The Ray Rice domestic violence situation proves misogyny still exists in patriarchal cultures like those found around the world and even in the U.S. Regardless if Ray Rice, the football player whose contract was terminated by the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the National Football League (NFL), married his victim, Janay, who he was caught knocking out and dragging out of an elevator earlier this year, the situation brings up issues pertaining to domestic violence in male-oriented fields. Various factors may go into domestic violence situations, but all too often the U.S. ends up with numerous crimes related to domestic violence.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline website states more than 12 million people are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking. Between 1994 and 2010, four out of five of those victims were female. Of these women, 77 percent aged 18 to 24 years old will be victimized by a repeat offender. This is about the same percentage for women ages 25 to 49. The probability of domestic violence is a serious issue, with men reported as being victims too.
Crimes of domestic violence are often related to people who know each other, whether they were intimate or not. In fact, the U.S. Justice Department has recognized more and more what constitutes to “domestic violence,” including physical, emotional, sexual, and psychological abuse, as stated on their website. These factors include harm, improper contact without consent, constant criticism, and the withholding of resources.
There may be many forms of domestic disputes, but it is when situations turn violent that a third-party may need to be involved to determine the underlying cause of such violent acts. For example, Charlotte Alter of Time Magazine reported on public reaction to the Ray Rice situation. She stated many domestic violence survivors were using the hashtag #WhyIStayed on Twitter to explain their personal story on why victims either chose to stay or leave an abusive partner. Alter stated the online conversation appeared to oust victims who chose to stay with an abuser rather than leave. She added that the conversation appeared to lay blame on the victim for the actions of an abuser.
Relationships come in different forms, including familial, intimate, casual, or professional. Some relationships can end badly, while others seem to end mutually. What would matter most is the way a person handles him or herself during and after a relationship. It is clear that Ray Rice should not have laid a hand on his then future wife, particularly in areas where video cameras and social media access are prominent. That is not to say, however, that it should happen behind closed doors.
Violence is often delivered in aggressive, harmful acts usually occurring when one feels threatened or angry. It can be used to instill fear and even death on another who is perceived to be an immediate enemy or an offensive act. At times, violence may be uncontrollable, particularly when emotional reactions are involved. One may then wonder how it can occur between two people who are supposed to love one another, specifically in an intimate relationship.
Misogyny has long been ingrained in patriarchal cultures. In fact, it can still be found in various religious cultures. Women are often recognized as the “weaker” species who must conform to men’s desires, particularly in marriage and cultural norms. Though feminism took place in such places as the U.S. to pave ways for women to express themselves more and gain certain freedoms and rights, the U.S. still holds systems in-tact which challenge women’s capabilities. A good example is the current topic of “Equal Pay.”
There is no doubt the NFL consists mostly of male counterparts. After all, when was the last time one saw a female football player on the field? Cheerleaders do not play in the game, even though they have an important role of encouraging their team. Football really is a man’s game since the sport is designed for men to rush or throw a ball to other players, and tackle the player who then holds the football.
The NFL has been attracting and encouraging more female fans to participate in games for some time now, though. This is apparent in television commercials and clothing offered to a variety of fans. The organization has also allowed females to do more work for the league by even allowing a female referee to assist in games at one point. When it came to the Ray Rice situation, however, the NFL was scrutinized by both media outlets and online public reactions for only giving Rice a two-game suspension for his personal conduct of domestic violence outside of his professionalism. Regardless if the league was made aware of a video showing Rice engaging in serious domestic violence acts, the NFL was criticized for giving Rice a fairly light suspension in regular game-playing season for his personal code of conduct outside NFL events.
The media outlet, TMZ had recently published a video showing the gravity situation of Rice’s misconduct, which occurred in February of this year. A sudden public outcry took place soon after which appeared to force the Baltimore Ravens to re-evaluate the severity of the situation and terminate Rice’s contract, as well as have the NFL suspend him indefinitely. This can also force one to ask why a professional league would decidedly interfere with the outside conduct of a player, though it appears to be part of the NFL’s updated policies.
The exposure of the video footage on Rice’s personal conduct eventually led online users to discuss reasons and choices behind domestic violence. Though it is one of the most recent events to have occurred and spark conversations over the matter, it definitely is not the first in most recent times. For example, the Isla Vista Shooting in Santa Barbara which happened earlier this year sparked online conversations on misogyny and violence. People used the hashtag #YesAllWomen on Twitter to indicate that all women get harassed by men, even if not all men harass women.
According to a report by CNN, after the Isla Vista shooting left six victims dead after a murderous rampage by Elliot Rodger, online users used the hashtag #YesAllWomen to describe the impact of misogyny due to Rodger’s documentation leading up to the event. Rodger had left a 107,000 word document which described his motives for his rampage, including rejection from women and lack of a lavish lifestyle. Although online users accused Rodger of being a misogynist, it was clear from the reasons in which he gave for his vengeance that he targeted both men and women, particularly those in relationships. Still, online users tweeted that women have to explain why they must “text each other that they got home safe” and accept that “boys will be boys.”
Overall, the bottom line appears to be that in certain parts of the U.S. and even in parts all over the world, women still do not feel safe for just being a woman. Decades after the feminist movement took place in the U.S. so that women can gain rights and recognition, the issue still exists on whether patriarchal cultures instill a misogynistic outlook where men are allowed to objectify and victimize women. Not only that, the question remains whether men are even taught to control any excess aggression or other emotional responses towards situations involving women, or any other human being for that matter.
Though more studies may need to be conducted to evaluate whether emotional responses by both men and women are due to childhood upbringing or severe psychological behavior, it is imperative that the Ray Rice situation prove misogyny can be overcome in certain cultures to avoid conflict which still affects millions, if not billions of people.
Opinion By Liz Pimentel