It’s not the economy, stupid

Kudos to the Baltimore Sun for Susan Reimer’s piece, In families’ tragic deaths, a hint of paternalism (Apr. 27).

With brutal honesty she says what most of us already know in the domestic violence field:  

It  wasn’t the economy. It wasn’t stress. It wasn’t mental illness.

It hit me the minute I heard the news – it was ownership.

When William Parente beat and suffocated his wife and two daughters before taking his own life, it wasn’t just because his shaky financial dealings were about to come crashing down on him.

And when Christopher Wood killed his wife and three children and then himself, it wasn’t just because he was $460,000 in debt and depressed.

Lots of people go through economic difficulty, even bankruptcy. These are not risk factors for killing. When men kill their wife and children, they are not “snapping” as a result of stress– often, in fact, it’s premeditated. Planning, however, does not include getting a consensus from the family, it involves the man making the executive decision. He makes the decisions, he executes the plans. Period. Until we stop making excuses and start getting to the root of the problem,  we will suffer these fatal consequences. Thanks to the Baltimore Sun for shining a light on the root of the problem and stating what many of us are afraid to say (or hear).  


The stripper, the prostitute & the dancer

The Stripper

If you’ve ever noticed, when the news involves strippers, prostitutes or dancers, the reporters will refer to their job titles more often than their gendered titles (woman/wife/sister…). This first came to my attention when I was researching the deaths of 5 women killed in Atlantic City. All 5 were prostitutes and most of the time the reporters chose this title over ‘women.’ The result is that we place a value judgment on their profession, and we give them less sympathy. Reading “5 Prostitutes Killed in Atlantic City” is far more titillating — and less sympathetic — than reading, “5 Women Killed in Atlantic City.” Yet, they are women, no? 

Here’s an article on the “Craigslist Killer” that refers to a woman as a stripper. We’ve already been told repeatedly that the killer attacks women who post ads under erotic services on Craigslist, so this is not providing a service to the readers:

A law enforcement officialsaid Friday that Markoff’s fingerprint was found on a wall of the Holiday Inn Express in Warwick, R.I. where a stripper has said she was tied up and held at gunpoint by a man she met through the site.

Read the full article (“Craigslist founder isn’t closing ‘erotic’ section” by Eric Tucker)  here.  

The Prostitute

Investigators Say Prostitute and Brother Killed Canadian During Robbery

This news story refers to the woman as a prostitute in the headline, then goes on to call her an “alleged prostitute” in the article. BUT, her convicted activities are listed as: 

…burglary, possession of controlled substances, forging or signing as a fictitious person and other identity theft crimes.

We really don’t know if this woman is a prostitute or not. She claims the man that was killed had made “obscene requests” for sexual acts. But, if they are going to be fair enough to refer to her as an “alleged prostitute” in the article, shouldn’t they give her the same benefit of the doubt in the headline? Why do they refer to her as a prostitute and the man as a “brother”? They could have said, “brother and sister,” or “siblings” easily enough. I suppose that’s not as exciting? And, since her brother was the one that actually beat the guy and put a plastic bag over his head (she stood by), why are they considered equal in the crime, per the headline? Here’s the first paragraph:

An alleged prostitute, who along with her brother, is suspected in the stabbing death of a Canadian man who owned a vacation home in Indio, pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and other felony charges.

This is what witnesses report:

Nearly one year later, witnesses said they saw two men beating Dobbs at the apartment as Jackie Dunson stood by and watched.

“They said they could hear Robert yelling at a subject telling him that the pin number had better be the right one,” Patterson wrote. “They saw Robert dragging a white male subject by his shoulders from the living room area into the kitchen. They said the subject was bleeding from the back area and they saw Robert place a black garbage type bag over the subject’s head and tape it around his neck.”

Now, since murder is the #1 cause of death of a prostitute, it’s quite easy to find news stories about homicides of women who work in prostitution:

NJ Man Charged with Killing Prostitute

 A Paterson man is under arrest on charges he killed a prostitute. 

