Take The Lead or Take a Punch

Photo courtesy of The Associated PressOn July 24, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the 2 game suspension of Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back accused of assaulting his then fiancée. Today, Ray Rice and the woman he allegedly assaulted are married. He is in a pretrial intervention program and she has publicly apologized for her role in the altercation.Let me ask you this: Is this a message we are going to send to our daughters? Hey sweet girls, we want you to Take The Lead in public but Take A Punch in the bedroom. Who are we kidding? When are we going to no longer accept this kind of behavior? Does money truly drive everything, even punching a woman to the point of knocking her out? Janay Rice, now the wife of Ray Rice, probably did not choose to be made a public spectacle. And maybe she didn’t enter her relationship expecting to be a role model. However, she is now known as the woman who married the man who knocked her out. She is now known as the woman who publicly apologized for her role in being knocked out as shown in this press release.RayRiceVideo of Janay Rice allegedly attacking Ray Rice has yet to be released to the public. If/when that surfaces, will we have a different perspective? If Janay had been the one who knocked him out, what would be the outcome? Would we see the reaction like we did to Solange Knowles, who assaulted JayZ in an elevator? Would we villainize Janay and make Ray Rice the hero for not striking her back?Now, what message are we sending our sons? Hey buddy, it’s ok if you strike your partner, girlfriend, or wife because you will just get a slap on the wrist. You will have to pay a fine and take some classes, but you will still be able to play and make millions and millions of dollars. Violence against women takes many shapes and forms. Women are still fearful to report a sexual assault and when they do come forward, especially against athletes, sometimes they wish they hadn’t.Jackson Katz provides great insight during his TED talk about domestic violence. He proposes that we change our perspective. Instead of viewing domestic violence as a women’s issue, we need to look at it as a men’s issue. Instead of providing sensitivity training to people who use racial and sexist language, we must teach them how to be better leaders.Photo Courtesy of TED: Jackson Katz BioAthletes in the NFL receive a more severe punishment for testing positive for illegal substances than Ray Rice received for striking his fiancée. If we truly want to see change and we want to see women being treated equally in public as well as behind elevator doors, the system must change. There must be a fundamental societal shift regarding how we handle cases of violence and we must stop sensationalizing the aggressor. We must stop allowing money to drive our decision making when it comes to matters of humanity. How else can we teach our children, both boys and girls, that violence, in any form, is unacceptable? How else can we teach them to be leaders both in the community and in their professions and take a stand against problems such as domestic violence?How can we teach our girls to Take The Lead in their lives, both personally and professionally, if we still often see women Take A Punch?