The Oscar Pistorius sentence: no justice for Reeva by @lexiconlane

 

(Cross-posted from Donna Navarro)
Oscar Pistorius SentenceThe headline reads: ‘Pistorius sentenced to five years in prison’

What a misleading headline. Aren’t they always.

Oscar Pistorius has today received his sentence for the culpable homicide (manslaughter) of Reeva Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa has imposed a five year custodial sentence for the manslaughter of Reeva and three years suspended for the firearms offences. Under South African law, what that actually means is that Pistorius will serve one sixth of his custodial sentence in prison before being released to serve the remaining term on house arrest.

So, that’s about ten months in prison for shooting Reeva and killing her. No where near five years in prison.

I understand his ten months will be served in the hospital wing of the prison due to Pistorius’ disability. If housed on the main wing of the prison we are told he will be at risk of daily rape.

My issue is that Pistorius shot his firearm four times. Not once. Four times.  I don’t believe it was a negligent act or amounted to manslaughter but the judge has made her decision.

A ten month term in prison is not enough for shooting four times at Reeva Steenkamp.

Comparative cases indicate the sentence is reasonable for the South African justice system. Other cases where a longer prison sentence has been imposed have involved more deaths.

Apparently the prosecution find some solace in the fact a custodial sentence has been imposed. Reeva Steenkamp’s parents have also said they are satisfied and feel there is some closure for them now. I have a lot of respect for their reaction to the sentence. I couldn’t display the same level of composure.

It’s believed Pistorius will go to the Kgosi Mampuru jail in Pretoria (formerly the Central Pretoria prison) which has a hospital wing that will provide a safer environment for him. He’ll have a single cell and then be released on house arrest. Even the length of house arrest may be reduced for good behaviour.

House arrest seems to be the South African justice system’s equivalent of the UK’s being released on licence. On release, Pistorius will have to be at a pre-approved address between set hours each day. According to the Department of Correctional Services for the Republic of South Africa this involves:

House arrest refers to that portion of the day/night when the probationer does not work and is compelled to be at home. The period of house arrest of individual probationers may differ.

The possible risk posed to the community is taken into account when determining the probationer’s placement under house arrest. When the condition of house arrest is being set, the offender’s working hours are taken into account in order to avoid conflict between such hours and the period of house arrest. Flexibility is also built into the condition of house arrest to allow probationers to participate in organized sport activities, to attend church services, to do the necessary shopping, etc.

It sounds like it won’t be long before Pistorius will be free to carry on his life with some sense of normality. After ten months it sounds like he will be free to return to sport, provided he is back in his home by a certain time on an evening.

In the UK we can release offenders with a licence condition of a curfew. House arrest seems similar to that. I’ve worked with offenders who have received this condition. It allows them to return to work, to move freely during the day provided they are back at the approved address by the required time. If they breach this they will be returned to prison. I assume it works the same in South Africa.

I still can’t believe that if you think there is an intruder in your house you don’t first check it’s not your partner. That you don’t first check that they are not lying there next to you.

But, like I said, the judge has made her decision.

Her decision, the Oscar Pistorius sentence is not justice for Reeva.

#JusticeforReeva

Donna Navarro : Writer, campaigner, former offender manager; passionate about social justice, criminal justice, feminism and freedom from male violence against women. Opinionated. Sarcastic. More fun than I sound. @lexiconlane |www.facebook.com/DonnaNavarroWrites

16 reasons for #16days by @CathElliott

(Cross-posted from Too Much to say for Myself)

It’s the 25th November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the start of the 16 Days of Action against Gender Violence Campaign. And as I haven’t been posting much recently, and as I’m pretty much laid up at home at the moment following a hip arthroscopy last weekend, I’m going to be blogging throughout it again this year.

So without further ado, here’s my first post for day one of the 16 days, detailing 16 reasons (but there are so many more reasons than that!) why this campaign exists and why it’s still so important.

1. Because femicide. Between January and October this year at least 100 women have been killedthrough suspected male violence in the UK alone. Across the globe, across all countries and all cultures,women are the most frequent victims of intimate partner violence and they are often killed by their own family members.

2. Because rape and sexual violence are endemic. Research published in January showed that:

  • Approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year
  • Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year
  • 1 in 5 women (aged 16 – 59) has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.

And yet just this month it was revealed that police forces in the UK are continuing to find ways to manipulate their figures on rape and other sexual offences, under-recording these crimes by as much as 25%,  in order to meet targets.

3. Because in England and Wales, more than 24,000 girls are at risk of, and more than 66,000 women are living with the consequences of, FGM.

4. And because those who speak out against FGM are being subjected to abuse and threats.

5. Because across the globe women do not have autonomy over their own bodies and are still being denied abortions.

6. Because in September this year an eight-year-old Yemeni girl died of internal bleeding on her wedding night after marrying a man five times her age. And because according to Plan UK, around one girl under 18 is married every two seconds that tick by.

7. Because earlier this year two teenage girls, Noor Basra and Noor Sheza, and their mother Noshehra, were murdered for allowing themselves to be filmed dancing and playing in the rain. There are nearly 3000 cases of so-called ‘honour’ violence every year in the UK. Globally, there are around5000 so-called ‘honour’ killings every year.

8. Because women and girls are trafficked both across and within country borders for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Just last month Ilyas Ashar was jailed for 13 years by a Manchester court for repeatedly raping and abusing a deaf and mute girl he’d trafficked into the country from Pakistan in June 2000, when she was 10 years old.

9. Because men still believe they have some inalienable right to purchase women for sex.

10. Because sexting and revenge porn are driving women and girls to despair and suicide.

11. Because victim blaming is still a thing. In August this year for example a convicted paedophile escaped a jail sentence after the prosecuting barrister, Robert Colover, labelled his young girl victim “predatory” and “sexually experienced”and the judge, Nigel Peters, said he was taking into account in his sentencing how the girl looked and behaved. After an outcry the sentence was revised to a two year jail term, and Colover agreed to resign from the CPS rape panel of advocates, but the fact that these things were ever said in a UK courtroom about a child victim tells us all we need to know about the state of our criminal justice system.

12. Because when they can’t get their own way some men throw acid at women and girls.

13. Because Josef Fritzl wasn’t a one-off and Emma Donoghue’s Room is more than a work of fiction. Cases continue to emerge of women and girls, many of whom are missing and presumed dead at the time of their discovery, who have been held captive, raped and/or otherwise abused, sometimes for decades.

14. Because sexism and racism are rife in music videos.

15. Because despite signing the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing violence against women and domestic violence, the UK Government still hasn’t ratified it. You can sign the petition here – Tell Theresa May to guarantee standards for women’s services in the UK and worldwide.

16. Because I thought it would be difficult to find 16 reasons for the 16 days campaign, and it wasn’t. In fact I could go on and on citing examples of woman hatred and gynocide because depressingly, compiling this post was all too easy. And until the violence stops, until women and girls are truly free, feminist activists must and will continue to campaign against, and raise awareness of, the atrocity that is male violence against women.

 

Too Much to say for myself: Blogging about feminism, politics, and anything else that takes my fancy [@CathElliott]

No Isolated Incident: The Death of Hollie Gazzard by Gappy Tales

Cross-posted from: Gappy Tales
Originally published: 18.07.14

(this is an older post cross-posted from Gappy Tales)

So. Another young British woman has lost her life as a result of domestic abuse.

Hollie Gazzard – described by her family as “a beautiful, happy, and loving girl” who was “full of life” – was stabbed to death by her ex-partner at her place of work, in full view of multiple witnesses, late on Tuesday afternoon.

It was the very public nature of Hollie’s death that ensured she made the national news. People are understandably horrified when forcibly confronted with that level of terror and violence. Right there, on our streets, or depicted on grainy videos filmed from mobile phones, it becomes impossible to turn our faces away. However the vast majority of women who fall victim to fatal incidents of domestic violence are lucky to get just a few paragraphs in the local rag. Why? Because it is all too common, that’s why.

