Provoking Violence

Today we found out that Stephen A. Smith, ESPN commentator, was suspended after his comments regarding Ray Rice knocking out his girlfriend earlier this year. Smith said last week that women should avoid provoking men into assaulting them. The internet went on fire. Tell me Stephen, how does a woman avoid provoking a man into assaulting them? Are you saying that women are responsible for the assaults against them because the men are inadequate or incapable of controlling their tempers? We, women can prevent men from knocking us out? Please Stephen tell me how?

It was Smith’s own colleague at ESPN, Michelle Beadle, that called him out on his disturbing remarks by saying that “Violence isn’t the victim’s issue. It’s the abusers. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting”. Thank you Michelle! This is the basic premise that we are all trying to educate men on. Some men get it and sadly other’s don’t. ESPN took a firm stand in suspending Smith for his comments and for that I am happy. Does it take away the sting of his comments? No, but at least they are trying to stand up for women’s rights to not be abused.

This situation runs close to home for me. As a child I watched domestic violence in the form of my parent’s marriage. My first understanding of love and family came at the sound of fists flying and broken glass. I don’t wish that childhood on anyone. I felt helpless. As a mother to a young boy, his father and I stand united on the fact that he should never put his hands on a woman. He’s too young to understand our concern. But, even in his playing with his female friends, I watch his interactions and use it as a teachable moment when he gets too rough with the young girls. Not to hurt his feelings, but to remind him that we keep our hands to ourselves and that you should never hit a girl.

I’m tired of having to stand on my stage and scream that women matter too. I don’t deserve to be abused because I hurt your feelings and emasculate you. You’re grown. You know better. That whole “sticks and stones” nursery rhyme comes to mind. Words never hurt. I know some men will probably say that some women do “provoke” men into hitting them. I offer you this simple explanation: No, they don’t. Life is about choices. You chose to be violent when you put your hands on a woman. Walk away. Women aren’t responsible for your lack of self-control. We all have choices. You can choose right or wrong. I implore men to choose wisely.

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