Reconciling my Feminism with my Love for Hope Solo

Hope Solo celebrating winning her 2nd gold medal in London 2012 (Image via Getty)

Hope Solo celebrating winning her 2nd gold medal in London 2012 (Image via Getty)

Saturday morning I woke up with an alert on my phone informing me US Women’s Soccer star Hope Solo had been arrested and jailed for multiple counts of domestic violence. She was arrested and charged with 4th degree domestic assault for allegedly punching her sister and 17 year old nephew in the early hours of Saturday morning. Police described her as intoxicated and argumentative throughout the ordeal. Her sister and nephew were left with visible injuries. You will be hard pressed to find a bigger Hope Solo fan than me. A large poster of her, along with multiple signed photos, hang above my bed. I have part of her famous post-2007 World Cup quote in dealing with adversity tattooed on my left ribs, with plans to finish it complete with her autograph. And I named my first cat Hope after her when I adopted her nearly 2 years ago. So I’m sure you can understand why I’m feeling so conflicted over her domestic violence arrest. In short, I feel like a bad feminist.

Male against female domestic violence is so prevalent that we often forget that women can also be the aggressors. This is by no means a defense of men’s rights groups because I abhor everything they stand for. However, it is important to understand that women can exhibit violent behavior too. Nearly all scholarly studies conducted on domestic violence have found escalated rates of mutual aggression by both partners, including studies conducted by feminist researchers. Women are more likely to be the injured party in domestic violence because the male aggressors are typically stronger and tend to choke and punch, whereas women tend to scratch or slap.

In Hope Solo’s case, she was determined to be the aggressor by police  and was subsequently arrested. In Washington, a mandatory arrest law is in place when police are called to a domestic dispute. The state also requires the accused to appear before a judge for a hearing to determine bail, which is why Solo was held in jail  until this afternoon. Solo was granted release on her own recognizance, but ordered not to have contact with her sister or 17 year old nephew, the alleged victims in the case. She was also ordered not to drink alcohol until her next pretrial hearing scheduled for August 11th. Her attorney argued Solo is the victim in this case, citing court documents which state she was hit over the head with a broom handle and had a BB gun pulled on her, and believe they have a strong case to defend.

It is entirely possible Hope Solo is not guilty in this situation, and I hope she is acquitted of these charges and can go back to playing soccer in preparation for next year’s Women’s World Cup in Canada. The story being told by her nephew clearly has holes in it. As more information comes out, I’m a little impressed that Solo stood up for herself against a verbally abusive male who pulled a gun on her. But one thing has become very clear, I am a diehard fan of a very flawed woman. In this age of social media, we tend to learn things about our favorite athletes and celebrities that we would not necessarily want to know. Athletes don’t grow up dreaming of having their posters on kids’ walls or being perfect role models; they dream of winning titles, accolades, and making money. It’s important to remember that Hope Solo doesn’t owe it to anyone to be a good role model. And that is why, in spite of her off the field flaws, I will continue to cheer for her every time she steps on the field and hope she is in net to win her first World Cup next year.

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3 responses to “Reconciling my Feminism with my Love for Hope Solo”

  1. Pike Bishop says :

    “The story being told by her nephew clearly has holes in it?” and “verbally abusive male”? So, you’re falling into that classic trap of blaming the victim that is so often aimed at female victims of domestic abuse. That is terribly sad. If we are to advance national views on and against domestic abuse, we need to stop blaming all victims–female and male–of domestic abuse until their allegations are proven false.

    You call yourself a feminist, and yet you’ve just hypocritically participated in an action that has been detrimental to millions of women victims of domestic abuse for years. Congratulations.

    • clryan5 says :

      I’m merely highlighting that this is not a clear cut domestic violence case, and it probably shouldn’t even be called domestic violence. It’s assault with violence on both sides and it has not been determined that Hope Solo was the sole aggressor.

  2. Pike Bishop says :

    Very few domestic violence cases are entirely clear cut. Most do not have videos like the Ray Rice case. If we depended on such clarity, few male or female domestic abusers would ever be charged or convicted. It was, however, a domestic violence case because she is being charged with two counts of gross misdemeanor domestic abuse (respectively) against her sister and her 17-year-old nephew (a minor), who are both her relatives.

    Also, many cases of domestic abuse do not involve solely one aggressor. Janay Rice did get into her husband Ray’s face, however, his violence was inordinately more severe than hers; thus; he was the abuser. If a victim had to be pure in their actions to make a successful charge against their abuser, then many legitimate cases of abuse would be dropped. I don’t think you’d want that.

    Finally, I think your blog is great, and I agree that feminists can still embrace flawed woman; are any of us men or women unflawed? However, I have volunteered at abuse shelters, and almost all the women there said being blamed for their abuse was painful insult added to their injury. No victims of alleged abuse–female or male–should ever be blamed or insulted (“verbally abusive male”) until their allegations are disproven…not even Hope Solo’s nephew.

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