Running back Ray Rice before his NFL ban Reuters

Recently, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended running back Ray Rice after it was reported an unnamed official, working for the sport's governing body, received footage five months ago showing the athlete striking his then-fiancee (now wife) unconscious in a hotel elevator. Rice is now unable to play, and his team, the Baltimore Ravens, have terminated his contract.

A story dated March 27 suggests the NFL authorities had the tape, and Goodell was aware of it. As criminal evidence, the NFL says it was not allowed to view the CCTV footage. Yet if Goodell knew a copy had been received by the NFL, he should have reported it then.

Goodell's dereliction of civic/moral duty, assuming the above is true, is its own matter. Morally vacant behaviour from corporate officers long pre-dates this story. Instead, keep in mind that Rice's fiancee Janay was also arrested for assault for the same incident, the difference being that Rice rendered her unconscious in his response to her assault; for if they were both arrested and charged with assault, and she was knocked out by Rice with a single blow, must she not have thrown the first punch?

The charges against both were dismissed, possibly due to admissions of violence from both, or neither wanted the other charged, or other reasons. Co-mutual domestic violence (DV) is sadly typical in troubled or simply bad relationships.

A study appearing in the May 2007 edition of the American Journal of Public Health reported that almost half of DV incidents in the US are co-mutual, with 70% of non-co-mutual assaults committed by women, not men. But you wouldn't know that listening to feminists, the US president, and US vice-president, who paint DV as largely, or exclusively, male-on-female.

Elevator footage
Ray Rice and his then-fiance Janay during the attack TMZ

In June, Hope Solo, the winning goalkeeper on the US Olympic women's football team in 2008 and 2012, was arrested and charged after allegedly hitting her sister with a broomstick repeatedly and punching her nephew likewise in the face.

The response to Solo losing it on her relatives, one a minor, was silence. No demands for her to be barred from her sport indefinitely, no calls for the National Women's Soccer League president's resignation for failing to act aggressively enough to satisfy... who?

In the case of American football players, it's feminists and opportunistic politicians. But what of female athletes of any kind, as well as women generally? There is no outraged constituency to appease when a woman is accused of or caught committing DV.

In May, a lift security camera video surfaced showing singer Solange Knowles beating up her brother-in-law, rap musician Jay Z, and the reaction of people was at best "Meh", and at worst, "LOL!" Was Knowles released from her singing contracts? Did her fans rail against her? No.

The real story is the double standard around what is the necessary level of outrage over DV incidents attributed to celebrities, athletes or anyone else. DV against women by men is regarded as heinous; DV by women against men is regarded as comedic. Same-sex and familial DV are hardly acknowledged despite the statistically high prevalence of both as compared to heterosexual partner DV.

DV shouldn't be about politics or subject to double standards based on the sexes of those involved. Regardless of sex, victims should have equal resource access and consideration from the government and society.

Perpetrators must be held accountable and where productive, be made to undergo sufficient psychiatric remediation to give them an opportunity to learn new habits and interpersonal skills that don't entail using violence or threats.

If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, the on-ramp is paved with false assumptions. Have the Rices been served by the sudden attention, Ray's loss of work, their loss of privacy, etc? Not according to Janay. Who assumed Janay needed to be "saved" from her husband's multimillion-dollar income and the privacy in which they could learn better relationship skills?

Most should wonder how and why they are on the DV On-Ramp of False Assumptions. What got them there, and how to get off it? This on-ramp tends to leave both truth and justice in the rearview mirror, and with those, a lot of damaged lives. Enough's enough.

Matt Campbell writes for Men's Activism, a website that tracks news and information about men's issues from around the world, and promotes activism in support of men's rights and equality.

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