Shockingly, Hollie Gazzard is just one of around a hundred women who will die from domestic abuse this year in the UK alone. An average of two women a week are killed by their current or previous partner in this country; a figure that has remained fairly stable for decades. Domestic abuse is extremely common, with around one in three women experiencing it at some point during their life times. It also tends to be progressive, increasing in severity over time, and – as shown by recent events in Gloucester – it can be deadly. Frighteningly, a woman is most at risk when attempting to leave, and in the first few months after having left, her relationship.

Despite accounting for sixteen percent of all recorded violent crime though, domestic abuse is still vastly under reported. Reasons for this are many and varied, however a fear of not being adequately protected and/or taken seriously by the police still rates high. A common general perception tends to be that police attitudes towards victims of domestic and sexual violence have improved in recent years and, as a former Women’s Aid worker, this is a perception I have tentatively shared.

Which is why I felt such dismay upon reading this article in The Independent; in particular the quotes it contained from a Chief Inspector Neil Smith concerning Hollie Gazzard’s murder. C.I. Smith seemed only too eager to reassure everyone that this was a:

very, very nasty incident” but added: “I would like to reassure members of this community, both residents and local businesses, that this is an isolated incident. These offences don’t happen in Gloucester regularly. This incident was very tragic, however; both victim and suspect knew each other. They were in a previous relationship. That doesn’t lessen this horrific incident but it would be good for us to reassure the local community.”

So the incident was very tragic, but. But, they knew each other. But, they had been in a previous relationship. In this context the disclaimer at the end sounds little more than a hasty add-on, made necessary only by the minimising, dismissive nature of everything that has gone before it. In fact the speech reads simply as a modern day equivalent of the old chestnut, “It’s just a domestic”. According to C.I.Smith this was no random attacker, therefore there is nothing for anyone to concern themselves with. Nothing to see here. Everybody move along and get back to business as usual.

There are no doubt many women who could assure Chief Inspector Smith that offences relating to domestic abuse do indeed happen regularly in Gloucester. They happen on every street in every town in every corner of the land. The brutal murder of Hollie Gazzard is very very far from being an isolated incident. Rather it is the highly visible tip of an enormous iceberg; a small exposed part of a much larger pattern of hate crime that is perpetrated against vast numbers of women on a daily basis. It also comes at a time when funding for domestic violence support services is being slashed to ribbons. Until we acknowledge and begin to take a good look at this bigger picture, there will only ever be many more deaths like Hollie’s.

And most of them, we will never even get to hear about.

 

Jeni Harvey: Writer, feminist, mother. Likes cake, hates Jeremy Clarkson. These are my principles – if you don’t like them, I have others. @GappyTales or Huff Post

The Bartered Sex by @EstellaMz

(Cross-posted from Uncultured Sisterhood)

An op-ed on how payment of bride price turns women into commodities provided welcome respite from the endless sexism in Uganda’s mainstream media. While I generally agree with the writer, payment of bride price in itself isn’t what turns women into commodities. Rather, in a society where women are seen as commodities, bride price is just one of many cultural practices emblematic of a ridiculous notion.

Obviously the need to pay is taxing on men, as it is for anyone buying a good or service. In a hard-pressed economy, the pressures are more constrictive and likely to create discord for those who fail to deliver what is owed, be they women or men. Marital frustrations on the back of bride price debt could partly explain why in a recent UN survey across 37 African countries, Uganda was in the lead with 60% of Ugandan men considering beating their wives a ‘necessary’ aspect of marriage, while a similar percentage of women think themselves deserving of a beating. Neither the air we breathe, nor the food we eat could have led us to this warped level of odious beliefs. Nevertheless, they are evidence of a culture accepting of violence against women. And with practices like bride price, it is the woman received in exchange who pays the ultimate price for this innocent-seeming giving of gifts.

Yet often, culturalized human-to-commodity metamorphosis of females not only manifested in customary exchanges between men, but in the reality of women’s status in society, is brushed off; bride price touted as a good, traditional practice. Some claim it is paid to show appreciation; another equated it to a ‘tip’ offered in addition to payment for a meal. These views are neck-deep in paternalism; further expose the lower rank of women in a male-dominated society, and importantly, fail to deliver a non-sexist reason as to why this gratitude isn’t also shown by women for men. It is there that we find the woman-commodifying ideals celebrated as unique, valuable aspects of African culture.

But there is nothing uniquely Ugandan in the practice of men pimping “giving away” their daughters and sisters to other men in the name of marriage, nor in man-as-prize and woman-as-property ideology. Brides are walked down aisles to their new owners in Kampala, Cambridge, Calcutta, and California. Romanticizing bride price needs to be seen for what it is: a ruse to mask its significance as one of the markers of man’s assumed lordship over woman, in marriage, and in every other socio-political institution for that matter. We should at least be frank about that, if only for the sake of honest discussion.

Our honest selves would acknowledge that the dehumanisation of women permeates myriad settings and cultures wherein the female body is objectified and violated in the day-to-day. Take the recent case in Ireland where a woman impregnated by a rapist was denied access to health-care, specifically, an abortion. As per interpretation of Irish law, the right to life of the foetus took precedence over her needs. In addition to the mental and physical suffering from sexual assault, she was placed under confinement and forced feeding, culminating in delivery. Being female, she had no right to deny the seed of the man who raped her from growing off her body – her trauma now in flesh. Whereas the rapist walked away from his crime, most likely unscathed as many of them do, she carries brutal lifelong reminders.

Such a horrific conclusion can only be seen as moral and justified in a society where women are valued only to the extent to which their bodies serve men and the wider good. Her right to self-determination was of little to no significance within and outside the law; first the rapist violated her by exercising his (perceived) right to her body, and then her personhood is dismissed for the ‘higher duty’ of woman as womb. Justice may not have been dealt to the rapist. His offspring will get it, the state will see to it. But for sure it will not be afforded to woman for whom, regardless of circumstances, child-bearing is the raison d’être.

The injustice is replicated in laws like the Mozambique one which exonerates a rapist if he marries a woman he raped. That a man’s crime can be written off because a woman’s status has been ‘raised’ to property of the miscreant who violated her (thus awarding him, in retrospect, the right to do so) underlines the position of women in a woman-hating society: commodities whose worth is in the value men can make of them.

Similar dynamics are in force when a man opts to ‘try elsewhere’ for a boy child; essentially taking advantage of his (perceived) male right to find another uterus in which to play reproductive lottery. Such recourse would be considered unbecoming of the wife – who is usually blamed for a couple’s seeming inability to conceive children of a preferred sex. Which is just as well since her duty, with bride price firmly in dad’s tummy, is to fulfill her husband’s physical/biological demands.

This normalization of men’s right to women’s bodies must be seen for its role in many societal ills. According to the World Bank, women between 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria. In Uganda, the high incidences of different manifestations of male violence against girls and women indicate a society which views female bodies as objects to be beaten/raped/bought and used for sex; enforced by cultural practices which naturalize inequality between the sexes. That women too can be violent doesn’t negate the fact that gender violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.

Meanwhile in India, the rule of male over female rages on like a cancer. The long-outlawed dowry system, characterized by a bride’s family ‘gifting’ a prospective groom and his family in exchange for the honor of having him as their son-in-law, still thrives. Dowry institutionalized the hatred of femaleness in that land of ancient goddesses; spawning female infanticide, poor investment in the girl child, rape, bride burning, and death – one woman killed every hour over dowry.

Like dowry, payment of bride price presupposes the inferiority of women to men. It establishes wives at commodity level; subordinate to husbands, and supposedly privileged to be in service to them. It relegates women to the same category as slaves bought to perform field labour, or a heifer added to a kraal for reproductive labour. The analogy may not be representative of the intentions of a 21st century African man when he is paying bride price. But good intentions don’t change the fact that commodities are given in exchange for the reproductive, domestic, sexual and emotional labour expected of a wife.

The individual woman’s favorable view of bride price doesn’t attenuate its legitimation of the commodification of women into human objects that are exchangeable between men in return for material objects.

Men’s favorable view of the practice is expected because it is for their benefit; as fathers who receive goods/animals/money, as husbands who receive wives, and as future fathers expecting a ‘return’ through their own daughters. They also get to retain a position of superiority and ownership over women.

It isn’t surprising, therefore, that men are major advocates for bride price as a “woman-valuing” tradition.

