Talk Back

Domestic Violence & Selective Outrage

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“He picked her up by her hair and ‘began slamming her head and the right side of her body repeatedly against a brick wall near the stairway’ as his bodyguard held off the crowd with a gun. After Dre tried to throw her down the stairs and failed, he began kicking her in the ribs and hands. She escaped and ran into the women’s rest room. Dre followed her and “grabbed her from behind by the hair again and proceeded to punch her in the back of the head.” –Alan Light (for Rolling Stone Magazine)

Wow. Right? Above is female rapper/television personality Dee Barnes’ account of the night rap legend Dr. Dre confronted her after she did an unflattering interview about Dre’s group NWA. Somehow, though, in spite of this incident (and several others, apparently) Dr. Dre’s image has remained largely unscathed. He’s made a huge sum of money from his “Beats” empire, his rap royalties, and this August, a movie about his group—NWA– grossed record numbers at the box office.

Meanwhile, former Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice, who was caught on tape socking his fiancée in the face, can’t even get picked up by an NFL practice squad.

Something’s not right about that.

If we want violence against women to stop, we have to stop cherry-picking who we’re going to slam with condemnation. You know, we can’t make Ray Rice a pariah, while pretending the Dr. Dre-Dee Barnes incident never happened. We shouldn’t drag Chris Brown for attacking Rihanna, but look the other way when Sean Penn beats up Madonna. We have to raise our voices each and every time a woman has been violated.

Over the past several months, I’ve heard a growing chorus of calls for television networks to pull The Cosby Show from the airwaves forever because of Bill Cosby’s admission that he drugged women for the purposes of engaging in non-consensual sex. Yet, I haven’t heard one person call for the removal of Three and a Half Men from the airways, despite Charlie Sheen’s well-documented history of violent acts towards women. What makes Cosby’s victims more special than Sheen’s? The number of people who were allegedly victimized? So, in order for my violation to matter, it has to come at the hands of a man who’s violated dozens of other women? Must I be Rihanna famous (as opposed to just Dee Barnes famous) for you to care? We have to stop this. We have to learn how to stand with ALL victims.

Men are watching us. And when they see us give certain men a pass on being abusive, they’re getting the message that we’re only serious about ending violence against women “sometimes.” They’re learning that sometimes hitting a woman is acceptable. And I’m certain that every now and again, when a man gets ready to attack a woman, in the back of his mind, he’s thinking he’ll get away with it like (insert name of celebrity who got away with it) did.

We must be consistent. We mustn’t let any man hide behind money, fame, wealth or likability. We must send a message to all women that we take their safety seriously.

And I’m not saying uniform outrage is a cure-all, as condemnation can’t solve depravity nor can shame replace professional intervention. But I do believe that us deciding to stand together and hold ALL offenders accountable is an important first step. And please note, I said held accountable, not dragged for the rest of their lives, as I believe in redemption, forgiveness and second chances.

We have to stop giving certain people free passes and we have to stop it today.