Again, folks are outraged. And the outrage is for a good reason.
And I agree with his outrage. I applaud him, in fact. And I consider him to be on “the side of The White,” or perhaps one of the Jedi Knights.
Keith Olbermann is actually someone I have come to admire greatly in the past several months. He works for ESPN and may be “just a sports guy” to some, but to me he is much more than that. He is smart, and he cares about society. And not afraid to speak his mind on tough subjects, such as the Tamir Rice shooting.
Last week, Olbermann made an impassioned speech about Jameis Winston and Floyd Mayweather. Jameis Winston is a soon to be NFL quarterback who may be chosen in the first round of the 2015 draft. Mayweather is a boxer who will be participating in yet another televised match this weekend, where the prices of the tickets were ungodly, and the price of watching the pay per view is also ungodly. A much anticipated match, in other words.
Jameis Winston was accused of sexual assault in 2012, when he attended Florida State University. Winston was also the quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles, and was a Heisman trophy winner as a freshman. Both the college and local law enforcement “investigated” the accusation, and no charges were filed, despite some compelling evidence that indicated otherwise.
Floyd Mayweather is also no stranger to troubles with the law. Mayweather has been accused of domestic violence multiple times, and unlike Winston, the charges have stuck. Mayweather has been prosecuted several times, and has served some form of punishment several times. In other words, like a certain pseudonym come to life in a book by my favorite writer, he is “not a nice guy.”
And Ser Olbermann is outraged. As he should be. As we all should. Clearly, we live in a society that does not value the safety of women and children, and does not treat domestic violence and sexual assault with the gravity that both of those topics deserve.
In fact, Olbermann is calling for a boycott of the fight and NFL draft…
And let me stop you right there. Ser Olbermann.
You are noble and your intentions are good. And I admire that. I will always admire that.
But let me make one thing clear.
Boycotting the NFL draft and the upcoming fight will NOT do a FUCKING thing to address this problem. Not a FUCKING thing.
We talk about the problem the NFL and the sports world in general has with domestic violence and sexual assault. And this is true, even outside of Winston and Mayweather. More than a few athletes have had brushes (or worse) with the law in regards to these issues.
But really, its not the sports world that has a problem with domestic violence and sexual assault.
Our society has a problem with domestic violence and sexual assault. A big problem with domestic violence and sexual assault.
Consider this. Most victims of rape and sexual assault do not report the attack, out of fear that they will not be believed and/or that the perpetrators will actually receive any form of meaningful punishment. And the statistics will back that up.
Consider this. Domestic violence is also a crime that is under-reported. I am a survivor of domestic violence from my first marriage. I never called the police on my ex husband. Never. What was going to happen if I called the police? He gets thrown in jail for maybe a few hours and is bailed out? Then he comes back, and maybe hurts me even worse? Possibly even killing me? Again, this is the likely scenario, and the statistics will back me up once again.
People often believe that perpetrators such as Ray Rice, Floyd Mayweather and even Jameis Winston are not punished due to their money and fame. This is true to an extent, but does not tell the whole story. Men who are not rich and famous (like my ex husband) do not face very much in the way of punishment, either. Our justice is system is harsher on people who smoke marijuana or fail to pay their traffic fines (see John Oliver’s brilliant rant on that subject here). In short, someone is more likely to get the attention of our judicial system if he/she runs a stop sign and then can’t pay the ticket, as opposed to either raping or beating up a woman.
And this is where the outrage must go, Ser Olbermann. Boycotting the NFL draft and an overpriced boxing match may be noble in theory, but does not address the real problem.
The real problem is our judicial system. Our judicial system simply does not value the health and safety of women. Many states may brag how tough they are they are on domestic violence, but this is lip service for the most part. If this was actually true, women would not be murdered by their intimate partners at such a high rate. And women’s shelters would not be at maximum capacity, since their services are so badly needed.
And our society. I remained silent on my own experience for far too long. For one, it is difficult to talk about and still extremely painful. And one of the reasons it is so difficult to talk about is because of the judgement. Yes, judgement. I was the one who was choked, received black eyes and endured all sorts of horrible things, but I was afraid of judgement. Judgement for marrying my ex in the first place. Judgement for not leaving. Judgement for staying far too long, as if I was the one who had something wrong with me, even though I wasn’t the one trying to choke another human being and then blaming that human being for my actions. And the judgement is ever present. Women who work in what we consider to be “low life” professions, such as strippers and even prostitutes, experience rape and sexual assault at an alarmingly high rate. And yet, these incidents are under-reported even more than by women who do not work in these industries. And again, the reason is judgement. Women who work in these types of professions (rightfully) fear judgement, as society has instilled in them that they deserve what happens to them, as it is a punishment for being employed in a “bad” job, and that women employed in these professions are not worthy of even being treated like human beings in the first place. Or if alcohol was involved in any way. Or drugs. Even if the guy pays for the date and the woman doesn’t “put out.” Our society is very quick to judge women’s sexual behavior, and if the behavior is not up to code, then the woman is deserving of any punishment she receives, including rape and any other form of violence that men care to throw at her.
Like I said, Keith Olbermann is awesome and always will be. But Ser Olbermann, re-direct your anger. You are right to be angry. You are even right to be angry at the sports world, for it does far too little to address this problem. But a boycott of one fight and one NFL draft is not the answer to this problem. In fact, I don’t know what the answer to this problem is. But perhaps if everyone, including Keith Olbermann, could direct their anger towards society and our judicial system, maybe one day we will not even need to have this conversation of whether or not to boycott sporting events. Maybe the perpetrators will be ones who fear judgement, not the victims. And maybe myself and the other survivors will be in a little less pain, because society will final recognize that the perpetrators are the ones who need to be punished and actually fear that punishment, instead of the survivors, who have already endured enough horror and fear. Just maybe, this will happen one day.