Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo’ne Davis’ olive branch
By ROSALYN ROSS
Mo’ne Davis is awesome, and we’ve known that for a little while now. She pitches lights out. She puts sweet crossover moves on A-list celebrities on the hardwood. She’s getting a Disney movie made about her that will tell us the story of how her awesomeness came to be. All that’s really left for her to do now is to beat the Dos Equis man in a contest to see who can slam the most revolving doors and stake her rightful claim to the title of “most interesting person in the world.”
Not that we need anymore reasons to love her. We certainly didn’t need her to have to endure a nasty insult via a tweet from a foul-mouthed man-child and subsequently advocate for his reinstatement to his team after he was banished for said insult to know how mature and grounded she is for a 13-year-old.
Most adults wouldn’t be able to handle such a quick rise to the national spotlight as elegantly as she has, so, yeah, that proof has long been in the pudding. Still, most of you have upheld this most recent Mo’ne Davis headline as another good reason to sing her praises. I just hope you all realize what you’re doing.
Not far removed from a year in which some dirty laundry moved us to demand more respect for women and women’s rights and more appropriate penalties for abuse against women from sports leagues and athletes, overplaying how great of a thing it was for Davis to turn the other cheek here might be sending the wrong message. It’s not enough to applaud her for being the bigger person. We need to tell her and all of the girls who look up to her—all of the ones who believe they can because she did—that it’s a beautiful thing to forgive, but forgiveness doesn’t have to come at the expense of your value as a person. We should tell them it’s OK for a person who committed an offense against you to be punished without you having to care more about how that punishment affects them than they cared about how the offense would harm you.
After all, we’ve spent the last several months reminding women of how much they matter. Let’s be careful not to train young girls that they matter most when showing the world how much abuse they can take and still hold their heads up high.
Besides the harsher penalties for cases of domestic violence, something else was born out of the attention we paid to the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice incident. Other women who had been battered and bruised by the men they loved who also played football for a living felt empowered to share their stories. Through those narratives, we learned how they often felt compelled to put their own hurt and pain and safety on the back burner for the good of their husbands’, fiancees’ and boyfriends’ opportunities to continue living out their dreams playing ball on the biggest stage. Sometimes their need to do so was implied by a coach or team executive. Other times, it was implored by the voices in their heads and the somewhat misguided compassion in their hearts.
For most of us, that type of suffering in silence is both unfathomable and unreasonable. In reality though, that hazardous passivity has its roots in the same type of undeserved and unwarranted leniency we’ve been lauding our dear Davis for exhibiting.
If you’re unwilling to consider just how closely the two things might be related, you might not be as ready as you think to have a real conversation about the work that is required of all of us to tackle the issue of the domestic violence in this country. So the next time you hear a story about women who stayed longer than they should have or women who, unfortunately, decided to keep smiling in public even as they endured shame and abuse in private, you might not have to look very far to figure out where they might have gotten the idea that it was honorable to do so.
In fact, you may only need to go stand in front of a mirror.