I had a nice birthday weekend as my march towards decrepitude continues forward. I watched and enjoyed the great new movie The Drop. I was titillated by the Star Wars burlesque show: I did not know that I could be so attracted to Han Solo or that Obi-wan Kenobi was in fact a petite woman with very enticing small breasts. However, my mid high tier dining experience at Maggiano's was very disappointing. They have really fallen off and are now banished from my culinary go to list.
Perhaps, Maggiano's has embraced the horrible cost cutting practices that are detailed in this report about Olive Garden?
I am a people watcher and listener. If "do you remember when?" and chatting about the weather are the most banal of conversation topics, between both friends and strangers, respectively, then talk about sports between men who are strangers is at least in the same tier of emptiness.
During the last few days I have overheard several conversations on the bus, at parks, in the casino, at the bar, etc. about the recent misdeeds and bad behavior of NFL football players Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson.
Ray Rice savagely sucker punched his then fiance and now wife Janay Palmer. She was knocked unconscious. Rice then proceeded to drag her out of an elevator like a bag of manure or hay. Rice has been permanently suspended from the NFL. I have heard too many men defend him from the consequences of his deeds. To their eyes, what Rice did "wasn't right" or "cool"--this phrasing is important because it is far less than a full condemnation--but he should not be banned from football because that is not "fair".
I do not have the sports gene. I enjoy a good football game. I love the theater and athleticism of professional wrestling. But, my manhood and masculinity are not validated by an over-identification with what strangers are doing on a field or in a ring. I doubt that I am alone in this regard.
Of course, the few defenders of Rice were the loudest at the local tap, demanding attention from others. Other men nodded in agreement or muttered almost mute disagreement. The boisterous fool alpha male won out. We are just naked apes; naked apes love to congregate at the local bar on Sundays during football season.
In a moment when there have been too many unarmed and innocent black and brown people killed and left in the street by thug police officers and other vigilantes, it pains me that the black men who are defending Rice cannot, or perhaps are consciously unwilling, to see a connection between Rice's violence against his wife and a culture of violence that assaults the black body, more generally.
Racism and misogyny are intimates. They are not separate phenomena.
What will it take to convince men, black and brown men in particular, to understand that fact?
Ray Rice's vicious assault on his wife is a simple matter. Unprovoked violence, against anyone, of any gender, is wrong. Period. Rice's defenders will make the simple into the complex.
By comparison, Adrian Peterson's beating of his son is in some ways (not all, as Peterson put leaves in his child's mouth and then beat him), a more complicated matter.
Race can and will be read into the Peterson incident because the "black family" is an object of fascination for the White Gaze. Research also suggests that black families are more likely to use corporal punishment and to be more strict in their child-rearing practices. This is likely both a combination of economic class and cultural/racial life experiences (white supremacy adultifies black children, thus the consequences for the latter's misbehavior have historically been far more extreme than those experienced by a white child).
Other defenders of Peterson's beating of his son will say that "whoopings" are a "Southern thing" that "outsiders" just wouldn't understand.
I do not have children. Consequently, I will not speak on the difficulties and frustrations of raising them. However, I was once a child and can speak from that experience. I was a bit of a difficult brat. My mother would tell me to go get a switch from outside and I would come back with a branch to mock her--my strategy, which worked, was to make her laugh. I also washed my own mouth out with soap after calling my mother the worst of names. She was so hurt by what I said that I offered up my own penance.
My father accomplished more with a tough look that communicated his intentions should I continue to act badly. He only hit me once, striking my face with two of his tough calloused fingers. The quick tap felt like a version of Bruce Lee's 2 inch punch. It is wrong to hit a child in the face. But as an adult, I can reflect on my own behavior and admit, that in many ways, I had it coming that day.
I will not hit my children beyond a necessary quick tap on their bottoms or back of the hand when they are very young and are doing something life threatening and/or especially foolish despite my directives not to. This is my personal choice. I would hope that by talking to my children, communicating my disappointment in their behavior, would keep them on the straight and narrow. Parenting in a vacuum of hypotheticals is easy; dealing with real people, people who have their own personalities, whims, and impulses is far more difficult.
Adrian Peterson is a man who has experienced a great amount of violence and misery in his life. He may be numb to violence or the pain that he is causing other people. In my opinion, Petersen needs psychological therapy and parenting classes.
What are your thoughts on these matters? How should Adrian Peterson be dealt with? And what is so wrong with our culture that Ray Rice's violence is excused-away and defended by too many men (and some women)? What are your opinions on spanking and other types of corporal punishment?