Sunday, February 8, 2015

Watching the Superbowl: Deflated Balls and Domestic Violence

There was a very special commercial sponsored by the NFL during the Superbowl XLIX.  It was a public service announcement against domestic violence.  It was a pretty chilling spot and it was very effective too.  Only thing is, not that many people saw it.

It aired right before the halftime show, immediately following Seattle's touchdown with 2 seconds left in the second quarter that left everyone I was watching the game with screaming for joy or in disgust, depending on which team they were rooting for. 

But I saw it. 

I even heard it, moving close to the television making sure not to miss a word.  I didn't get the full effect until later when I viewed it again on YouTube - the controlled voice of a woman pretending to order a pizza while calling 911 - the physical evidence of a violent rampage in the house,  furniture overturned, items strewn.  The dispatcher realizes that the woman is in trouble and tells her an officer is on the way.  The commercial ends with the following graphic:

Before viewers could have a chance to process what we'd just seen, a new graphic appeared on the screen - a cartoon of a blue face on a ball ( get it? blue ball??) which says in a very snide and snarky way,  "I heard that guy's BALLS were deflated!" 

Way to go NFL, NBC and Cure Auto Insurance, the perpetrator of the blue balls commercial, all coming together to undermine - no MOCK the message against domestic violence.   This is the same NFL with its deplorable record of reacting to the violent behavior of their players, the same fucking NFL that recently conceded that one in THREE players will experience brain trauma from getting their heads bashed weekly in what can only be seen as a dangerously violent blood sport. 

But hey.  At least their balls aren't deflated. 

And if people saw those pre-halftime show commercials at all, I would bet that more remember the snarky blue ball. 

And if they saw it, they probably didn't hear it. 

But who hears about domestic violence anyway, unless someone is killed like Nicole Simpson, or caught on tape being clocked in the head by her future husband like Janay Rice.

Most of the time nobody even knows and much of the time, when I was growing up, at least, it wasn't even considered unusual. 

It fact it wasn't until last night, almost fifty years after my father pummeled me because I had gotten "mouthy" with him did I see myself as a victim of domestic violence. 

I don't even know how to tell this story right now.  I've always told it a particular way, one that made sense for me -- one where I stood up to my father - a small dyspeptic man who had left my mother for another woman,  abandoned his three children and went to court to cut his child support payments - but who still felt he had the right to "discipline" his fourteen year old daughter because she's become "too big for her britches."   And sexual. That too.

He used to hit me often, for all kinds of infractions.  But this one time,  when he came barreling into the house he'd left and demanded respect from me or else, I stood up to him.  I told him he had no right to touch me and that I wasn't his daughter anymore and that infuriated him and I watched the little man's face turn redder and redder as he hit my adolescent body harder and harder. 

I was surprised by the calmness that came over me at the time and I stood my ground and found my voice saying, "Do you feel like a man now?  Hit me again if it makes you feel like a man." 

Which of course made him hit me harder and with more abandon. 

Years later I understood what happened next.  I dissociated.  But at the time,  all I knew was that I felt myself split in two and the part of me that could feel pain, floated to the top of the stairs and watched as the little man hit the girl wearing my clothes several more times, his glasses flying from his face. 

He stood there shaking as he pulled himself away.  He groped around the floor for his glasses and put them on slowly before turning quickly and walking out the door without looking at the pile of clothes on the floor at his feet. 

The phone rang 10, 20, 30? minutes later. When I answered the phone I heard his wife scream,  "What did you do to your father you little bitch??  He came home crying  What did you do???"

To this day I can still smile with satisfaction remembering how I hung up the phone, my own voice echoing in my ears. "Does this make you feel like a man?" 

My father and I became estranged as I became a woman.  He died at age 71 in 1997 of prostate cancer which had spread to other parts of his body.  But before that happened, it spread to his balls. 

The inside of his testicles were surgically removed, and replaced by something resembling styrofoam. 

Deflated balls. 

Brains on fire

Masculinity measured in body blows.

Daddy, do you feel like a man now?  Do you Daddy? 

Seems I knew more than I realized at age fourteen. 

My poor father. Trying so very hard to live up to the expectations of being a man. 



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