In that tradition, women will remain treated as lesser human-beings for as long as the bedrock of our society, the family, is built upon customs cemented with the bartering of ‘things’ for female life and labour.

Aiming for so-called ‘gender equality’ without striving to dismantle the cultural practices keeping inequality alive maintains the pillars of the mindless belief that to be female is to belong to an inferior caste, and women are, thereby, living commodities existing to be in service to everyone except themselves.

This nonsense must end. Starting with bride price.

 

Uncultured Sisterhood:  I am a Ugandan feminist, based in Uganda. The blog, unculturedsisterhood, started out of extreme personal frustration with the state of affairs for women in my country, outside of it, in pretty much every area of life. From a feminist theory perspective, I critique topical, community, and cultural issues in Uganda (and the wider continent) as they relate to women. Hoping one or two sisters read/engage and join in as we work toward liberation. Category: Feminism; AfroFeminism; Radical Feminism Twitter: @EstellaMz

Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius: Not a question of fact, but perspective by @Glosswitch

Cross-posted from: Glosswitch

When women are killed, we remain just as dead as any man in similar circumstances. It cannot be argued that we have not really died, that the bullet that went through our skull didn’t really hurt us. Our death is an objective truth. It’s just the years leading up to it – all those experiences, thoughts and feelings – that can never quite be verified. For how does one know whether a life has validity unless it was lived by a man?

A man’s story belongs to him. He is more than “just the women”. As Judge Thokozile Masipa said of Oscar Pistorius, not guilty of murder despite firing four shots through a locked bathroom door, “the accused is the only person who can say what his state of mind was at the time he fired the shots that killed the deceased”. His experiences are inviolable. And as for those of the deceased? Alas, she has but one experience: that of being dead, and before then, her experience was that of being the other half; the complement, the accessory, the essential blonde girlfriend in the Blade Runner Story. Oscar Pistorius Charged With The Murder Of Model Lover. What experiences would a model lover have, anyway? None, were it not for the man who magics her into existence. Look! There she is, on his arm! How clever of him to find one like that!

Reeva Steenkamp — model lover, deceased, whatever – confessed to fearing the man who would eventually kill her. It’s almost as though she had an inner life and words of her own, not that these matter. According to Judge Masipa, “normal relationships are dynamic and unpredictable sometimes”. Whatever Steenkamp felt came and went; it is not being felt any more. Meanwhile a man can rewrite the past. Oscar Pistorius did. Even so, the assumption that just because he was untruthful, he must therefore be guilty of murder “must be guided against”. Of course. There is, beneath the fog, some rock solid truth that no one on the outside may question. We simply cannot know.

When women feel anger and dismay at verdicts such as those delivered today, we are told not to generalise. We must stick to the facts. We must also be reasonable. Here are some things that are facts, not generalisations (whether or not they are reasonable is another matter):

You can piece together a story from this, if you want to. You can identify a pattern. Nonetheless, whatever you do you will be dealing with lives which don’t carry the same weight as the lives of men. They simply don’t make the same impression. As women we are used to being talked over, corrected and ignored. Even if we die a thousand deaths each one will be separated out and filed away neatly. A woman’s death becomes a detail in the life story of the man who kills her; god forbid that we group the many deaths together and see a different story, that of a culture which tolerates and excuses male violence again and again.

#Ibelieveher matters, not because women never lie, but because our stories are always seen as provisional and in need of external verification. If something happens to us and a man cannot confirm it, has it really happened at all? How can anyone be sure? The stories of women form a backdrop to the lives of men. When they become obtrusive or inconvenient, they can be discarded. It’s not rape if areasonable person would have believed consent was given. It’s not murder if areasonable person would have felt under threat. Men, of course, are reasonable; women, less so. When we hide in toilets, behind locked doors, when we profess to feeling scared – well, who knows what that means? Every word, feeling and memory is left hanging in the air, waiting to see if a man will walk past and give it shape. And if he doesn’t? Well, we might as well not exist.

A Dark Reputation by @abigailrieley

 

Cross-posted from Abigail Rieley

Angel

It’s that time of year again. The anniversary of a murder that happened long before I was born but that somehow managed to change the course of my life. William Kirwan haunts me, as do the women whose lives he destroyed – three off whom are looking at me as I write. I’ve written about the Ireland’s Eye murder many times – it’s the case behind the book that I’m working on, that I’m still working on. It’s rather taken over my life.

This year I want to share some of the secondary stories that surround the case. In 1852 the Kirwan case was a cause celebre. Even though the case itself was a fairly simple, tragic case of spousal murder – very like many I’ve covered in the past – the rumours and embellishments that have twisted around it over the years are impressive. William Bourke Kirwan was accused of multiple murders and all kinds of wrong doing. I’ve dug, and dug and dug, believe me. While I’ve absolutely no doubt that Kirwan was a nasty piece of work I really don’t think he was a serial killer. A wife beater and philanderer, of course, but was he guilty of the other crimes he was accused of? Almost certainly not.

I’ve written about the case before, quite a few times actually, but I’ll recap the basics. On September 6th William Bourke Kirwan and his wife Maria went out to Ireland’s Eye, a small island off the coast of Howth in north county Dublin. He was an artist and was planning on sketching some new scenes. She was a keen swimmer and was looking forward to the challenging swimming around the island. At some point that evening, before the boat came to take them back to Howth harbour, William Kirwan killed his wife. Some have said that it was a miscarriage of justice and she simply drowned, but I’ve seen evidence that shows he was a very abusive husband, an all too familiar scenario with a too inevitable outcome. This evidence wasn’t produced at Kirwan’s subsequent trial though, so to many it seemed a motiveless act of unfathomable evil. The fact that he was widely known to have had a second family, with a mistress and no fewer than seven children, cemented his reputation. The rumour mill ground into action until Kirwan was blamed for any inconvenient death.

Among the papers of Thomas Larcom, former under secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland is a note that suggests even the great and good were not immune. Larcom had been in charge of the Ordinance Survey of Ireland and when one of his surveyors was killed in suspicious circumstances a few years before Kirwan was convicted he took a personal interest in the case. A newspaper report of the inquest notes that the dead man’s brother, who had run up considerable gambling debts, had argued with his brother when he refused to lend him money. When questioned at the inquest the brother broke down and the reporter noted how his sobs could be heard throughout the room for the rest of the inquest. Despite the fact that it would seem pretty clear that this had all the hallmarks of a very private tragedy, Larcom’s note is definite that the death was at the hand of “the murderer Kirwan”, in an early, undiscovered atrocity. Larcom might actually have known Kirwan who had a lucrative sideline in colouring the Ordnance maps. Business was so good in that area that he had hired several young apprentices to meet the commissions.

Kirwan certainly seems to have made rather a habit of antagonising people. He might well have got away with killing his wife if it hadn’t been for those with hefty axes to grind. In the month after Maria’s death that rumour mill was being cranked by a very determined woman. Maria Byrne had lived a few doors away from the Kirwans when they lived on Lower Merrion Street before moving to the grander houses on the Upper street. She was a seamstress and had known Kirwan since before his marriage. She obviously felt she knew him well enough to get his measure. She didn’t rest until the Dublin Metropolitan Police had agreed to examine the case. Now Maria Byrne obviously was obviously carrying a grudge. She told police that Kirwan had stolen work from her husband, who shared Kirwan’s other business  of anatomical draughtsman. In this heyday of anatomical demonstration the draughtsmen were much in demand to drew sketches of autopsies and medical specimens. Kirwan had done very well in this line as well. Some of his work is still in the collection of the Royal College of Surgeons here in Dublin and several sketches of syphilitic pustules are among the curious collection of sketches in the National Library of Ireland. Mrs Byrne was under no doubt that Kirwan’s success had driven her husband to an early grave. She also told police that he had tried to poison his wife on two separate occasions and as well as her husband, he had also killed his brother-in-law. Maria’s younger brother James had gone to America, and according to Mrs Byrne, was never heard of again.

But the darkest accusation had the most tragic outcome. There was one person who had more of a grudge against Kirwan than anyone else, whose resentment and anger went back long before his marriage and who would not be able to live with her accusations failing to strike their target.

