Unless you have been living under a rock you have witnessed the Ray Rice/NFL saga that has pushed the cultural epidemic of domestic violence into the forefront of our consciences. The video showing a muscular man knock his fiancé unconscious and then drag her limp body out of an elevator is disturbing to say the least. However, it is not rare. According to statistics provided by Safe Horizon, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during their lifetime. The demographic at greatest risk for domestic violence is women in their 20s. Janay Rice, the woman at the center of this abuse scandal is 26.
The outrage against Ray Rice is justified. The public outcry over a perceived lack of justice from law enforcement and the NFL is understandable.
When listening to the public dialogue regarding domestic violence one of the most common themes coming from men is how they would “handle” Ray Rice if he punched out their daughter.
“I’d kill a man if they…”
“No one would ever find the body if…”
“If that was my daughter he’d find a shotgun aiming…”
The instinct of husbands and fathers to rise up and defend their wives and daughters is noble and appreciated. But this reaction begs a bigger question:
If my daughter was so despicably and cowardly knocked out by her fiancé – and then turned around and married him a month later – where and how did I fail so miserably as her father?
What is it about our culture that encourages so many women to be in abusive relationships? What attitudes towards women are we encouraging that promote behaviors that hurt women?
“If she were my daughter I would…?” Wait!!!
WHY would my daughter EVER be in a relationship with a dumbass coward who would dare abuse her?
Men, we must do something! Violence against women is not just a women’s issue. It is a men’s issue! We must fight the good fight! We must be vigilant, brave and noble protectors! We must crush demeaning attitudes toward women. We must call out the abusers. We must shine a light on those suffering in the shadows. We must raise our sons to love, respect and honor women. We must raise our daughters to reject the notion that they ever have to put up with cowardly douche bags who refuse to honor and respect them as the treasures they are. But how?
1) I will raise my daughter to be an intellectual thoroughbred. I’m a good marksman. My dad was a championship pistol shooter and he taught me well. But you know what is more intimidating to a lousy little boy than my shotgun or rifle? A brilliant woman. My wife is beautiful. In college there were many guys who wanted to take her on a date, but not many survived. She could think. She had her own opinions. A woman who is an intellectual stalwart will thwart many suitors. I will not teach my daughter what to think. I will teach her how to think. Be warned boys. You better have a verbose vocabulary. You better be able to offer discourse on the arts, history, economics and politics. You better know your Bible.
2) I will treat my wife with honor and respect. My daughter will have high expectations of her potential husbands because of what she witnesses in me. She’ll see me treat my wife as my equal – not my subordinate. She’ll hear me talk well of her. She’ll not hear me question her intelligence or ability to weigh in on a matter. She’ll see me defer to my wife when her gifts and expertise in certain areas excel mine. She’ll never see me physically dominate her. She’ll not see me flirt with other women.
3) I will defend my daughter’s worth and empower her to chase her dreams. Recently some kindergarten boys told Rylee she couldn’t be Optimus Prime for Halloween. Rylee came home defeated and feeling she was ‘weird’. I was a little pissed off. Those boys only know what they’ve been conditioned to think – so I have no ill will toward them. After all, they’re 5 years old. My daughter wasn’t trying to be masculine. I want to raise her to love her God-given femininity. My daughter wants to be Optimus Prime because he is the strong leader of the Transformers. She’s only five, but she is hard wired as a leader. I will not suppress that. I will do my best to allow it to flourish. So we bought her an Optimus Prime costume.
4) I will raise my son to a be real man. Someday we’ll travel to Uganda and adopt a little boy. His name will be Andrew, which means “manly man”. The inspiration came from the disciple Andrew, one of Jesus’ first followers. He was always bringing people to meet Jesus. On two different occasions we find Andrew bringing “outsiders” to meet the Messiah and their lives were changed forever. I will raise my son to see women as created in the image of God and therefore worthy of dignity, respect and honor. He’ll be especially careful to protect the honor of women, especially his mother and sister.
5) Mostly I will teach her of Jesus. Jesus was a man who led with authority by the power of his influence, not the dominance of his rule. Jesus broke down cultural barriers. When no 1st century Jewish man would speak to a woman – Jesus did. He called them by name and allowed them in his circle. He treated people men and women as if they were both created in the image of God.
So men, let’s take a step back from all the “If she was my daughter I would…” talk and ask yourself, “Am I raising a daughter that will intimidate the weak and cowardly suitors that may come my daughter’s way?”