Game Over: Woods Charged With Reckless Driving; No Evidence Of Domestic Violence

Illustration for article titled Game Over: Woods Charged With Reckless Driving; No Evidence Of Domestic Violence

Tiger Woods will be charged for reckless driving, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. State authorities have declined to file criminal charges against either Woods or his wife, Elin Nordegren Woods, due to a lack of evidence.


It feels like everyone has covered the controversy - including an intrepid Chinese news network that used the Sims (or another simulator) to do a dual scenario re-enactment.

But it's analyses of the events, published this morning, that are most intriguing, as they reveal the issues we have discussing female-on-male domestic violence.

Wendy Muphy, writing for the Daily Beast, puts forth a compelling argument that if Woods was in fact a victim of domestic violence, Nordegren Woods should be prosecuted and jailed:

Even if the couple wants it all to go away, the secrecy alone will keep the matter alive in the court of public opinion as we all speculate about whether a seemingly sweet mother of two babies beat up her mega-athlete husband. [...]

It's an odd scenario, but not impossible to imagine. Jackie Fryar infamously stabbed her husband, New England Patriots football star Irving Fryar, during a domestic incident in the 1980s. And while famous male athletes are rarely in the news for being victims of abuse, research shows that at least 10 percent of domestic violence is perpetrated by women against men. One controversial study even purports to prove that women are just as violent as men are-though the study is widely criticized for failing to consider that men's violence is usually far more harmful.

Murphy also points out that Woods was likely to defend his wife - after all, we've seen this script before:

Imagine reading a story about a man who found out that his wife was cheating on him, and he responded by hitting her in the face and tearing up her favorite dress. Would the police shrug it off as "private"? No, he'd be treated the way cops handled Jim Brown in 1999 when the NFL Hall-of-Famer was accused of smashing his wife's car windows and threatening to kill her. Brown's wife called 911 to report the crimes, then recanted and begged prosecutors to drop the charges. Like Tiger Woods, Brown's wife claimed the allegations were false and that Brown had done nothing wrong.

Cops and prosecutors hear these excuses all the time from battered women, but they ignore them because victims often lie to protect their abusers-which is why, in Brown's case, authorities rightly refused to back down. A jury acquitted Brown on the threat charges, but found him guilty of destroying his wife's car. He was sentenced to jail for 180 days after refusing to participate in a batterers' counseling program.[...]

Of course, even if it turns out to be a case of domestic abuse, criminal prosecution is unlikely in a case of female violence against a male, particularly when the male is Tiger Woods. If we cared a little more about spousal abuse and a little less about celebrity, such a hypothetical would be resolved fairly and openly. But we don't-so it likely won't, especially since the incident occurred amid accusations of infidelity. When the public sympathizes with an offender, there's less political will to file charges.

Still, the whole world is watching, and if law enforcement tanks the case to protect the interests of Tiger Woods, the public will yet again be forced to confront a legal system that, despite claims of "blind" and "equal" justice, seems designed to punish only certain "types" while protecting the powerful.


An interesting analysis comes by way of Elie Mystal at True/Slant, who proposes that Tiger Woods is getting the short end of the stick due to his gender:

In the wall-to-wall coverage of Tiger Woods and the incredibly slow moving traffic accident, one rumor is getting lost. Obviously, we don't have nearly all the facts.

But so long as we are slinging unfounded rumors around about Tiger's alleged tryst with Rachel Uchitel, can we also stop for a moment and reflect on the allegation that Woods was a victim of domestic violence? If some reports are to be believed, Elin Nordegren went after her husband with a golf club. A golf club. With that - serious - allegation out there, shouldn't this story be covered in completely different way?


Mystal then takes the opportunity to point out how the double standards in this situation are completely informed by a sexist view of men and women:

For some reason certain people think that affairs give them the right to go to town on their cheating significant other. When these people are men, we call them "criminal assholes" and sincerely hope that they go to jail. When the female victims claim that they "fell down the stairs" and try to prevent criminal prosecutions of their attackers, we (or at least I) get very angry at the system and the society that lets these scumbag wifebeaters off the hook.

But when it is women accused of committing the violence, we treat it entirely differently. I know that, biologically, men tend to be bigger than women, but the whole "opposable thumb" evolution can really level that playing field. When a woman picks up a knife or a gun or a freaking professional golf club, they are significantly more dangerous than a man who spends his life watching precisely how the grass grows around a little cup. If a woman as famous as Tiger was in this situation, her Nordic husband would be in jail already pending further investigation.