Anne Downes Bowyer was the wife of Kirwan’s painting teacher. She came forward in January 1853 once it became clear that Kirwan was not going to hang. She wanted to make sure he got away with nothing. Her story went back to 1837, three years before Kirwan married Maria. She had carried a burning grudge since then and ultimately it would kill her. Hers is one of the most haunting interconnected stories in this case. She was a very lonely, very tragic character.

Anne Gaffney married the artist Richard Downes Bowyer on Halloween 1819. She was considerably younger than him but I’ve always thought it must have been a love match, a thing of passion. They got special permission to skip their last marriage bann. It may have been because she was pregnant, although the couple never had any children. Whatever happened, Anne turned into a very troubled woman. In or around 1824 she was admitted to Dr Gregory’s private Bellevue asylum in Finglas. She was subsequently released but the marriage did not survive. By around October 1836 she and Richard separated. Richard went to stay with Kirwan and his father. He wouldn’t tell Anne where he was going.

Some time later Kirwan went with Downes Bowyer to collect his things from the house on Mountjoy Street. Anne would later say that she was tied to a chair as her husband, Kirwan and several other young men ransacked her house. She took her husband and Kirwan to court in 1837 accusing them of theft. Her husband countersued and threatened to have her committed again. The judge ruled in Anne’s favour. He told her husband that she was entitled to a living of £40 a year for the rest of her life.

Anne obviously wouldn’t let things go. Her husband moved away from Dublin to Killeshandra in County Cavan, Kirwan’s sister went with him to keep house for the old man. Before he went Richard signed over family lands in Rhine, or Rinn in County Longford on the understanding that Kirwan would continue to pay Anne’s stipend of £40 a year. After Richard died in 1841, Anne became convinced that the Kirwan family had contrived to kill her husband. She couldn’t let the idea go and in January 1853 she went to the police with her accusation.

The Dublin Metropolitan police took Anne Downes Bowyer seriously. They even excavated the garden of the house on Parnell Place where Kirwan and his father had lived. Since Downes Bowyer had died in Killeshandra they found nothing to support Anne’s claims but they did uncover a small coffin much to the excitement of the press. The police duly examined the little coffin and found it to contain the bones of a young child. It was long dead and they couldn’t find out it’s story. It didn’t help Anne.

A few months after this Anne was dead. At her inquest, in July 1853, her sister told the coroner that Anne had been living quietly outside Dublin. The family were worried about her and visited her regularly but on July 7th her sister arrived down from Dublin to find the little cottage empty. A search eventually led to a local quarry, where there was a deep pool. Anne’s shoes and shawl were neatly placed beside the black water. The inquest ruled that Anne had died at her own hand but this is one death that I do think should be laid at Kirwan’s door, all be it indirectly.  It might of course be a complete coincidence but that week’s issue of the Nation newspaper carried a caustic article on Kirwan arguing that there was one law for the rich and another for the poor. Kirwan was still in Ireland at this point. His sentence to hang had been commuted on New Year’s Eve but he had still not been transported that summer. As the Nation noted, poorer men with less celebrity would undoubtedly have been hauled off in chains months since. I can only imagine Anne’s reaction if she had read it or had it read to her. Surely enough to take away the last of her hope.

I have always thought that Anne Downes Bowyer was as much a victim of Kirwan as Maria was. He might not have been guilty of the imaginative carnage those who didn’t know him well accused him of but he was a toxic man who saw two women dead. There were other casualties of this case but they are still my subjects so I’m keeping them close to my chest for the moment. William Bourke Kirwan undoubtedly earned his dark reputation.

 

Abigail RieleyI’m a writer, journalist and feminist and this is my personal blog. I’ve written a great deal about the Irish criminal justice system based on my observations from working at a court reporter, particularly about the sentencing laws concerning crimes against women be it murder or manslaughter, rape or sexual assault or domestic violence. I also write about books and writing, women in 19th century Ireland (a subject I’ve been researching for the past couple of years), science fiction and general women’s issues (including, of course, the Irish abortion situation) and social issues. I’m also a bit of a geek and write about British science fiction and horror.

#HeForShe and the pointless battle to be recognised by @PlanetCath

(Cross-posted from Opinionated Planet)

I am really torn with this HeForShe campaign. It’s great that a young woman such as Emma Watson has spoken up, identified herself as a feminist and, in doing so, will introduce a whole generation of other young women to the feminist movement. It’s also good news that sexism, misogyny and inequality is being discussed at UN level. There are many issues that blight women’s lives every single day and we are long overdue for a sea change in male attitudes. It’s exhausting battling this shit every day and our voices are hoarse from shouting about it.
My problem is that I don’t believe that the involvement of the United Nations will do anything to change societal attitudes towards women. The problems are far too entrenched for men to willingly surrender their power. When you have as much privilege as men do, the process of unpacking and examining that privilege is far too much like hard work. Retweeting Everyday Sexism is easy. Adding your name to a petition against domestic abuse takes about five minutes. Adding your voice to a campaign such as HeForShe takes approximately five seconds. Anyone can do that, and proudly pat themselves on the back for being a ‘good’ man.

The real work is in challenging sexism and misogyny. When your mates tell a rape joke, when your work colleagues tell a domestic violence joke, when you witness street harassment, when your women friends are sexually assaulted in pubs and clubs. That’s the real work; challenging other men.

And men don’t see what we see. They understand the, “get your tits out” sexism because it’s blatant and they can hear and see it. What they don’t see is the implicit sexism. The comments that can be dismissed as “just a joke”, the man who talks to your chest, the man who speaks over you, the man who runs the University Feminist society because he wants to ‘help’ women become empowered. They don’t notice when they switch on the radio and it’s predominantly male voices. They don’t notice that the majority of newspaper editors, managers, CEO’s and politicians are men. They don’t think anything when they watch Question Time and see a panel of white, male faces. They don’t understand why you get frustrated when the head of your STEM panel is male, or when you disengage from politics because the ‘greater good’ argument has yet again made women invisible and silenced.

For HeForShe to actually work, we need men to shut up and listen. We need them to WANT to change and I don’t see any evidence that they do.

The sexism in society is not just about the obvious objectification of reducing women to body parts. It’s implicit, it’s quiet, and it’s subtle.

When we have to beg men to imagine that the women experiencing abuse is their daughter, mother or sister then we have a problem. If men can’t support women because, y’know, we’re women then frankly, I don’t want your support.
Read below the line of any article written by a woman and you will see what we experience. You will see what men really think of us. You will see the hatred, the abuse and the dismissive sneering that accompanies any one of us that dares to speak. Go on Facebook and join a discussion about feminism and women’s rights, see the men falling over themselves to explain how we’re getting it wrong, we are campaigning on the wrong issue, there are more important things to worry about. Join Twitter and tweet about feminism. Sit back and wait for the replies.

Essentially, there are a lot of men who can just about manage feminism if it’s done ‘right.’ If the campaigning women are young, white, pretty and slim then you have a chance of men supporting your issue. If you’re old, a woman of colour and fat then forget it.

You have pretty much zero chance of any man wanting to be involved in your campaign. The comments come thick and fast;

“who’d rape her?”

“why are feminists so fucking ugly?”

“she deserves a smack in the mouth, fat ugly bitch.”

And we get angry. We get really fucking angry and this means that we are irrational, emotional, and erratic.

“You need to calm down”

“Why are you so angry all the time? It doesn’t solve anything”

“You won’t get anyone to listen if you’re angry”

So we quieten down. We lower our voices, we ask nicely instead of demanding angrily. Does anything change? No.

So, forgive me if I’m not thrilling with excitement about yet another campaign. Forgive me if I sound negative and weary. It’s because I’ve been here so many times before and we are in a worse situation than we ever were.

All power to Emma Watson. Truly. But don’t be surprised when this campaign fades away into obscurity.

Men aren’t giving up their power any time soon.

Opinionated Planet: a radical feminist blog by women for women on male violence, women-only spaces and sports

Elliot Rodger: not all men hate women – but if one does, that’s enough by @jessiecath

(cross-posted with permission from Writing all Wrongs)

When I first started calling myself a feminist, I was tentative about it. Apologetic even. I wasn’t always sure how important it was – I mean, we’ve got the vote right? And Maggie Thatcher happened and everything? And aren’t feminists all hairy and angry (god, how terrible)?

