I’ve never been drawn to feminist rhetoric. Not that I don’t think its important and an incredibly valuable discourse to advance the predicament of the human specie. The reason for my dislike is most likely because I harbor guilty feelings for millennia of suppression along with actually knowing full well that what I say and think isn’t always right, more grounded or a more logical solution just because I was born and raised as penis carrier. Nor am I smarter, emotionally more evolved or stronger for that matter, than my female counterparts. Subduing these don't make me feel less of a man, but rather more of a woman. However, every now and then I allow myself to braise the outskirts of this delicate ego shrinking Venus man-trap, or rather estrogen infuser. Usually I partake, not where the narrative is assaulted, but where the narrative appears to be non-existent.
When Russia’s Duma (Parliament) decided to decriminalize what is known as poboi (battery that does no lasting harm), in effect making domestic abuse legal and punishable with only a $500 fine if ever found guilty, I was a more than a little rattled. The reason provided by an Economist article as to why only 2 of the 387 parliamentarians voted against this bill is a bit vague. However, in a country where there is a commonly used proverb that states, “if he beats you it means he loves you”, it’s not too difficult to make some pretty accurate inferences.
I cannot fathom why people would think that this legislation that prevents daddy from going to jail because he hit mommy, would help in not tearing families apart. Shouldn’t legislation propagating family health address actual problems rather than exonerating the main instigator of the problem?
The events have prompted me to write a PSA about the plight of these women as portrayed in a hypothetical scenario where the Russian authorities would still expect women undermined by this legislation to be spokespersons and promoters of their proud country, even at grand sporting events like The Olympic Games.
Audience: World Wide
Time: 60 secs
The visual style copies the style and types of broadcast footage typically scene at The Games. Some of the shots would be a bit wider than usual so as to not reveal the battery wounds of the Russian competitors and fans.
The commentators react to the battered athletes and their family members with attempted acceptance of the Russian society where battery of family members is endorsed by law. They try talking around it, sometimes making light of it and sometimes even try to justifying it, for the sake of the viewers who come from nations where this is tantamount to assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
Both the Russian and British commentators find it invariably difficult to incorporate or subvert the blatantly evident scars and acts of abuse visible to the viewers.
The Beaten Athlete
It is the Olympic games and medals are being awarded for a woman's athletic event in a packed stadium. The cameras are capturing the excitement of the supporters from those nations whose athletes have come out victorious. Spectators are breaking into song, camera’s are flashing and the officials have lined up in front of the podium for the ceremony.
In the commentary box the two commentators, one Russia and the other British, are giving us running commentary as the events unfold. Both commentators are energetic and enthusiastic.
“Well we haven’t seen something as remarkable as this happen for quite some time here at The Games. Russia taking both the silver and the gold medals in the discipline, both athletes shattering the world record in an unprecedented display of athleticism and skill”.
Broadcast footage shows large crowds of Russian supports in wide shots. They’re draped and painted in the national colors, flying flags and banners. It’s a moment where national pride appears to be soaring.
Two American spectators are caught rhythmically doing the “dabbing” gesture on music playing in the stadium. They are projected onto the big screen and their little performance intensifies.The commentators have a laugh.
"Well those are a couple of familiar faces. ‘Dabbing” it’s called I think. It's definitely become the Olympic salute".
"No doubt. The internet will be ablaze with people dabbing just about everywhere in the months to come".
The music changes and the camera shifts focus to the ceremonial area. The third place athlete mounts the podium and receives her bronze medal. The camera has not revealed the two Russian athletes up close as they are both standing with bowed heads behind the podium.
"Yes, it’s a proud moment for the Russian federation and specifically fans of these two incredible woman’s athletes, of which there does not appear to be a shortage of here tonight. Just look at them".
In a wide shot the Russian silver medalist takes to the podium. There is suddenly a close-up shot and we notice that her eye is bruised black and blue. Her expression is slightly somber, but she is still smiling. She seems emotional but it can be attributed to the very special moment.
