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Society needs to redefine manhood

link Tom McDonald

State columnist

Thanks, NFL, for sparking a worthy national conversation. When it comes to the issue of domestic violence, you’ve given us a wealth of examples about how not to behave.

Of course, it’s more important to talk about how such violence hits us at home, in our local communities, but it’s easier to discuss it when some faraway football players are under the microscope. So let’s ease in and start with Ray Rice.

That’s where it began for the NFL, after the Baltimore Ravens running back was caught on videotape beating his girlfriend Janay Palmer unconscious in a hotel elevator. The videos went public in September, after Palmer had married Rice, while the actual beating occurred last February.

Since then, four other NFL players — Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald, Quincy Enunwa and Johnathan Dwyer — have been arrested on domestic abuse charges, and Adrian Peterson was indicted on a child abuse charge (for allegedly hitting his 4-year-old son too hard during a spanking with a switch).

NFL officials are handling all this with incredible ineptitude, bearing down on the offending players only after their original, weak disciplinary actions made them look insensitive; then, with crocodile tears in their eyes, they apologize for not “getting it right” the first time around. And it’s not just NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who’s making the league look so bad; the teams’ owners and managers are culpable, too.

Their hypocrisy has been pathetic, but to expect the NFL to be a beacon of morality is an absurdity anyway, so I’ll not harp on that.

Instead, let’s get back to the real issue, domestic violence, which has been around much longer than football — as have other forms of violence against women.

On the front page of last week’s Río Grande Sun is a story about a woman who was badly beaten in an attempted rape and left for dead on a back road. Monique Ortiz courageously sat for an interview with the newspaper and allowed her terribly battered face to be photographed, so the brutality of the assault is horrifically clear. Jonathan Peralta, 21, has been charged with the attack.

Of course, this is a case of an attempted rape, not a domestic assault, but I wonder if there’s a connection between the two. It was reported that Peralta’s mother told police she noticed blood in her car (where the assault allegedly took place), but she didn’t want to say anything to her son because, according to an investigator, “he would get upset and yell at her.”

Could such hostility lead to acts of violence against other women? I can’t say that’s the case with Peralta — we’ve got to give him the benefit of the doubt while the judicial system resolves his case — but I suspect any young man who disrespects his mother to the point in which she’s afraid of him is a prime candidate for future violent behavior.

The fact is, every community has a problem with violence against women, and while it shows itself in many ways, more often than not, it’s behind closed doors, inside someone’s home.

Maybe we, as a society, need to redefine manhood. A tough football player does not a man make. That’s just a game. In the real world, a real man is a protector, a provider, even a nurturer. And when he gets mad, taking it out on women and children is simply not an option.

Tom McDonald is editor of the New Mexico Community News Exchange. Contact him at:


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