The Right Wing’s Unhinged Reaction to the Idea that Janay Rice Is a Victim


Now that Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been cut by his team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL for punching his then fiancee, Janay Palmer, in an elevator, the right wing media has done what we have come to expect from them, and blamed the victim.

This contrasts very strongly to the calls of a Democratic senator to inflict stiffer punishment on Rice, or to Keith Olbermann, who called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “an enabler” of men who beat women.”

Media Matters for America provides some prominent examples:

Fox Contributor Ben Carson: Rice And Wife Both Need Help Because “She Subsequently Married Him.” On NewsMax TV, Ben Carson, a Fox News contributor, implied Rice’s wife was partly to blame for her abuse, saying she also “need[s] some help” for marrying Rice after the attack:

“I’m hopeful they will get some help for him,” Carson said, after being asked whether he agreed with the moves today by the team and the league. “I mean, obviously anyone who would do something like that needs some help.”

“And let’s not all jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy,” Carson continued. “He obviously has some real problems, and his wife obviously knows that, because she subsequently married him. So they both need some help. So rather than just jumping on a punitive bandwagon, let’s just see if we can get some help for these people.” [Mediaite, 9/8/14]

Fox & Friends: Rice’s Wife Marrying Him Is Like Rihanna Staying With Chris Brown, “Terrible Message.” On the September 8 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, hosts Steve Doocy, Anna Kooiman, and Brian Kilmeade condemned Rice but pointed out that Palmer married the athlete after the incident and compared it to Chris Brown’s beating of Rihanna, saying that was a “terrible message”:

DOOCY: We should also point out after that video — and now you know what happened in there — she still married him. They’re currently married.

KILMEADE: I mean, look at Rihanna went back to —

KOOIMAN: Chris Brown.

KILMEADE: — Yeah, Chris Brown right after and a lot of people thought that was a terrible message. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/8/14]

Rush Limbaugh: Janay Palmer “Did Follow Through, And She Did Marry The Guy Who Knocked Her Out.” On his September 8 radio show, Limbaugh continuously brought up the fact that Janay Palmer married Ray Rice after the incident.

LIMBAUGH: Now the obvious question behind the question. Why did she marry the guy, right? If she got decked like that.
[…]

So you ask why did she marry him? You know she went out, they had this joint appearance. She apologized too at his apology presser. What did she apologize for? For getting beat up? Nobody can figure that out. So chomp on that. She did follow through and she did marry the guy who knocked her out in the elevator at Atlantic City. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/8/14]

You might remember Rush Limbaugh is the guy who supports domestic violence because it upsets “Jurassic Park femininazis.”

This complaint that she married him despite being hit is all fascinating, because Phyllis Schlafly says the way for women to avoid domestic violence is to focus on marriage, not their career:

We all know that married men can still be violent to their families, but they are far less likely to be violent against women than are live-in boyfriends.

Why is this? It’s true that women who have found men who are already better partners are more likely to marry them, but it’s also true that marriage settles men down. Being married makes a man care more about his family’s expectations and future because he sees his family as enduring. It also makes him more faithful and committed to his partner. Marriage makes men directly protective of their wives, and living in a home with their daughters gives them the opportunity to be directly protective of them as well. Marriage also creates indirect protection for wives and daughters, because married women and their children tend to live in safer neighborhoods.

So what’s the answer for women who worry about male violence? It’s not to fear all men. It’s to reject the lifestyle of frequent “hookups,” which is so much promoted on college campuses today, while the women pursue a career and avoid marriage.

By this logic, Janay Palmer did the right thing by marrying Rice, and these people have no right to criticize her for doing that.

Social media has been as bad as the right wing media, with claims that “both are to blame,” that men are being “emasculated,” or even that she was the aggressor, for example, culled from Facebook:

Did nobody see her lunge at him? I’m sick of society saying women can do whatever they want but men can’t do a thing about it. I’m not condoning the behavior but they were both guilty!

or,

I don’t know, looks like she came at him, no reason he shouldn’t be allowed to defend himself

or,

I seen the video she asked for it she was in his face and struck him first man women it dont mater if im hit im giving it back to em.

or,

Lesson, if you gonna hit a man first make sure you can defend yourself.

As Mel Robbins wrote on CNN Opinion,

The Baltimore Ravens blamed her when they suggested in a tweet that she had played a role in the incident. The tweet, which was taken down on Monday, read: “Janay Rice says she deeply regrets the role that she played the night of the incident.”

What role was that exactly? Her role as punching bag? Her role lying unconscious? Her role, as this FOX News anchor said after seeing her punched, “in not taking the stairs.”

This is a world in which women have no right to complain about gender inequality if they don’t want to get punched. After all, it’s okay for men to punch each other, right? Wrong. That’s still violence and men don’t routinely punch each other to settle disagreements. If Ray Rice had punched another man in the elevator, he would be just as guilty.

The tendency to defend the man in such cases seems to be reflexive on the right, a knee-jerk reaction not only to loss of male privilege but to uppity women thinking they are equal to men, that men should not be able to discipline their wives as they might a pet. It would hardly be more shocking to see Republicans hand out choke chains to male attendees at their next national convention.

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