This is common language used by a batterer for minimalizing the damage he does:

Aguiar told police that during their altercation, he tried to restrain Berry by holding her throat and that she fell unconscious and died, Giaquinto said. He said Aguiar carried Berry from his apartment, down the stairs and put her body on the street.

Heights Man Charged in Murder of Prostitute

Woolbright died of blunt force injury.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Heath Velliquette said the killing is believed to involve drugs and said Woolbright worked as a prostitute.

The Dancer

Ex-Vegas Dancer Going to Trial for Husband’s Killing

In this headline, the woman doesn’t even work in the profession anymore, but still gets called a dancer. She’s 47 years old – How long ago did she dance? She’s accused of killing her husband. His profession? He was an art dealer. I guess “Wife kills Art Dealer” isn’t attention-grabbing enough.

Power to the perps

Thank you Sean Fewster for bringing to light just how lenient judges (Judge Sidney Tilmouth) can be on child abusers, especially during this month, Child Abuse Awareness Month. Personally, I know that they often get unsupervised visitation and custody, so we must shed light on their judgements.

In Judge says dad who kicked toddler ‘unlikely’ to repeat offence, a father kicks his toddler so hard he has internal injuries. The child’s offense? Running to the door to see who was knocking.

In October 2006, he assaulted his son when the boy ran to the front door, curious as to who had knocked on it.

Galffy’s wife later found the boy pale and crying – he vomited on her, buckled at the knees and said “my belly hurts”.

A subsequent medical examination found his liver had been lacerated by the impact.

Judge Tilmouth imposed a 29-month jail term, suspended on condition of a three-year, $1000 good-behaviour bond.

He ordered Galffy only be allowed to share a house with his son with the permission of the Department of Corrections.

The judge himself thought the father was unlikely to repeat the offense. Awww, how sympathetic, judge. No wonder we have children going though years of abuse. When given the opportunity, we give power to the perps.

The glorification of a predator

In DA calls Craigslist slaying suspect a ‘predator, Russell Contreras quotes the police commissioner as saying, “The man accused of fatally shooting a woman who placed an ad on Craigslist was someone who was “preying on people who were in a vulnerable position.” Do we really believe the “Craigslist Killer” killed PEOPLE? Or did he kill women? How many times are we going to be fooled by these deranged misogynist killers who torture & kill ONLY female victims and say they kill “people’?!

Most of these guys do kill prostitutes because they’re vulnerable – but so are pimps, drug dealers, the homeless, the elderly, the disabled, etc. – I’ve yet to see serial killers target them specifically. I don’t think they target prostitutes, I think they target women. If these killers went after any other group – Blacks, gays, etc. – they’d be racist or homophobic. When they go after women, we barely give it any thought that they could be misogynist. It’s almost seen as inevitable that women will be prey in society – we deeply deny the extent of misogyny.

And like Jack the Ripper they think they’re doing society a favor by ridding it of its “dregs” – those immoral evil women that take money from men in exchange for sexual favors. Did you know, murder is the number one cause of death for a prostitute? They also face verbal abuse, rape, violence, disease, etc. Someone once said, “Prostitution is not the world’s oldest profession, it’s the world’s oldest oppression.”   

NBC covered the “Craigslist Killer” yesterday and tallied how many women had posted ads on Craigslist from Friday to Monday. Do they have a clue??? Do they realize that many of these women have PIMPS….and QUOTAS? Do they really think women can quit their job because there’s another lunatic out there? They do a really good job at making women look stupid, now how about making the killer look bad?

