I am sure that by now many of you know the name Jovan Belcher. If you didn’t know his name (as I didn’t) before this weekend, you know it now. He is the Kansas City Chiefs player who shot and killed his girlfriend before taking his own life on Saturday. Headlines and news stories have focused on the tragedy from the lens of the perpetrator (including speculation of potential brain trauma, his involvement, as an undergraduate, in a Male Athletes Against Violence initiative, and his standing as an allstar athlete), in some ways dismissing or overshadowing the lens of the victim, who in headlines is simply referred to as "(his) girlfriend."
"It is ridiculous that I have to write a disclaimer of responsibility, anticipating an assumption of accountablity for the victim, a young woman who had not even began to live her life, a new mother who will not get to see her child’s first Christmas…but there are (or will be) people who, in Jovan Belcher’s defense, will ask aloud (or wonder silently) what she did to set him off. They will say she had no business going out with a three-month old at home. They will wonder what she did to make him so mad that he would jeopardize everything he had worked so hard for. They will speculate about her cheating, or lying, or disrespecting him. They will assume that somehow she is at least partially to blame for her own demise. But I posit that there is nothing that she did do, didn’t do, or could have done to justify her tragic, violent and untimely death."