Seven Assaults Against Five Women ~ Why Does Society Put Him On A Pedestal?

Why society glorifies professional athletes charged with abuse 

May 4 – Saturday’s boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao was one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history. Amid all the hype and big name guest stars — is a serial batterer of women. So why then does society put professional athletes like Mayweather on a pedestal no matter what. Angela Marie MacDougall from the Battered Women’s Support Services joined Aaron McArthur on Prime for more on this.

The following is a rush transcription of the interview on Global News:

Aaron McArthur: Well we’ve talked a lot about Saturday night’s fight in Las Vegas. The fight of the century, they call it. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao – one of the most watched fights in history. Amid all the hype and the big-name stars ringside, Floyd Mayweather is a serial batterer of women. The man who came out on top is a champion, has been in jail. Seven assaults against five women. Why are we putting him on a pedestal? Let’s talk some more about this. I want to bring in Angela Marie MacDougall from the Battered Women’s Support Services. Hi Angela Marie.

Angela Marie MacDougall: Good evening Aaron.

Aaron: How are you?

Angela: Thank you. It’s very sunny over here in Vancouver.

Aaron: And rainy at the same time, isn’t it?

Angela: At the same time. I imagine there’s a rainbow somewhere!

Aaron: Oh I know, I know. You know, I think people had – I mean, people know Floyd Mayweather’s history, and I think it was pointed out leading up to the fight, but it was really lost amid all the hype surrounding it. It’s really sad, isn’t it?

Angela: Well, you know, we’ve been following him and his violence against women since 2010. And you know, in our little way, trying to draw attention to his behaviour through social media. And what’s remarkable actually is that it has come to the attention now, and that there’s been a few sports reporters over the years, a little trickling of articles that have flared up here and there whenever there’s been a new police report, and then when he was convicted and did do time, there was a little bit of media attention. What is actually really most interesting, Aaron, is the lack of interest, actually, in his violence and a real willingness to put a – pull the wool over our eyes, and really ignore this. And so it’s just been this year, and this fight, with Manny Pacquiao, that has, you know kind of raised the profile of his violence against women.

Aaron: Well, I mean it, it speaks to a larger issue doesn’t it? Floyd Mayweather puts thousands of people in seats in arenas across the world. He makes millions of dollars for places like Las Vegas and the casinos that sponsor these fights, and draws stars to the ringside. People just turn a blind eye.

Angela: Capitalism is a hell of a drug. Let me tell you, Aaron, truly. And I think that we have to recognize – that was one of the stories that I saw maybe a couple of years ago, it might have been around 2012, from a reporter that talked about how much of an economic driver Floyd Mayweather Jr. is. He’s actually keeping people employed in Las Vegas and, you know, all the way from everyone working in the hotels and the casinos all over Nevada, he’s keeping people employed. And right after the economic downturn in 2008 when he was convicted in that assault in 2010, there was a real unwillingness to draw attention to this because people’s livelihoods were depending on him and him winning fights and being the big draw that he is. And so I think that’s actually one of the real serious contributors to how much we are prepared to ignore violence against women is these other factors in terms of prioritizing the safety of women – and children! Let’s get real here, Aaron. This story became so poignant because of the reports from his children, his police reports, particularly his son’s. And I personally was very impacted by his one son who talked about how he was trying to escape from his house while Floyd beat up his mother. He was nine years old at the time, and the bodyguard was blocking the door and the boy was not able to escape. And he managed to escape, and then managed to bring help to his mother. Imagine the bravery of that boy, and of course of the mother. You know, the nine year old boy, who I understand still has a relationship with his father, though he does not approve of his father’s violence against women, and he’s on the record of saying that.

Aaron: You know, we point fingers at people in power and celebrities and sports stars. We expect them to be role models, and that’s often not the case. But what happens with Floyd Mayweather happens with thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of men across- across North America, across the world every day.

Angela: Yes it does, yeah. And I think that’s the thing that we have to recognize, that violence against women is an epidemic, and it’s endemic, and that for the most part, you know, holding men accountable for the violence is very difficult, and that there’s so many structures that are in place to prevent that. But I tell you  what we’ve seen over the last couple of years, and particularly in the last year is a real, you know, kind of real breaking down of some of those structures and making more visible that violence. You know, and I think that social media has played a large part of that. And I think that mainstream media is certainly stepping up to the task and asking questions, such as you are tonight Aaron. And I think that that’s really important because what we see with Floyd is, as you’ve said, he’s one man within a whole fabric of a culture and society that where violence against women continues for a large part with impunity. And we know every day at our work at Battered Women’s Support Services how much and how many women are living in fear right now in British Columbia. And we had 14 murders of women last year in BC and, you know, this is the reality is that domestic violence is, you know, a bigger killer of women than cancer.

Aaron: I wonder about professional sports. The NFL seems to have at least been shamed into doing something about the issue of domestic violence. Ray Rice has been targeted, Adrian Peterson – both stars of the league have been certainly targeted by the league and by- in the pocket book anyway. Are you hopeful that that’s a start and other professional sports organizations will move in that same direction?

Angela: It’s- it is a start. And we, you know, we have seen some changes. They’re incremental. It’s not- it doesn’t go far enough, we have to keep moving forward. There’s no question. And you know, we need more men to hold each other accountable for this behavior. It is- you know, we have to recognize that power imbalances between women and men and, kind of, historical aspects of our gender relations are really at the heart of why violence against women continues. So we’re really benefiting now from social media, we’re benefiting from media attention. What we need to see now is to see it trickling down and into our interpersonal relationships within our communities so that we can then, you know, make the changes on a broader scale more systemically and more throughout our society.

Aaron: Okay, we gotta leave it there. I do want to mention the BC Lions, our football team, does have a great program – Don’t Be a Bystander – really trying to encourage fans to be accountable for their actions when it comes to domestic violence, but we don’t have any more time to talk about this, I’m sorry. Angela Marie MacDougall is from Battered Women’s Support Services joining us tonight at Shaw Tower. I appreciate your time.

Angela: Thank you Aaron.


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