Tag Archives: gender-based violence

California shooting spree: further proof that misogyny kills

Attributing the rampage in Isla Vista to ‘a madman’ ignores a stark truth about our society

We should know this by now, but it bears repeating: misogyny kills.

On Friday night, (May 23, 2014) a man – identified by police as Elliot Rodgers – allegedly seeking “retribution” against women whom he said sexually rejected him went on a killing spree in Isla Vista, California, killing six people and sending seven more to the hospital with serious gunshot injuries. Three of the bodies were reportedly removed from Rodger’s apartment.

Before the mass murder he allegedly committed, 22-year-old Rodger – also said to have been killed Friday night – made several YouTube videos complaining that he was a virgin and that beautiful women wouldn’t pay attention to him. In one, he calmly outlined how he would “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see”.

According to his family, Rodger was seeking psychiatric treatment. But to dismiss this as a case of a lone “madman” would be a mistake.

It not only stigmatizes the mentally ill – who are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it – but glosses over the role that misogyny and gun culture play (and just how foreseeable violence like this is) in a sexist society. After all, while it is unclear what role Rodger’s reportedly poor mental health played in the alleged crime, the role of misogyny is obvious.

In his final video, Rodger opined:

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 … I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me but I will punish you all for it.

Rodger, like most young American men, was taught that he was entitled to sex and female attention. (Only last month, a young woman was allegedly stabbed to death for rejecting a different young man’s prom invitation.) He believed this so fully that he described women’s apathy toward him as an “injustice” and a “crime”.

You forced me to suffer all my life, now I will make you all suffer. I waited a long time for this. I’ll give you exactly what you deserve, all of you. All you girls who rejected me, looked down upon me, you know, treated me like scum while you gave yourselves to other men.

Rodger was reportedly involved with the online men’s rights movement: allegedly active on one forum and said to have been following several men’s rights channels on YouTube. The language Rodger used in his videos against women – like referring to himself as an “alpha male” – is common rhetoric in such circles.

These communities are so virulently misogynist that the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups, has been watching their movements for years.

Yet, as the artist Molly Crabapple pointed out on Twitter: “White terrorism is always blamed on guns, mental health – never poisonous ideology.”

If we need to talk about this tragic shooting in terms of illness, though, let’s start with talking about our cultural sickness – a sickness that refuses to see misogyny as anything other than inevitable.

Complete story

Virtual Knowledge Center to End Violence Against Women and Girls

Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls

Languages: English | French | Spanish

A one-stop online centre that encourages and supports evidence-based programming to more efficiently and effectively design, implement, monitor and evaluate initiatives to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. The website offers leading tools and evidence on what works, drawing on expert recommendations, policy and programme evaluations and assessments, and practitioners’ experiences from around the world. UNIFEM, 2010

Efforts to Address Gender-Based Violence: Funding

Efforts to Address Gender-Based Violence: A Look at Foundation Funding
(Ms. Foundation for Women, 2010)

“Foundations play a critical role in supporting efforts to address gender-based violence, yet little research has been conducted on the level or type of funding in the U.S. Spurred by the paucity of data and analysis, the Ms. Foundation for Women undertook a multi-pronged study to measure the scope, focus and impact of funding in this area. Coinciding with the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, this report reviews the progress foundations have made in addressing gender based violence in order to sketch the current philanthropic landscape and its potential for growth.”

Findings included that grantees employing a social-service approach to their work received the most grant dollars, with a social justice perspective receiving the second highest level of support, followed by human rights and feminist perspectives.

Some of the Key Recommendations
 Include systems change, policy, and advocacy along with direct services funding
 Increase support for violence prevention
 Create connections across the full spectrum of gender-based violence issues
 Create connections between gender-based violence and other major issues addressed by philanthropy
 Build a gender-based violence funder community

See the report here

The media on gender-based hate crimes

Excerpt from WIMN Media and News

Will Media Report FL Shooting As Gender-Based Hate Crime?
Posted by Jennifer L Pozner
June 8th, 2010

It happened again. Another violent guy shot and killed his wife — and went on to gun down six other women unfortunate enough to be in his path before committing suicide. Four women are now dead; three others are in critical condition. And some media outlets (such as the AP story on Yahoo! News, “5 dead after shooting in Miami-area restaurant,”) are still failing to report this as a gender-based hate crime… echoing previous journalistic failures.

