I didn’t need to see the video of Ray Rice knocking out his wife in an elevator to know that he was dead-ass wrong. Period.
But I watched it anyway and I shared it on my page for others to watch it because, unfortunately, we live in a world where violence against women is so commonplace and too often encouraged. And without the visual proof of it, many of us don’t know it is wrong too.
And now after watching this video, I’m even more incensed.
I’m incensed at Ray for spitting in her face, swinging on her twice and dragging her damn near lifeless body out of the elevator with little regard. What he did was wrong and inexcusable. And we should always remember that. He seems to recognize that – or at least his public statements makes assurances that he has since learned to keep his hands to himself. Hopefully, he is willing to get some serious help for his issues with women. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t.
The reality is that there is no incentive for him to really change other than a sheer and intentional desire to do so.
I mean it’s not like the Ravens organization and the entire NFL was willing to hold him accountable (at least prior to the release of the video evidence). Not after that pitiful two game suspension as well as sponsoring this flat-out ridiculous press conference, in which Ray was not only forced to apologize to everybody for his actions, but also his wife. The Ravens organizations made sure we all saw her complacency in her beat down, when during the press conference it tweeted out:
“Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.”
Oh, and don’t forget the Ravens organization’s original flimsy plausible-culpability response to the release of the elevator beating that they hadn’t seen it. Of course, they also admitted that they had heard Ray’s side of it and it pretty much was aligned with what we saw on the video, so therefore what is the Raven’s excuse again for failing to take adequate action prior to release of the tape? There really isn’t any other than the age old adage of: money over hoes. Thankfully, there is the video or else they might been able to get away with completely sweeping this under the rug.
And it’s not like sports commentators, pundits, fans and other grown men, who should know got-damn better like Stephen A Smith will hold him accountable either. Remember, it was Smith who told us that women shouldn’t put themselves in positions to be beat on. However, what we see in that video was not self-defense. Nor did it look like he exercised the least bit of restraint. Nope, what we saw on that video was a nearly 212-pound professional athlete, following a woman half his weight into an elevator with the intentions of assaulting her. So if her “position” is breathing next to a man, then I’m not really certain what these men expect women to do?
Hell, the general public is not even going to hold him accountable. That’s the sense I get around water coolers, comment sections and social media networks alike, where common folks of both sides of the gender believe that Janay brought it on herself for allegedly being drunk and physically provoking an unavoidable confrontation. Now we (and by “we” I mean “you all”) see the tape and learned that the exact opposite happened, folks have still found a way to hold her culpable. I mean how can she not be guilty, she married and is still with him, right?
It took my mother a long time to leave. Even when she had gotten to the point of self-love and realizing that my abusive and drug-addicted stepfather was not going to change, there was still preparation to be done before she was in a position to actually feel like she could do so. The preparation like the answering questions: who was going to let our family of three plus a cat stay with them in the temporary and where might we stay in the permanent? How would she pay bills for two children on her own? And how could she make this transition as safe as possible so that there was little harm to her and to her children?
I remember Mom sitting my brother, who was 8 years old, and I, who was around 12 years old at the time, down at the kitchen table and telling us only a portion of the escape plan: as soon as he left for work, we would take what we could fit into her small hatchback and disappear into the night. What day and time this was supposed to happen was classified information as she said she could risk us (mainly little brother who was attached to my stepdad) accidentally spilling the beans. When it did come, it was a summer evening one month solid after the conversation. As we pulled away from the place I had called home for the final time, I remember sitting in the front seat of my mother’s car, pissed, because this was the last time I would see my friends and many of my personal items, which couldn’t fit into the car. We would spend the next year or so, living in the two bedroom apartment with my grandmother and uncle and before our great aunt let Mom rent a small and badly worn down house. We were safe from harm and my stepdad’s other destructive ways but financially and emotionally, it was a struggle – and I’m putting that lightly.
I share that story in confidence as my family’s experience is very reflective of national statistics, which tells us that on average, it takes victims of domestic seven times to leave her abuser. And as the website for the National Domestic Violence Hotline points out, those reasons vary: from financial to actual fear of harm to themselves and their children, community and family pressure to “work things out,” religious observations, physical and mental disabilities (because the rate of domestic violence among those two populations is very high), and of course financial – as men who abuse physically, also tend to abuse in other ways, including controlling household finances and even a woman’s ability to maintain employment.
No, my victim blaming pains in the butt, leaving an abuser is never easy. And as a matter of statistics, 75 percent of women who are killed in domestic relationship are killed while actually escape. To the contrary, it takes lots of nerve, courage and financial freedom for women to claim their independence. And that’s what we should be offering Janay (and other women like her) instead of our condemnation. Of course, that’s not what is happening.
And ultimately what this video has once again shown is exactly how dangerous it is to be a woman, as well as to raise girl children in this society. We lady folks live in a world where people will stand aside and watch you get fucked up and people will come to the defense of the abuser. A world that values the final score of a game more than the safety and justice for their fellow human being. A world where folks would rather believe that it is greed and financial gain as opposed to financial vulnerability, which might motivate Janay to stay.
Worse, we live in a world, which treats women, who point out and push back against this absurdity of this dangerous woman-hating thinking, as crazy or the actual problem. I’m talking about the whole “that’s the way men are, women should know better…” camp. As we know, worse than being an accuser is being the person, who actually points out the abuse and says it is wrong. Well now, you are just being a divisive feminist.
That’s because we live in a world, which teaches us to protect men at all cost, even if it’s at the expense of our own bodies. And considering this is the kind of world in which we have created for women to navigate through and around, it is easy to see why men like Ray would feel less compelled to change and women like Janay less confident to leave – at least on their own. Thank God for video cameras and TMZ though. There is just no denying that.