At least many people (including myself) would argue that the man should be. But with Tiger, where is the outrage at his alleged attacker?

Why the double standard? Well, it's not really sexism against men. It's sexism against women that has been taken so far and is so socially ingrained that it comes back around to stab men in the ass in the woman-on-man domestic violence situation:

Sexist premise A: Women are weak, fundamentally irrational, and prone to emotional outbursts.
Sexist premise B: Any "real man" can defend himself against an emotional, weak woman.
Conclusion: It's no big deal when a woman strikes a man for cheating. She's just a girl, what else was she going to do?

And that is BS. We don't accept it when a man abuses an allegedly cheating woman. And we shouldn't accept it in the reverse because women are more than capable of exercising rational self-restraint. When women don't, they are just as dangerous as any guy you know. Newsflash: women do know how to kill. Suggest otherwise at your peril.


Unfortunately, this point was lost on another columnist over at the Daily Beast. Rebecca Dana seems to be under the impression that if Elin Nordegren Woods was really wielding a golf club with malicious intent, it's was all part of a big girl power pop culture meme!

Even before Tiger Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, took a golf club to his Escalade on Friday, 2009 was already shaping up to be the Year of Women Not Taking Shit.

Gone, for the moment at least, are the tearful press conferences where a puffy-eyed political wife stares at her feet while her husband confesses his carnal sins. Gone are the cheerful sham marriages held up as totems for the rest of us to emulate. Gone is the nobility of quietly carrying on. We are now fully in the season of not standing by your man.

Whether you should throw a nine iron at him-if, in fact, that's what the delicate Mrs. Woods did-is not the question. As with all things, there are good, bad, and potentially dangerous and illegal ways of fighting back. The point is: Women are fighting back.


To prove her point, Dana brings up Betty Draper leaving Don on Mad Men, Jenny Sanford refusing to play politics, Taylor Swift carrying Joe Jonas in a song, Hillary Clinton kirking out after receiving a question that asked about Bill, Kate Gosselin turning down John's flowers at a court hearing, and Bristol Palin passing on Levi. (She also says Taylor Swift "stood down bullying" from Kanye when Beyonce saved the day, but I don't remember it happening quite like that.) What do all these women have in common?

None of them were accused of coming after their husbands with golf clubs. But that's a minor detail - see, this is really a big plus since women are exerting power.

At a time when every inchoate raving that tumbles forth from Sarah Palin is taken as a referendum on the progress of the women's movement, it's nice to see some prominent women refusing to play to type: the teenage pro-lifer staring down single parenthood; the pretty, press-shy athlete's wife just maybe, possibly, not being pacified by a "Kobe special"-some fat bauble the size of her head. The thing about feminism is that it's not about equal outcome but equal opportunity: the chance to make a graceful exit from a bad relationship or to smash the holy hell out of a cheating husband's shiny Cadillac.

"I think real feminism is women's recognizing their own ability," says Nan Talese, senior vice president of Doubleday and, for 50 years, the wife of journalist Gay Talese, author of the classic infidelity tome Thy Neighbor's Wife. "And also, very importantly, without taking away from other members of their family, it is about women being able to pursue their own goals."

Amen, sister. And if that fails, pass the nine iron.


Outside of forgetting to mention the "Kobe special" had a bit more significance than adultery (try, "Thanks for not leaving me while I'm on trial for sexual assault") Dana's glib rationalization reminds me of something I tend to hate.


Equal opportunity oppression is not equal to liberation, and hailing a person under suspicion for domestic violence as some sort of feminist icon has got to be the dumbest shit I've read this week. Women whipping ass in a fit of rage is not progress. It's not advancing the cause. It's not even a new concept.

Post press conference, we now know that the State of Florida is uninterested in perusing the matter further. However, considering that this incident has emboldened other women to step forward about their alleged affairs with Woods, this conversation will probably resurface faster than we think.


Authorities Discuss Wood's Car Crash [MSNBC]
Was Tiger a Victim? [Daily Beast]
Tiger Learns Domestic Violence Only Counts If You're A Woman [True/Slant]
The Year of Women Fighting Back [The Daily Beast]
Tiger Woods — New Woman Surfaces [TMZ]



I thought no one could press charges in domestic complaints except the people involved. I don't understand why people kept making a big deal out of Woods not talking to the police, as if he was legally required.

My friend called the police about her neighbors physically fighting and the woman upstairs being abused regularly, and the response was that the police couldn't do anything except scold them for noise disturbance unless one of them pressed charges. I have always heard that is the case with domestic disputes.

Were the police trying to press charges and ask questions for DV or for something else?