Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill Regarding NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Press Conference
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s today did nothing to increase confidence in his ability to lead the NFL out of its morass.
Roger Goodell must resign, and his successor must be fully committed to real and lasting change. The NFL doesn’t have a Ray Rice problem; it has a domestic violence problem.
The fact that Roger Goodell is assigning a current member of his leadership team to oversee new policies shows once again that he just doesn’t get it. NOW continues to insist on the appointment of an independent investigator with a mandate to address every aspect of the NFL’s violence against women problem, going back years, not months.
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O’Neill’s passion about public policy that works for the benefit of women is evident. She talks about every point with a conviction that seems born directly out of personal experience. While much of our conversation focused on economic justice, that’s just one of the six core issues NOW works to change. Constitutional equality, reproductive rights, racial justice, LGBT rights, and ending violence against women are also high on the NOW priority list. O’Neill says the equality for women can’t truly be achieved unless all of those issues are addressed.
“The NFL has lost its way. It doesn’t have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem,” NOW said in the statement, pointing to other incidents like Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy’s recent conviction on domestic abuse charges and a FiveThirtyEight study into domestic violence arrest rates in the league. NOW’s statement goes farther than many of the other calls for Goodell’s resignation, saying whoever succeeds him should also begin an investigation into how the NFL can reform its policies for preventing domestic violence (presumably beyond the “new” policy Goodell instituted in August).
“The schools’ response tells young women that they are completely responsible for men’s behavior, which is an extraordinarily dangerous message. Women and girls are regularly blamed for the crimes committed against them,” said Chitra Panjabi, spokesperson for the National Organization for Women.
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School officials at Neshaminy High School in Pennsylvania have issued suspensions for the student editor and faculty adviser of the student newspaper there after the paper refused to print the word “Redskins,” the racist nickname of the school’s athletic teams.
As a result of the specific circumstances of Black women and the fact that the majority of the players in the NFL are African American, addressing this issue in a culturally competent way requires the inclusion of Black women.
These pernicious inaccuracies have been perpetuated by a society still steeped in the sexism of years past. But better data and forward-thinking research, not to mention the examples set by women in countries around the world, are proving these stereotypes wrong. And it’s high time we started paying attention.