The year 2014 featured quite a number of instances of domestic violence involving celebrities of both genders. One story in particular really got people sitting up and taking notice, in part because of how it was initially ‘swept under the carpet’.
Read through the articles that follow and note how the nature of the debate evolved as the weeks went by. Initially coverage of the issue was incidental, and it would have quickly disappeared had not a few in the media had the courage to speak out and note the apparent hypocrisy and double-standards on display.
At that point feminist commentators stepped in to howl down those who were calling for tougher sanctions against Hope. They found that this time that approach didn’t work so well, and quickly changed strategy. They began explaining how, while yes it might appear to be a case of double-standards, the Hope Solo situation was in fact very different to well-publicised incidents involving violent behaviour by male celebrities. In fact the only thing that was different was the public’s default reaction to domestic violence involving female, rather then male abusers.
The media articles that follow track the unfolding response to what happened:
When women attack: The Hope Solo double standard (23 June 2014)
The surprising truth about women and violence (25 June 2014)
Domestic violence charges hang over Hope Solo with record near (19 August 2014)
‘Ray Rice and female privilege‘ (10 September 2014)
‘Savage hypocrisy on domestic violence‘ (15 September 2014) Extracts below:
“A study appearing in the May 2007 edition of the American Journal of Public Health reported that almost half of DV incidents in the US are co-mutual, with 70% of non-co-mutual assaults committed by women, not men. But you wouldn’t know that listening to feminists, the US president, and US vice-president, who paint DV as largely, or exclusively, male-on-female.
In June, Hope Solo, the winning goalkeeper on the US Olympic women’s football team in 2008 and 2012, was arrested and charged after allegedly hitting her sister with a broomstick repeatedly and punching her nephew likewise in the face.
The response to Solo losing it on her relatives, one a minor, was silence. No demands for her to be barred from her sport indefinitely, no calls for the National Women’s Soccer League president’s resignation for failing to act aggressively enough to satisfy… who?
In the case of American football players, it’s feminists and opportunistic politicians. But what of female athletes of any kind, as well as women generally? There is no outraged constituency to appease when a woman is accused of or caught committing DV.
In May, a lift security camera video surfaced showing singer Solange Knowles beating up her brother-in-law, rap musician Jay Z, and the reaction of people was at best “Meh”, and at worst, “LOL!” Was Knowles released from her singing contracts? Did her fans rail against her? No.
The real story is the double standard around what is the necessary level of outrage over DV incidents attributed to celebrities, athletes or anyone else. DV against women by men is regarded as heinous; DV by women against men is regarded as comedic. Same-sex and familial DV are hardly acknowledged despite the statistically high prevalence of both as compared to heterosexual partner DV.
DV shouldn’t be about politics or subject to double standards based on the sexes of those involved. Regardless of sex, victims should have equal resource access and consideration from the government and society.”
Media apathetic on abuse charges against soccer star Hope Solo (18 September 2014)
Hope Solo and the domestic violence case no one is talking about (19 September 2014)
Does Hope Solo case exhibit double standard in domestic violence cases? (19 September 2014)
Hope Solo: Nothing stops her, even domestic abuse charges (19 September 2014) and related Reddit mensrights discussion thread here
In Hope Solo case, soccer turns a blind eye towards domestic violence (19 September 2014)
U.S. Soccer reaffirms due process for Solo (22 September 2014)
USOC should tell US Soccer, ‘No Hope’ (22 September 2014)
Hope Solo charged in domestic violence case. Media blackout? (22 September 2014)
What we talk about when we say no one’s talking about Hope Solo (22 September 2014) and related Reddit mensrights discussion thread here
A feminist writer, Amanda Hess, then attempts to rationalise how unfair and inappropriate it is to compare Ray Rice’s and Hope Solo’s situation (22 September 2014) Most of the 1,200+ (!) readers comments that followed disagreed.
Kate Fagan: Why I feel bad about my last Hope Solo column (23 September 2014) and related Reddit mensrights discussion thread here
Domestic violence: It’s not just the NFL’s problem (24 September 2014) and related Reddit mensrights discussion thread here
“OH, HELL NO”: Amanda Hess Tries to Minimize Hope Solo’s Domestic Violence, Gets Called Out for It by Josh Smith (25 September 2014)
Domestic violence double standards: Men get shackles, women get chuckles (5 October 2014) Youtube video
Postscript 13 January 2015: Well the matter has now been finalised – Judge dismisses domestic violence charges against Hope Solo. Chalk another one up for the ‘pussy-pass‘ (*See more recent development below*)
Hope Solo — “A Drama Lightning Rod” (8 June 2015) And now her violence is all but forgotten
With Solo, U.S. Soccer Ignores Lessons Taught By NFL, WNBA (18 June 2015)
Postscript 24 April 2015: And now another high profile female sports star involved in a DV incident – see here, here and here. The outcome? ‘Brittney Griner Gets 26 Weeks Counselling, Charges Dropped For Domestic Violence‘
Postscript 9 June 2016: Soccer star Hope Solo loses bid to have domestic violence trial canceled
Postscript 5 October 2021: Matilda’s star Lisa De Vanna details horrific abuse and bullying in football’s toxic culture. A relevant development in women’s sport in Australia