Perhaps it's true that were Christy Mack not well-known as a porn star and tattoo model, this wouldn't be such big news to begin with. But coming on the heels of very recent headlines about domestic violence, sparked by a video showing Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an Atlantic City elevator—hell, coming on the heels of every media account of domestic abuse ever—it makes sense to be wary of how the media will handle this story.
It’s difficult to watch the grainy video of Janay Palmer without getting a knot in the pit of your stomach. A viral video of a football player lugging his unconscious fiancé around like a garbage bag was seen by millions of Americans, each pixel flickering as a celebrated millionaire athlete hauled his incapacitated girlfriend out of an elevator.
• Military sexual assaults are up 50 percent in the last year as a result of increased reporting. The government is specifically targeting male victims who report at an even lower rate than female victims. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a recent news conference, "We have to fight the cultural stigmas that discourage reporting and be clear that sexual assault does not occur because a victim is weak, but rather because an offender disregards our values and the law." [AP]
If you don’t pay attention to the thrilling world of ice hockey, you likely haven’t heard about Semyon Varlamov (above), the star goalie for the Colorado Avalanche hockey team. Last Wednesday, Varlamov turned himself in to Denver police for domestic violence. On more sports fans’ radars is the news this week about Miami Dolphins’ guard Richie Incognito, who is accused of bullying a young teammate so mercilessly with racist and homophobic slurs that the player felt compelled to leave the team.
Both cases highlight the tendency of sports and mainstream media to give athletes a pass for conduct that would be reprehensible in people not worth billions of dollars. But both media and management treated the two cases of abuse very differently. While Incognito’s bullying of a teammate has resulted in a tidal wave of bad PR and administrative punishment, Varlamov’s alleged harassment of his girlfriend has so far resulted in very little comeuppance.
Marissa Alexander is a mother of three, a Black woman, and a survivor of abuse. She is currently sitting in a Florida prison for firing a warning shot into the wall of her house to dissuade her abusive husband from attacking her. Last month, an appeals court overturned her conviction, ruling that the jury received flawed instructions on self-defense.
Marissa Alexander’s case illustrates how abuse survivors are often criminalized and further abused by the legal system.
• From the Department of Bad Ideas: Gawker has created a Privilege Tournament in the form of an NCAA–style bracket. "Privilege has its benefits," writes creator Hamilton Nolan, "but the lack of privilege confers that sweet, sweet moral superiority." Keep it classy, Gawker. [Feministing]
• From the department of extra-bad ideas: Author and University of Toronto professor David Gilmour caused a continental stir yesterday when an interview revealed this quote: "I'm not interested in teaching books by women." He went on to say, "What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth." Roxane Gay addresses his shortsightedness with a reading list and some pointed responses. [Salon]
• Cloudy with a chance of bigots: Guido Barilla, CEO of pasta giant Barilla, declared that the brand would never advertise with images of gay families, saying "I think the family we speak to is a classic family." He walked back his remarks a bit once news of the statement sparked a Barilla boycott, but the damage seems to be done. Good news for Ronzoni! [The Guardian]
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