Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Eating Rice

The Ray Rice elevator assault and the harsh career sentence have been on my mind today.  Ray was the huge star of my high-school alma mater.  His adorable Grandma knows my Mom.  I have watched football with quasi-maternal passion since he became a Raven.  At 5' 8" he was not born with the physique of a typical running back.  He developed his skills, he worked at his game with fierce dedication.

My doctor was a Big Ten college all-star.  He has explained to me many times the mindset of a linebacker-- the brainwave-warping, combat-style mind-fuck the coaches beat into their players so they come out onto the field ready to take bullets, to smash into defensive walls with the intensity and drive of human tanks, with neck-breaking concussional force and no fear.  Professional football is a rough sport.  The laxity of penalties for what looks to me like near-gratuitous violence in random play is baffling.  Players are paralyzed, even killed… and who is held responsible?  No one.  

I am not defending domestic violence.  I think physical assault by either men or women is not just a sign of dysfunction but a relationship death sentence.  I also think the line between aggressive passion and injury has been blurred.  How many of our punk-rock and hip-hop romantic couples have sported casts and black eyes?  Of course, there is a double standard for men and women.  It's rare that we condemn a woman for bullying her man, for inciting a physical response which might be acceptable between two men, but always deemed inappropriate when the inciter/victim is a woman.  This is one area in which inequality among sexes rules.  

Cut to the media-hyped image of that Columbia student carrying her mattress around as her senior thesis.  Don't get me started, our beloved Joan Rivers would comment.  First of all, in my day a thesis was something scholarly and important--- a major piece of research which prepares you for future theses and books-- something which makes a contribution to available literature and breaks new intellectual ground.  Granted what now passes as high art, performance art-- is a sad minor reflection of the intentions of the serious contemporary artists who established the 'canon'.  The fact that this is passed off as thesis material would make me think hard before I'd shell out the kind of tuition Columbia charges.  I wonder how desperately this girl competed for her acceptance to an urban Ivy League school-- the very one whose reputation she is now hell-bent on challenging.

Again, I'm not trivializing the trauma of date-rape.  But is her personal vendetta against this man really the responsibility of the University?  Should an institution be pressured to eject another student because this attention-mongering person can't legally handle her own affair?  Sex is an adult-ish activity.  There is always some element of personal choice in consensual sex; some boundaries crossed or loosened.  A college student is presumed to be mature enough to make some personal decisions.  Whether and where she failed to control the consequence of her action…. is another issue.  But how is an academic umbrella institution responsible for the stupid action of one of its students, based on testimony of a mishap which she'd declined to report for several months.  She certainly isn't shy.  Obviously a bit of a red flag there.  I just find her annoying and juvenile.  Why doesn't she take her mattress to Africa and demonstrate against serious violations against women?

Recently I was friended on Facebook by someone whose name was vaguely familiar.  He's a well respected music producer who had massive success in the 1980's.  I had a nauseating recognition when I looked at old photos.  In the mid 1980's, this same man had asked me to meet him to discuss my charming and original cassette of home-recorded songs which had somehow found their way to his massive desk.  Not only flattered but thrilled, I went to see him at his 5-star midtown hotel where he explained that because he was expecting an important conference call, we'd have to meet in his private suite.   The guy had a gorgeous wife and kids--- I dismissed any trepidation… and ended up, 2 hours later, with my clothes ripped and tattered, vomiting in the elevator on the way down.  I lost my keys, my wallet, and my musical innocence that night, even though I managed to fight him off.  I ended up moving to the UK and never again submitted my music or had any vision of pop-star or songwriting success.  Did I petition his label or his major company to dismiss him?  Did I file charges or even tell anyone outside of my husband (with whom he'd worked, the asshole!)?  I did not.  I vowed I would never again meet anyone in a hotel room without love or witnesses or body guards.  

This week I've been reading one of Vargas-Llosa's political novels 'Death in the Andes' and in a pivotal scene, a pedestrian young guard bursts in on one of the top military officers who is beating the crap out of a woman while she screams and begs for mercy.  The guard kills the officer, kidnaps the woman in a car where she proceeds to scream and protest that she loved the officer--- he was her lover and she begged him to beat her violently as sexual foreplay.   Irony.  

I don't know what happened in that Columbia student's room.  I do know my son had a few psychotic girlfriends in college who threatened to slit their wrists if he didn't spend the night with them, and then reported him as a deadbeat Dad because he failed to pay for a pregnancy test for one of them who happened to be on the pill.  It was trouble.  Especially when two of them teamed up and went to his Dean.  But it was trouble for us-- the family.  I dealt sympathetically with the girls and chastised my son appropriately.  I didn't take it to the University.  Hopefully, given this generation's short memory, the facebook world has long dismissed charges, and the girl, after a few other dramatic incidents, changed schools and moved on.  But in general--- expecting your parents, or your affiliated parental-designated institution, to take a position in your personal misfortunes--- seems not just juvenile but absurd.  

I also don't know what happened outside of Ray Rice's elevator; there were unfortunately no cameras in mine.  But what I don't understand is why this is the jurisdiction of the NFL.  Domestic abuse is all too common among football players, partially for the way they are programmed to compete; partially because they are often victims of women who pursue athletes the way they pursue rockstars-- -for money, for the thrill of being next to the limelight, for the drama.  Some of these players are boys who have spent so much of their lives learning plays and practicing, adopting a 'violent' competitive mindset-- -they are relatively unequipped to deal with relationships.  I have read umpteen psychologists' assessments of the financially dependent abused woman refusing to testify against her mate.  But Janay is the mother of their child.  She is his wife, as well as the designated victim, and she is in his corner.  I feel she has been denied a voice.  I am not condoning his behavior, but I am condemning the public 'stoning' of what I consider a private affair.

Just as we all have our constitutional rights, we have the right of choice.  If Rihanna loves Chris Brown after all, so be it.  If we all listened to our mothers and married that nice boring boy next door at 21, what guarantee is there that he will not become an alcoholic or a wife-beater?  Besides, there would be a lot less great sex in our world.  And without instagram and youtube, we might have retained our constitutional right to Privacy, and maybe, just maybe… Ray Rice would have learned a lesson, managed his affairs, and his wife and daughter would have kept their VIP stadium seats and happily witnessed a winning season.

As for the Mattress Girl, she needs to re-read The Princess and the Pea… and when she describes with great poise to the media how she shakes in her bed every day… I give her an F on her thesis, a D in Drama, a C for acting, and I quake in my chair here realizing I have spent precious minutes on her pathetic vendetta when there are serious social and human problems.  Since the priorities of higher education have apparently evaded her tiny petty world-view… perhaps a 2-semester suspension would better serve her here.  Let her eat Rice.


Billy said...

Can't agree about Ray Rice...He's a pig...She did go up on him, but that's no excuse to knock her out...I've had women go up on me, and I was able to restrain them...
You should have had that producer guy arrested...And a common trick back then, (and probably now) was to take a demo tape from somebody like you and give it to their own artist to steal the songs...

Ludovica said...
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