There’s a thing men do that drives women crazy. It’s when, upon becoming fathers, they suddenly care about women, often beginning their soapbox sermons against sexism and misogyny with “as the father of a daughter . . .”
The problem with this way of thinking, of course, is that it only values women by their proximity to men (mother, daughter, wife, sister) rather than in their own right as human beings. It also strongly suggests that the man in question didn’t think too hard about any of this stuff until he was forced to as a father.
Worse, though, are the fathers who continue to not think too hard about this stuff despite their daughters, especially when thinking about it too hard stands between them and winning football games.
To be honest, I have a hard time deciding what the worst part of the Bucs signing Antonio Brown is. Is it Bruce Arians, a recent winner of an award by the Women’s Sports Foundation for championing gender equality, giving in to his star quarterback and agreeing to take in a guy accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women? (Why do they ever give these awards to men, anyway? Remember when Bono won Woman of the Year? Ugh.)
Is it Tom Brady, who invited Brown to move into his home, after allegations of sexual assault and harassment became public, while he was adjusting to life with the Patriots?
Why does Tom Brady hang out with so many guys accused of sexual assault, anyway? Is there no woman in these men’s lives willing to tell them how problematic all this is? Hello, Gisele? Mrs. Arians?
Is it the NFL itself which, despite a fanbase that is 47 percent women (it’s true, look it up), just keeps kicking us in the face and telling us we don’t matter? It’s become increasingly clear that there is nothing an NFL player can’t do to a woman as long as he’s a playmaker. Sorry ladies, Tom Brady just wants to toss a football to him too damn much for the league to say no.
It’s all terrible, frankly.
The biggest problem, of course, is Antonio Brown himself. Setting aside all the dumb tweets, helmet drama, picking fights with various coaches, and nearly killing a toddler with flying furniture, Antonio Brown has been accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.
We saw on video how he talked to the mother of his child, throwing a bag of gummy dicks at her while yelling “take her to jail! Slam her ass!” in front of his young children. There’s the artist who accused Brown of sexually harassing her and then sending her intimidating texts.
Then there’s the civil lawsuit trainer Britney Taylor filed against Brown for multiple instances of sexaul assault, including forcible rape, in 2019. Taylor, a former gymnast who met Brown at Central Michigan University while both were student-athletes. Taylor says Brown assaulted her repeatedly in 2017 and 2018, but it wasn’t until she was watching the R. Kelly documentary in January of 2019 that she decided to come forward, sending a DM to Time’s Up via Twitter. In that message, Taylor said (unedited, with errors):
“Hi. I am a woman that’s watching the R. Kelly episodes. I have been raped by a very famous person. I really don’t know why I am writing you all I just feel like maybe you can put me in contact just to talk about my feelings or something. I’m not sure if I want to pursue legal action but I do want justice. Idk its hard to explain. Like would people believe me I’m scared honestly. I own a gymnastics institution and I obviously mentor other young girls. I never in a million years thought anything Like this would happen to me.
I would never want this to happen to one of my girls no do I want them to look at me differently because this has happened to me. Idk what to do honestly. And yall might not ever read this either but damn it felt good to write this. I’m literally crying while typing. It feels good to type my feelings. Idk I’m slick confused about what I should honestly ad maybe I shouldn’t evening but writing this to yall probably should’ve just written this in my notes.
Is there a hotline for raped victims or just sexual harassment. He committed both so I mean I guess if you ever read this just give me a number to call and that would be fine. Thank you.”
After not receiving a response from Time’s Up, Taylor wrote again:
“Maybe I shouldn’t have wrote (sic) you because I was raped. I didn’t consent AT ALL! I feel like yall probably focus on sexual harassment more. So sorry. Or maybe I’m just ignorant.
I just know I can’t be the only person he has raped! If so that’s just really fucked up. I mean I’ll be happy I’m the only person cause no other person has to go through the mental thoughts I go through but dang why me!!”
“It happened 7 months ago. But I just told my family and now fiance about it 3 days before Christmas. So I feel that I’m just going through the mental process of everything now that I probably should have went through a while ago. It’s weird. It’s like I tried to make myself act like it didn’t even happen. Now I can’t take it anymore. He’s currently all over the media sooo I guess I had a breaking point. Idk really.”
The messages are included in Taylor’s complaint against Brown, which makes for harrowing reading. The complaint alleges, in part:
“On May 20, 2018, Brown cornered Ms. Taylor, forced her down onto a bed, pushed her face into the mattress, and forcibly raped her. Ms. Taylor tried to resist him, but Brown was too strong and physically overpowered her. She screamed and cried throughout the entire rape, repeatedly shouting “no” and “stop.” Brown refused and penetrated her.”
Brown has denied the allegations of sexual assault and harassment made against him.
In July 2020, the NFL handed down an eight-game suspension to Brown for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. There were plenty of reasons to suspend Brown, but this particular suspension only focused on sexual harassment allegations against and Brown’s plea of no contest to felony burglary and battery charges in June. He’s currently on two years probation. The investigation into Taylor’s sexual assault claims aginst Brown remains open and could result in additional discipline.
So that’s the guy Tom Brady had to have on his team. The guy Tom Brady invited to live with him and his family. The guy Bruce Arians allowed back into his locker room. The guy Tony Robbins “prepared” for his return. The guy the NFL will be only too happy to see back on the field, because anything for ratings.
This is where I remind you that Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid still can’t get jobs because owners don’t like their politics. Rape allegations though? Those are fine by, well, everyone involved.
Of course, if you follow the mainstream male football writers, you might not be aware of any of this. When the news of Brown’s signing broke, I saw far more writers focusing on Brown’s history in the locker room than his off-the-field allegations of sexual assault. Those guys are problematic, too. Women in sports shouldn’t be left to fend for ourselves on these issues, but we almost always are. For some reason, it’s become our job to keep reminding the public about which players have been accused of what, while the men focus on the game.
So once again, the NFL shows what women mean to the league. Sure, we control 70 percent to 80 percent of the household spending, but they’re pretty sure we’ll keep buying their stuff no matter how many rapists and batterers they have playing in the league. So far, they’ve been right.
I can hear the eye rolls already. “Here goes DiCaro again, whining about another player.” Hell, take a look at the Twitter comments under DeArbea Walker’s piece on Brown from Thursday. It’s enough to make you want to log off forever. But for the first time, women have real power with regard to the NFL. Buying power, watching power, influence over the men in our life power.
What if, for once, we took a stand? There’s no real reason any of our TVs need to be on Bucs games, and we certainly don’t need to buy our kids or husbands/boyfriends/girlfriends/selves any NFL merchandise any time soon, right? Certainly not until the league comes up with a better way to handle allegations of violence against women. Definitely not for Christmas.
Hey, maybe that’s dumb.
Then again, maybe it’s not.