A lesson from Evelyn Lozada

Jemele Hill, Prim Siripipat and Shelley Smith discuss Chad Johnson's recent woes.

Evelyn Lozada is not an easy woman to like.

If you've ever watched an episode of the hit VH1 reality series "Basketball Wives," Lozada comes off as combative, nasty, vindictive and, sometimes, violent.

Lozada is hardly a candidate for sainthood or martyrdom, but it was refreshing that she didn't take the customary stand-by-your-man approach after her husband, Chad Johnson, was arrested following a domestic incident.

The details of the case are still being investigated by police, but certainly there's a strong element of he-said-she-said to all of this.

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How quickly Evelyn Lozada and Chad Johnson's relationship turned.

Johnson, who was released by the Miami Dolphins this week, claims that Lozada head-butted him. Lozada, who police noted in their report had a 3-inch laceration on her forehead, said her husband was the one who assaulted her after she confronted him about a condom receipt she discovered in his belongings.

Eventually, this will be sorted out by the authorities, but if what Lozada claims is true, then good for her for filing for divorce from Johnson after just 41 days of marriage -- which, of course, makes the 72-day marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries look like everlasting love by comparison.

There are countless examples of women who stay in relationships with well-known men despite being publicly humiliated.

Lozada's immediate departure provided a noteworthy message for women, even though her relationship with Johnson was considered a joke by many outsiders.

Women don't -- and shouldn't -- always have to play compliant partner, especially if there's a physical altercation.

Unfortunately there are countless, frustrating examples of women choosing the Tammy Wynette approach, sacrificing their respect and dignity in the process.

The most glaring example is Hillary Clinton, but I also cringed when Vanessa Bryant sat stroking Kobe's hand as he tearfully admitted in a news conference that he while didn't commit rape, he did cheat on her.

Infidelity, however, doesn't compare with physical abuse. Floyd Mayweather Jr., was recently released from a Las Vegas jail after serving two months of a three-month sentence in a misdemeanor domestic violence battery case, which stemmed from an altercation he had with his former girlfriend, Josie Harris, that took place in front of two of their three children.

Although the Bryants reportedly have had marital problems since the charges against Kobe were dropped in 2004, they remain married. And while Mayweather and Harris are no longer together, they reportedly had an on-again-off-again relationship that lasted 15 years, during which she claimed they were both abusive.

Recently, Oprah interviewed Rihanna, who made her most revealing comments about R&B singer Chris Brown, her former boyfriend. Brown was sentenced to five years of probation and one year of domestic violence counseling for assaulting Rihanna the night before the 2009 Grammys. Rihanna told Oprah she felt "protective" toward Brown, even though this is what she looked like after the assault.

Some stay in poisonous relationships for the financial stability. Others for the fame. And some because they're scared or just don't know any better.

Not Lozada. Now, I realize she isn't a sympathetic figure. Her antics -- which include physical altercations with other women on "Basketball Wives" -- have been degrading to all women, especially women of color. And if it turns out that she physically instigated the altercation with Johnson, then she shouldn't be spared repercussions because she's a woman.

But I can't support some people's mentality that because of her behavior on a reality show, she deserves to be physically abused or disrespected.

Certainly at this point, no one knows exactly who is the victim. Or, if there is a victim at all. But even with conflicting facts, Lozada already is being subjected to the blame-the-victim mindset.

Far too often when a woman accuses a man of abuse, the pendulum swings from questioning his behavior to wondering what she may have done to make him misbehave.

Even though Rihanna looked like she had been in an MMA fight, there was rampant speculation about what she said to Brown to make him do something so spineless. As if there is a phrase or word that can be uttered to warrant that type of vicious attack. If so, let's ban it from the English language.

It seems as if the only way a woman's allegations can be taken seriously is if she has a pristine reputation -- as if justice should be denied to those with complicated histories.

I understand why people are skeptical of Lozada's allegations. It's fair because she created that doubt with her own behavior.

But just as I'm not willing to automatically believe that Johnson isn't capable of this because many people consider him to be harmless and good-natured, I'm also not going to judge Lozada based entirely off a television show.

If a couple can't communicate without physical harm, separation is best. To hell with that country song.

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