This time it was Gerardo Regalado, half-brother of former baseball star Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, and the crime took place in South Florida. Last year it was George Sodini in Collier County, PA, who opened fire in an all-female aerobics class in an act of misguided revenge for a sexually frustrated existence. Before that, it was Cho Seung-Hui, the mentally unstable stalker of women at Virginia Tech, who ended up being responsible for the worst school shooting in U.S. history. In 2006, it was the school shootings in Amish country and in Colorado’s Platte Canyon. And in 1998, it was the murder of four elementary school girls and their female teacher in Jonesboro, AR.

I am sick to death that I have to keep writing some version of this same article or blog post on loop. But I have to, because in all of these cases, gender-based violence lies at the heart of these crimes — and leaving this motivating factor uninvestigated not only deprives the public of the full, accurate picture of the events at hand, but leave us without the analysis and context needed to understand the violence, recognize warning signs, and take steps to prevent similar massacres in the future.

Read the complete post

Oregon Domestic Violence Murders

18 people have lost their lives in less than 30 days. Along with seven women, two young children were shot and killed along with their mothers, and an adult son died trying, unsuccessfully, to protect his mother. All eight male perpetrators committed suicide.

Source: Oregonlive.com

Domestic violence murders: Community and victims cry out for solutions
December 12, 2009


The domestic violence murders staining our region in the past month have been horrific and relentless. In total, 18 people have lost their lives in less than 30 days. Along with seven women, two young children were shot and killed along with their mothers, and an adult son died trying, unsuccessfully, to protect his mother. All eight male perpetrators committed suicide.

These tragedies have occurred across Oregon, in both urban and rural communities. One thing is clear: Domestic violence is a public health and safety crisis in our state with far-reaching consequences. Individuals, workplaces, schools and agencies are negatively affected. The toll on victims, children, families and communities cannot be measured.

We have a responsibility to our families and our communities to do better.

We join together to issue a statewide call to action. In the aftermath of these tragedies, government and justice system officials, policymakers and advocates are asking what could have been done to prevent these deaths.

We applaud the fast response of state leaders such as Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who is convening a group of leaders in law enforcement, advocacy and social services to look at how we can do a better job. A statewide critical and thorough review of each case by a multidisciplinary group will assess whether there were missed opportunities to step in, provide safety and avert these heartbreaking deaths.

Also, Attorney General John Kroger has announced that he is recruiting a special domestic-violence prosecutor to provide more support to families and local prosecuting attorneys.

In looking at the recent tragedies, several other compelling issues clearly stand out:

Shelter and safety services are not funded to meet the need. The recent murders highlight the fact that separating from an abuser is an extraordinarily dangerous period of time. Yet in 2008, more than 19,000 requests for emergency shelter by victims could not be met because of a lack of resources. Where did these victims and their children go in the middle of the night when no safe shelter was to be found? When a victim is ready to take the brave step of leaving, a comprehensive and coordinated safety net must be in place and accessible.

Child welfare intervention must be coordinated with domestic violence services. Approximately one-third of Oregon’s child abuse cases involve domestic violence in the home. When Child Welfare responds to these cases, it is vital that parents who are victims, as well as their children, receive immediate and supportive services so that adult victims can protect themselves and their children.

Domestic violence doesn’t stay at home when its victims go to work. As recent cases have illustrated, domestic violence perpetrators pose a threat at the workplace to victims as well as to their co-workers. Employers play a critical role in ensuring that victims understand their options and are supported in taking the steps needed to stay safe at work. Domestic violence training and safety planning will help managers identify warning signs and provide a safe environment for all employees.

Guns in the hands of perpetrators of domestic violence are a deadly combination. In every one of the tragic domestic violence deaths during the past month, the murder weapon was a gun. In several of these cases, there were prior instances of violent behavior. And in at least one case, the gun was used by a person who was not legally entitled to possess a firearm. A close look at our state and federal gun laws, and enforcement of those laws, will help reduce the incidence of lethal violence.

