By Ernie McCray
It’s sad that there’s such a notion as “violence against women,” but it’s heartening that, seemingly, we, as a society, are now looking into such an unsavory practice as though we want to do something about it.
A catalyst for a big part of our interest in the subject has been the National Football League (who would have ever dreamed that?) with their “No” to violence against women television PSA’s, featuring present day and ex-pro football players, motivated by that horrible tape we saw of star running back, Ray Rice, punching his wife out in an elevator, one of the nastiest sights anyone could ever see.
“No more boys will be boys,” one of the athletes says. No more “what’s the big deal” or “that’s just the way he is.” No more: “he’s such a nice guy; he had such a bright future; not my problem; I’ll say something next time; why didn’t she tell anyone; why doesn’t she just leave; I’m sure they’ll work it out; she seems fine to me; what was she wearing; she was drunk or he was drunk; she was asking for it; she never said ‘No’; not in this family; not on this team; we don’t talk about that.”
The message “TOGETHER WE CAN END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & SEXUAL ASSAULT” appears on the screen as the ad fades out with one more “No more.”
I sure hope we are up for that challenge. To honor such a mission, though, we will have to give heed to my favorite piece of advice in the ad campaign: “No more bystanders, ignorance or excuses.”
To honor such a mission, though, we will have to give heed to my favorite piece of advice in the ad campaign: “No more bystanders, ignorance or excuses.”
We can begin by just discussing it with friends and loved ones and business associates and office mates, anyone who will listen, with the idea of discovering how we can affect the way women are treated in our various communities.
But it’s critically important that we push our nation’s institutions to move forward in getting past the sexism that’s rooted in our patriarchal history wherein women are believed to be less than men, here but to serve, to entertain, to be subjected to the whims of their “masters.”
We can, for instance, support college students like those at San Diego State University where fraternity and sorority members will be required to take an hour-long online course because of recent sexual assaults on their campus at Greek events. They recognize that these steps won’t solve the issue on their own but could have a positive influence on the culture and safety at their school. They’re off to a good start, I would say. Fraternities and sororities will provide training for bystanders who witness a sexual attack. There are plans for a leadership forum to encourage discussions among Greek leaders, school officials and the larger student body. We should wish them well and check in every now and then to see how they’re doing.
It would be most wise for us to keep an eye on the likes of police departments and the judicial system and insist that they play a key role in ensuring that women are protected from abuse and that violence against them is reported and punishment is given to those who harm them.
There’s so much to be done: watching the media and insisting that they contribute to our efforts by becoming a powerful tool for change for us; encouraging boy scout leaders to be instrumental in defining for boys how to grow up to be sensitive non-violent men; charging schools with providing students relevant learning experiences that can enable them to look critically at violence of all kinds in our society; enlisting church members to see to it that their congregations don’t discriminate against women’s aspirations as human beings; and definitely ensuring that women are economically empowered as an essential prerequisite in the fight against domestic violence.
We must realize, I venture to say, that if we’re to make women feel safer we have to come to truly believe that they are worthwhile, that they matter. We have to honor their desire to simply go anywhere they want to go without worrying about how they are dressed, or fearing for their safety.
I’m referring to a reality where, someday, we will be able to say, when it comes to “No more”: “No more how it used to be.”