Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Failure of Us All When It Comes to Angry Guys

There is a lot of rage to go around.

There is rage in the heart of Ray Rice, which led him back in February to punch his then-fiancee Janay Palmer so hard that he knocked her unconscious.

There is no other way to describe it.  When he slams that fist into her face, driving her head into the nearby elevator handrail.  Letting her lie there, unmoving, while you can see on the video that Ray is still talking at her.  Look at that body language.  He is not asking if she is alright.  He is taunting her.  The act of a bully, laying the smack-down on his victim.  The body language of an Angry Guy venting his hate.

We are, as fans and as a nation, still raging at those in power who ignored the evidence, tried to play down the horror, who lied at some point during this scandal, who tried to get back to doing what they want to do (sell us a product to make sh-tloads of money).  Much like Keith Olbermann, I too want to see every person involved in this poor cover-up - all the way up to NFL Commissioner Goodell - either reprimanded or fired for trying to hush up yet another violent attack by a player on a woman.

Ray Rice is not the first player to mistreat a woman: there have been so many (hi, Ben "Alleged Sexual Assaults" Roethlisburger, hi Rae Carruth!) through the years that we seem to equate sexual assaults and misconduct as part of the package deal with school and pro athletes.  Which isn't entirely true, as most players - of any sport - don't go this far attacking women or other people.

But it's viewed as part of the culture: the entitlement, the perks of being famous and athletic and physically fit, the perks of the big contracts and the glamour and the media attention.  It's also viewed as part of the nature of sport itself: a level of physical competition that would explain away the quick reaction of a guy in a heated argument to go with fists first into any conflict.

Except that we live in a world where it's not just athletes beating up - and killing - women.  There are reports every day of at least one domestic violence incident involving men who are not football players but businessmen, teachers, bus drivers, architects, blue-collar repairmen... even judges.  And while everyone's burning Ray Rice's jersey right about now, nobody is calling for that Alabama judge Mark Fuller to resign or get disbarred as a response to his anger-driven violence upon his wife.

We live in a global world of violent patriarchy: culture after culture after culture where women are abused, enslaved, treated like cattle, murdered.  And despite all of the differences between each culture - between Asia to Europe to Africa to North America to South America - there remains the same base reason.

The men inflicting all this rape and pain and horror are driven by anger.  Frustrated, violent, lashing out.  It doesn't matter if the man lashes out with a whip, with a machete, with a gun, with his own fists.  The power and impulse driving each act of violence is the same.  Anger.  That the targets are mostly women tend to be due to how some of our cultures devalue women, viewing them as trophies or property rather than people.  But the base cause of anger is always there.

We may want accountability from the people in power who failed Janay that February and are failing her now (if she's defending her now-husband Ray, it's for the same reasons every battered wife will give: she's both terrified of how he'll react if she says otherwise, and she's somehow convinced he's getting better...).  But we should also be demanding action from those same people in power.  We should be demanding it among ourselves.

We have got to do something about culling back the Angry Guys of our world.  We have got to cure this Angry Guy Syndrome of violence that threatens us all.

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