The reactions to the Ray Rice story continue to roll in. CBS Sportscaster James Brown speaks out:
Amanda Marcotte rejects lines of commentary that suggest Ray Rice is a victim:
Because of this vast gulf in male and female experiences of domestic violence, unsurprisingly the impact also varies dramatically. On Tuesday, Catherine Cloutier of the Boston Globe published an examination of how much more seriously women’s lives are impacted by intimate partner violence. The CDC surveyed around 14,000 people to determine the impact of domestic violence on their lives. Men and women were somewhat similar in rates of having endured some kind of assault, at 27.5 percent for men and 29.7 percent for women.
But looking beyond counting individual touches, a different picture emerges. Twenty-four percent of female victims report feeling fearful, compared to 7 percent of men. One in five female victims suffer from PTSD symptoms, whereas only 1 in 20 male victims do. Only 3 percent of male victims suffer physical injury, but over 13 percent of female victims do. Twice as many female victims as male victims missed work because of domestic violence.
The disparity is likely the result of male abuse simply being way more violent and chronic than female abuse. Asking people if they’ve been hit once is relevant, of course, but in measuring the realities of domestic violence, the more important question is if you’re being hit frequently, being terrorized by violence on a regular basis, being stalked and controlled, or being threatened with your life if you try to leave.
Yes, no one should hit anyone else. But that statement is the beginning of the conversation about the problem of domestic violence, not the end of it.
The best analogy here is to the awful scourge of sexual assault on college campuses. In addition to going to local police, a student can have her complaint heard through a campus adjudication procedure, one that uses “the preponderance of evidence” as a standard of proof rather than a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. (As Emily Bazelon has explained, preponderance of the evidence means “reviewers must find only that it’s more likely than not that the sexual assault or harassment occurred.”) There are problems with these campus systems—the New York Times story on Hobart and William Smith Colleges offers a harrowing account of all that can go wrong—but at least they acknowledge the existence of something akin to institutional responsibility.
At least before TMZ released the Rice video, such a concept did not exist in the NFL. Teams have long operated on the assumption that they could say they’re “aware of the situation,” and then just pretend like nothing happened as soon as the news blew over. At some point, individual teams may decide that it makes sense for them to move to a preponderance-of-evidence standard—to decide that it’s in their best interest to cut a player if it’s more likely than not that he’s a domestic abuser. I don’t know if we’ve reached that point yet, but the Rice video has gotten us closer to that day. Seeing a sports star clock his fiancée in the face has changed something—for fans, for the media, and ultimately, I think, for the teams. If it doesn’t, then the NFL’s problem with domestic violence runs even deeper than we thought.
Alyssa Rosenberg finds wanting NFL Commissioner Goodell’s standard operating procedure:
When it becomes impossible to deny that bad news utterly, his task then becomes to respond in a way that has minimal impact on the NFL’s finances and on the week-by-week play on the field. As long as Goodell is willing to accept the public perception that he is dishonest or in denial, absorbing the damage on behalf of the league, I suppose it is a viable approach to protecting “the integrity of the NFL.” But no matter how much pain Goodell is willing to accept, this is a way of operating that leaves his league a little more battered with every incident. In life, unlike on the gridiron, sometimes it is better to take the hit and move expeditiously to heal from the damage.
Robert Silverman thinks the NFL needs more women:
If the league actually wants to solve the problem, instead of treating it as a particularly thorny public relations issue; if the league had a vested interest in trying to win back a semblance of trust from the 46 percent of their fan base that happens to be female and the unknown percentage of men who are equally repulsed? Here’s one solution: Hire more women and place them in positions of real power.