Earlier this month, pictures of the beating Nicole Holder received from her ex-boyfriend Greg Hardy, member of the Dallas Cowboys, were made available to the public. Outcry ensued, and rightfully so. While Hardy was suspended for four games, many believe that domestic abusers have no place in sports at all. This opinion can be seen in the case of Ray Rice. Although the owner of the Baltimore Ravens, Steve Bisciotti, referred to Rice as a “model citizen” even after news emerged that accused Ray Rice of hitting his fiancé Janay Palmer. However, after the video was released, Rice was cut from the Ravens and has since been out of the league, despite the fact that many commentators have noted that he is talented enough to contribute to a team.
Now contrast this to what is happening with Ronda Rousey. The former bantamweight champion published a book in May titled “My Fight / Your Fight” which just began to make news six months later for an excerpt detailing Rousey beating up an ex-boyfriend. According to the book, her ex had taken nude photos of Rousey without her consent. She recounts “getting angrier and angrier.” She continues to say, “I slapped him across the face… I punched him in the face with a straight right, then a left hook… then I grabbed him by the neck of his hoodie, kneed him in the face and tossed him aside on the kitchen floor.” Why? Because her ex insisted on talking about the situation and stood in front of the door in order to stop her from leaving. When Rousey finally exited the apartment and got into her car, her boyfriend grabbed the steering wheel, leading her to “[walk] around the car, [pull] him by the neck of the hoodie again, [drag] him onto the sidewalk and [leave] him writhing there.” Despite this, there has not been any action taken against Rousey and only tentative criticism.
Many believe this is due to double standards in domestic violence that exist for men and women. Some might note that female athletes such as Britney Griner and Hope Solo were suspended following their arrests for domestic abuse. However, it is important to note that Britney Griner’s arrest was for assaulting a woman and Hope Solo’s was for assaulting a minor. When it comes to woman-on-man abuse, many believe that women are given too much leeway.
Rousey defended herself by saying that she was just acting in self-defense. She said, ““So if someone is blocking you into an apartment and won’t let you leave, you’re entitled to defend yourself and find a way out. If you’re trying to get into your car and leave and they’re grabbing your steering wheel and saying you can’t leave, technically you’re being kidnapped, and you can defend yourself in any way that is necessary.”
For some, this argument falls flat. Sarah Spain of ESPN argued “If you switched the roles and she’d come home to an angry boyfriend, pleading with him to stay and hear her out, you’d be hard-pressed to find people who would forgive a man for punching a woman, kneeing her in the face and dragging her onto the sidewalk.”
Others note that women are less physically imposing than men, and therefore domestic violence against men is simply not the same crime. Kim Pentico of the National Network to End Domestic Violence said “a woman’s fear of a man is different from a man’s fear of a woman.” In addition, women have typically been the recipients of domestic abuse and therefore should be more protected by these laws than men should.
However, recent studies by the Cent have shown that men are victims of intimate partner physical violence just as often—if not more often than women– and over 40 percent of victims severe physical violence are men. The National Domestic Violence Hotline warns that men are just as vulnerable to domestic abuse as women, and that treating this abuse as a joke enables women to abuse their significant others. Spain asks “is it too much to ask that neither men nor women punch, kick and slap their partners?”