But I read books and I watched films and I started to realise how the objectification of women had become so normalised we’d all stopped noticing. Things started to bother me, like why did I ask my mum if I could buy a thong when I was in year 6? Why when I was a 14-year-old virgin did girls at school who wanted to hurt me call me a slut? And why was I more likely to see a woman on TV giving a bloke a tit wank than I was to see her chairing a debate? Phrases became important: the beauty myth, the Bechdel test, everyday sexism.

But a while ago, that changed for me. It was no longer just about women being treated like sex objects in adverts or music videos, or that page 3 still exists, or that women are often meaningless plot devices. I began to understand that ritual misogyny is a pervasive, subtle and poisonous part of everyday life. Of course, the latter is only possible because of the unwavering persistence of the former – the continued portrayal of women as second-class citizens are symptoms. But I can no longer pretend that we don’t live in a society that is awash with the hatred of women.

We are repeatedly told that misogyny is just a case of mildly amusing anachronisms. The chief executive of the FA sent some sexist emails? Oopsy, wish the public hadn’t seen that – but he’s just being bawdy! Oh, another famous man off the telly has been arrested for sexually abusing women – but the culture was just totally different back then, you understand. Rape jokes? Jeez lighten up guys!

And then a 22-year-old man goes on a killing spree which he himself describes as “my war against women for rejecting me and depriving me of sex and love” – and it’s not a misogynistic attack. People are falling over themselves to say that Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and claimed “it was women’s fault for refusing to have sex with me”, did not hate women.

He did it because he was mentally ill, or because of the gun laws, or because his dad worked on the Hunger Games therefore = violence obvs. In fact we should totes just blame Jennifer Lawrence. Some have said Rodger is not a misogynist because he killed men too. But he didn’t kill those men because they refused to give him the sex that he felt unequivocally entitled to.

So I’ll just tell you right here and right now, Elliot Rodger was a misogynist killer. As far as I’m concerned, that is not up for debate: he murdered women for not giving him the sex he felt he was owed. He murdered men because they were getting the sex he felt entitled to.

Misogynist killings aren’t rare one-off events either: let’s not forget Jill MeagherJoanna Yeatesthe five women killed in Ipswich, or the 2012 Delhi gang-rape. Woman-hatred like this is not interesting or complex – it’s simply because some men believe that women don’t have the right to have control over their own bodies.

We can argue that misogynist murders take place until we are blue in the face, but we can’t escape this tuneless dull chorus: “but not all men are like that”.

Of course not all men are like that, but even if one is, it’s a massive fucking problem. All the time that men continue to use their energy to distance themselves from misogyny, rather than address the fact that it not only occurs but kills, they are simply perpetuating its existence.

I’m sick of trying to convince people that misogyny exists. I’m sick of trying to explain to people that rape jokes legitimise sexual assault. I’m sick of trying to tell people that a sensationalist video of a woman beating a man in public is distorting the debate, because I have never seen a woman be violent to a man in public but I’ve seen it the other way round more than enough times. I’m also bored stiff of the fact that even though I know ‘asking for it’ is the vile rhetoric of victim blamers, I still feel like it’s my fault if I walk home late at night and get attacked. And I’m also pretty bored of the fact that when I’ve called out commonplace wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing misogyny, I’ve been told ‘that can’t be right – he’s such a nice guy’.

What the ‘not all men’ argument does – whilst distracting from a proper debate about structual misogyny – is that it ignores the fact that actually, yes, all men are taught to feel entitled to sex and attention from women. And yes, yes, I know that when you were in your mother’s womb you had no concept of the patriarchy, but you were born into it just like we all were, and either you face up to that, or you try and pretend that you’ve lived your life in a vacuum and that you haven’t been trained all the way from Disney movies to porn films to see us as something you are owed. Fool yourself, but you won’t fool me.

Jessie Thompson a.k.a girl ignited tricks people into listening to her opinions at length by disguising them as attempts at humour.

She has also written for The Independent, The Telegraph, The Quietus, Red Pepper, Ideastap, Vagenda, Feminist Times, Huffington Post, A Younger Theatre and Libertine. Whilst at university, she worked as Arts Editor and Arts Editor-in-Chief of Sussex’s student newspaper, The Badger, which she found dehumanising because at house parties people only spoke to her so that they could find out how they could write for The Badger.

 

The Day Of Retribution. On Elliot Rodger, the Butcher of Santa Barbara. by @Echidne

(cross-posted with permission from ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES)

This post is about the slaughter carried out by Elliot Rodger in Santa Barbara.  It is about violence, the hatred of women and the general hatred of humans.  Consider carefully whether you wish to read it.

1.  The Recent Events 

Elliot Rodger, 22,  spent last Saturday killing people in Santa Barbara, California.  He first brutally stabbed to death three men in his apartment:  Cheng Yuan Hong, 20, George Chen, 19 and Weihan Wang, 20, then got into his BMW with  his three semi-automatic legally acquired guns and headed to that UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara) sorority  he had rated as having the largest number of pretty tall blondes, the kind of womanflesh he wanted to have on his plate but was denied because the damn dinners had rights to refuse him!

He planned to kill all women inside the sorority, but was stopped by the fact that nobody opened the door however hard he banged on it.  Poor Elliot!  Things always worked out against him.  No wonder he was filled with such rage, as witnessed byhis manifesto for the butchering or “the day of retribution.”

Instead, he shot at the three young women standing outside the sorority building, killing Katherine Breann Cooper, 22, and Veronika Elizabeth Weiss, 19.  The third victim is still alive and I hope that she will recover.

What Rodger tells us in his manifesto is that this is the plan he had for killing people because he was owed that retribution for all the sex he deserved but wasn’t getting while other men were getting it:

First horribly carve up men in his apartment, then kill all the sorority residents, then just  drive around the place shooting and hitting people with his car.  With the exception of failing to wipe out the sorority, his plans were going pretty well.

He next killed Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, 20, at a local delicatessen.  He was probably chosen randomly, as “one of the animals,”  Rodger’s view of other humans.

No more immediate deaths on his rampage through the streets, though his car drove into two bicyclists (and two other individuals) and his bullets hit pedestrians walking by.  In all, six victims were killed,  seven other individuals were hurt on this “day of retribution.”  Two of the hurt remain in serious condition.  I hope all of them will be made as whole as possible.  I hope those who loved the dead (including those who loved Rodger) get some peace.

The day ended with Rodger’s suicide.

2.  What Happened Before?
In reverse time order:
Just a day before the slaughter, Rodger posted a YouTube video about his plans.  The video is now removed but I watched it, and wehuntedthemammoth.com has a transcript of it.   It is a monologue promising us the slaughter that followed.  Rodgerplaces the blame for his loneliness and suffering firmly on the shoulders of women, especially those of tall, white blond-haired women:

College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex, and fun, and pleasure. But in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness.
It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me.
I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.
It’s an injustice, a crime, because I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy, and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men, instead of me, the supreme gentlemen.
I will punish all of you for it. (laughs)
On the day of retribution I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB… and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut I see inside there.

Rodger’s parents tried to desperately find him when they saw the video.

In April, a family member asked the police to make a welfare check on Elliot Rodger.  He passed the check with flying colors.  The interviewer(s) found him perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human. 

Later another policeman described the results of the slaughter as “the work of a madman.”

At the time of the welfare check, Rodger was relieved that the police didn’t search his room where he had at least two semi-automatic guns in readiness.

Rodger clearly suffered from mental problems.  He had been receiving treatment, based on his manifesto, for several years.  What the treatment consisted of is unclear, but in this case the mental health system cannot be said to have  completely failed a sick person. Indeed, I’m not sure there is any effective current treatment for what Rodger’s manifesto reveals, except for involuntary confinement which could have protected his victims but would not have done much for him.  As far as I gather from the manifesto, Rodger received help in learning social skills, perhaps an attempt to relieve the loneliness he suffered.

His autobiographic manifesto suggests that he was bullied at school.