”Ouch just look at that eye. It truly is remarkable that the injury didn’t impede her performance here tonight. But I’m sure that’s not what’s going through her mind at this moment in time”.
The crowd launches into rapturous applause. The camera pans to her husband in the crowd, standing in between two other men. Their arms are jubilantly raised up in the air. The one friend grabs the husband’s hand from out the air, brings it down, forms it into a fist, brings it to his mouth and kisses it. He then offers the friend to the far side the fist to kiss and he obliges. The husband bursts into laughter and punches the air in delight where after he kisses it himself.
“Well it is clear that there were…mmm…were some powerful incentives provided to achieve the level of excellence she did at these games”.
The Russian commentator appears to be trying to make sense for the viewers of what is blatantly evident to have been the promulgation of a domestic abuse incident by the husband and his friends.
He is quickly interrupted by the British commentator who tries to salvage their energetic banter and the excitement of the evening.
“And here is the woman of the hour. It is her fourth gold medal of the games. Truly one of the greats of the sport”
The camera shows a close-up of her face. It is quite severely bruised with her eye swollen, her lip broken and scratches on her cheeks. The British commentator tries to make light of the situation any way he can.
”O my. O dear. She must have gotten some last minute encouragement for this very special moment from her husband. Very strict regiments on all fronts for these world class athletes”.
The gold medalist’s husband in the stand appears a little more serious than the silver medalist’s husband, but gives into a smug display of emotions as he’s lightly tugged in the ribs by his father-in-law who partly becomes visible on the side of the screen.
He turns to shake the hand of a friend on his other side and then turns to his wife’s father and hugs him. They share quite a tender moment. The Russian commentator is ecstatic that there isn’t another reference to some form of violence.
”Well, these are the moments that the Olympic games are made of. Pure magic”.
The camera unintentionally pans to the Russian athlete’s mother next her husband, also with a blue eye, looking fragile and broken. The British commentator is completely caught off guard and reacts completely dumbfounded.
”Goodness. Look at that shiner. You’d be able to spot that one from the moon I’d reckon”.
”Like father like husband, I suppose”.
”I believe that’s his father-in-law, so like husband like father-in-law”.
The gold medal is hung around her neck, flowers handed over and she is congratulated. She comes up and waves to the crowd. Her eye catches the stadium big screen which is still focused on her husband and family.
The husband’s arm is being tugged at by a young boy, presumably the athlete's son. Her husband picks the boy up who’s lip has been bashed open. He has a huge sucker in his hand. The husband appears to tell the son to wave to camera who has now become aware that they are in the spotlight.
”Don’t think he’s gonna fit that whole sucker in his mouth today”.
The boy wants to use the hand with the sucker in it to wave but he accidentally drops it to the ground. The husband appears to be furious about this.
”Oops. Five second rule. Is that what they call it? Five second rule?”
The husband forcefully puts his son down and shakes him violently by the shoulders. He leaves the boy standing next to him and comes up again. He simply ignores what happened and keeps on clapping, pointing around the stadium and joking with his father-in-law.
”It is indeed…mmm…the five second rule.”
”Fives seconds is all you have then. Four, three, two, one...done”.
The gold medalist is still transfixed on the big screen where she’s seen an all too familiar situation play out. She appears completely motionless, torn between keeping up appearances and giving into her emotions. The commentators start finding it quite a ludicrous task hiding what is blatantly obvious and start giving into their own opinions.
”Well that medal must seem pretty worthless right about now”.
”It looks quite heavy”.
”Years of hard work finally reduced to almost nothing”.
The Russian National Anthem starts playing. The gold medalist turns to face the Russian flag and raises her hand up to her heart. The second place athlete touches the free hand of the gold medalist who’s eyes are now streaming with tears.
”And a true display of camaraderie and I guess sympathy from her team mate”.
”Not that she doesn’t need a dose of the same".
Screen starts to fade to black.
”It’s a very….today is a very…sad. It’s very very sad.
”Indeed. Utter bullshit”.