After Jovan Belcher killed his partner Kasandra Perkins last Saturday, there has been quite a bit written about factors that might have caused the murder and then subsequent suicide. People say it was a head injury issue or trauma to the brain. They’ve said if he hadn’t had access to a gun it wouldn’t have happened. The argument has been made that rates of young African American women being killed are high and so has the argument that this was an act of woman-hate, pure misogyny.
So, here we are with more about Jovan Belcher. For those who read my blog, this is not to bore you, it is to make a larger point about our society and patriarchy and how football is a part of the patriarchal system. I want to acknowledge the amount of attention Belcher has gotten, even while dead, and how Kasandra Perkins has taken second place, though she was the victim, killed without any choice. This post will be about the context of Belcher’s actions, but it will be for Kasandra Perkins and looking toward a world where women are not killed. Ever.
When all the analyses that have been made come together, a more true picture is painted. Some may argue one over another and there’s no way to really know what happened, but in my view, they are all true. In my last post, I postulated that Belcher had trauma, at the very least, if not repeated traumatic brain injury. If he did, which I believe is very likely, he is more likely to act impulsively and to be unable to control his emotions. I would even go a step further to say he may have not been fully conscious about his actions because of trauma or substance use. Is this to say then that he is not to blame? NO, absolutely not. He did it, it was his fault.
But, there is a but. This is all in the context of misogyny and that is in the context of patriarchy. We live in a world where women are seen as second class citizens and as incapable, where women are seen as objects to be controlled and less than human. Equality doesn’t yet exist between men and women.
When we look at Jovan Belcher killing Kasandra Perkins, I see he probably had trauma, if not repeated traumatic brain injury AND he lived in a patriarchal world where women are seen as property, as less than, and for controlling.
There are lots of reflections within the society about how women are not treated equally to men. The biggest is this: women everywhere are at great risk of violence of all kinds, including homicide. The rates of younger African American women being killed are extremely high. Of course this societal reflection comes from women not being considered equal or treated equally.
Football as a sport, is incredibly violent. You must attack and fend off attackers in order to win. Even aside from traumatic brain injuries, it seems likely that a football player might more easily become violent in situations outside of football. This is not to say that all football players are violent. But then throw some misogyny in there and easily there is a formula for violence against women.
If the underlying belief is that women need to be controlled and are inferior, that’s already a set up for violence against women. That violence includes street harassment like cat calls and groping, sexual harassment at work, rape, intimate partner violence, and of course, homicide.
To sum up, Belcher’s murder suicide was probably influenced by trauma but it was definitely in the context of a patriarchal system, which inevitably has misogyny in it.
For women like Kasandra to not be killed, the society must change. First and foremost, women must be seen as equal to men. Second, gender roles must be more bendable, less rigid. Third, violence against women cannot be tolerated. Actually, violence against anyone CANNOT, MUST NOT, be tolerated. Football is a part of all that. The football world has to take responsibility for how the violence in the game affects its players and consequently the outside world around them and the people in that world.