3. Reactions
These are of the expected type and often reflect the writer’sposition on the political map.  That Rodger had access to semi-automatic weapons made him a very efficient killing machine.  That he suffered from clear mental problems was also pointed out.  That he was a misogynist of rather extreme nature is given at least a nod in most places (though at least one writer disagrees on that as the cause for the massacre).  Whether he indeed was “a madman,” in the sense of an isolated, impossible-to-prevent-but-horrific event or whether something could have been done to prevent the massacre also seems to depend on one’s general slant about such things.
Comparisons to the 2009 killings by George Sodini, also  described as a loner who felt women need to be punished for spurning his advances might have been useful.  Both cases are about men who felt that they were entitled to have sex, that those who refused to hand it over on demand deserved punishment, and that punishment was not incommensurate if it meant death.  Both also felt great pain and perhaps self-pity because they were not receiving their fair number of voluntary f**ks.
In the primeval slime areas of the Internet, some comments argued that the killings were the fault of women who refused to give some pussy, even though by doing that they could have prevented murders.  From the comments attached to the now-removed YouTube video (the cleanest one of those which expressed the view):

He’s not a bad looking guy. Why wouldn’t chicks go out with him? If they had been nicer to him, this wouldn’t have happened. 

And the saddest reaction to the story is this one:

UCSB senior Kyley Scarlet, who lives next door and has served as president of her own sorority, said all three who were shot are sorority members, but neither of Alpha Phi nor her own.
Scarlet said she was very disturbed by the video describing his anger at sorority girls.
“It’s hard thinking my actions, being part of a sorority, led him to do this,” she said. “When I saw that video I was shaking and crying.”

4.  The Role of the PUAHate Site
Some have pointed out that Elliot Rodger participated at one Manosphere site, PUAHate.com (now inactive), where he wrote about his views on women to a membership which failed to disagree with him.  Indeed, he received support for those views, and nobody made a negative response to these comments he made there in April:

It must be accepted, but not embraced. Human society should never be allowed to degenerate to such brutality. The problem is women, they are primitive in nature and incapable thinking rationally. If they are allowed to choose who to breed with, humanity will never advance. Look at civilizations over 100 years ago. In a way they were much more civilized, simply because women were restricted and controlled. It was a much better world to live in.

And

Eventually these frustrated men won’t be able to take it anymore and will explode in rage and fury, and the female population will suffer the consequences, as they rightfully deserve. Once women are brought to their knees, things can be reformed. The sooner this happens, the better.

On the other hand, his participation at a bodybuilding forum did get some pushback.

The crucial question to answer here is a simple one:  Did Rodger’s participation at the PUAHate site affect his readiness to slaughter?  Did the support he received for his warped ideas strengthen them?

One might argue that his manifesto reveals the same strand of misogyny from the beginning to the end, whereas his visits to the wonderful world of extreme woman-hating sites were quite recent.  But when did he write his manifesto?  My impression is that he completed it right before the planned May 24, 2014 slaughter, which would have allowed his new “learning” about “alpha males,” “beta males” and “incels” (involuntarily celibate people but only men as women’s involuntary celibacy is a non-thing in that world) to have colored his views about his misfortunes and the causes of his suffering.*

Note, also, the language he uses in the YouTube threat:

All those girls that I’ve desired so much, they would’ve all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them while they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes.
I will take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you.
You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one. The true alpha male. (laughs)

Bolds are mine.

The second question I cannot help having concerns the fact that Rodger is by no means the only person on the misogyny sites who expresses these kinds of opinions.  Are we to simply assume that all the other enraged (enraged!) men who blame everything bad that ever happened to them on women are simply using their freedom of expression without any further consequences coming out of it?  Chatting to each other about the perfidy of women, the necessity to restrain and cage them, just sharing their feelings about women in a supportive environment?   And this would never make anyone do what George Sodini and Elliot Rodger did?

What is the responsibility of such sites?  Why are extremely hostile comments not moderated?

Rodger wrote this about the PUAHate site in his manifesto:

The Spring of 2013 was also the time when I came across the website PUAHate.com.  It is a forum full of men who are starved for sex, just like me.    Many of them have their own theories of what women are attracted to, and many of them share my hatred of women, though unlike me they would be too cowardly to act on it,.
Reading the posts on that website only confirmed many of the theories I had about how wicked and degenerate women really are.  ….
The website PUAHate is very depressing.  It shows just how bleak and cruel the world is due of the evilness of women.

So there’s the sharing of misogyny, at least, something in which he didn’t have to feel all alone.

5.  The Manifesto
I read through the 140-page manifesto, trying to understand Elliot Rodger’s mind.
As the shortest possible summary:
He comes across as a severely troubled individual, narcissistic, megalomaniac, expecting to be adored and adulated and falling into rage when this does not happen.  The pattern is evident even in his descriptions of a happy childhood.  The happiness depended on him getting what he wanted, and what he wanted was to be the center of attention, a member of the “cool group,” never to be denied anything he desired.  He wanted to be rich, to live in luxury, to be looked up to, to have the hottest blonde by his side as he walked towards the sunset on the beach.These desires in a teenager are not unusual, perhaps.  But what certainly IS unusual are his reactions when the ideal world failed to materialize. Those were extreme rage and the assigning of blame to others, including vast groups of individuals in terms of “all women.”  He also expressed racist anger at men who were not white for having white and pretty girlfriends, because he ranked himself above them.

He bases his sufferings on comparisons to the richest, most handsome, most privileged of all people, and his failure to find himself among that group made him rage.   That  his life was financially comfortable, that he seemed to have a mother who did everything for him (“At mother’s house,  all of my needs were met with excellent precision, whereas at father’s house…”) and an acceptable albeit distant father  didn’t matter at all.
His suffering is real, his life probably was subjectively pure torture, his reactions out-of-proportion to what happened to him.  What would have been an ordinary (or better) life to many was full of painful failures to him, because he interpreted almosteverything except extreme adoration as rejection.
Because of the misogyny he so plentifully expressed, I read the manifesto looking for examples where he would have been rejected by women.  Oddly enough, there are none, unless we count a girl who pushed and yelled at him in childhood, because he first bumped into her.  Other examples are of the type where a woman he smiled at didn’t smile at him, where a woman he said “hi” to didn’t respond.  If female rejection was what he mostly blamed for his suffering, where is that rejection in his manifesto?  Or did he expect women to flock to him, without any necessity to make an effort to meet them or talk to them?
I cannot say for certain.  But the impression I got is that he never approached women at all, that he expected women to approach him, and when they did not, he felt enormous pains of rejection.
If anything, the actual named women in his life were all overly kind to him, with the possible exception of his stepmother who tried to set limits to his behavior and assigned him chores such as cleaning which he felt were beneath him and belonged to the hired help.
I am not a psychiatrist and cannot give psychological diagnoses on the basis of reading something of this sort. I cannot tell what the role of the bullying he faced at school might have been, and I cannot tell if anything could have been done to relieve his pain and suffering.  But the role of entitlement, the role of narcissism and the role of god-like thinking in the manifesto makes me fear that ordinary therapy would not have worked.  I may be wrong, and would be glad to be found wrong.  Still, I feel for his parents and for his family who clearly tried to help him over a period of many years.
The manifesto concludes with his plans to kill lots of people, especially women and men who have sex with women.  He writes:

Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with.  That decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence.,  If women continue to have rights, they will only hinder the advancement of the human race by breeding with degenerate men…

There is no creature more evil and depraved than the human female.

Women are like a plague.  They don’t deserve to have any rights.  Their wickedness must be contained in order to prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy.  Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals and they need to be treated as such.

He also suggests that most women should be put into concentration camps, to be starved to death, while he watches.  Some would be saved for breeding in laboratories where they would be inseminated with male sperm and where women’s animal natures would be bred out of them.

