Using Gender Neutral Language When Discussing Domestic Violence

There is a lot of discussion going on about the firing of Ray Rice after a new video was released showing the situation where he assaulted his then fiance in an elevator. Many people will debate how the NFL dropped the ball in this case. What I want to write about is how people are discussing the issue of domestic violence and why I wish people would move towards non gender specific discussions when having a discussion about domestic violence.

Just now, as I watch ESPN, one of the sportscasters said “Somebody who hits a woman like that belongs in jail”. That is true. However, wouldn’t it be better to say “Someone who hits another person like that belongs in jail”? Had Ray Rice punched a man in that way, would that mean he doesn’t belong in jail? If Michael Sam punched his partner in that way, wouldn’t he also deserve jail time?

I have heard others say “it is never ok to hit a woman”. Is that true? If a woman comes at you with a knife, isn’t it ok to defend yourself? But even if you wanted to reword it that it is never ok to initially hit a woman, that still ignores many other times where it is not ok to hit someone. We should be wording it “It is never ok for one person to strike another except for in self defense”.

And all I am talking about here is how we should be discussing violence towards others. It is a fact that a majority of domestic violence cases in the United States are perpetrated against women. It is also a fact that a significant number of domestic violence cases in the United States are perpetrated against men. We should be focusing on how we can prevent such violence. We should recognize that violence against women is 3/5 of all domestic violence. But when saying the times it is ok to hit people and to not hit people, we should include all people that you should not hit and not just one set.