(This same news program seemed to take joy in reporting that women, including educated career women, were being forced to work in exotic dancing due to the bad economy – they repeated this story over & over)  

Back to the “Craigslist Killer” (why do killers get such glorified names, any way?). Apparently, he was engaged. In Accused Craigslist killer’s fiancee: He’s innocent, we here such praises as:

“could not hurt a fly”

“a beautiful person inside and out”

“This is a great guy” (said by neighbor)


“just regular guys … just our neighbors”

Why is it that reporters feel obligated to tell us how great killers are? Why is it that they interview neighbors – do our neighbors really know us? Do we here the praises when the killer is female? when the killer is Black or Hispanic? Why do we give these guys superhero names and praise them for how great they appear outwardly?

He fled – She fled

In a clear case of He Fled – She Fled, reporters gush over a father who abducts his son and criminalize a mother who flees with her children.  

You be the judge:

His story: Mary Coustas’ husband, George Betsis, wanted by FBI after taking son from Priscilla Dunstan

Her story: Fairfax Co. Family Found; Mom Charged

Most parental abductions occur by a parent who once had custody and then lost it. Often, there are accusations of abuse that the judge dismisses (that’s not to say it didn’t happen). Even the media have failed to mention that Amy West accused her husband of child abuse. This propels the parent to take the children and run – to find safety. The reaction, however, is not very sympathetic, is it? Very typical, indeed.

The 50-50 bias

If 50-50 parenting involves equal parenting between BOTH parents, why would an article on this topic ONLY cover the fathers side? In State Child Custody Law: 50-50 Split?, reporter Stacia Kalinoski interviews a dad, his attorney and one other non-biased attorney, who, thank goodness, reminds us of the “best interest of the child” policy.

What all these articles on father’s rights fail to explain is:  Why does research claim that when fathers seek custody, they get it 70% of the time (even violent fathers get visitation and custody)? Where are the experts on shared parenting and abusive parents? Most experts agree that shared parenting is fine for couples with low or no conflict and many couples today chose this option. However, when couples end up in family court – hello! – they usually have conflict and abuse. Estimates have ranged from 50-75% for domestic violence. Why then would you presume shared parenting for these folks? Let’s get real here – courts need to keep the child’s “best interest” in mind, not their father’s.

Johnson said the topic will keep coming up.  He said the issue is becoming a priority with father’s rights groups. 

Yes, and if the public had a clue as the misogynist agenda of those father’s rights groups perhaps this reporter would have chosen some real experts to quote.

Here’s a summary for those not familiar with father’s rights:

1) Shared parenting. [Many of them advocate for shared parenting even with violent fathers. A “violent dad is better than no dad at all” is their motto. Some are working on getting more rights for incarcerated men, including men that have killed their wives. Remember OJ, even he got custody.]

2) Parental Alienation Syndrome/Hostile Agressive Parenting/Malicious Mother Syndrome [No, I’m not making this up. They have courts across the country believing in PAS, despite the fact that many credible agencies call it junk science. It was created by a misogynist pro-pedophile who defended child molesters. (I swear I’m not making this up!) While some parents do bad-mouth the other, FR guys claim PAS is the cause of every damaged relationship – a simplistic viewpoint that neglects other reasons, negates child abuse claims and scapegoats women. And this, folks, is being used across the country.]

3) Want to lower or stop child support [Some claim this is why they want shared parenting so badly. Prior to the enforcement of child support, there was not a push to spend time with children.]

4) Seek pure images of fathers [They have no qualms about poor images of women. They just want images of father to be pure.]

5) Attack the Violence Against Women Act and other gains made in regard to female victims of violence [They say VAWA is breaking up families and is discriminatory – although it covers services for men]

6) Claim domestic violence is 50-50 [It’s not, it’s 85-15. They use studies that are self-reports, don’t distinguish between offensive and defensive violence, don’t take into account violence during separation or severe forms of violence, including homicide]

So these are the “experts” that are quoted in the news media?  Are these the guys you want deciding what’s in the best interest of YOUR child? (See: Lee Doyle for the latest dirt on a father’s rights advocate.)

No snap

In Woman Gets Eight Years for Fatal Shooting of Husband (Apr 18), where is the “snap”? As you can see from the first paragraph, it clearly seems that this woman “snapped”  – just like all the “nice guys” do when they kill their wives.

