By now, you have heard the news of NFL star Ray Rice abusing his future wife in an elevator, knocking her unconscious before dragging her out into the hall.
As women business leaders we can't keep silent. We have to join the conversation because our voices and leadership are needed to bring some maturity to the conversation around violence against women.
Let's be clear, violence isn't excusable for any reason, and framing the situation by asking about the woman's role in it is merely a deflection. We all saw the Ray Rice video. This, followed by countless stories of violence against wives and children by players who continue to play in our national leagues. There has been no boycotting of games, no change in the popularity of players with criminal records who continue to be revered on the field and as sportscasters. How could we have seen less of an outcry against Ray Rice than Michael Vick, who abused dogs? Please understand, I too love dogs and was glad Vick got 23 months in jail for dogfighting. I also think it is disgusting that it has been forgotten to the point that he was offered a $5 million contract this year -- he should have been banned for life. That said, why was the outcry worse then, why were there people in the stadiums with signs deploring Vick's actions and signs supporting Ray Rice? Why do we hold the life of a woman in less regard then that of a dog? Would we react the same way if the woman was Caucasian? Let's be honest with ourselves and ask why the sight of an abused black woman is portrayed as less devastating, less deserving of a strong response.
We as women need to assert that this type of behavior is not tolerable. We need to vote with our economic power and let the NFL know that we too are season ticket holders; that we support our partners and spouses in going to games, buying stadium food and purchasing team gear; that they are losing us if this behavior continues. And we need to be true to our sisters, even when they don't stand up for themselves. We have to be the voice that says we demand dignity and refuse to support a sport that does not take women -- all women -- seriously.