Author Topic: Women at risk  (Read 9272 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Women at risk
« on: August 09, 2009, 12:12:15 pm »
I've always thought that among categories of hate crimes, those committed against women probably outnumber those against any other group.

August 8, 2009
Op-Ed Columnist

Women at Risk

By BOB HERBERT


“I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne — yet 30 million women rejected me,” wrote George Sodini in a blog that he kept while preparing for this week’s shooting in a Pennsylvania gym in which he killed three women, wounded nine others and then killed himself.

We’ve seen this tragic ritual so often that it has the feel of a formula. A guy is filled with a seething rage toward women and has easy access to guns. The result: mass slaughter.

Back in the fall of 2006, a fiend invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five.

I wrote, at the time, that there would have been thunderous outrage if someone had separated potential victims by race or religion and then shot, say, only the blacks, or only the whites, or only the Jews. But if you shoot only the girls or only the women — not so much of an uproar.

According to police accounts, Sodini walked into a dance-aerobics class of about 30 women who were being led by a pregnant instructor. He turned out the lights and opened fire. The instructor was among the wounded.

We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected.

We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.

The mainstream culture is filled with the most gruesome forms of misogyny, and pornography is now a multibillion-dollar industry — much of it controlled by mainstream U.S. corporations.

One of the striking things about mass killings in the U.S. is how consistently we find that the killers were riddled with shame and sexual humiliation, which they inevitably blamed on women and girls. The answer to their feelings of inadequacy was to get their hands on a gun (or guns) and begin blowing people away.

What was unusual about Sodini was how explicit he was in his blog about his personal shame and his hatred of women. “Why do this?” he asked. “To young girls? Just read below.” In his gruesome, monthslong rant, he managed to say, among other things: “It seems many teenage girls have sex frequently. One 16 year old does it usually three times a day with her boyfriend. So, err, after a month of that, this little [expletive] has had more sex than ME in my LIFE, and I am 48. One more reason.”

I was reminded of the Virginia Tech gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people in a rampage at the university in 2007. While Cho shot males as well as females, he was reported to have previously stalked female classmates and to have leaned under tables to take inappropriate photos of women. A former roommate said Cho once claimed to have seen “promiscuity” when he looked into the eyes of a woman on campus.

Soon after the Virginia Tech slayings, I interviewed Dr. James Gilligan, who spent many years studying violence as a prison psychiatrist in Massachusetts and as a professor at Harvard and N.Y.U. “What I’ve concluded from decades of working with murderers and rapists and every kind of violent criminal,” he said, “is that an underlying factor that is virtually always present to one degree or another is a feeling that one has to prove one’s manhood, and that the way to do that, to gain the respect that has been lost, is to commit a violent act.”

Life in the United States is mind-bogglingly violent. But we should take particular notice of the staggering amounts of violence brought down on the nation’s women and girls each and every day for no other reason than who they are. They are attacked because they are female.

A girl or woman somewhere in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every couple of minutes or so. The number of seriously battered wives and girlfriends is far beyond the ability of any agency to count.

There were so many sexual attacks against women in the armed forces that the Defense Department had to revise its entire approach to the problem.

We would become much more sane, much healthier, as a society if we could bring ourselves to acknowledge that misogyny is a serious and pervasive problem, and that the twisted way so many men feel about women, combined with the absurdly easy availability of guns, is a toxic mix of the most tragic proportions.


Offline delalluvia

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Re: Women at risk
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2009, 02:04:35 pm »
I agree completely with the article.

Misogyny is so ingrained in society - from religion to politics to domestic life - that it's somehow seen as 'natural'.

Women are the more numerous sex in the world, comprising over 50% of the population and women are the physically weaker sex so if there is any violence in the world at any time women are always in the line of fire. 

Not sure what we can do about men's aggression. 

They're not just aggressive against women, they're aggressive and competitive against their own sex as well.

Always anxious to prove their masculinity and if they know they can't win in aggression against other men, they take it out on women.  The recent killer in the article is basically one of those - he tied his masculinity to having as many sex partners as he wanted.  And when his social skills did not prove up to the task - and having never considered prostitutes, I guess he wanted to get it for free - he didn't internalize the failing as his own because that also would threaten his masculinity.  So it had to be someone else's fault - women in particular. 

The social definition of masculinity has to change in order for these types of men to be spotted and rooted out.  So long as society equates masculinity with power, aggression, control and sexual prowess, nothing is going to change.

As a friend once said, "There aren't enough laws we can enact, we have to change society's values."

Which is going to be nearly impossible to do.

Offline Brown Eyes

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Re: Women at risk
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2009, 02:06:01 pm »
Thanks for posting that sobering article K.  Lots of food for thought there.

The Sodini/ gym assault has been getting lots and lots of press here since it occurred so close to Pittsburgh.  The local news actually did a segment about ingrained misogyny in society that featured lots of interviews with specialists from women's shelters, etc.  I was amazed to see something like that on the local news, and thought it was a good thing that this aspect of the LA Fitness crime was getting some real attention.  This article furthers this on a broader level.

