Opinion: The deluded conversation on violence against women

Ryan McCarthy

Last week, Fox News was yet again in the spotlight for controversial statements made by its news team. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade made the latest statement regarding the footage of Ray Rice knocking out his girlfriend, in which he claimed the lesson here was to “use the stairs.”

The outrage mounted over Kilmeade making light of a terrible incident, but it’s more than a joke and not just confined to Fox & Friends. It is the attitude taken toward victims of domestic violence that seems to hint that the fault lies with the abused rather than those who abuse, which is also known as “victim blaming”.

I was irritated, though not shocked, by Kilmeade’s “humor,” but I was disturbingly not surprised by co-host Steve Doocy’s remark that they “should point out, she still married him.”

Granted, I am taking an approach to this comment based on my interpretation of the context in which he made the statement, which was never quite explained. Regardless of his context, however, what is important to note here, though is that a man struck a woman, knocking her unconscious, and faced little consequence from the NFL before the media took the story and ran with it.

It’s true that they are now married, and there are reasons for this that other survivors of domestic abuse have elaborated on, but too often the conversation of violence against women is focused on the woman, and not on the aggressor.

A prime example is rape. Too often we hear that a woman’s clothing, or lack there of, may result in rape. However, this view demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of rape, which is often an act or display of ‘power’ by the aggressor. But even if a woman was walking naked in the streets, or stumbling intoxicated down the hall, she is not asking for sex unless she gives her consent.

The focus shouldn’t be placed on what women shouldn’t wear, drink, or do, but rather on what men shouldn’t do in the first place. Similarly with domestic violence, Kilmeade said people didn’t think it was a good message for Rihanna to go back to Chris Brown, but somehow, people forget that it’s a worse message to have beaten her in the first place. We don’t talk about why she went back, but instead that she went back, and suddenly blame is placed on the victim. 

Ryan McCarthy is a sophomore political science major and columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].