Yesterday the American sports network ESPN suspended one of its commentators Stephen A. Smith for some rather ‘interesting’ remarks he made regrading domestic abuse. I say ‘interesting’ because I remember suffering a similar fate…be it only on twitter…for making some almost similar remarks about rape.
In my post “Taking precautions against rape does not equate to accepting blame”, I scribbled about the importance (in my opinion) of taking precautions against rape the same way one would take precautions against any other crime. Needless to say I received a barrage of profanity-laden tweets about how I was shifting blame onto the victims.
Naturally, the sensitive nature of crimes like rape and domestic abuse mean open and frank discussions across the gender barrier are very difficult to conduct. This is, in part, because those most affected by these crimes, women in this case, are naturally defensive in their approach. Imagine Jews and Germans discussing the Holocaust or Blacks and Whites debating apartheid. The parties do not consider themselves to be on equal terms thus they do not allow each other equal rights in a far as the discourse is concerned.
As for my argument in the aforementioned article, it was this: if you are going to lock your car or house doors as a precaution against being burgled, why not avoid walking alone in a dark park as a precaution against being raped? Most of those who smote me were of the opinion that women should be able to walk wherever they want, whenever they want, wearing whatever they want without fear of being raped. I agree. But that’s in an ideal world. The same ideal world where we wouldn’t have to lock our house doors and security gates, set our alarms, and pay a security company to patrol our neighbourhoods every half an hour.
Stephen A. Smith had a similar argument. He was commenting on the suspension of NFL player Ray Rice following Rice’s own suspension after an incident of domestic abuse. Stephen Smith basically said, while men “have no business putting your hands on a woman,” he had tried to tell women in his family, “Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions.” He also referred to “elements of provocation” and implied that women should “do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening.”
As you probably can expect, these comments didn’t go down too well with many people. Hence his suspension. But, again, I don’t see the problem here. Well, I see it, but I don’t see it, if that makes any sense. In my opinion, this does not equate to shifting the blame on the victims of domestic abuse. Let me put it like this:
Whatever disagreement I could possibly have with Shaquille O’Neal, I would never in my life go up to him, scream profanities at him, slap him, or throw stuff at him. Why? Because he stands at a mammoth 7′ 1″ (2.16m) and weighs a skull crushing 325lb (147kg)….and that’s without his size 23 (US) shoes on. Now, why would I go and provoke a monster? If I did and he proceeded to whoop my ass, you would all look at me like an idiot and ask why I provoked a small mountain. Why then does this logic go out the window when gender is introduced into the equation?
I should point out that I’m not talking about the domestic violence incidents where women are abused by their drunk asshole partners for absolutely nothing. I’m addressing this issue of “provocation”. I see this all the time; women screaming profanities at their men, slapping them, and/or throwing stuff at them. I don’t know what the guy did but surely there’s a better way to handle this, right? A way that doesn’t involve provocation maybe?
If you do decide to go down the path of screaming profanities, slapping him, and throwing stuff at him, all the best. If he snaps and hits you back, well, as society dictates I put it, “it’s not your fault”…though it kind of is…but also isn’t…without being your fault…whilst being just that…if you know what I mean.
*just sribbling my domestic violence thoughts*
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