To the great men of Dallas: fix both flats

I’ve lived almost all my life in Texas, in towns and cities all over the state. I wasn’t born in Texas, to my dismay, but I got here as quickly as I could, at the tender age of one year old, over 50 years ago.  Indeed, the Dallas Cowboys and I began life in Texas on almost the same day.  I’ve visited 44 other states, 6 other countries, and while Arkansas is nice, I can’t imagine wanting to live anywhere other than Texas.  I can only hope that, someday after my death, if I am lucky, someone will grant me the high honor of making me a naturalized native Texan.

Perhaps you are aware of the “rally” coming up at the Dallas City Hall Plaza on Saturday, March 23, 10 AM, regarding domestic violence and abuse (DV) and the plan to blame the problem of DV solely on men. Several Dallas Cowboys, past and present, as well as other local celebs are planning on being there, along with a hoped-for crowd of 10,000 men and boys.  Combating domestic violence and abuse is a worthy cause but not if one does so with an incomplete understanding of the full nature of the problem.  Blaming men, and men only, for domestic violence is not worthy of the good and thoughtful people of this city.

About 15 years ago, after a night of performing on stage, I was driving home down Ross Avenue on a rainy November morning at 1 AM.  On a dark portion of the street near the old YWCA building I struck a new pothole that, being filled with black water, was invisible to me, and not just one, but both the tires on the right side of my car were instantly flattened.

I managed to maneuver my crippled car into the parking lot of the YWCA, where I parked beside 6 other cars that were damaged in the same way mine was – right-side double flat tires, all.  The other drivers had long abandoned their vehicles, so I was on my own.

I changed one of the two flats but that left me soaking wet, dirty, and one tire short of what I needed to continue my trek home.  I briefly considered harvesting a tire from one the other vehicles but there was no way to get permission from their owners, and none of those tires would’ve fit my car, anyway.  I had no phone and no desire to sleep in my car, so I made the poor decision to try to limp home.  Less than 4 blocks later my right front tire caught fire, my rim was destroyed, but I had managed to find a working pay phone and I called for help.  The human telephone operator (we had those back then) was sweet and helpful and put me in touch with a tow truck service.  Delayed by a huge chain-reaction series of wrecks on Central Expressway, the wrecker took hours to get to me and it was daylight before I finally got home.

Domestic violence is a lot like a car with two flat tires – if you don’t fix both tires, you haven’t really repaired anything, and if you think you have, then all you’ve done just made the problem worse – you are now dirty, out in the cold, and still broken.

There is at least one former Dallas Cowboy who should know this, and he’s a pretty good one, too.  His name is Deion Sanders. He is still in the news several times a week, and he just won a contentious custody battle with his estranged wife, Pilar – the divorce hearing is still pending.  Pilar is a very attractive woman, and so the fact that she lost the battle is extraordinary, given that women overwhelmingly win such cases.  Some of Pilar’s abusive and illegal acts are detailed here.

Now, Deion’s divorce trial begins on March 4, so he’ll likely miss the DV rally, and this is a real loss, because a courageous and outspoken man like Deion could give us all some real insight and perspective into the gender binary of DV – meaning, the rights and responsibilities of both men and women in facing and combating abuse.

Have no doubt, courage will be needed to speak the truth that women are violent to men, too, in at least 40% of reported crimes and only God knows how many in real life.  Catch them with their guard down, and many men will admit that the women in their lives have very poor impulse control with men when they are refused anything – She Who Must Be Obeyed is a stereotype with a lot of truth to it, and men have the bruises to prove it, if only people cared to listen to men at all.

In 1982 I saw a purse-snatcher in downtown Dallas tackled by 4 guys before he could take 10 steps.  The men in our city are quick to help almost any woman in need and only a suicidal lunatic would strike a woman in public.  Hiring one female security guard for your business will save you from having to pay 20 guys for the same job, because in the rare case that she gets into a scrape, 20 guys will rush in to volunteer their help.

But ignoring the role that women play in DV does not help women.  I see women assaulting men almost every day – sometimes playfully, sometimes painfully, but if you open your eyes, it is all around you.  Men take this abuse in stride to the point where they seldom notice it much at all.   Blaming the problem on men alone, likewise, does not help.  Both men and women must take responsibility for their actions and there can be no compromise on this if we are serious about addressing the core issues and origins of domestic abuse.

Treating women as powerless, perpetual victims is disrespectful to women.  It infantilizes them, destroys their confidence and undermines their personal agency.  Shaming innocent men who wouldn’t dream of raising a hand to a woman is pointless and has done nothing over the years at reducing DV. It does, however, make men feel helpless when the women in their lives routinely assault them.

Guys, if a woman assaults you, call the police.  If the police laugh at you, demand that they do their fucking jobs.  If they arrest you, demand that they arrest the woman who assaulted you, too.  Be clear and calm – video cameras are everywhere, and you can use this.  Find one of them, and say “Judge! Judge! Can you see this?  I was the one who was assaulted, I called the police, and SHE is the one who should be getting arrested instead of me!”

The men of Dallas have accomplished extraordinary things in the years I’ve been here.  Changing the narrative about domestic violence and abuse to hold both men and women accountable for their actions would be a tremendous addition to this fine record of achievement.  Tell Major Mike Rawlings that his rally is nothing but bullshit if it refuses to address the violence and abuse of both sexes.

A lot of people will be betting against us.  Let them.  If we have to catch the Hail Mary pass on one hip and stumble into the end zone to beat the Vikings, well, we started that, too.  The model of domestic violence that says only men are to blame also started in Minnesota.   Let’s end it here, this time, in our house.


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