Sep 15, 2014
In early September, the Baltimore Ravens football team released Ray Rice from his contract. And the NFL has indefinitely suspended Rice from playing football. The former running back was shown on video knocking unconscious his fiancée, who is now his wife. The video has driven home in a dramatic way the ugly reality of the all too common abuse of women.
If it were only the question of Rice and his wife, we could say Rice acted like a thug, and a football star fell off his pedestal. But it is not just a question of one man.
It is not even just the hypocrisy of the NFL commissioners pretending they didn’t understand last February that there was a problem. What they care about is the image of their billion-dollar industry, not the beating of a woman.
In fact, the real problem is reflected in the fact that Rice was cheered like a hero when he came back from his original two-game suspension last season. If domestic violence were not a pervasive problem throughout this society, Rice would have been booed for his disgusting actions.
The problem certainly is reflected in the way professional sports treats women. But sports are only a mirror of this class society, which considers women to be property. In the U.S. one of every four women reports violence by an intimate partner. It’s more in reality, because many women fear to raise the problem. And it is not just a question of beatings. More than a thousand women are killed in the U.S. by a spouse every year. One of every three rape and sexual assault victims under the age of 18 has been attacked by a male in their family. Two of every three homeless women report domestic abuse.
It is an epidemic of violence against women. The grisly statistics show an underlying attitude by way too many men that women are not people. An enormous number of men seem to think women are “things,” property that can be treated any way they choose, including beatings, rape and murder.
The problem is exacerbated around the world by the men leading all the world religions. It is estimated that throughout the world one in three women faces domestic abuse, particularly in countries loudly proclaiming their adherence to one of the world’s main religions. The Catholic Church has treated women as evil beings since it consolidated its power after the fall of the Roman empire. Orthodox Jewish men pray to thank their god that they weren’t born female. The Hindu custom was to burn women to death when their husbands died! And many devout Muslim men demand women remain in the home, completely covered, without education.
Women around the world have waged numerous fights against their second class citizenship and the enormous abuse they have received from men. These attitudes date back thousands of years to the beginnings of class society. And they will only be completely wiped out with the overthrow of a society based on classes. But women’s fight to defend themselves must be a part of that fight.