All Is Unfair in Love and Domestic Violence

The principle of fairness is often misapplied in our media. It’s simply not true that “what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander.” The mere assumption that equal treatment, regardless of gender is “fairness,” is to say that the details and history don’t matter.

You would be hard-pressed to find a dedicated capitalist argue that the equal distribution of wages, regardless of education, training and personal initiative would be “fair.” Similarly, you’d be unlikely to find someone to convincingly argue that “crime is crime” and that all sentencing should be equal, regardless of circumstances or mitigating factors. We don’t sentence first-time offenders the same way we do repeat ones and that’s not by coincidence.

True fairness is not found through the exclusion of factors but by the inclusion of all of them.

The evolution of the contemporary debate surrounding domestic violence in sports has been flooded with hypocrisy, situational ethics and outright dishonesty. If you were one of the 7,000-plus people turning in your Ray Rice jersey in September, despite the fact that Janay Palmer was knocked unconscious seven months prior; your conviction is questionable at best. Those angry with LeBron James for simply changing employers began burning his jersey mere hours after the announcement, not waiting seven months to hopefully exchange them. I seem to have missed the videos of fans burning the Rice jerseys. Maybe changing teams is a greater offense than delivering a hook to the jaw of a woman in an elevator.

Just maybe…

Only 500 or so people showed up to turn in their New England Patriots Aaron Hernandez jerseys; the guy awaiting trial on multiple murder charges. There weren’t 7,000 people lined up to return wide receiver Dontae Stallworth’s jersey, although he was convicted of DUI manslaughter in 2009. If we are going to discuss fairness in the sense of how we publicly condemn or socially convict athletes, let’s be intellectually honest enough to acknowledge the obvious.

There have been 500 arrests of active NFL players in the past 10 years, across all 32 teams. Twenty-nine of those teams were forced to deal with domestic violence arrests during that time. Violence against women by professional athletes wasn’t invented in February of 2014; only our righteous indignation and fluctuating sponsorship ethics the following September. Just in case we’re more interested in actual fairness and less with public grandstanding, let’s be committed to the truth.

As common with situations like these, those in the media are quick to hold up the reverse/alternative scenario as proof of some “double-standard.”

Enter Hope Solo.

Yes, U.S. soccer national team goalie Hope Solo has been arrested on charges of domestic abuse. Yes, she is a professional athlete. No, she did not have her Nike endorsement stripped away in the way that both Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson did.

Most importantly, yes, I’m absolutely good with it.

The lack of a uniform response to any and all issues of domestic abuse in sports is not America’s problem. The problem is the historical willingness to deny the pervasive problem of misogyny in America.

The lack of a uniform response to any and all issues of domestic abuse in sports is not America’s problem. The problem is the historical willingness to deny the pervasive problem of misogyny in America. There is no long, sordid history of female athletes being arrested for domestic abuse against men in the past 10 years, much less in one sport. There is no history of men being denied the right to vote or any Equal Pay Act for men being voted down in Congress. Stop offering up Hope Solo as the response to Ray Rice and any other male athlete in the news in the interest of “fairness.” Stop making the false equivocation that Hope Solo must be shunned exactly as Ray Rice has as if all domestic violence is equal in nature and one size fits all.

I’m sure Hope Solo does not bench press 300lbs more than her alleged victim and was even less likely to kill a person with a single blow. I’m positive that U.S. soccer didn’t go to great lengths to deny the seriousness, severity or become complicit with the alleged crime. I’m clear that U.S. soccer doesn’t have a domestic violence problem and that the NFL in fact does. That’s saying nothing of the fact that U.S. soccer is not governed by the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement which affords its commissioner broad punitive powers.

Stop trying to change the subject, demanding that women take equal responsibility for abuse that is categorically unequal in every way.

Stop trying to change the subject, demanding that women take equal responsibility for abuse that is categorically unequal in every way.

As a fourth degree black belt in the martial art of Hapkido, I’m clear that putting my hands on a woman leads to different consequences than the average woman putting her hands on me… and I’m absolutely fine with it. We must stop trying to deny the realities of male on female domestic violence. Hope Solo is the exception which proves the rule.

There is no long, abominable history of women beating men into submission under the cover of marriage in America. There is no example of a female U.S. federal judge beating her husband while he was on a 9-1-1 call and later refusing to resign. There is no great scourge of sexual assault on college campuses or in the military by women against men. There has yet to be a major university scandal of abuse against children perpetrated by women on the collegiate level as there was at Penn State. There has never been any need to define what “no” means to sexually protect men. How we arrived at this point is just as important as how we’ve chosen to handle it. The moment we begin to approach true fairness is the moment we start telling the truth and stop grading press releases and press conferences.

Fairness is not connected to treating women exactly as men without exception. Fairness is instead no longer letting men off the hook historically or presently for the abuse of women.

Fairness is not connected to treating women exactly as men without exception. Fairness is instead no longer letting men off the hook historically or presently for the abuse of women.

Pass the Equal Pay Act and then we can talk about fairness along gender lines. Bring an end to sexual assault of women in the military and on college campuses and then we can broach the gender “double-standard” discussion. Most importantly, stop trying to compare the dozens of domestic violence arrests of men against women in professional sports annually with the outliers to the contrary. It is then and only then will we be getting serious about fairness in the punishment of domestic violence in America.

by Morris W. O’Kelly

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