Women and their children have died in shocking numbers in the past 30 days. This is not the Oregon we know and love, and it is heartening to see state and local leaders responding.

State and community leaders must continue to come together and commit to ensuring change. The effort must be practical, effective and sustainable. We owe it to the victims, their families and our communities to learn from and act on the lessons of these tragedies.

Bruce Goldberg, M.D., is director of the Oregon Department of Human Services and director-designee of the Oregon Health Authority. Robin Christian is executive director of Children First for Oregon. Sybil Hebb is an attorney with the Oregon Law Center and the Alliance to End Violence Against Women.

Source: Oregonlive.com

Saving the World’s Women

Saving the World’s Women

August 17, 2009

In the 19th Century, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.

Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater. “Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution.

One place to observe this alchemy of gender is in the muddy back alleys of Pakistan. In a slum outside the grand old city of Lahore, a woman named Saima Muhammad used to dissolve into tears every evening. A round-faced woman with thick black hair tucked into a head scarf, Saima had barely a rupee, and her deadbeat husband was unemployed and not particularly employable. He was frustrated and angry, and he coped by beating Saima each afternoon. Their house was falling apart, and Saima had to send her young daughter to live with an aunt, because there wasn’t enough food to go around.

“My sister-in-law made fun of me, saying, ‘You can’t even feed your children,’ ” recalled Saima when Nick met her two years ago on a trip to Pakistan. “My husband beat me up. My brother-in-law beat me up. I had an awful life.” Saima’s husband accumulated a debt of more than $3,000, and it seemed that these loans would hang over the family for generations. Then when Saima’s second child was born and turned out to be a girl as well, her mother-in-law, a harsh, blunt woman named Sharifa Bibi, raised the stakes.

“She’s not going to have a son,” Sharifa told Saima’s husband, in front of her. “So you should marry again. Take a second wife.” Saima was shattered and ran off sobbing. Another wife would leave even less money to feed and educate the children. And Saima herself would be marginalized in the household, cast off like an old sock. For days Saima walked around in a daze, her eyes red; the slightest incident would send her collapsing into hysterical tears.

It was at that point that Saima signed up with the Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani microfinance organization that lends tiny amounts of money to poor women to start businesses. Kashf is typical of microfinance institutions, in that it lends almost exclusively to women, in groups of 25. The women guarantee one another’s debts and meet every two weeks to make payments and discuss a social issue, like family planning or schooling for girls. A Pakistani woman is often forbidden to leave the house without her husband’s permission, but husbands tolerate these meetings because the women return with cash and investment ideas.

Saima took out a $65 loan and used the money to buy beads and cloth, which she transformed into beautiful embroidery that she then sold to merchants in the markets of Lahore. She used the profit to buy more beads and cloth, and soon she had an embroidery business and was earning a solid income — the only one in her household to do so. Saima took her elder daughter back from the aunt and began paying off her husband’s debt.

When merchants requested more embroidery than Saima could produce, she paid neighbors to assist her. Eventually 30 families were working for her, and she put her husband to work as well — “under my direction,” she explained with a twinkle in her eye. Saima became the tycoon of the neighborhood, and she was able to pay off her husband’s entire debt, keep her daughters in school, renovate the house, connect running water and buy a television.

“Now everyone comes to me to borrow money, the same ones who used to criticize me,” Saima said, beaming in satisfaction. “And the children of those who used to criticize me now come to my house to watch TV.”

Today, Saima is a bit plump and displays a gold nose ring as well as several other rings and bracelets on each wrist. She exudes self-confidence as she offers a grand tour of her home and work area, ostentatiously showing off the television and the new plumbing. She doesn’t even pretend to be subordinate to her husband. He spends his days mostly loafing around, occasionally helping with the work but always having to accept orders from his wife. He has become more impressed with females in general: Saima had a third child, also a girl, but now that’s not a problem. “Girls are just as good as boys,” he explained.