6.  Conclusions
This has been a difficult post to write, a difficult post to write in the correct tone, a difficult post even to think about.  And I have failed in finding the correct tone, failed in the distance I should have had, perhaps failed on the side of cold and hard anger myself.  The victims of the massacre deserve my focus, not its perpetrator, and even though I justify my writing about the perpetrator as a search for greater understanding I’m not sure that I achieved that.
Yes, Rodger was a troubled individual with severe problems.  Yes, he managed to slip through the police net, yes, he was able to buy three semi-automatic guns, apparently with no questions asked.
Perhaps all that is the framework, the flow-chart of what happened.  Still, the contents of his hatred were largely about women, not as individual women but as some thing he deserved to have, as some thing which deserved punishment when it refused to be available on command.  Yet reading his manifesto suggests to me that that no woman had actually rejected him in some particularly painful manner.  And of course the people he killed had nothing to do with Rodger’s life or with his problems. They were the sacrifice his anger deserved, in that last god-like state.
But Rodger learned his thinking about women (and about other races and the help in his home) somewhere.  It can be learned in many places, including some places on the Internet where the concept that women, as a class,  owe men sex is not unknown.  It is that belief which probably drives some men to the PUA and similar sites where the hurt they feel from real or imaginary rejection by individual women creates a toxic mix with the rage they feel at women who have not delivered the sex those men believe they are entitled to.
Rejection is something most human beings will experience.  It hurts.  It is part of life.  You will, however, get over the hurt.  That simple fact should be taught more widely, together with healthy coping mechanisms which can be used when the inevitable rejection happens, whether it is by a love interest, by a job or by a college.
Nobody is entitled to have sex on demand, just for existing.  That second simple fact should also be taught more widely, together with the interpersonal skills which help someone look at a possible love or sex object as a human being.  Flipping the mirror like that, astonishingly, raises one’s chances of getting laid, too, because people want to be loved for themselves, not as the menu selection for the night.
Certain Manosphere sites teach the exact opposite of these two simple facts, and that is where their potential harm lies.  What the role of the PUAHate.com site might have been in the butchery of Elliot Rodger is something we will never know.  But that site certainly didn’t change his mind or his misogyny, and it’s not unlikely that similar sites can turn more vulnerable minds onto the dark paths.
———–
*The theories of the world these sites propose are as follows:
In the past all (heterosexual) men had lots of sex because women needed to find a male provider, so they sold sex in exchange for bed and board.  Now, because of feminism, women no longer need to do this.  Therefore, they all flock (based on an evolutionary pseudotheory, combined with some stuff about alpha wolves in artificially created wolf-packs (the actual wolf packs in the wild are led by grandpa and grandma wolves)) to a small group of alpha males, men who are at the top of the society, but who are also rude, arrogant bastards who treat women like the scum women are.  The rest of the men are beta males, those who are always also-rans, those who now can’t get any sex at all, because the alphas are getting it all.  Indeed, beta males will never pass their genes on, which means the ultimately failure in the evolutionary race!
The solutions to this “dilemma of extreme harems of just a few alphas” vary, but usually the idea is to kill feminism.  If women had to sell sex for bread and board, then beta males would get more of it.  In general, this part of manosphere doesn’t believe in any women’s rights.The other ideas come from Pickup Artists (PUAs) who teach betas how to come across as alphas, how to hunt for pussy in the best possible manner.  The PUAHate site dislikes the PUAs because of their pyramid schemes and because the hunting instructions don’t  work.  But the PUAHate site also hates women for not spreading their legs enough or at least not to the correct men.

Now I wrote all that with sarcasm, but these are the actual beliefs of those sites.  That we don’t see a few “alphas” with giant harems matters not a whit, that the way these theories treat women (as prey, dinners, something that is a rack for vaginas) doesn’t matter,  that all those sites mean “alpha females” (the most gorgeous women only)  when they talk about “women” is irrelevant.  The idea is that all men are entitled to the small number of truly beautiful and desirable women.
Because the theory doesn’t regard women as individuals, it assumes that all women (whatever their looks, age and other characteristics) can get any amount of sex they wish to obtain, that the whole female gender must be somehow forced to give sex to all men who wish to have it.  Because the women “have” all the sex that these heterosexual men feel entitled to.

Everyday Violence: It’s Not Just Mass Shootings Women Fear by @VABVOX

Everyday Violence: It’s Not Just Mass Shootings Women Fear

by Victoria A. Brownworth

copyright c 2014 Victoria A. Brownworth

Women live in fear. It might not be obvious, palpable, heart-pounding, horror-movie-style fear, but it’s fear, nevertheless. We know what can happen to us. We know one in five of us will be a victim of rape. One in four of us was already a victim of child sex abuse by the time we turned 18. We know that one in three of us in the U.S. will be a victim of domestic violence, one in four in the U.K. We know that murder is the second-leading cause of death for women between the ages of 17 and 35 and that it is the leading cause of death among pregnant women.

We know that the night is not our friend. We are told that what we wear and where we go and how much we drink when we get there all makes us vulnerable to assault. We know that we will, most likely, be blamed for any violence that is perpetrated against us because we see how the media minimizes violence against women and maximizes the concept of the violent assaults on women as “isolated incidents.”

Elliot Rodger is the most recent example of that “isolated incident” meme, but he is also a clear example of exactly why women live in fear: because we never know who is the abuser, rapist or killer among us because so many men are abusive, so many are rapists and men who kill women almost always were people who said they loved them.

The mass-killing by Elliot Rodger in Isla Vista outside Santa Barbara, California on May 23 has raised the voices of myriad feminists and other women in a chorus of outrage. More than other killers in recent similar incidents in the U.S., Rodger stands out. Not because of his youth–he was 22 and the last ten mass shooters have been under 25. Not because of the number of weapons and ammunition he had–three semi-automatic pistols plus more than 400 rounds of bullets, according to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department. Not because he was male–the overwhelming majority of mass shooters in the U.S. have been male.

It was his plan. Elliot Rodger wanted to kill women–as many women as possible. He wrote about it, he vlogged about it on his YouTube channel, he talked about it to the few friends he had. The content was so disturbing, Rodger’s parents, British director Peter Rodger and his Malaysian mother, Chin Rodger, called police to report their son, fearful of what he might do. According to the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department Rodger’s parents were on their way to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles–a 100 mile drive in the worst traffic in the country–when their son went on his murderous rampage. They’d been sent the text of his manifesto and an email outlining his plan to kill. They were frantic to stop him.

They were, as we know, too late.

This was not their first effort. They had already gone to police to report their fears after seeing his videos. Police did a “welfare check” on April 30 at the request of Rodger’s mother, to determine if Rodger was a threat to himself or others.

Police came away from that visit referencing Elliot as “polite, kind and wonderful.”

Elliot Rodger was near-gleeful at that response, writing in his manifesto that he had fooled them all and if they had asked to see his room–well within their purview–it would have been all over. Rodger wrote: “The police interrogated me outside for a few minutes, asking me if I hadsuicidal thoughts. I tactfully told them that it was all a misunderstanding, and they finally left. If they had demanded to search my room… That would have ended everything. For a few horrible seconds I thought it was all over. When they left, the biggest wave of relief swept over me.”

Did the police see the videos? Did Rodger’s mother explain the nature of her fear? (Rodger also writes about his desire to murder his family members.) Or did no one care especially about this son of a director who wasn’t Muslim, wasn’t black, wasn’t poor and presented like the “beautiful Eurasian” he described himself as in his videos?

Was Rodger not taken in for a temporary involuntary psychiatric hold because he was “polite” or because his proposed victims were “just” women?

Rodger’s videos are unnervingly violent, but it’s the text of his 141-page manifesto that is bone-chilling.

Rodger wanted to put women in concentration camps to be starved, tortured, flayed alive. He wanted to “punish all women.” He wanted to “kill as many blonde girls as I can” because he loved blonde “girls” and they didn’t love him back. (He did kill two young blonde women–Veronika Weiss, 19 and Katie Cooper, 22–who were standing outside the sorority he tried to enter to slaughter the women there. He shot at several others.)

The standard scenario is being promulgated in the media about him–he was mentally ill (he had been under the care of therapists and was being seen by a social worker hired by his parents at the time he set about the killings). He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism. He had been bullied. He never fit in among his peers. He was lonely–his writings and videos are an endless litany of misery inflicted, Rodger insists, by cruel women who chose “ugly guys” over the “beautiful Eurasian” and “perfect gentleman” he proclaimed himself to be.

