Frequently men are put on blast when it comes to situations regarding sexual assault and domestic violence, most especially those in the public eye such as NFL players. Their visibility to the public allows others to quickly judge and make assumptions about all athletes since they are considered to be role models for American male youth. In many cases, this anger that many people have towards male athletes could seem justified.
Back in 2014, a surveillance video quickly circulated of Ravens running back, Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee in the face, knocking her out. The video was seen by so many it prompted the NFL to suspend him indefinitely and people around the world to speak out. While this behavior is not to be condoned, it seems a to be a rare occasion that male athletes are recognized for their support of women and stance against violence. Let’s take a moment to recognize DeAndre Levy for doing just that.
Speaking Out On Sexual Violence – Man Up
In his essay “Man Up” DeAndre Levy, linebacker for the Detroit Lions, writes on the topic of sexual assault and domestic violence. He admits to previously being completely uneducated on the topic and falling prey to the common societal notion that being weak is considered feminine and one of the worst things you can do to a man, is question his masculinity.
While he acknowledges that sexual assault can happen to men and that women can also be the perpetrators of such actions, he wanted to focus his essay on the most common type of sexual assault – a man assaulting a woman. He also notes throughout the article that the dehumanization and objectification of women are not just issues specific to male athletes. He notes that these men are considered “models of masculinity” and while that can prove problematic it can also be used to speak out on the issue and convince other men to help to change the societal norms.
While it is refreshing to see a man stand up against sexual assault and domestic violence rather than a woman or advocacy group, it is not something that is frequently noted by the public. Levy brings up the valid point in his essay that as a role model and public figure he has the ability to be heard and influence others. He encourages other male athletes (and men in general) to follow suit by speaking out.
No More Campaign Against Domestic Violence
We mentioned earlier that in 2014 the NFL struggled with public scrutiny after Ray Rice was caught on video assaulting his now-wife. The public outcry was such that the NFL had to indefinitely suspend the player who has been reinstated but is still an unassigned free agent. Yet, Rice was not the only player to have been involved in behavior which contributed to the tarnished reputation of male athletes. The bad press the NFL received after the 2014 incident prompted them to begin the “No More” anti-domestic violence campaign and to revise their policies on the punishment for infractions of domestic violence. PSAs have been aired during highly views games including the Super Bowl which work to raise awareness.
The NFL has pledged to donate $5 million a year for five years to the National Domestic Violence Hotline as part of a commitment to combat domestic violence. They have also made efforts to educate their players on the issue of domestic violence which Levy referenced in his essay.
Facts And Statistics In America
As previously stated, men can certainly be victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. In fact, in America men are victims of nearly 3 million physical attacks. One of the reasons there is such a focus on assaults on women though is because according to SafeHorizon.org, 1 out of 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. The website also states that women between the ages of 18 and 34 are at the greatest risk.
The Cost And Effect That Abuse Has On Society
Domestic abuse or violence has a dramatic effect on our society as a whole. In regard to finances, alone, domestic violence costs more than $37 billion a year. This includes medical and mental health treatment, legal work, law enforcement involvement, and lost productivity at jobs. Children also suffer greatly from such abuse even if they are not on the receiving end. SafeHorizon.org reports that children who live in homes where they either suffer or witness violence, suffer from neglect at much higher rates and have more health problems. This, in turn, creates more of a societal expense.