Ray Rice: It’s Time to Man Up


Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

By now, most of us have either seen or heard about the TMZ released tape of Ray Rice punching his then fiancee in the face and knocking her out at an Atlantic City casino in February. The tape of him dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator was released immediately, but, for some reason, it took until now for the tape to be made public. Obviously, most of us had a general idea of what might occurred inside the elevator, but to visually take in the spectacle was something entirely different.

Domestic violence isn’t funny. There’s no opposing viewpoint. The victim can’t be made to feel responsible. It doesn’t matter what Janay Rice said or did to provoke Ray Rice. No one, no man, woman or child, deserves to be assaulted. Particularly by someone that claims to love them.  Violence doesn’t equal love. Control, fear and intimidation doesn’t equal love.

Janay Rice, and the countless other victims of domestic violence, was let down by the police, the prosecutor’s office, the Baltimore Ravens and the National Football League. In February, when this incident was made public, each one of those entities had the duty and the obligation to investigate what happened. Our system is set up to protect those that cannot protect themselves. This isn’t a society where the strong survive at the expense of the week. Someone, somewhere should have stepped up and become the advocate for Janay Rice.

Someone in a position of authority viewed the video of what happened inside the elevator before TMZ. Someone watched that video and decided to remain silent. The American public was sold a story of a man that made a “mistake.” At a press conference, Ravens leadership waxed poetic about what a great person Ray Rice was and how much he was a stand up guy. And to my personal surprise, Janay herself was trotted out for the dog and pony show, to stand by her man. It was a farce then and it is sickening now.

Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

In reality, we’re all to blame. The only way those in charge thought this would blow over is because, well, it usually does.  We cheer on domestic abusers so long as they play for our team. When we hear of domestic abuse and sexual assault, the usual response is “what did she do to provoke it?” Ray Rice was cheered when he returned to Ravens training camp and when we all had an idea of what happened in the elevator. And I’m not blameless. I’ve blamed the victim. I’ve wondered why a woman would dress a certain way if she wasn’t asking for attention. But, a funny thing happened: I had two girls.

I’m not proud to say it, but it took the births of my daughters to open my eyes to a lot of things. Namely, that instead of telling them to carry mace or a rape whistle, why isn’t the focus on dealing with the predators out there? Why does what a woman wears have anything to do with whether she was a victim of a crime? It doesn’t. I realize now that zeal to protect them, they make the rules about their own bodies, not even I have that right (*but if you break their rules, I break you).

It’s time that the real men take a stand. It’s time for the real men to stand up and let their voices be heard. A real man doesn’t make the “mistake” of hitting a woman. A real man doesn’t need to yell to get his point across. A real man doesn’t need to intimidate someone to love him.  A real man understands that violence isn’t the answer.  We’ve let this macho, tough guy idea become the prototype of manhood, especially in sports. And it’s time to make a stand.

Will the real men please stand up?