One of the women killed was an acquaintance of a co-worker of mine. She didn't know her well, but still it feels very close to home.   Very, very scary.


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Offline Mikaela

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Re: Women at risk
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2009, 03:42:31 pm »
Thank you for posting this.

It states succinctly what I've been saying and writing often enough, on this board too - and I always feel that I come up against a not inconsiderable contingent who just rolls their eyes and tut-tuts and doesn't consider the violence and repression of 50% of the population as anything much to worry about.

Consequently I think it's very good when articles such as this one points out the pervasive misogyny even in our western societies.

Quote
From Del
As a friend once said, "There aren't enough laws we can enact, we have to change society's values."

Which is going to be nearly impossible to do.
Yes and yes to all of that.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: Women at risk
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2009, 05:48:23 pm »
I think there's something about women being victimized by violence that just seems "natural" to a lot of people, even those who are also appalled by it. That's what Herbert is getting at by saying violence against women is "not only a staple in the news, but a cornerstone of the nation's entertainment." Unlike violence against member of particular ethnic groups, which most people by this time have learned to be outraged about and to see as unacceptable. I think violence against women is put in a different category as just an unfortunate fact of life that women have to put up with. And every movie about a serial killer going after women in particular reinforces it.


Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Women at risk
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2009, 10:33:25 pm »
I agree that there are twisted people in the world and hate against women, men, minorities, gay people, etc. One book that I found helpful in this regard was Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen. He has founded an organization that builds schools for girls in Pakistan, Nepal, and India, helping to educate and empower girls. This is making a big difference, more, IMHO than TV shows about serial rapists and such. Television is a morass of misogyny and I just try not to associate myself with it.
May 2019 be better for us all.

Offline delalluvia

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Church will pray for gunman's family but not his victims
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2009, 02:40:58 pm »

Aug 9th, 2009 | FOREST HILLS, Pa. -- If prayers were said Sunday for the soul of the gunman who killed three women at a Pennsylvania health club, they were not by the parishioners of a church where he apparently sat quietly for many years: Tetelestai Church doesn't pray for the dead.

"We pray for the living -- the victims and the family of George Sodini," said Chuck Matone, a senior deacon.

...Deacon Jack Rickard believes Sodini is in heaven.

"We believe in permanent security -- once saved, always saved," Rickard said. "He will be judged, but he will be in heaven. ... He'll be in heaven, but he won't have any rewards because he did evil."


I thought heaven was the reward.  >:(

http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/us/2009/08/09/D99VIBGO3_us_health_club_shooting/index.html

Offline mariez

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Re: Women at risk
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2009, 02:55:21 pm »


Kudos to Bob Herbert for such a thoughtful and well-written article.  Thank you for posting it, Katherine.



...Deacon Jack Rickard believes Sodini is in heaven.

"We believe in permanent security -- once saved, always saved," Rickard said. "He will be judged, but he will be in heaven. ... He'll be in heaven, but he won't have any rewards because he did evil."[/b]

I thought heaven was the reward.  >:(

http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/us/2009/08/09/D99VIBGO3_us_health_club_shooting/index.html

Yeah, Deacon Rickard seems to want to have it both ways, doesn't he?  Talk about trying to cover all your bases and keep your flock satisfied so they won't question you too much.  A very troubling article. 

The measure of a country's greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis         ~~~~~~~~~Thurgood Marshall

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.    ~~~~~~~~~ Mark Twain

Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: Women at risk
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2011, 10:03:44 am »
I agree that there are twisted people in the world and hate against women, men, minorities, gay people, etc. One book that I found helpful in this regard was Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen. He has founded an organization that builds schools for girls in Pakistan, Nepal, and India, helping to educate and empower girls. This is making a big difference, more, IMHO than TV shows about serial rapists and such. Television is a morass of misogyny and I just try not to associate myself with it.

I am outraged about the attack on Greg Mortensen and his Central Asia Institute by 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer. I have followed the CAI closely and they are as upright as an organization operating in that region can be. It will be a tragedy if the girls of this region are deprived of education just so 60 Minutes can juice their ratings.
May 2019 be better for us all.

Offline Mandy21

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Re: Women at risk
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2011, 12:48:46 pm »
Good topic, Katherine.  I just finished reading a book about serial killers in history, "I, Monster" written by Thomas Philbin, who's written many books of a similar ilk.  His opinion (debatable, of course) is that a common theme which runs through their blood is sexual frustration and past abuse and sexual and familial issues in regards to their own troubled pasts.  The only woman serial killer mentioned was Eileen Wuornos, who only killed men (that we know of).  And the male killers referred to in the book seemed to have made conscious choices to kill either men or women, but not both.  For instance, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer only tortured and killed men.  Ted Bundy only tortured and killed women.  I wonder what happened to them in their pasts that made them choose one sex or the other to target as their victims?
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