The Elliot Rodger story unsettles me more than most. I’m used to mass shootings in America. I live in the city with the highest body count of the most populous cities in the U.S. Philadelphia is often referred to as “Killadelphia” because unlike New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago, the four cities larger than ours, this fifth-largest city in the U.S. has not lowered the body count. There are still a dozen shootings here a day, at least one resulting in death. In the past month a dozen children have been shot, several have died.

I’m not inured to gun violence, it just doesn’t surprise me in a country where over 100,000 people are shot each year, more than a third of whom die. Mass shootings–characterized by the FBI as the killing of four or more people at a time by one person–happen about every two weeks here. Yet they still only comprise one percent of the total number of shooting victims.

Those victims concern me, however. How long before we forget the names of Rodger’s victims, if we ever really know them? He killed two women and four men. Two of the 13 other wounded remain in critical condition. The violence he inflicted: six killed–his three roommates stabbed multiple times and three others shot, 13 wounded, himself a suicide–took a total of ten minutes.

America and possibly the world–at least the social media world–will be fascinated by Rodger for a news cycle. A week, likely two, until the next such event. One of his victims or possibly more will appear on the morning TV talk shows to discuss their experience.

And then it will be over. Rodger’s name will be consigned to the rolls of young, male killers and the victims themselves will be forgotten.

But the victims and their families won’t forget. For the victims, as one woman victim of a violent crime tweeted me when I was writing about this, the crime will be replayed again and again.

That victim is right, of course. For victims of violence, the news cycle never ends. That’s certainly been true for countless victims and their families I have interviewed over my years as a reporter.

It was also true for me.

I, too, am a victim of violence. I was raped and almost killed on a bright, sunny September afternoon less than 100 yards from my front door. A man walking down my street offered to help me with a chore. I told him cheerily, thanks but no, and seconds after I turned my back he grabbed me from behind. He dragged me into a neighbor’s yard where he beat, punched, slapped, bit, choked, raped and sodomized me. I was left bloodied and torn, with bruises black as night, the size of dinner plates on both thighs and my back. The mark of his fingers were on my throat and my arms for weeks. As were the marks of his teeth around my nipples.

I couldn’t undress or bathe without seeing his mark upon me for months. In addition, the outline of my body remained in the ivy in my neighbor’s yard for many weeks. I saw it every day when I left my house, like one of those chalk outlines in a TV crime drama.

Like the rampage of Elliot Rodger, it didn’t take long for my rapist to repeatedly threaten to kill me, repeatedly assault me, to change my life forever.

I wasn’t his first victim. As I discovered from the police detective who interviewed me, mine was a serial rapist who had been assaulting women in the middle of the day using exactly the same m.o. as was used on me. Five other women had reported similar rapes. There were five other victims like me, but likely far more, since according to the FBI, only 40% of women report when they are raped.

There were, though, at least five other women who had thought they would die, whose bodies were broken, whose psyches would never be the same again. Who were not only afraid of being out alone at night like all women, but now also had to fear the day–something none of us ever thought to fear.

Yet the police had said nothing, even though the rapist was operating only in my neighborhood, which meant he either lived or worked here.

Most rapists and killers commit their crimes close to home. Half of all mass shootings in the U.S. are actually domestic violence killings–the shooter kills family and self. Elliot Rodger committed his crimes within two miles of where he lived–first in his own apartment, then at the sorority house, then just randomly until it was over.

The mayhem Elliot Rodger wreaked in Isla Vista has turned the town itself into a victim, but most definitely the wounded and the families of those killed.

All their lives are changed forever.

We’re not supposed to say victim anymore. Especially not feminists. We’re supposed to say survivor. Many men and a plethora of anti-feminist handmaidens constantly claim feminists demand to be seen as victims, that victimology rules feminism, that all we do is talk about being victims night and day and night.

I’ve thought about that, of course. Women who have experienced violence can’t help but think about it. How do we situate ourselves in the chronology of our own lives when so often that timeline reads “before incest/abuse/rape” and “after incest/abuse/rape”?

I’m not opposed to the term survivor. That may be the path to healing for some. But I prefer victim because I want it made clear that I am not the same as I was before. What happened to me altered me forever. Just as I can never see my neighbor’s yard without thinking that’s where I almost died, I can never get back the parts of me that rapist took with him.

One of the things that is taken by violence is one’s sense of safety. One’s equilibrium is shattered. PTSD has become a meme on social media, but for actual victims, there are indeed triggers and they may diminish over time, but they never disappear.

Every day for the rest of their lives the parents of the six students Rodger killed will wake up to the memory that their child is dead.

Every day the others Rodger wounded will replay what happened to them, how lucky they are to be alive and wonder, why am I alive when others died and worse, what if it happens again?

The most insidious element of male violence is the sure knowledge that this is no one-off: What happened to you once could very easily happen again. Violence is not like lightning–it strikes in the same place time and again. Twenty percent of all rape victims are raped again. I had been raped years before this recent rape, back when I was a college student.

All those women at the University of California Santa Barbara will remember Elliot Rodger’s crime and who his intended victims were. Praise accounts for Rodger have already sprung up on Twitter and Facebook, protected by free speech, but unsettling women who are already victimized by abuse on social media on a daily basis.

We know about everyday sexism and everyday misogyny, but what we don’t talk about is everyday violence.

Elliot Rodger put a spotlight on what Germaine Greer said more than 40 years ago–that women have no idea how much men hate us. The Internet has made it much more clear.

As we wring our societal hands in the U.S. and beyond over Elliot Rodger and who is to blame for his crimes and who might have done more, we ignore the reality that he is not the only one. Rodger is extreme because of his manifesto, because of his videos, because he killed more than one woman.

But as was reported in the BBC, last month in the U.K., of the eight women killed by their partners/spouses or former partners/spouses, several of those men also murdered other members of the primary victim’s family.

Is that really so different from Elliot Rodger’s crime? Or is it just his weaponry that’s different?

And as we know, it is not one man raping all the girl children and adult women. It’s not one man beating all the girlfriends and wives.

Everyday violence against women is a thing, now. As it always was. We just know more about it. But when we focus on extremes like Elliot Rodger, we forget women’s reality: We’re being raped and killed every day by men who never posted a YouTube video about it and never wrote a manifesto.

What are we going to do about that?

Victoria A. Brownworth is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer. She has won the NLGJA, the Keystone Award, the Lambda Literary Award and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. She won the 2013 Society of Professional Journalists Award for Enterprise/Investigative Reporting. She is a regular contributor to The Advocate and SheWired, a blogger for Huffington Post and a contributing editor for Curve magazine, Curve digital and Lambda Literary Review. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times. She is the author and editor of nearly 30 books including the award-winning Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic and Restricted Access: Lesbians on Disability. Her collection, From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth won the 2012 Moonbeam Award for Cultural/Historical Fiction. Her Y/A novel, Cutting will be published in fall 2014. @VABVOX

 

Women’s responses to the mass murder at UCSB perpetrated by Elliot Rodger

We’re collating all the responses written by women to Elliott Rogder’s brutal murder of two women and four men in Ilsa Vista on Friday. The response from men and the media to Rodger’s clear hatred of women is state we are over-reacting and being ridiculous. This is gas lighting on a systemic level.

 

Elliot Rodger’s California shooting spree: further proof that misogyny kills by Jessica Valenti

Elliot Rodger And Men Who Hate Women at The Belle Jar

We need to talk about systemic male violence not the “work of a madman” at My Elegant Gathering of White Snows

What Elliot Rodger Said About Women Reveals Why We Need to Stamp Out Misogyny by Elizabeth Plank

Let’s call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism by Laurie Penney

Violent and wrong: Elliot Rodger’s crime should not taint my child at Grace Under Pressure

Misogyny Is Poison, And You’re Drinking It at Jess ZimmermanIronic points of light.

The Pick-Up Artist Community’s Predictable, Horrible Response to a Mass Murder by Amanda Hess

Joining the dots: From fairy tales to Elliot Rodger by Glosswitch

Elliot Rodger and illusions of nuance by Glosswitch

THE UNDERACHIEVING GRADUATE ON… THE WEEK’S EVENTS on The UGGO

Femicide, Misogyny and Elliot Rodger at End Online Misogyny

Femicide, Misogyny and Elliot Rodger Part 2 at End Online Misogyny

Please add links to any blogs you have written or read in the comments!