Floyd Mayweather Jr. Photo: Getty Images
After a delay of five years, this past weekend saw boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. beat Manny Pacquiao in a multi million dollar match that was broadcast to fevered fans all around the world.
The match itself was a star studded event, with a who's who of celebrities turning out to witness the showdown. Jake Gyllenhaal, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Jay Z, Donald Trump, Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore and Denzel Washington were just some of the famous faces spotted at the event, with Bieber even Instagramming a photo of himself posed alongside Mayweather.
So, what's wrong with this picture?
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Photo: Reuters
Let's start with the fact that Mayweather is a man with a history of aggressively misogynistic behaviour towards women. Mayweather - who stood to earn $180 million from Saturday's fight, the highest single fight earnings in boxing history - has been arrested or cited for at least seven assaults against five different women, including a brutal attack against the mother of his children that was witnessed by his own son.
Despite the extreme nature of his crimes, he has served only two months of a 90 day jail sentence and been fined a grand sum of $4000. Remember that when you inevitably hear people argue (or try to argue yourself) that Mayweather has paid for his crimes and 'moved on'. In fact, Mayweather has shown scant remorse for his actions, arguing that the lack of photographic evidence makes it 'hearsay and allegations'. His lack of apology extends so far that his team reportedly banned two female journalists from receiving media accreditation ahead of the fight because in the past they had been critical of his history of violence.
Remember this, as well. According to Forbes, Mayweather is the highest paid sportsman in the world.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao at the wiegh-in for the title bout. Photo: AP
But then there's Pacquiao. Rather than boycott the fight altogether and demand for change within the boxing industry, some fans decided to throw their support behind the Filipino boxer, hoping that a win might be suitable revenge for Mayweather's abuse. Violent men, you see, can only be punished through the violent acts of other men - this is what the world sees as just, while the women who protest abuse are told to be quiet and shamed as 'man-haters'. Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, even described the fight as a battle of "good against evil", as if Pacquiao had been personally chosen to avenge the women-property that Mayweather had disgraced.
But Pacquiao is no friend to women either. As an elected representative to the Philippine Congress, in 2010 Pacquiao teamed up with the Catholic Church to oppose a national bill that would mandate government support for family planning services and contraception.
Pacquiao cites his faith in God as a reason for his opposition to both same sex marriage and women accessing reproductive health care, but doesn't seem all that morally concerned about working in an industry that relies on gambling to survive. While he's happy to collect his match earnings, he has described the use of condoms and abortion as 'sinful', seemingly oblivious to the fact that one of the risk factors for women and family violence is a lack of access to family planning methods. Evidently, Pacquiao's opposition to men beating women doesn't extend to accepting the crucial importance of women being able to protect themselves from forced reproductive labour.
And Pacquiao is expected to earn somewhere in the region of $120 million from Saturday's match.
Despite the heinous nature of Mayweather and Pacquiao's attitudes towards women, hordes of people worldwide have shown themselves content to ignore their respective crimes and moral transgressions. But then, why should people feel any obligation to oppose the continued celebration of men who hate women? It's not as if our culture imposes any penalties or punishments on them. Woody Allen and Roman Polanski are still making movies, winning awards and being defended by their Hollywood colleagues. In 2010, after almost two decades of documented violence against women, Charlie Sheen was celebrated as the highest paid actor on television. Mike Tyson, who was sentenced to six years in 1992 for rape, has been culturally rehabilitated thanks in part to the dudebro comedy franchise The Hangover. Chris Brown assaulted Rihanna on the eve of the Grammys in 2009, and the organisers declared that they were the real victims of the whole sordid affair.
This kind of widespread amnesia is nothing new. But it has long lasting, dangerous effects. Our society has a collective disinterest in tangibly addressing the issue of men's entitlement to violate and control women. As a result, the lingering images of a 'prize fight' between two such men won't be those of unified community condemnation. They will instead be of admiration and even wonder. They will include the memory of a slew of celebrities taking their seats to applaud at and condone a Las Vegas show stopper, along with the sounds of cheers and the pungent smell of money. And they will finish with the image of a man's fist held triumphantly in the air before thousands upon thousands of cheering spectators - the same man who hospitalised a woman after stomping on her and punching her, with the same fist he used to beat four others.
The truth is, despite the lip service people like to pay to opposing violence against women, very few of them actually care. There are always reasons cited as to why this example is different, or why that man can't be held to account, or how those incidents are in the past. The only thing we can ever be assured of seeing change is the faces of the men whose victories on the sporting field or behind a camera or in front of an audience are considered more important than the rights of all women to live safely and free from violence.
Men are currently murdering women at a rate of two per week in Australia. And on Sunday afternoon, people piled into pubs and around televisions to drink beer and cheer loudly while one man who beats women fought another man who denies them their reproductive rights.
Ask yourselves why that might be. Ask yourselves what you want to do about it. And then stop making excuses.