Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Florida Gunman Targets Only Women, Media Fails to Ask Why

[Trigger Warning: Hate Crimes]

Well damned if today's post doesn't correlate nicely with this post from last week.

Via Echidne, who aptly examined media responses to this act, another man has apparently gone on another entitled, violent rampage targeting only women. Despite the gender-based nature of this crime and the fact that the gunman passed by and left alone at least one man in order to pick off only women, this report fails to mention the gender-based nature of the crime, this report refers to the hate crime as a "domestic dispute," and this article refers again to the "motive" as "a domestic dispute" and is centered around the "shock" of the male perpetrator's half-brother, who is apparently some Very Important Athlete.

Now, let's imagine if a woman went on a killing spree targeting only men. I'd place bets on seeing (a) a more in-depth exploration as to the cause of her man-hating tendencies, (b) her actually being labeled a man-hater, and (c) an acknowledgement that this was a gender-based hate crime rather than a personal "domestic dispute."

However, in the case of yet another man who, as Echidne calls it, has made himself "a public executioner of women," the media offers no exploration as to why this man felt the need to target only women aside from the fact that he "lost it" because he was "very sad" about how the wife he allegedly abused moved out of their house. While in reality, targeting only women for murder is a gender-based hate crime that serves as a warning message to all women not to step out of line, the typical media narrative tells us that these are isolated, yet understandable, acts committed by Otherwise Normal Guys who sometimes snap, often because a woman wronged them in some way. By failing to ask or explore why and whether this man hated women, the media leads us to infer that hating all women is a logical conclusion to a man being pissed off at one woman.

Traditionally, in some jurisdictions, a man witnessing his wife committing adultery was a legally adequate "provocation" to have his murder charge reduced to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. This defense, which often applied to men only, was grounded in the misogynistic idea that the man's property had been violated and the (misandrist?) assumption that, when faced with such a provocation, a "reasonable man" could not be expected to control his rage. When it came to defending his woman-property, the law entitled men to engage in violence.

With that legal relic in mind, that gender-based hate crimes committed against women are rarely called out for what they are demonstrates that, to some degree, women are still defined as sex while men are defined as both (a) people and (b) people who are entitled to sex/women and violence. In such a scenario, how can it ever be considered out of the ordinary, or even woman-hating, when men act violently when denied that to which they are entitled- sex/women?

That is to say, in this reality, it is only logical for media narratives to offer us a somewhat sympathetic portrait of the violent male murderer, delving not into systemic male entitlement issues or Rape Culture, but rather into how "very sad" this man was, how he had stopped eating and lost a bunch of weight, and how he had tried to win back his woman on Facebook, with the implication being that it was only natural for him to then go on to kill a bunch of other women. And this is how Rape Culture tricks us. Women, reduced to the sex class of Woman are not individuals, but a category. Hatred of one woman justifies hatred of all women while, paradoxically, this hatred is not framed as misogyny. Men, perceived as individuals, nonetheless receive a categorical cultural entitlement to engage in violence, especially against women. Yet, also paradoxically, male violence is viewed as an individual aberration, rather than a categorical, societal flaw. .

And the truly sad thing? It's only a matter of time before some Concerned Men's Rights Activist comes here and calls me a man-hater for failing to adequately sympathize with the Poor Murderer.

You can't make this shit up.

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