This was not the blog I’d planned to post today but it became obvious this morning that it’s one I have to post.
When the video of Ray Rice pulling the limp body of Janay Palmer, his fiancée–his unconscious fiancée and the mother of his only child–from an elevator first appeared, I was appalled at the lack of outrage. His coach said Rice is a good guy, a man of character who made a mistake, the mistake being that he punched his fiancée out and left her unconscious. The NFL answered with a resounding lack of horror at the act or concern for the victim: a two-game suspension. No one asked, “What happened in that elevator? Why did the man who professes to love and should protect this woman from harm–why did he have to pull her out of the elevator? Why was she unconscious? Had the football star knocked her out?”
Even more incomprehensible: she was accused of a crime, obviously for having her face in the way of Ray Rice’s fist. She apologized for her behavior during a press conference, again for blocking her fiancé’s fist with her face.
Then the tape of the blow appeared yesterday. From comments on news programs, it’s been around for a while but never made public, never used in the court case against Mr. Rice. It shows the now Mrs. Rice walking ahead of her fiancé into the elevator. She looks at him and gives him a shove and her beloved punches her so hard, she immediately loses consciousness and falls to the floor, her head hitting the railing of the elevator as she fell.
Only then did people say, “Maybe knocking a woman out isn’t acceptable behavior for anyone, even if he makes the team and the city and the NFL rich.” After seeing that tape, his teammates who had supported Rice after seeing the tape of him with his unconscious fiancée finally admitted that perhaps this was serious, that perhaps they had supported a man who brutalized a woman, supported him because he was, after all, a good guy. Finally, with the knowledge of what happened when a heavily muscled athlete assaulted his fiancée, actions anyone who saw him dragging from the elevator HAD to have known happened–then these men decided he hadn’t just made an error. He’d committed a crime for which he’ll never be charged because the case was quickly tidied up and he entered a program which consisted of no jail time but counseling.
What does this say about the status of women in America? Oh, yes, I know men are assaulted but the great majority of those assaulted are women beaten by males larger than they or more violent than they and–especially if those men are wealthy or important or talented or have connections–it’s okay. It’s a private matter between the woman and her assailant. And all to often, those who benefit from the talent or money or connections close rank, blame the woman, and say the abuser is a nice guy.
Sadly and amazingly, this abused woman, Janay Palmer Rice, sees no problem with her husband’s behavior but that’s a topic I won’t go into because there aren’t enough words to explain this.
What are your thoughts?