Complete story in New York Times
Complete story archived

Who is Helping Rihanna?

http://womenofcolor network.org

“Who Is Helping Rihanna?”
A National Statement from the Women of Color Network -A National Organization Responding to Violence Against Women of Color

Harrisburg, PA: The alleged domestic violence incident involving Chris Brown and R&B singer Rihanna has ignited national discussion about dating violence.

The early media coverage focused on the chain of events: how the seemingly happy couple attended the Grammy Awards parties; the argument over a text message; Brownís physical assault of Rihanna; her calls to her personal assistant to have the police waiting for her when she arrived at home; and Brownís threats to kill her. The shock of the picture bearing Rihannaís battered face seemed to quell any denial that the incident actually happened. People began to ask, “How could Chris Brown have done this?”

Then, as rumors began to swirl that Rihanna was going to reunite with Brown, the subject switched to whether or not the purported assault was ìprovokedî by Rihanna. The question “what did she do to make him hit her?” is an almost instinctive response ingrained in the fabric of our society, and one that ultimately places the blame on the victim. Unfortunately, the assertion that domestic violence victims somehow “provoke” batterers has been repeatedly used to both justify domestic violence and reduce the culpability of the perpetrator.

And now the conversation has landed in a place that those of us who are advocates around the country hear almost every day: “Why does she stay?” It is not unusual for victims to remain with an abusive partner. For many survivors, it takes several rounds of leaving before they are able to gather the resources, support, and information needed to ultimately end a relationship. We as advocates know that leaving is not always the safest option – victims who leave their partners are just as likely to be re-abused as those who stay with their partners.(1) The focus should not be on whether or not Rihanna stays in the relationship; the focus should be making sure that she knows all of her options and has a safety plan in place in the event that she finds herself further endangered.

That leads us to our question: Who is helping Rihanna? We know that Sean “P. Diddy” Combs provided a space for Brown to reconcile with Rihanna. We understand that Brown and his legal counsel are going into private negotiations concerning his two felony charges in which he is reportedly requesting no jail time. We also hear they are recording a new duet. All of these occurring days after the physical wounds have barely healed upon her face.

So again, we ask, “Who is helping Rihanna?” Where is her time to emotionally heal? To think about what has happened to her? Where is the opportunity for her to just breathe? Does she have an advocate? Does she know that she is entitled to one? Who is helping her determine what is in her own best interest as a survivor?

As advocates in the anti-violence against women movement, we recognize the coercive tactic of the whirlwind that often occurs after battering… “Baby, I’m sorry”; “Let’s reconcile”; “Let’s show the public you are not harmed”; “Let’s fix my reputation”; “Let’s keep me out of jail”; “Let’s save my career”; “Let’s keep you isolated from people who can help you.” This is just another extension of the abuse.

As a young woman of color, there is a lot of pressure being placed on Rihanna to serve as a model for others, and she is receiving harsh public warnings from prominent talk show hosts and critics of all races to “leave him”. She is also hearing from parents and youth that they are disappointed with Rihanna for “taking him back”. This seems to come from a genuine place of wanting to help her, but telling her what to do is not a way to help her, and blaming her for continuing to be involved with Brown takes the attention away from his actions.

Just like any other survivor of domestic and dating violence, Rihanna should have access to people who will hear her out, let her talk through her pain, listen to her reasons for staying with Brown and for possibly leaving, and who have the expertise to assist her in developing a safety plan in case she finds herself in danger again.

We understand now that Rihanna and Brown are reportedly taking a small break though not breaking up. We encourage Rihanna and those surrounding her to reach out to national, state and local organizations equipped to provide information to survivors as they go through the trauma of domestic and dating violence and consider their options in seeking safety and security. We join others in suggesting that Chris Brown seek help beyond anger management because battering is not about anger, it is about power and control. Batterer intervention or re-education is a better choice.

We hope to see Rihanna and Chris Brown get the individual assistance they each need. We also hope that the national dialogue will move to realities and solutions to dating and domestic violence.


The Women of Color Network (WOCN) is a national grassroots initiative responding to violence against women and families in communities of color. For statistics and information on dating and domestic violence, visit the Women of Color Network website at http://womenofcolor network.org.