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article imageOp-Ed: Gender war over Hope Solo assault hurts everyone, helps nobody

By Calvin Wolf     Sep 23, 2014 in Lifestyle
In the aftermath of the Ray Rice debacle the blogosphere has exploded anew amid allegations that women's soccer star Hope Solo has unfairly benefited from a double standard that supposedly overlooks and downplays female violence.
The world is rightly appalled at the video showing NFL star Ray Rice knocking his fiancee unconscious in an elevator, the NFL's inaction and belated apology, and the concepts of masculinity and aggression that create a "culture of violence." The blogosphere is busy scrutinizing the traditional influences and results of masculinity, contact sports, and sexual norms. But, over the past week, a new issue has arisen to inflame the pundits and bloggers: What about Hope Solo?
Hope Solo, famous goalkeeper of the U.S. national women's soccer team, has been accused of physically assaulting her sister and nephew at a party. As evidenced by The Atlantic, pundits have begun verbally sparring on both sides of a touchy debate: Do women benefit from a double standard that overlooks their violence and aggression, especially when it comes to violence against men? Many critics argue that Hope Solo has been given a "free pass" by the media, while others argue that Hope's alleged "brawl with family" is too far different from Rice's brutal punches to be comparable.
I disagree with the "feminists" who try to downplay and excuse the charges against Hope. While I do agree that Hope's actions are not comparable to those of Rice, I roll my eyes at the age-old tactic of quickly decrying how much worse men are when it comes to violence. Critics are trying to excuse Hope's alleged assault by saying that women have it so much worse. At best, it is childish and tries to apply macro-level concepts to an individual event, essentially using the same practice of stereotyping that most feminists claim to abhor. At worst, it is a conscious attempt to play gender politics and amplify sympathy for women while minimizing sympathy toward any men who may be the victims of female violence.
Nobody wins with these arguments. The supporters of Hope Solo come off looking petty and hypocritical, and their wrongheaded arguments certainly do not help women. If anything, the attempt to minimize the importance of Hope Solo's alleged assault will only embitter and annoy men. To convince men to embrace feminist ideals, it is important not to bombard them with the message that violence against men will be overlooked if it does not his the historical narrative.
Yes, men can be victims of female violence. Yes, men can be falsely accused of rape. Refusing to speak rationally about these subjects belittles men and makes them less likely to take feminist proponents seriously. I understand why feminists do not want to broach these subjects. Tough. Deal. Equality is not all rainbows and unicorns. We cannot pretend that women do not hit and women do not lie.
Dealing with situations and allegations objectively is the only way to achieve gender equality and convince men to self-remove the harmful influences of hyper-masculinity and machismo. Men will not come to the negotiating table, so to speak, and be willing to erode the historical narratives of hyper-masculinity and machismo if they believe that their own struggles will be ignored if, ironically, they do not fit feminists' historical narrative.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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