So Hope Solo, Olympic athlete, went ahead and married Jerramy Stevens, NFL player, even though he was booked on domestic assault charges against her. Alyssa Rosenberg, a blogger for Double X over at Slate magazine just CAN’T BELIEVE IT! Why Hope? How could you marry a man with a record of assault charges who is also accused of assaulting YOU? Hope, you poor, brainwashed victim of the patriarchy, you must have Stockholm Syndrome or a bad case of victim-blaming. Poor, poor Hope Solo.
Although none of us has any right to pass judgement on Hope Solo (or any other celebrity, for that matter), we’re gonna do it anyways, because we’re all judgy bitches (some of us moreso than others). Before we start dissecting the Hope/Jerramy relationship, I think there are a few things we should keep in mind.
First of all, why are we assuming that Hope is innocent here? Just some blameless little peach cruelly abused by the big football playing brute. Yeah, right. Hope Solo is a world-class athlete in her own right, physically fit and fiercely competitive. She is one tough cookie. Is it so improbable that SHE might have taken the first swing? That would be incredibly stupid, but this is Hope Solo we’re talking about! When we’re talking about abuser/abused, it is unrealistic not to mention profoundly sexist to define Jerramy as the abuser and Hope as the abused.
The truth is most women feel pretty safe smacking a man. Men are taught from the time they are little boys that they are NOT to hit girls, and girls are taught that boys should NEVER hit them. When boys DO hit girls, they generally come in for a heap of punishment (http://judgybitch.com/tag/chris-brown/) and social scorn. Not so when women hit men. Men are expected to “man up” and take it.
And really, there is a BIG difference between a man hitting a woman and a woman hitting a man. It’s very rarely an equal match. Men, on average, are bigger and stronger than women, so a woman hitting a man is punching from a place of decided inferiority. Her hardest hit isn’t likely to do a whole lot of damage, while a man’s hardest hit has a good chance of killing a woman. This isn’t an argument that it’s OKAY for women to hit men, just an acknowledgement that women WILL hit men, assuming that the White Knight instinct will kick in and she will face no reprisals for striking out.
Letting Hope off the hook and casting her as the “victim” makes no sense, given that she may very well have thrown the first punch. The fact that Jerramy only hurt her elbow could be understood as him going easy on our little fireball.
Hope and Jerramy obviously have a complicated relationship, but one that really shouldn’t surprise anyone who has watched the “bad boys” and “assholes” walk away with the prize. Some women LIKE being the center of intense drama. Some women LOVE casting themselves as Florence Nightingale, on a mission to save a poor, misguided, misunderstood man who only needs to the love of a good woman to be tamed. Of course, if she does tame him, there goes Florence, so she will continuously provoke her man into needing her civilizing influence.
Not my cup of tea, but whatever. I’ve never been one to enjoy the company of assholes and I’ve never been with a man who dared to hit me. I’ve never slapped or hit a man, either. Growing up with three brothers, I’m not under any illusions about how much stronger men are than women. Smacking a man doesn’t seem like a life enhancing decision to me.
That’s not true for all women though. Domestic violence is almost ALWAYS represented showing a man as the abuser and a woman as the abused, but that is not a true depiction of domestic violence, by any stretch of the imagination.
Men and women are equally likely to beat the crap out of each other, it’s just that men, being stronger than women, tend to inflict more damage. More women show up at the hospital because broken bones require treatment. And if you decide to punch a man, it’s probably safe to assume you’re gonna need the services of a doctor. Bruises and scratches and cuts from broken crockery are no less traumatizing than broken ribs or noses, but they tend not to require medical treatment. When you couple more superficial injuries with contempt for men who get “beaten by a girl”, it results in domestic violence figures being hugely skewed to disguise how much men suffer from abuse and assault at the hands of their partners.
If that comes as a surprise to you, you should probably check out A Voice for Men. Raising awareness of violence against men is one of their main activities.
Congratulations, Hope and Jerramy! I hope you have a long and happy union, however you define that. And Jerramy, try not to piss Hope off when she’s holding some heavy stoneware. And if you do, DUCK!
Lots of love,