Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, last Saturday. Then he drove to the stadium parking lot and shot himself while the team’s coach and GM watched.
Because this is an NFL player, the story has gotten a lot of publicity – but sadly, other than a few details, there’s not much that’s unique about it. Something very similar played out right here in Wise County recently. It happens every day, somewhere in America.A man gets mad at “his” woman. Maybe she was cheating, or he thought she was. Maybe he was cheating, and she caught him. Maybe she went shopping and spent too much money. Maybe they’re separated and fighting over the kids, or he doesn’t get along with her mother, or doesn’t like her hair.
He unravels, kills her, then realizes what he’s done and kills himself.
As so often happens, everyone is talking about the wrong issue.
Maybe NBC’s Bob Costas started it, when he went off on a knee-jerk rant during halftime of the Cowboys’ game Sunday night. Quoting ESPN columnist Jason Whitlock, he seized the opportunity to call for (what else?) gun control. He even said that if it weren’t for a gun, those two people would still be alive.
C’mon, Bob. Anyone who thinks an NFL linebacker can’t find a way to kill a defenseless woman without using a gun probably also thinks the Cowboys will win the Super Bowl.
The problem isn’t a gun – it’s one more man who thought he owned a woman.
The issue isn’t a “gun culture” – it’s a culture in which women are objects.
We hear a story about some Taliban guy in the Middle East who has a wife or a daughter executed for going out without a veil, or wanting to drive or go to school, and we think, “Thank God I live in America!” But there’s a culture and a mentality in America that isn’t very far removed from that one.
Enlightened as we believe ourselves to be, we constantly see women portrayed as objects. Everything from beer to cars to corn chips is marketed with “eye candy.” The Victoria’s Secret fashion show leads the evening news. Rap lyrics talk about women in the most derogatory, dismissive terms. That culture is especially strong in the world of pro sports, where the sideline is decorated with barely-dressed “cheerleaders” whose job is not to cheer the team on, but to attract and entertain fans.
I know these women are willing participants. The idea that they’re helping perpetuate the thought of women as objects probably never occurs to most of them.
But it goes beyond harmless ogling. Did you know that every year, law enforcement targets Super Bowl sites as the hottest zones for human trafficking? That’s because a significant number of the kind of football fans who can afford Super Bowl tickets tend to arrive days in advance – and they can buy whatever, or whoever, they want.
You can connect these dots, but most of us don’t want to.
When women are just objects to be ogled, bought or sold, they can also easily be objects to be used, then tossed aside when they’re no longer useful, pretty, sexy or compliant.
Jovan Belcher was obviously an extraordinary athlete. He may have been a great teammate, even a great partner to Kasandra Perkins and a great father to their three-month-old baby. I’m sure Perkins went willingly into the glamorous world of millionaire athletes, expensive cars and all-night parties.
Women are lured to their doom by much less. It happens every day.