Domestic Violence – A Two Way Street

Gary Joshua

Gary Joshua was born and raised in northern New Jersey.After serving in the United States Marine Corps from 2001-2006, he was honorably discharged and began a career in the private sector as an electrical engineer.A graduate of Southern Illinois University, with an extensive military electrical background, he currently works as an electrical design engineer in New York City.Gary’s interest in writing primarily surround politics and entertainment and how mass media shapes helps shape the public’s opinion on issues arising from these two topics.

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Domestic violence is a very serious issue.  It involves a (typically female) victim, a (typically male) perpetrator and has consequences that reverberate throughout the families and the communities of both parties.  Domestic violence stories become even more mainstream when celebrities and subsequently the media get involved.  Whether it’s O.J. Simpson & Nicole Brown, Bobby & Whitney, or Chris Brown & Rihanna, we can all recollect a tragic domestic violence story we’ve heard about or one that we’ve unfortunately witnessed first or second hand.

In the fight against domestic violence, there are many organizations and groups that exist in the U.S. that are geared towards stopping these events and/or helping those that have already been affected.  However, with regards to efforts centered on stopping the violence, the prevailing sentiment seems to concentrate on the men in these relationships.  The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) estimates that 85% of domestic violence victims are women so it would seem to make sense that we should concentrate on preventing the mostly male on female violence.  However, having lived thru the Chris Brown and Rihanna saga and bearing witness to newest domestic violence drama involving Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice of the National Football League and his fiancée Janay Palmer (who he recently married in March 2014) I find it funny that no one publicly acknowledges any type of probable provocation by the female that may have instigated a physical altercation.

ESPN Analyst Steven A. Smith was recently suspended one week from his job at ESPN for comments he made concerning the Ray Rice domestic violence case.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the case, Ray Rice was captured on video coming out of an elevator at the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City awkwardly dragging his unconscious wife (then fiancée) from inside the elevator and onto the casino floor.  On the video you can see a casino staff member walk up to him, seemingly inquiring as to the state of the unconscious female, but that is the extent of the video.  Only days after the video was released did Ray Rice admit to punching his wife, during an argument, hard enough to incapacitate her.  He’s since been charged with aggravated assault, plead “not guilty”, agreed to enter a program for first time domestic violence offenders which upon completion, will clear any criminal charges against him, and has been suspended the first 2 games of the 2014 NFL season.  Stephen A. Smith in a nutshell, basically highlighted the often neglected notion that there are some women who provoke men to violence with their words or their actions.  I happen to wholeheartedly agree.  As a society, we as Americans do not do enough to educate women that they can either walk away from an argument that’s escalating or not to verbally instigate a physical confrontation (e.g. making inflammatory comments about the man’s mother, breaking his Xbox, etc.).

If you think that someone’s words can’t (or shouldn’t) provoke a man into a physical altercation, what would happen if a couple walking together in a mall walked past a guy or group of men and one of them said something grossly offensive like “nice tits?”  At the very least, there would be an exchange of words, but I don’t believe that most people would find fault with the man for physically defending the honor of his wife or girlfriend.  What if it was a family and children were present when the inappropriate comment was made?

My argument is that women have found ways in which to provoke men into physical altercations without initiating the physical violence.  Comedian Chris Rock famously joked, “…As a man, when I’m arguing with another man that’s bigger than me, there’s a realm I don’t go to.”  Of course the crowd laughed, because the joke (which dealt with women’s roles in domestic violence issues) is that if you say the wrong thing to someone of a larger stature, they are liable to confront you physically.  And men for the most part seem to know this.  Women on the other hand are indoctrinated in this country that no matter what you say to anybody, nobody has the right to put their hands on you.  And while that is legally true, in practice, that’s detrimental (if not fatal) advice.  Women should not push the envelope to the point of a physical confrontation then play the victim card or as I call it, the Zimmerman defense.  George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin assuming he was responsible for a string of robberies against the instruction of the 911 operator he called, confronted / questioned him about his intentions then when a physical altercation ensued and he began to lose, he pulled a gun and shot Martin and was exonerated on the grounds of self-defense.

When a person has the common sense to diffuse a situation that’s escalating into potentially something violent, it’s incumbent upon that person to exhibit adult behavior and do so. If a woman is ever in that position, they should always do their best to remove themselves from the situation.  This isn’t to suggest men shouldn’t exhibit self-control.  They should.  But as my father always told me, you never want to be “dead right.”  He used the term “dead right” in reference to someone we saw legally crossing the street when there was clearly a car trying to beat the light and driving thru the intersection.  The pedestrian was crossing the street at the designated time, within the crosswalk, and would’ve likely won in court if he had sued the driver had he struck him with his vehicle.  But what would all that money and righteousness have done for him if he died had the car hit him?  A woman can legally say whatever she wants to a man under any circumstance and shouldn’t fear any physical reprisal.  However when that line is crossed (at least in the man’s eyes) and it does turn physical, what would being right mean to her when she has a black eye (or worse) and can’t go to work due to physical limitations or at the very least the sheer embarrassment of having to explain her injuries?  Or if her domestic violence spat makes the local news or police blotter and now everyone in her personal and professional life opines on her current and future relationships.

Domestic violence is a two Way Street that often gets looked at in one direction.  Men and women are equally responsible for their actions.  Men however, bear the brunt of the negative stigma with regards to domestic violence.  In a country that over the years has stressed its support for equality between the sexes in the form of women’s suffrage, Title VIIII, affirmative action, etc., it’s almost laughable that men share an unequal portion of responsibility when it comes to this issue.  It would be nice to see a slower rush to judgment to indict the male as the bad guy in a domestic violence situation and see an equal amount of coverage on the female involved.  I would argue that the female’s background, job, and friends, are equally as important as her male counterpart’s which are almost always vetted with unfair scrutiny.  The problem with this thinking is that stories are less sensational when there isn’t a definitive “bad guy” and a victim who is now the underdog as they struggle to assimilate back into mainstream society.  Showing some type of parity between those involved and requiring objectivity when reviewing the facts might just paint a different picture of the man and the woman involved, one that requires us to rethink our feelings and approach towards judging fairness between the sexes.

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