If you haven’t had your head in a hole for the last two days and hadn’t noticed, Ray Rice was cut from the Ravens and banned, for now, from football for punching out his wife. Being that the Ravens lost my fan vote last year when they took money to hawk Obamacare, I could really care less, but have gotten into some of the discussion because of one reason: his then fiancé, now wife, has been heralded as a poor victim. Why does that bother me? Because there is quite a bit of evidence to show that there’s more to the story. What brings me to today’s column is the “backlash” I’ve heard when pointing it all out. It all comes back to personal responsibility and there was plenty to be had in this situation all the way around.
So let’s get to the nitty-gritty of it first. Janay Rice was cold cocked and knocked out by her now husband, Ray Rice. Not ok, ever. He is clearly the bigger of the two, and a man, and it’s never ok to lay hands on a woman.
It’s also never ok to lay hands on a man either. And she did.
There are a few facts that keep getting lost in the mix. First, they were both drunk. Second, she cussed at him, spit in his face and hit him first. Again, that doesn’t make his reaction ok, and as the bigger and more powerful of the two he had a responsibility to control himself and not hit her.
She also had a responsibility not to lay hands on him.
They both had some responsibility in their behavior and reactions.
As with most anything else, let’s define our terms. Responsibility, per Meriam-Webster online is “the state of being the person who caused something to happen; the quality or state of being responsible: as in a moral, legal, or mental accountability.” Being accountable, you know, for the effect that your words and actions have on others.
So, let’s say that I got mad at work and got in my bosses face and told him off. It would be reasonable to think that I would get fired, right? That would be the consequence of my actions. Now, if my boss got back in my face and got so mad that she hit me, her reaction would be her responsibility. Out of proportion or not, it doesn’t change the fact that there is responsibility for behavior on both sides.
I commented on a friend’s post pointing out that there was bad behavior on both sides and a lack of responsibility on both sides, and got this back in response from another commenter:
The fact that matters most is that a 220 pound fb player hit a woman maybe half his size hard enough to knock her out cold. Where would you stand if he had killed her? I personally don’t care about either of them. That they may have been drunk should not be considered a factor. If you and your date get drunk and he rapes you, is it OK because of being drunk?
Sigh, where do I even start… let’s review:
1) If neither one of them were drunk, it’s probable that nothing would have occurred.
2) If she hadn’t cussed/spit/hit him it’s probable that he wouldn’t have hit her either.
3) If he hit her hard enough to kill her then he’d be facing manslaughter charges, and they’d be deserved. Her behavior towards him would be mitigating factors taken into account at sentencing.
4) If the roles were reversed and she cold cocked him no one would have said anything. In fact, let’s remember back to the fact that most people thought it was hilarious that Beyonce’s sister punched out Jayzee. Double standard anyone?
5) Mrs. Rice was arrested for her behavior as well. She committed a battery. Charges were dropped after there was negotiation between her and the prosecutor regarding, one would assume, who behaved worse and who would cooperate. Both faced legal consequences because BOTH were behaving illegally.
As for the “well what if you were on a date and got drunk and raped” example, there are several reasons why I should bear some of the responsibility if I was in that situation. First, I’m a married woman and I shouldn’t be out on a date with anyone. Bad behavior #1. Second, I shouldn’t be getting drunk with people I don’t know well or don’t trust implicitly. Bad behavior #2. Third, if I am drunk and out with someone I don’t know or trust then I shouldn’t go somewhere where I am alone with them. Bad behavior #3.
If I put myself in a situation where I am behaving badly, then I have to face the fact that there could be serious consequences. That is just a fact of life, like it or not. That doesn’t mean that it excuses the bad behavior of the other person in this fictitious situation, but it should mean that people question my behavior or how I contributed to the situation.
What if the guy in this fictitious situation was as drunk? Who is to blame then? I can hear the cries of “HE IS!” now. Why? “HE’S A MAN!” “She can’t consent” you say. Guess what, neither can he. Goose, meet gander. If you act stupidly, bad things happen. Another fact of life.
I don’t excuse anyone’s bad behavior. Responsibility. Try it sometime.