Thursday, April 19, 2007
Just Grow Bulletproof Skin
News reports about the worst school shooting in American history are mostly ignoring — as per usual — the gendered nature of the crime.
When the New York Times reported the story on Monday, the fact that “the gunman had been looking for his girlfriend” was tossed in as a one-phrase aside.
Jill at Feministe was the first (that I saw) to note that “While I’m sure this will be reported as ‘another crazy guy shoots up a school,’ it’s worth noting the theme of misogyny that permeates so many of these shootings,” such as the killings of girls during the Amish school shooting in October, 2006, the Platte Canyon high school shooting in September, 2006 (in which several girls were sexually assaulted and their female teacher shot in the head) and the Montreal Massacre of 1989 (in which a man opened fire after telling a group of female students, “You’re women, you’re going to be engineers. You’re all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.”).
To that list I’d also add the 1998 Jonesboro school shooting, which no one seems to remember — perhaps because it was only girls and women who were killed, unlike the co-ed victims of the much-covered, never-forgotten Columbine shooting — see the bottom of this post for the text of an article I wrote about the case in 1998 for Sojourner: The Women’s Forum.
As it stands, CNN and other news outlets are starting to report that the Virginia Tech murderer, Cho Seung-Hui, had stalked women on the campus, that a female teacher had suggested him for counseling, thinking he might be emotionally disturbed or violent… and that campus police hadn’t acted quickly enough to prevent Cho’s second round of shootings because they believed it was just “a domestic” case. (Just?!)
“Just a domestic case” — that’s the same dismissive reaction that has all too often accompanied major — even fatal — violence against women in this country.
First, a quick slap at Markos: it's just this kind of dismissal that pissed me off about his "grow a thicker skin" comment about Kathy Sierra. That wasn't domestic, but he represented the same lack of urgency about violence and threats against women that brought up a lot of shit for me.
Second, longtime readers will remember that I broke my (ex)wife's nose and cheek a couple years ago. Yes, an accident. No, nothing kinky. When she went to the emergency room, she was asked at least 9 times whether she had a safe place to go home to, etc. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that--you don't fuck around with that shit.
Third, uh...well, I guess I'm just so sad and sick that authorities didn't respond quickly because they thought this was just a domestic spat that, you know, involved bullets. Bad enough their attitude is so damned insensitive to whatever the tragedy might have been limited to if it were only some enraged man punishing a woman for some imagined transgressions--by dismissing the gravity of such a thing, they enabled an even larger tragedy.
But I suppose we should really lay the blame on the victims because, you know, they didn't attack the attacker and hell, we all know the women were probably asking for it anyway.
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Tracked on Apr 20, 2007 8:15:48 AM
I heart this post.
I wonder how guys like Kos get dates. I mean who'd want to go out with a guy that thinks "grow a thicker skin, potential rape victim."
Posted by: Lesley | Apr 19, 2007 2:53:14 AM
Thanks for pointing this out. That's what bothers me about this whole VT tragedy, too. The fact that the university didn't shut down the campus after the first two murders because they thought it was a "domestic" situation. The veiled sexism: "domestic situation."
Nothing to see here. Just some woman killed by her boyfriend.
They shut down the campus in August when an escaped inmate shot and killed two people (hospital guard and sherriff's deputy). Because there was a good chance that an armed gunman who had shot two people was on their campus.
But for some reason they thought this was a different situation? Two students dead of gunshots and somehow they think this meant that there wasn't someone on campus with a weapon?
Because it was a domestic situation.
Posted by: Willow | Apr 19, 2007 9:37:07 AM
this one time, i knocked myself unconscious with the car door and cut my head open. well, i had been on my way to home depot and so when i came too, i went anyway despite the blood on my face and shirt. the woman at the check out stand wanted to A.) call the police and B.) give me the number to the domestic violence hotline. no one would believe me when i told them that i had done it to myself.
Posted by: barbie2be | Apr 19, 2007 6:47:41 PM
Take a deep breath there. Do you have ANY evidence, any evidence at all, that the crime was dismissed because the first victim was a woman?
You might want to read Salon's Broadsheet. They made the same post and many readers that live near VT set them straight.
What your post is is the same crap post that goes with the folks saying:
It was video games!
It was grade inflation!
It was atheism!
It was foreigners!
It was gun control!
It was pussy emasculated males that refused to fight back!
Now we can add to that:
It was because men hate women!
Sorry NTodd, your post is complete bullshit. As a reality based blogger, you should have posted my comment and not had be telling you off.
Of course, I am only posting this because I am a rightwing rape loving fascist brownshirt troll that hates women.
Posted by: anon | Apr 19, 2007 9:20:36 PM
anon - so the police didn't say they first thought it was a "domestic situation"?
BTW, loved your rant at the end. It was really coherent and lends you a lot of extra credibility, along with your bogus e-mail address and the strawman.
Posted by: NTodd | Apr 19, 2007 10:29:47 PM
anon - so the police didn't say they first thought it was a "domestic situation"? Cho didn't stalk women? And where exactly did anybody say that this incident occured BECAUSE "men hate women"?
BTW, loved your rant at the end. It was really coherent and lends you a lot of extra credibility, along with your bogus e-mail address and the strawman. Good show.
Posted by: NTodd | Apr 19, 2007 10:30:51 PM
To be somewhat fair to the VT police, I think when they said "just a domestic situation" they meant they didn't think it was the precursor to a rampage. Most domestic violence cases don't bloom into killing sprees, and Cho didn't even return to campus until two hours after they had discovered the bodies. During that time, they had already begun an investigation and had questioned the murdered girl's boyfriend. They made a disastrously bad call, but they weren't exactly sitting on their hands.
Posted by: dan mcenroe | Apr 20, 2007 1:20:40 AM
Dan - I don't doubt you are in part correct. However, when you've got an obviously armed suspect still on the loose, particularly in a campus environment, generally I would expect a bit more urgency. And it's not like they didn't have any warning about this guy prior.
I don't think anybody is suggesting--leastwise, myself--that VT police or misogyny or whatever are "to blame". Just recognizing that there are components to this and other cases that appear to have been overlooked. Seems like a "fish in the water" problem...
Posted by: NTodd | Apr 20, 2007 3:26:20 PM