I firmly believe that domestic assault cases should predominantly be covered by female journalists, primarily because of women’s sensitivity to the issue. ESPN’s Mina Kimes recently wrote an excellent piece on the domestic abuse history of Kansas City Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill, proving that female journalists are possibly the most qualified to write about the topic.
Kimes’s story is a detailed, fair analysis of Tyreek Hill and so many other athletes involved in domestic assault cases. She wrote about the importance of covering those athletes extensively, despite how awkward and complex it may be.
“We’ll get it wrong so many times,” she wrote. “But every now and then, we’ll get it right, and when we do, it’ll matter.”
Deadspin’s Diana Moskovitz goes even further in her piece on Josh Brown, offering a different solution for dealing with domestic abusers in the NFL. She starts by empathizing with the victim, Molly Brown, and explains why so many women stay with their abusers. By making the story about victim in addition to just the famous athlete, she offers an important perspective that many male journalists tend to overlook.
“[D]on’t bother with the convenient lie that kicking Josh Brown out of the NFL accomplishes anything other than making fans feel less dirty about worshipping at the altar of a sports league that never has viewed its players as anything more than meat. Running him out of football may feel good; it also directly re-victimizes Molly Brown, especially given that she made it clear she wanted no part in the NFL’s punishment of her ex-husband and told authorities she worried about their financial future.”
Instead of bemoaning the effects that a domestic violence case might have on an athlete’s career, or claiming indignation and calling for a complete ban on the athlete, Moskovitz is able to criticize the NFL’s zero tolerance policy and offer a solution that helps victims and encourages treatment for the abusers, writing, “The best thing an employer can do is refer those in need of help to those who can provide it.”
Male journalists often don’t have that same astute insight. In fact, men covering domestic violence stories involving the abuse of a woman is reminiscent of white people covering racism. They just don’t have the intuition and understanding necessary to really grasp the implications of it all. (See: ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith’s infamous comments on domestic abuse, when he suggested that women “don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions” from men.)
Obviously not every male journalist makes comments like these, but I can’t imagine an instance in which a female reporter would display such ignorance on a sensitive, serious topic like this. The work of Kimes and Moskovitz displays just how perceptive women are to these issues because for them, it’s not just something that happens in sports – it’s an everyday concern.