FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them

It is infuriating to write what feels like the same piece. Multiple times, in way too rapid succession. But here we go again…a shooting, a white male perpetrator, a rejection, and victim-blaming.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis shot and killed 10 people and wounded more than a dozen at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas on May 18, 2018. Although there were, according to school officials, no “red flags,” there actually were, to the knowledgeable eye. I do not mean that to throw anyone under the bus but rather to illustrate that we have far to go before, as a society, we actually address what is known about school shooters and create appropriate prevention programs. Almost always, the shooters are white males who have issues with females, be it rejections or overtly abusive relationships. The red flag, then, was his persistent and increasingly angry pursuit of a young lady despite her lack of interest.

One of Pagourtzis’s targets was Shana Fisher, who, according to news reports, over four months repeatedly rejected his advances. Allegedly, she finally stood up to him in class, which was an embarrassment, supposedly, and some reports say, the final straw. That he targeted a girl who he was interested in, is, sadly and horrifically, normal in the U.S. Virtually all of the school shooters in modern times have targeted a dating partner or someone who spurned their advances. Nickolas Kruz, the Parkland, Florida school shooter, had abused both his mother and his former girlfriend. In March, Austin Wyatt Rollins shot a girl he had dated and another boy in a Baltimore school. In April, Alek Minassian drove a van into a crowd, murdering 10 people in Toronto. Minassian claims to be part of the “incel,” or involuntarily celibate culture, which aims to punish women for denying men like him sex, and was inspired by Elliot Rodgers’ attack May 2014 attack that killed six and wounded 14. Rodgers had recorded a video on YouTube in which he explained that he intended to punish women for rejecting him. These men imagine themselves to be the victims, and media plays along.

As is typical, mainstream media, when it covers this part of this part of the story at all, has reinforced the notion that somehow it was her fault for rejecting him. “Spurned advances provoke Texas shooting,” read one ridiculous headline. Similarly, Pagourtzis was described as a “sweet, nice boy.” Even trying to explain away these atrocities is problematic, as it presumes that something must have prompted these good guys to turn to the dark side. This “himpathy,” as Kate Manne has called it, is nowhere more clear than in the six-month prison sentence of Stanford rapist Brock Turner. Because of course his reputation matters. Hers, not so much. She should sacrifice. She should give in. She should protect his precious feelings.

Some sources outside the mainstream media, like Salon, have done way better, noting that we live in a culture in which women are to accept and even appreciate a man’s attention, even if it is unwanted. Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote in Salonthat this is about “getting called a bitch when you ignore a harasser on the street. About being passed over in your industry because your boss finds you too bangable or not bangable enough. This is about policing the attire of schoolgirls because they’re a ‘distraction,’ rather than teaching boys about maturity and respect in a world that contains females.”

Despite the clear linkage between hegemonic masculinity and lethal violence, school officials continue to disregard this warning sign. They look for “creepy” behavior, and fail to interpret incessant and aggressive pursuit of an uninterested girl as such. So, once again, I offer this advice. Please, please, please, can we include teaching about healthy and unhealthy relationships as a mandatory part of our school curricula? Can we please implore media to research or at least talk to experts on abuse and assault? And can we, as parents, vow to talk to our kids, especially our boys, about how to handle rejection?

More articles by:

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
December 11, 2019
Vijay Prashad
Why the Afghanistan Papers Are an Eerie Reminder of Vietnam
Kenneth Surin
Australia’s Big Smoke
Sameer Dossani
Ideology or Popularity: How Will Britain Vote?
John W. Whitehead
Who Will Protect Us From an Unpatriotic Patriot Act?
Binoy Kampmark
Interference Paranoia: Russia, Reddit and the British Election
Scott Tucker
Sure, Impeach Trump, But Let’s be Honest
Nyla Ali Khan
Homogenizing India: the Citizenship Debate
Thomas Knapp
Congress: The Snail’s Pace Race
Shawn Fremstad
Modern Family Progressivism
Joseph Essertier
Julian Assange, Thanks for Warning Japanese About Washington
William Minter
How Africa Could Power a Green Revolution
December 10, 2019
Tony McKenna
The Demonization of Jeremy Corbyn
John Grant
American Culture Loves a Good Killer
Jacob Hornberger
Afghanistan: a Pentagon Paradise Built on Lies
Nick Licata
Was Trump Looking for Corruption or a Personal Favor?
Thomas M. Magstadt
What’s the Matter With America?
Brian Tokar
Climate Talks in Madrid: What Will It Take to Prevent Climate Collapse?
Ron Jacobs
Where Justice is a Game: Impeachment Hearings Redux
Jack Rasmus
Trump vs. Democracy
Walden Bello
Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics
Binoy Kampmark
A Troubled Family: NATO Turns 70
Brian Horejsi
Citizens Are Never Trusted
Michael Barker
Self-Defense in the Civil Rights Movement: the Lessons of Birmingham, 1963
John Feffer
Soldiers Who Fight War
Howie Wolke
Willingness to Compromise Puts Wilderness at Risk
December 09, 2019
Jefferson Morley
Trump’s Hand-Picked Prosecutor John Durham Cleared the CIA Once, Will He Again?
Kirkpatrick Sale
Political Collapse: The Center Cannot Hold
Ishmael Reed
Bloomberg Condoned Sexual Assault by NYPD 
W. T. Whitney
Hitting at Cuban Doctors and at Human Solidarity
Louisa Willcox
The Grizzly Cost of Coexistence
Thomas Knapp
Meet Virgil Griffith: America’s Newest Political Prisoner
John Feffer
How the New Right Went Global — and How to Stop It
Ralph Nader
Why Not Also Go With “The Kitchen Table” Impeachable Offenses for Removal?
Robert Fisk
Meet the Controversial Actor and Businessman Standing Up Against Egypt’s el-Sisi
M. K. Bhadrakumar
Sri Lanka Continues Its Delicate Dance With India
Dahr Jamail
Savoring What Remains: Dealing With Climate PTSD
George Wuerthner
Bison Slaughter in Yellowstone…Again
Scott Tucker
Premature Democratic Socialists: Reasons for Hope and Change
Julian Rose
Polish Minister of Health Proposes Carcinogenic 5G Emission Levels as National Norm
Dean Baker
Coal and the Regions Left Behind
Robert Koehler
Envisioning a United World
Weekend Edition
December 06, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Eat an Impeachment
Matthew Hoh
Authorizations for Madness; The Effects and Consequences of Congress’ Endless Permissions for War
Jefferson Morley
Why the Douma Chemical Attack Wasn’t a ‘Managed Massacre’
Andrew Levine
Whatever Happened to the Obama Coalition?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail