Early Monday morning, TMZ released a “cleaned up” video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice beating Janay Palmer, his then-fiancée and current wife, in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino.Wait, what? Let’s read that again:
”… Janay Palmer, his then-fiancée and current wife…”Ooooooo-kay….
After investigating the accusations against Rice – to which the Baltimore Ravens running back pleaded not guilty and entered an intervention program for first-time offenders to avoid a trial – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed him a paltry two-game suspension in July.
Thousands of people, far and wide, called into question the NFL’s judgment for such a featherweight punishment of an act so violent.And he’s now had his contract terminated. Yay, social media?
Well, surprisingly, no.
That we feel entitled (and excited) to access gut-wrenching images of a woman being abused – to be entranced by the looks of domestic violence – speaks volumes not only about the man who battered her, but also about we who gaze in parasitic rapture. We click and consume, comment and carry on. What are we saying about ourselves when we place (black) women’s pain under a microscope only to better consume the full kaleidoscope of their suffering?How are people supposed to get angry about something they shouldn’t be allowed to see? And without that anger there’d be no Twitterstorm & no termination of the contract…
In reproducing victims’ trauma over and over, we only expose them to more harm. Throughout this six-week public ordeal, Janay Palmer’s pain has been minimalized, her judgment called into question. “Why did she marry him after he beat her?” reverberates around the web and in our minds, an accusation masquerading as a concern.Well, shouldn’t there be some accusation here? Should people not wonder why they are being asked to gin up outrage to help a woman who seemingly hasn’t helped herself?
If we viewed victims as more than a link to be tweeted, more than statistics to be reported to a broken criminal justice system, we would have to grapple with their complex humanity. We would have to offer meaningful solutions to violence, holistic responses to trauma, and accountability for abusers whom we may love. We would have to do more than just watch.I’m unclear just what it is you want here, other than uncritical acceptance of the ‘man bad, woman good’ meme, no matter the fact that the woman has shown hugely poor judgement.