The Unconditional Love and Exploitation of the Black Male Athlete

By Angela J. Hattery and Earl Smith

It seems every few weeks or so we have this conversation about Black male athletes who violently abuse their White wives and girlfriends (from Mitch Lee to Corey Batey to OJ Simpson to Lawrence Phillips to Ruben Patterson to Ezekiel Elliott and others), and the fact that they are almost never held accountable, in any meaningful way, for their violent actions.

These are certainly not the first or only cases, but they shine a light on a perplexing phenomenon we have been observing, researching and writing about: the unconditional love of the Black male body – as long as he can throw, run, catch, dunk and score in an athletic contest, entertaining fans and making hundreds of millions of dollars for White coaches, owners and athletic administrators.There seems no better American football player in red jersey and helmet holding ball against blacktime to have this conversation again than now, on the heels of the recent college football bowl game season and on the eve of the SuperBowl, games that have or may involve athletes who have been accused of acts of violence against women.

During the last days of 2016 and the first days of 2017, several college football teams faced scrutiny for their protection of Black men accused of heinous crimes, including 12 football players at the University of Minnesota who are accused of gang-raping a White woman in October and a player at the University of Oklahoma, Joe Mixon, who is seen on video punching a White woman in the face, leaving her unconscious

During the last few days of January 2017, six federal lawsuits have been filed against Baylor University where, since 2012, 32 football players have been accused of committing 52 rapes (5 were gang rapes involving 10 players raping one woman).  At Baylor, most of the accused players are Black and all of the victims are White. Data from 2014 reveal that of all NFL players arrested, 55% were arrested for intimate partner violence and another 38% were arrested for sexual violence, in other words 4 in 5 NFL players arrested between 2000 and 2014 were arrested for acts of violence against women. Continue reading “The Unconditional Love and Exploitation of the Black Male Athlete”

The Violence Against Women Act, Framing, and Feminist Compromise

By Nancy Whittier

During the 2012 elections, unprecedented public argument emerged over what Democrats dubbed Republicans’ “war on women,” as Republican politicians made countless belittling remarks about rape. Republican Representative Ted Akin commented that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that thing down” and prevent pregnancy, while Representative Ricviolence_9-22-16k Santorum said that rape victims who became pregnant should “make the best out of a bad situation” by having the baby. In addition, Republicans blocked the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This may not seem surprising, but in fact VAWA – first passed in 1994 –  had never been controversial before. It was originally cosponsored by both conservatives and liberals in Congress and some of its strongest opponents in 2012 previously had been cosponsors.

Both the dispute in 2012 and earlier bipartisan support depended on how violence against women is understood. Is it a matter of women’s oppression and thus a feminist issue? Is it a matter of crime and law enforcement and thus a traditionally conservative concern? Is it only a matter of gender, or are there distinct experiences and needs for immigrant women, women of color, Native American women, or LGBT people? Continue reading “The Violence Against Women Act, Framing, and Feminist Compromise”