Was Stephen A. Smith Telling Women Not To Provoke Men Into Violence? [Video]

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In the highlight driven world we live in, context is sometimes sacrificed for quickness. On Friday morning’s “First Take,” the topic of Ravens’ running back Ray Rice’s suspension was up for debate. Many felt that in light of the circumstances – and subsequent video which showed him dragging his then fianceé from a hotel elevator – a longer suspension should’ve been given.

Stephen A. transitioned the topic to a narrative of personal accountability in these situations. Specifically regarding a woman’s responsibility.

In my mind, I believe his point was that everyone should keep their hands to themselves or as Cari Champion put it at the end of the segment, “All violence is bad.” Unfortunately, Smith didn’t articulate himself too well, and i now it’s being interpreted that he was saying women have to be sure not to do things that will provoke a man into hitting them.

Check out the video and judge for yourself.


It’s not about him, then. It’s about you, and here’s what I mean by that. We keep talking about the guys. We know you have no business putting your hands on a woman. I don’t know how many times I got to reiterate that. But as a man who was raised by women, see I know what I’m going to do if somebody touches a female member of my family. I know what I’m going to do, I know what my boys are going to do. I know what, I’m going to have to remind myself that I work for the Worldwide Leader, I’m going to have to get law enforcement officials involved because of what I’m going to be tempted to do. But what I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family, some of who you all met and talked to and what have you, is that again, and this what, I’ve done this all my life, let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come, or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know, if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen. Now you got some dudes that are just horrible and they’re going to do it anyway, and there’s never an excuse to put your hands on a woman. But domestic violence or whatever the case may be, with men putting their hands on women, is obviously a very real, real issue in our society. And I think that just talking about what guys shouldn’t do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn’t happen. We know they’re wrong. We know they’re criminals. We know they probably deserve to be in jail. In Ray Rice’s case, he probably deserves more than a 2-game suspension which we both acknowledged. But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there’s real provocation, but the elements of provocation, you got to make sure that you address them, because we’ve got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way. And I don’t think that’s broached enough, is all I’m saying. No point of blame.


Janay Palmer-Rice, Ray Rice’s wife, who was the victim that spurred this conversation, apologized for her role in the incident. There were rumors that Palmer-Rice was very aggressive with her husband, possibly striking or spitting on him, which may have caused the situation. I believe that this was the illustration that Smith was trying to discuss. But, how you communicate that message will determine if your actual message is embraced. In this instance, that didn’t happen.

Smith’s ESPN peer, “Sports Nation” host Michelle Beadle had this to say regarding Smith’s “take.”


transcription via DeadSpin