The Way We Talk About Domestic Violence In Sports Is Dangerous For Women
It's hard not to get the sense people are flat-out disinterested in certain social issues when they devote focus to certain arguments.
Rarely does bringing up "voter fraud" seem like a genuine effort to confront an issue that one believes to be important.
Rather, it usually feels like a topic of resort for those who don't buy into the idea that unnecessary voter ID laws could have a potentially disenfranchising effect.
It can sound like a serious assertion, but in the end, it usually just distracts from a larger issue and pulls attention away from a deserving topic.
In the same way, so many of the discussions we entertain when it comes to every type of story on domestic violence (particularly when they relate to sports) always seem to find a way to distract us from having serious conversations about the actual violence itself.
Bring up Floyd Mayweather, and the problem of glorifying the lifestyle of a man who has a long history of domestic violence cases, and there will be those who point out some women accuse the boxer but stick with him, presumably for the money.
Talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers' embarrassingly poor decision to project an unfunny and offensive skit on their arena's Jumbotron last week, and you'll find others who will lament the growing number of victories for political correctness.
Bring up Brittney Griner, and there will be people who insist the amount of attention her recent domestic violence scandal garnered is unfairly lesser than what Ray Rice received.
And we're all too familiar with people finding the idea of college athletes' supposed irresistibility as sufficient reason to dismiss Jameis Winston's rape accuser at Florida State.
And none of those four arguments are definitively wrong, either.
The fact that Mayweather has been accused by women who have engaged in relationships with him on multiple occasions, for instance, could indeed throw you off.
If he really did all that stuff, which he denies, why would they keep going back to him?
That the Cavaliers likely received much of their backlash from people who viewed the questionable video online and drew conclusions about the organization's character without full context, could indeed rub people the wrong way.
With a straight face, anyone could lament the legitimately disturbing idea that a person or organization's whole image can be tarnished as long as enough people perceive a single act to be offensive enough, regardless of whether the act actually was.
Similarly, Griner really has received a relatively low amount attention compared to Rice. And wondering why star quarterbacks, who usually do have their fair share of options and reputations at risk, would resort to rape isn't unreasonable.
None of these are necessarily dumb things to think out loud.
Merely having a logically competent point (the most basic of requisites for having a legitimate conversation) does not by itself warrant that point being made.
These points especially don't need to be made in the way most sub-arguments that are related to, but are not really about, domestic violence are made.
Too often, people use such arguments with the same type of suspicious timing that the topic of "black on black crime" is raised.
When a person is handed an opportunity to have a constructive discussion about a serious issue, and chooses instead to devote energy to arguing over who gets what amount of attention, it's hard not to step back and ponder.
It's hard not to think, deep down, about the hurtful and disappointing idea that said person really isn't interested in discussing the larger, and much more important, topic in the first place.
@Rachel__Nichols, where is your interview with Lampley after his domestic voilence? isn't lampley calling the fight, hypocrisy stop it — Salem Diallo (Mobb) (@NYG_NYY_NYK) May 2, 2015
At that point, these sub-arguments become nothing more than distractors. But even when the intention is not to distract, the way in which choose to discuss domestic violence in sports can be dangerous.
When we score points in discussing topics that, while related, are of relative unimportance, we miss a chance to attack a problem that is literally killing our sisters, mothers and friends.
In a world were 70 percent of women worldwide are subject to physical or sexual abuse in their lifetimes, the core issues of domestic violence and its victims sorely need the attention that our sub-arguments take away from.
For every time we dismiss the claims of a woman who accuses her boyfriend, because she goes back to him every time, we ignore the frightening reality that returning to a dangerous significant other can be as common to an abusive relationship as the abuse itself.
And sure, we could argue why a female basketball player does not receive as much attention as a star running back in the nation's most popular sport.
But doing so, and not even attempting to discuss domestic violence among lesbian women (a staggering 50 percent of whom, according to this study, will experience domestic violence in their lives), is both disingenuous and unproductive.
Where we devote our focus does indeed matter, but even more so when you consider how that focus, or lack thereof, can empower.
Jumping on the side of "she did it because he's a star" in cases like Jameis Winston's only perpetuates victim blaming.
And guilty or not, at time during which college campuses are already lacking in their ability to investigate rape cases, the stakes are just too high to entertain arguments that condition an environment where it's difficult for assaulted women to come forward.
Too often when we discuss domestic violence in sports, our arguments can find a way of discomforting the abused.
When we do that, and perpetuate the lack of seriousness with which domestic violence is already treated in the process, we cannot deny that our words endanger women.