Human beings know not to blame the victims of domestic abuse. But what about blaming the victims' cooking?
In a news release of colossally bad taste, the publisher of a new cookbook by a Miami Dolphins player's wife suggests that if only these other wives had spent a little more time in the kitchen, they too could have had "a happy and safe marriage in the NFL."
Unlike the partners of long snapper John Denney's Miami teammates Chad Johnson, Phillip Merling, and Tony McDaniel -- all Dolphins arrested on domestic violence charges in the past five years -- Christy Denney has found a way to protect herself and their five kids:
Double-decker taco cupcakes.
You'll come for the appetizers, but dishes like juicy beef tenderloin will be #WhyIStayed.
Last year, Cedar Fort Publishing allegedly canceled a novel because its author's bio made reference to his boyfriend. Now Cedar Fort is positioning women's lack of obedience and adherence to traditional gender roles as a cause of domestic violence.
They may have a point. Go back to that Ray Rice video. Notice that one thing he doesn't drag out of that elevator is a chicken apricot feta salad with citrus vinaigrette.
John Denney is in his tenth season with Miami and hasn't been accused of anything but being a good guy. The worst one can say about Christy Denney and her the Girl Who Ate Everything food blog is that she pushes a tilapia recipe "that tastes like Doritos."
Asked for comment, Cedar Fort reps referred us to Christy Denney, with whom we spoke last night from her home. When she answered the phone, her children and husband could be heard laughing in the background. "Sorry. It's like Grand Central Station in here," she said.
The National Domestic Abuse Hotline is reporting that its call volume is up 84 percent since the NFL scandal broke. If there is any upside to, say, Adrian Peterson pulping his 4-year-old son's testicles with a stick, it's that people are talking about domestic violence in new ways and that more of the abused are realizing that the danger they are in is not their fault.
Cedar Fort's approach to the problem is to quote Christy Denney and position her words as advice for not getting beaten by one's NFL husband.
"I think the key to having a happy marriage is to always be trying to make the other person happy and to be thinking about their needs," Christy Denney is quoted as saying in the news release.
Meaning: Cedar Fort wants you to know that if you women shut up, look pretty, stay in the kitchen, and sex us real good, everything will be cool. And if you're still abused after all that, perhaps you'd better give this new cookbook a try.
Christy Denney was concerned that answering our questions would be tantamount to "throwing my publisher under the bus."
Leave that to us, ma'am.
"People have this image of what the NFL is, of what the guys are like," Denney told us. "I had it too. And a handful of them are like that.
"But my brother-in-law [Ryan Denney] played for Buffalo for nine years, so we saw what it was like there first. Most guys are home with their families every night, not out at clubs. Most guys aren't even spending any of their money because they know they have to make it last."
Denney believes her experience is far more commonplace in the NFL than the stories currently capturing attention.
"During the season, it's very stressful. [The players] get a lot of pressure at work -- from their peers, their coaches, and fans," Denney said. "I want him to do the best he can at his job. We're doing all we can to support him to be physically healthy and mentally healthy.
"In the off-season, it switches roles. For example, if I have conferences to attend for the food blogging community, then he does everything I would have been doing during the season."
To an outside observer, it seems that one reason for the Denneys' "safe and happy marriage in the NFL" is a balance of power. Denney attributes it to "moral values," which may be a way to the same end.
As with Cedar Fort's management, the Denneys are Mormon. She said, "We have a strong religious background. I go to church for three hours on Sunday and then to the game right after."
Denney was not suggesting that more time in church would curb systemic violence toward women any more than promptly prepared chicken and peanut butter lettuce wraps would.
"That's the question of the day," she wondered about the persistence of abuse. "Not that it makes it OK, but I don't know if there's more [abuse now] or it's always been like this and is just in the limelight."
But even Denney fell into the trap of downplaying the actions of a few by dismissing them as aberrant.
"I know that 99 percent of the guys in the league aren't doing those things. It's unfortunate that those few cases are being highlighted," she said.
Cedar Fort wants us to know that Denney's cookbook contains ten favorites from her blog, as well as "90 new drool-worthy recipes" that were "taste-tested and approved by her own five kids."
We'll take their word there based on the fact that none of her kids has an NFL game suspension to his name.
It must be frustrating for the Denneys to be part of a culture like the NFL, whose leadership does not appear to share their values. But it goes beyond Roger Goodell's pollster-informed non-apologies or Washington owner Dan Snyder's for-profit racism.
We watch football. Or we get excited for those Clydesdale Super Bowl ads. Or we base office pool picks on if a dolphin or a bear would win in a fight.
Just because, like the Denneys, there may not be abuse in our homes, it doesn't mean we are not participants.
In her essay collection Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit writes:
"I think we would understand misogyny and violence against women even better if we looked at the abuse of power as a whole rather than treating domestic violence separately from rape and murder and harassment and intimidation, online and at home and in the workplace and in the streets."
Even John Denney has previously downplayed the NFL's pervasive culture of victim-blaming. Earlier this year, Denney excused Richie Incognito's bullying in the Dolphins locker room, calling it "overblown."
Incognito -- who must have whipped up some dope seven-layer bean dip for Denney -- made death threats to another player, as well as a promise to sodomize that player's sister "and spit on her and treat her like shit."
The closest the official investigative report comes to an "easy family recipe" is Incognito's disturbing instructions for how to "run train" on someone's sister.
But what if you just want to run train on s'mores cookie cups or cheeseburger pizza balls with your family?
Well, fortunately the Girl Who Ate Everything can help you there. Lots of fun and healthful options.
And if you're looking for something as sad and unhealthy as Cedar Fort's apparent worldview, there's a cookbook for that too.
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