I really wasn’t surprised that Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice got a standing ovation from fans, after returning from his too-brief suspension for knocking out his girlfriend. My experience of sportsball culture is that athletes are held to a much lower standard than the rest of us. They expect it. They’re allowed to cut in line, break the rules of decency, and sneer at any expectation that they be expected to face consequences. And their fans seem to like it that way. Hence the standing ovation.
The reason that men don’t go around hitting other men, though, is that most men can credibly hit back. Which makes hitting women all the more craven. We keep our testosterone in check when our dental work is at stake. And I believe it’s a component of the contempt that certain men hold for women of strength – either physical or relational.
Sometimes I think that testosterone culture* doesn’t so much celebrate strength and aggression as it is terrified of weakness, of losing power. This is why certain people compare other men to a woman… as an insult.
Few people (of either gender) will physically attack anyone they believe can really defend themselves. Effeminate men seem to be targets, and children, and the elderly, the disabled, and people who are not in a legal position to defend themselves. Such cowardice extends even outside our species; during WW I, some men kicked dachshund hounds because they were “German dogs”. No record of them attempting the same thing on German shepherds.
Libby Anne of Love, Joy, Feminism asks; “How about people don’t hit people?” (Good article, as is the article she links to.)
“And exactly why can’t we instill in boys that real men never hit people? Why should it be okay for men to hit other men? I am not okay with that being okay.”
Adlai Stevenson famously said that a free society is one in which it is safe to be unpopular. I would like to add that a free society is also one in which it is safe to be poor, to be physically less than powerful, to care about others, or to be shy or non- aggressive. I would welcome attempts to distill that into a statement as pithy as Stevenson’s.
- *Testosterone culture, of course, extends way beyond sportsball. That’s just the example which prompted this rant.
- News creatures say “alleged domestic assault incident”. Bullshit: he was recorded on video knocking out his girlfriend, and dragging her away unconscious. There’s nothing “alleged” about it.
- Remember the mass protests at Penn State, in defense of Jerry Sandusky? Beloved sportsball figure!