Ray Rice domestic violence costumes remind us how much society needs to learn

Madison Rutherford

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Unfortunately, Halloween is no stranger to culturally misappropriated and wildly offensive costumes (queue Native American headdresses, blackface and poking fun at celebrity scandals), but the recently surfaced slew of Ray Rice Halloween costumes expose new truths about how insensitive and misinformed we are as a society.

Rice was suspended indefinitely from the Baltimore Ravens after a video surfaced in September, which showed him knocking his then-fiance unconscious and dragging her out of a hotel elevator in Atlantic City, N.J. The two later married.

Just one month later, Instagram was marred with a middle-aged white man in blackface posing next to a woman with a “black eye” crafted from eyeshadow. Pictures of a man in a Rice jersey dragging a blow up doll that represented Janay Rice flooded Reddit. Perhaps the most appalling — a child donning blackface, clutching a doll by the hair.

While the Internet fought back with an infinite arsenal of “too soon” comments, timing is not the biggest issue. The problem is not that it’s too soon to make light of a domestic abuse case, it is that this happens in the first place.

Though the costumes warranted a fair amount of backlash from the public, no one was less amused than Janay Rice herself, who is still reeling from the initial incident.

“It’s sad, that my suffering amuses others,” she tweeted Oct. 22.

It is events like this that reveal to us the bitter truth — our society is still riddled with ignorance. In a decade known for “progress,” people still think that racism and domestic abuse are funny.

Instead of using Janay Rice’s tragic situation as a means to get a few laughs or shocked looks on Halloween, we should examine the overarching consequences of this behavior.

Racial stereotyping and condoning domestic violence do not make you clever and culturally relevant, they make you ignorant and insensitive. To use Halloween as an excuse to make light of deeply serious pitfalls in our society is sickening.

Domestic Violence Statistics reports that a woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States. While someone covered in face paint clings to a blow-up doll and gets drunk at a Halloween party, a woman is being abused. For every four dolls used as a prop for someone’s costume, there is one real woman in the U.S. enduring abuse.

This shouldn’t be just another scandal that fades with the season, it should be a wake-up call.