A Fairfax County woman who fatally shot her husband after spray-painting an angry diatribe about him on their driveway was sentenced yesterday to eight years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

No, I’m not advocating reporters use the term “snap” or that we put it in the DSM as a mental condition leading to domestic homicide, but, come on, why do “nice guys” “snap” and women appear mentally deranged?

The guys (probably Men’s Rights Activists – MRAs) on the comment board are up in arms about the short sentence for this woman and believe it’s due to her gender. True, it does seem short, but they must not have read, “Pr. William Slaying Results in Six-Year Term,” where a man got 6 years for fataling beating another man.

Burger King respects Mexicans, not women

In Burger King to Scrap Ad After Complaint, Burger King apologizes for offending Mexicans:

Fast food giant Burger King apologized Tuesday for an advertisement featuring a squat Mexican draped in his country’s flag next to a tall American cowboy and said it would change the campaign.

The campaign included a poster and a commercial. Furthermore, BK stated:

Burger King said the ads were meant to show a mixture of influences from the southwestern United States and Mexico, not to poke fun at Mexican culture, but said it would replace them “as soon as commercially possible.”

Burger King Corporation has made the decision to revise the Texican Whopper advertising creative out of respect for the Mexican culture and its people,” it said in a statement.

Burger Pimp

Where, then, is the apology for this offensive commercial using “booty call” to sell kid’s meals?! The commercial involves sexy women shaking their “booty” around the Burger King. The King even goes so far as to use a right triangle on the woman’s butt to describe how square it is. Umm, teaching young boys that it’s okay to touch women’s butts, are you?! Teaching young girls that they should allow it? In the end, a man sits with 2 women (because one just does not hold enough value) and says, “booty is booty.” Well, if booty is booty, why don’t we see a bunch of strapping men with square butts dancing around for our pleasure (you know, the other half of the population)? Why don’t we see people of all shapes and sizes (normal people) and not just sexy women (for the target audience of children?!?!?)? Why are we referring to women’s asses as “booty’ as if they were commercial products themselves? Why are we glamorizing the pimp lifestyle when millions of women and girls worldwide are trafficked in sexual slavery?    

This commercial is wrong on so many levels. Call BK’s Consumer Relations department to complain:

If you are a consumer, please contact our Consumer Relations department at 305-378-3535. Our representatives are ready to assist you Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm EST.

Apparently, Crispin Porter + Bogusky is the PR firm that created this ad. See their Web site here. Their email is

Dethrone the Burger King that’s pimping their burgers to children! Tell them their commercials are in poor taste! Tell them to respect women!

UPDATE!  Visit Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood to send messages to Nickolodean and Burger Pimp, I mean Burger King.

Breaking the mold

There is a tragic story in the Washington Post today about a 17 year-old male stabbing his 19 year-old girlfriend to death. There was a prior history of violence in their relationship. We’re really just starting to learn about the sad realties of teen dating violence. Read the story 17-Year-Old Accused of Killing Girlfriend here.

I must say, the reporters did not use the Snap, Cackle, Pop! “template” I accused them of in my letter to the editor just last week. They speak kind words about the victim. They don’t excuse the behavior of the aggressor. They manage to present the pain of the father of the perpetrator to remind us that this tragedy impacts more people than just the victim and the perp – it will, indeed, have many victims.

I think the media can be held accountable to report domestic violence in a compassionate and non-biased manner (and I want to applaud them when they do so, too). I also think we have a lot to learn about teen dating violence and this tragedy reminds us of what is at risk if we chose to ignore it. My condolences goes out to this family.

UPDATE:  I wrote a brief letter to the reporter at the WaPo commending her for the article and she responded. She said she did see my Letter to the Editor (LTE) last week and was thinking about it when she wrote her article. She agreed that these types of stories should not involve victim blaming. 

Keep writing those LTEs or those emails to the reporters – they do read them and they can be effective.


Miss J