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The Ray Rice Mess and Women in Combat


During a recent CNN discussion about NFL player Ray Rice’s infamous elevator assault on his then-fiancée Janay, someone brought up the fact that it was she who had thrown the initial blow. The comment was made that had a man—even a smaller, weaker man—slapped or punched Ray Rice first, Rice’s punch would not have generated the outrage it has. The point was that men ought not punch women even if women initiate a physical altercation. The larger point—which should be obvious—is that men and women are inherently and fundamentally different.

Some random thoughts:

  • Why would it be permissible for a man to respond to a physical assault by a smaller, weaker man with a punch but not to a physical assault by a woman of similarly smaller in stature and strength or even to a woman commensurate in stature and strength to the man assaulted?
  • If as a society we largely agree that a man should not respond with physical aggression to an assault by a woman—either because of women’s lesser strength or because of some less concretely measurable differences between men and women—what are the implications for women in combat?
  • If there are no differences between men and women relevant to combat, perhaps the military will create all-female combat divisions, which would at least mitigate problems related to sexual tension and privacy/modesty.
  • Women who object to a proposal for the creation of all-female combat divisions should be asked for their reasons.
  • Because of the real—though not always measurable—differences between men and women, if my son were serving in combat, I would much rather have him serving with all men.

Ray Rice’s actions were despicable, dishonorable, and rightly condemned by all decent people. One obvious good has followed in the wake of this ugly story: the serious problem of domestic abuse is being highlighted.

Another tangential issue toward which this story could draw attention is the effort to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which has passed the Illinois Senate and moved to the Illinois House with a vote possible during the fall lame duck veto session, conveniently scheduled after the November midterm election. The ERA seeks to eradicate in law any recognition of innate differences between men and women—the very differences that are acknowledged even on CNN.

TAKE ACTION: Please click HERE to contact your state representative to ask him/her to vote AGAINST the ERA, SJRCA 75. It’s essential for us to let our state representatives know that this amendment harms women, their families, and our society.

Your emails and faxes are vital tools for fighting this destructive proposal.


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