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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Traditions of Violence: When Role Models Fail

Mayweather is just one in a long line of celebrities to have been accused of domestic violence



Hard to believe that men who “have it all” — millions of dollars, professional acclaim, mansions — would feel the need to resort to beating up and assaulting their wives and girlfriends. You’d think there would be a sense of gratitude somewhere, after all the success, fueling feelings of compassion and unity toward their loved ones.

I decided to write this article after learning about the legal antics of Floyd Mayweather Jr. — a potential role model for so many young athletes. I have watched videos of this man win against every opponent in the ring; begrudgingly I gave him my respect as the “guy you hate, but have to admit is really good.” His ego and post-fight interviews always rubbed me the wrong way, but I thought hey — it’s just a sport, I won’t get dragged into hatred.

I was let down and upset to learn that Mayweather Jr. had been charged and convicted on several accounts for domestic violence. The man has several world titles, a $9 million mansion, and is still undefeated. Really? Isn’t that the American dream? You can’t get enough domination in the ring, so you feel like punching women afterwards?

Chris Brown is obviously another misguided professional, as he was convicted of felony assault against Rihanna. He is also under investigation for another assault which allegedly took place in January, 2013, possibly against singer Frank Ocean.

Ending violence has to do with understanding how it begins — plain and simple, it’s because we saw someone else do it. All behavior is learned. Someone shows you how to use a can opener; you’ve learned by watching and then practiced by doing. The same goes for violence. It is learned by watching those in the world of television, sports stars, and from fathers and other males in our lives.

Also, we are practically force-fed news and images of violence. World wars, massacres, refugees, bombings, local slayings, robberies — the media is like a sewage outflow pipe of violent situations into our heads. This creates huge, unresolvable anxieties. What do we do about a U.S. drone killing children “accidentally”? What are we supposed to do with all of this ugliness?

Many stories throw me straight into bull rage. That’s why I don’t read those stories much any more.

Some people do live in a world where shootings are a daily occurrence or they have been victims of violence. Their lives are overwhelmed, stamped by violence and fear, even if they are somewhere safe.

Choose your consumption of violence. News about human rights violations, or crime TV shows, or books, whatever. Just be aware of how you started thinking about violence.

My martial arts teacher said that violence begets more violence. If someone punches you, what’s your response? To punch back. Or maybe bring a knife the next day. The violent action has created a violent reaction. But it goes deeper than that.

Let go of violent thinking in general. You do not need to carry weapons or readiness to fight in this day and age. It’s just not necessary anymore. So what if there are terrorists in the world. There is no punch or shotgun tactic to defeat fear. Look around you. Is there a force of soldiers cresting the hill? Is your farm under attack? Maybe on Facebook.

If your friends carry guns, why do you have those friends? If your friends abuse women, again, why do you have those friends? Leave them for good.

I think it’s safe to say for a lot us men, we know intellectually that violence against women is wrong. We know that you shouldn’t hit girls. But have you ever actually brought it up in conversation? Domestic disputes may be private, but when a woman is treated badly or abused, it becomes everyone’s business.

We are still men if we don’t beat anyone up; we are truly strong if we can stop our own fist. We are still men if we don’t make sexist jokes, if we don’t pump iron at the gym or don’t care about sports. We can have close guy friends without judging each other.

It’s time to examine all the ways we carry violence, which is learned from others and generated by ourselves in response to our own or others’ problems. As men, we are the traditional symbol of strength and power. Let’s be all that is good about it — one day at a time.