At a press conference right before pre-season.
I’ve been listening to sports radio all day.
I tuned in as soon as I woke up this morning and saw the video of Ray Rice knocking his fiancée, Janay, senseless. She’s small, he’s big. She’s angry, he’s angrier. He hits closed fist into her face hard, she falls to the ground harder. He drags her from the elevator, she lays unconscious across the opening of the elevator while he uses his feet to push her out of the way.
Male pundits keep describing the video as disturbing. Well, what the hell else would it be? What, exactly dear football fans and commentators alike, do you think it takes to punch a woman out? Did you think it was gentle? Did you think it could be civilized? Did you think it wouldn’t look like it would hurt? Did you think she would fall gracefully instead of hitting her head against metal and concrete? Did you think he must have handled her traumatized head and body with care? Did you think they hugged afterwards? What the hell did you think domestic violence looks like?
People keep saying they are “shocked” upon viewing the video.
They shouldn’t be.
We’ve known this happened since he was first booked for the crime the night it happened – February 15th. What we already know shouldn’t be a surprise. The man was charged by grand jury for the crime on March 27th. And the NFL handed down its first pathetic sentence concerning the incident in August. A two game suspension. At one point the Ravens organization, tweeted out that Janay had taken responsibility for her part in the incident. Like the good abused now-wife of an NFL player should, I guess. It seems that the NFL’s preoccupation with preventing concussions to its players didn’t extend to the player’s wives and partners.
A few weeks later, the NFL commissioner came out and admitted he "didn't get it right". New guidelines were established, players proven to be guilty of domestic violence would get a six game suspension for the first incident and an indefinite suspension for the second incident. The right to enact more severe penalties was retained for case by case consideration. This didn’t change a thing about Ray Rice’s initial punishment. If he had been third string instead of a star running back, I am sure things would have been different.
But they weren’t.
During his first preseason game, the home crowd gave him a standing ovation.
And then, today the video of him knocking out Janay was released through TMZ. People were horrified. There were widespread calls for the new NFL domestic violence rules to be used retroactively. People openly wondered how the Ravens and NFL PR teams would handle the new information. Better spin it right, ya’ll.
Do you know what is shocking? That seven months after finding out this woman was knocked out in public by one closed fist punch we are all finally getting around to being shocked.
By this afternoon, the Ravens had fired Ray Rice and the NFL had permanently suspended him. A lot of people are congratulating the organizations for “getting it right” this time. Their hands were forced seems like a more accurate description. People are calling this a learning opportunity. I guess it is if we are supposed to be learning about misplaced priorities. It is interesting to note that the NFL is claiming to have never seen the video as if that is some sort of excuse. I guess it's the old "Does a 206 pound man hitting a woman really make a sound if there is no audio to catch it" defense.
I heard one caller say that she hoped abused women understand their voices matter because of the events of today. Their voices do matter. And I hope they each find that truth. I hope we all find that truth. But that’s not the lesson that was taught.
Over the past few weeks, the celebrities that were hacked and an ongoing instagram #selfie culture have led to a spate of articles about American women's widespread desire to document themselves. Why so many nude self portraits even in the privacy of our own home? Why so many smiling faces in filtered iPhone snaps? Why the compulsive need to be seen?
Has anyone considered that every duck faced selfie is an effort to declare – “I am here. I have a voice. I have a presence. I have value. Please, for the love of God, see me.” Do you realize the majority of our girls aren’t seen or heard until they are naked or news? We live in a society where it took the visual confirmation of a woman being beaten to make people think the beating actually mattered. The horror of a man crushing a woman’s face with his closed fist wasn’t understood until it could be viewed in a 30 second window on our iPhones.
The radio is still on and I just heard another on air personality say he is “shocked by the video”. Again with the S word. I’ve been confused by that phrase today. But suddenly, hearing it one more time has made everything clear. They are not shocked that a man would hit a woman.
They are shocked that they can see her.