What’s chance got to do with it?

Chance encounter led to artist’s slaying in Montgomery, MD, authorities say

One of the most frustrating issues to those of  us interested in gender-based violence is to read media accounts that gloss over, or worse, ignore the issue of gender and, in particular, violence directed at women and girls. Today’s article in the Washington Post (following up on this week’s missed opportunity in the HIV gel article) declares a “chance encounter” led to a women being beat and stabbed (with scissors) by a man she knew. In fairness, it says the authorities claimed this (was it their choice of words? is it the media’s responsibility to realize it was gender and not chance – just as it was skin color and not injustice that claimed the lives of African Americans?).

While it states Williams, (I hate to say this but) the “alleged” killer, didn’t know she was coming (how did they know this? did he say it? was it the truth?), he did, in fact, know her and was present in the studio. Had a man walked in would he have done the same thing? This is the key question. If this was a racially-motivated or even a homophobic-motivated crime, society would be asking the SAME QUESTION. Once we start asking ourselves if gender was an issue, we’ll be able to detect gender-based violence. Targeting women solely because of their gender is a hate crime, discrimination, and mysogynist. Only when we become aware of gender-based violence will we be able to work towards preventing it. The next question is, how many murders do we have to witness before we gain this awareness?

Here was another story this week –

Suspect in Maryland could be serial killer

Twice this guy is suspected of killing a mother and daughter. Does anyone question why he’s targeting mothers and daughters and not fathers and sons or fathers and daughters?

Police Chief Roberto L. Hylton said the same suspect may be responsible for the slaying of another Maryland mother and daughter, and also is being investigated for homicides in other states.

The unnamed man, currently held on weapons and sex charges, holds two master’s degrees.

Hylton said he is well read and very familiar with law enforcement.

He predicted the man will be remembered as “one of America’s most infamous killers.”

He will be remembered. But his victims will not. Nor will many be able to understand that their gender was their risk factor, and that, ignored, it will allow more women and girls to be killed by men in senseless, tortuous deaths.

And then there was this one…

Family finds body of missing mother Jenna Lord

“Them cops didn’t find nothing — not a damn thing,” Lord’s grandfather, Vincent Caruso, told The Philadelphia Daily News.

From the beginning, the family had complained that police in Camden, Collingdale, Pa., and Collingswood, N.J., had been reluctant to search for Lord because of her rough past.

The police didn’t even want to look for her – she wasn’t quite “worth” looking for, was she? Jack the Ripper was able to terrorize London because he was, after all, killing the “dregs” of society – prostitutes – and getting away with it. To this day, serial killers often target prostitutes because they know society might even appreciate ridding it of such “evil” women (murder, in fact, is the number one cause of death for prostitutes). Having said this, society has pimps, drug dealers, gang members – and I’ve yet to see serial killers try to wipe out these guys. So again, we see the gender component at work.

Try this exercise. Fill in the blank, replacing Jenna Lord as the victim. In which scenario would society have more outrage?

Two (white men) followed  ___________, killed ____________, and set __________ on fire.

Answer choices:

 (a) the black couple          (b) the gay man          (c)  an Amish person

Any of these choice would indicate the killers were targeting people for their race, sexuality or lifestyle and the media would highlight this. But targeting random females – for no apparent reason – other than they are women – gets virtually ignored. It’s insane.

1.5 to 3 million women are killed by men each year. Often, the men are known to the women. Other times, they are not – they are just women – and that’s all it takes.

The nice guy in the mirror

I’ve written about how shocked I am about news stories that refer to “nice guys” that “snap” (quite inexplicably!) and kill their wife or girlfriend and sometimes their children.  Well, here is another like-minded writer that puts her thoughts about media bias down on paper, er, the keyboard, and gets slammed by a bunch of white guys (read the comment section): Why Are We Surprised When White Preppy Guys Turn Out to be Serial Killers? 

The New York Daily Newsdescribed Markoff as “clean cut” and “a high-achieving dentist’s son.” The Boston Globealso described the shaggy-haired Markoff as “clean cut” — as did countless other media outlets. Politico.comcalled Markoff “all-American,” while the Associated Press and dozens of others called him “handsome”; PR Insider said, simply, that “by all appearances, he had it all.”

“By all appearances” – superficially, maybe, but reality tells another story:

After all, given the available information, Markoff could have been painted as weird, anti-social, woman-hater, irresponsible, deeply in debt, broke and in the midst of eviction from his apartment. He could have been presented as a stone-faced, emotionless creep who scared classmates by forcing kisses on them and had a long history of strange behavior.

Well, that would be dependent on your own perspective (how often have you heard men talk about other men being “woman-haters” or misogynist?) and who you interview (neighbors, class mates or those who are actually close to the person).

I’ll say it again, in plain language: In the mythology of white male editors, guys like Markoff don’t kill. They golf. With newspaper editors. Most of whom look like Markoff.

Yeah. I’ve yet to read about a Black male who commits violence described in the media as “charming,” or “clean cut.” Editors are not as kind with Black criminals as they are with White criminals and it comes down to their bias, which is then spread like an epidemic to readers.

The media has long been in the business of selling perception over truth, especially when it comes to issues of race, socioeconomic class and sex. If you wish to know the myths and prejudices of a time, read its newspapers. If you wish for the truths, read its poetry.

Well said.

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.

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?