21 April 2010

Ben Roethlisberger - He's Not Alone

Today it is be announced that the National Football League will impose a four to six game suspension on the starting quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisbeger (called Big Ben by adoring fans) for violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Code.

This action arises from an alleged episode in a Georgia nightclub in which a young woman (20) claimed she was escorted into into a restroom area by the football player's body guard and subsequently raped.  "Big Ben claims the episode was consensual and that "penetration" never took place.  According to the local (Midgeville, GA) District Attorney, Fred Bright, the incident seemingly did not rise to a prosecutable level as Big Ben is not to be prosecuted.  As always in such cases alcohol was involved and, as almost always happens, the young women has told conflicting stories and has chosen not to prosecute or proceed against Big Ben out of concern for public reaction.

Big Ben was not so lucky to dodge a full hearing for an alleged incident at a Lake Tahoe gambling casino in 2008.  He faces a lawsuit based on allegations of rape from that earlier episode.

In scanning the web for reader's comments on the latest Big Ben shenanigans this writer was struck (appalled)  by a female poster who wrote, "what's wrong with Big Ben's brain cells, he could have had me seven ways from Sunday without even asking". It is my strong opinion that it is not only Big Ben whose brain cells are scrambled---but also, seemingly, those of the young woman.  It is not known if alcohol was involved when she wrote that absurdity.

But, on close examination, therein lies a clue to the problem of all too many male athletes who become involved in stories of rape, gang-rape and physical abuse of women.  Way, way too many fans, and coaches, and owners, and fellow athletes, and college presidents, and women themselves respond to these stories with a wink and a nod.  Boys will be boys!  Aren't they cute!

Much has been written about the aura of privilege around athletes from Junior High to the pros, from assistance on tests or actual avoidance of certain challenging classes to huge salaries and free memberships, gifts of automobiles, and other things of value.  Athletes quickly learn that they have a different standard by which they are measured: make the score, block the shot, get the rebound, and do each in a sensational or entertaining way and you will be highly rewarded.  Make a jackass of yourself or harm others and you will get a wave-through, particularly if it involves sexual aggression against women.  Just keep on scoring! 

A subculture based on aggression, violence and female adoration contributes to the siren song which takes too many male athletes into a psycho-sexual netherworld in which women, particularly young women, are objectified and targeted for forced sex.  Think here of other athletes who are violators of females; O. J. Simpson, and Mike Tyson, in addition to Ben Roethlisberger, and now give consideration to their nicknames; Big Ben, Iron Mike and The Juice.  Each is provocatively male and sexual in connotation.

But ultimately, these things happen because we allow public figures, including athletes to have  unwarranted social influence and rewards for providing us with diversion or entertainment.  And, in a perverse way, aren't we once again saying don't blame them, they only act that way because we allow it.  After all they are the privileged few!

Click HERE for an in-depth article concerning this issue!

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