Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

(Photo: Corporate Trade/Flickr Creative Commons)

Your Abuse Is Not Appreciated

Laura Finley

Much has been written in the last several weeks about men’s physical abuse of women. Former Baltimore Raven Ray Rice’s videotaped knockout of his girlfriend and the initial two-game suspension he received from the NFL prompted both outrage and, of course, an outpouring of fan support for the abuser. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seemed to realize the gravity of the situation and changed league policy to include harsher sanctions for convicted abusers. Then, when TMZ released footage of the actual knockout punch earlier this week, which the league claims not to have seen, it seemed like even die-hard professional football fans could no longer defend the league for its still weak approach to the serious issue of domestic violence. The Ravens did suspend Rice indefinitely, but at the same time, the situation ignited the victim blamers, who focused on the fact that Rice’s girlfriend, Janay Palmer, stayed with him after the attack and the two have since married. Rather than focusing on why men like Rice abuse the women they proclaim to love, the social media universe was on fire with discussion of “why she stays.”

None of this now ubiquitous dialogue gets at the societal factors that set the stage for domestic violence. As with the abuse, we minimize the daily harassment women endure when some men feel it is their birthright to discipline our bodies while we are in public. From sexual harassment at work and schools to the near routine cat calls women endure when simply walking in public, we are told that our bodies are titillating or inadequate and afforded the approval or disdain of harassers. And, like domestic violence, we are told it is our fault that these men can’t control their need to yell out at us. We are, like the guests and hosts of the new Fox News show Outnumbered explained, supposed to be flattered by the attention and to let “men be men.” As if vocal cord control resides only in women. Of course, also like domestic violence, some women have heard such a steady diet of this mantra that they, too, start to believe they deserve, even enjoy, such attention.

I was recently the unwanted subject of a man’s attention, a man who felt I would somehow appreciate his loud and aggressive calls about my body. I did not. It made me feel sad, angry and dirty. Not least of which is because he had the gall to yell harassing comments while he was with a woman and had a baby strapped to the front of his body. No, Fox News, I don’t think he “meant it in a nice way.” I think he meant it to show his social power and because he believes he has the right to say whatever he wants to a woman. Not that far removed from an abuser if you ask me.

Rather than trying to explain why Janay Rice or countless other victims of domestic violence stay with abusers, perhaps we should start having a far more serious discussion about why some men feel as though they are the police of women’s bodies in the first place. Why does a show like Outnumbered, which is supposed to be focused on women, normalize this kind of sexism? Young men need to be taught how to appreciate and treat women in far healthier ways. I fear that the current focus on victims and whether they “ask for it” continues to minimize the discussion of men, their choices, and societal approval of the degradation of women.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Laura Finley

Laura Finley as Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida. She is syndicated by PeaceVoice. Laura is a member of Amnesty International USA's Board of Directors.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

"They're Lying": Lots of Climate Misinformation Detected During Testimony of Big Oil CEOs

"There is no longer any question: These companies knew and lied about their product's role in the climate crisis, they continue to deceive, and they must be held accountable."

Jessica Corbett ·

Low-Income Americans to Congress: 'I Am the Cost of Cutting Build Back Better'

"We need to stop asking, 'How much does a bold Build Back Better agenda cost?' and instead ask, 'How much does it cost not to Build Back Better?'" said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II.

Kenny Stancil ·

With Fossil Fuel Subsidies Intact, Climate Groups Decry BBB Framework as 'Failure of Leadership'

"This spending package is not enough to prove that the U.S. is a global leader in a world in a climate crisis," said one critic.

Julia Conley ·

'Progressives Won't Leave Working Families Behind': Jayapal Stands Ground Against Pelosi-Biden

"We've been clear since the spring: the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act pass together—and that hasn't changed."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Too Bad We Can't Tax Egos': Elon Musk Blasted for Attack on Billionaire Tax

"This country made him rich," said one critic. "He owes us."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo