therefore choose not to hate? Or will we finally choose to stand up and stand against that which we know to be wrong even if it’s not captured on video for America to see?
As we’ve entered October – Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we wear purple colored clothes and ribbons to signify support and solidarity with domestic violence survivors, let us not forget about the thousands of women and men wearing purple eyes and purple leg bruises everyday. Victims of domestic abuse don’t get the month of October off from being victims of domestic abuse; it’s a full-time burden until that burden is lifted. Likewise, Americans can’t just be advocates for domestic abuse victims in the month of October; it should be America’s full-time commitment as well.
Hate domestic violence, don’t just hate seeing it.