Trivializing violence against women

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Maysie Maysie's picture
Trivializing violence against women

I keep seeing this stupid "headline" when I check my mail on yahoo, and now need to post it here and get some discussion about this.

Sadly, it's nothing new, and it's stupidly framed in a morbidly sensationalistic way.


British man killed wife over 'single' Facebook status

A British man who murdered his wife after becoming enraged when she changed her relationship status on Facebook to "single" was jailed for at least 18 years late Thursday.

Edward Richardson, 41, stabbed wife Sarah, 26, to death in a "frenzied and brutal" attack at her parents' home in Biddulph, central England, last May after she altered her profile on the Internet social networking site.

The couple had been living apart since the previous month, said Fiona Cortese, a spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service, which is responsible for prosecuting cases in England and Wales.

"Richardson became enraged when Sarah changed her marital status on Facebook to single and decided to go and see her as she was not responding to his (text) messages," Cortese said.

"He gained entry by breaking the front door window and made his way into the property.

There's so much wrong with this. But I'll start with the most obvious: He Didn't Kill Her Because She Changed Her Facebook Status!!! He killed her because he's an obsessive violent abusive asshole!!!  Yell

This final bit doesn't help either:

Detective Inspector Andy Wall, who worked on the case, added: "She had decided that her marriage to Edward Richardson was over but this was clearly something he could not accept."

As if her decision wasn't based on what the relationship was, which I think we can safely guess that it was abusive, duh. So the implication isn't that HE was abusive and should have STOPPED but that if SHE had not made the decision to leave the marriage then she'd still be alive, that this is all really her fault.

So to be clear, it's a woman's fault when she stays, and it's a woman's fault when she leaves. Got it.

Yell  Yell

(thanks muchly to Summer for the working link) 


This is one of those stories - one of those thousands of stories it seems - that are in fashion right now - the "Facebook angle" stories.   No matter what the story is really about, if there's any detail in it that's about Facebook, then the whole story revolves around the Facebook angle. 

So in this case, the husband has likely had a history of being abusive, and the wife probably left and went to her parents' place to be safe.  And reading between the lines, it sounds like he was stalking her after she left, because he kept sending text messages that she wasn't responding to.  So she was trying to make it pretty clear that she doesn't want anything more to do with him.  And that includes letting her circle of acquaintances and friends know that she considers herself single now.

But instead of focusing on all those other details, the story focuses on the Facebook status line angle to make it unique.  Which is a shame, because this story is not unique - it's depressingly, boringly, infuriatingly common.  A woman declares her independence from an abusive man, and he stalks her and kills her for it.  Doesn't matter whether she declares it on Facebook, declares it on the phone, declares it to the police, declares it in court, declares it to her family and friends.  Just the act of leaving and declaring yourself free is what women get killed for by abusive exes.

But I'm not sure I agree that this article or the police officers are blaming the wife for it.  The police officer didn't say that it was her fault.  He said that she had decided the marriage was over and he couldn't accept it - that doesn't imply that it's her fault, that's just stating the facts of the case.  

If anything, I think this article is going for a "Check out this deranged freak - he killed his wife over Facebook!" slant, which doesn't give me the impression that the wife is being blamed by anyone.

But it's STILL the wrong angle.  Because it makes it sound like this guy just suddenly went nuts over a Facebook thing, as opposed to this being a very common pattern of abuse and escalation when women try to escape.


[url= Here [/url] is another example trivializing violence against women, from today's news. Thankfully, the Nunavut justice minister has been stripped of his ministerial duties, however his message is clear "don't argue with your man - if you do he may get violent and it will be your fault":


IQALUIT, Nunavut -- Nunavut's premier has stripped the territory's justice minister of his duties over a remark that suggests women are partly to blame when they are assaulted during domestic disputes.

Eva Aariak said she has taken over the department from Louis Tapardjuk, who made the comment last week in an email.

"Often, in cases of domestic disputes, both parties share the blame but, according to the Criminal Code, the person who gets physical is charged, even though the other party initiated the conflict," Tapardjuk wrote.

"Often, the male is charged even though the conflict may have been initiated by the female partner."

It was not clear who the email was sent to or how widely it was distributed.

The premier said no victim of violence should ever be faulted for initiating a conflict and nothing can ever justify violence by a person in an intimate relationship.




Well, good that he's no longer justice minister, but I guess he's still an territorial MP (not sure what they're called.)

It is awful that our elected politicians still believe this crap.  And last I checked it's illegal to beat up your spouse.  It's not illegal to argue with them.  So obviously the one "who gets physical is charged".  Is he seriously suggesting that it's ok to slap your wife around when you're arguing or that she should be charged too for starting it in the first place.  This makes me so angry. 


I feeds right into the "she deserved it" line of thinking.

Same with the story in the OP. As if this violent idiot was leaving her alone until she went and changed her facebook status.


I don't like the tone of the article posted in the OP but for different reasons that Maysie.  I'm more with Michelle, I don't get a blame the victim vibe at all.  But I do get a "crime of passion, chalk it up to crazy person and not a pattern of abuse" kind of vibe.  (as well as the sensationalist Facebook angle disussed by both of you). 

I think we've had this kind of thread on babble before where we've discussed how easy it is to dismiss violence against women as a rare or out-of the ordinary occurence or one that is unique to the poor or members of certain religions or cultures rather than face the issue head on. 

Maysie, I couldn't link to the article you posted but this one is probably the same:

"Once inside, he found Sarah in her bedroom and subjected her to a frenzied and brutal attack with a knife and then attempted to take his own life."
my emphasis.

To be fair, does a murder/suicide fit the mold of a typical (can I call it typical) spousal abuse situation?

Also what's wrong with:

She had decided that her marriage to Edward Richardson was over but this was clearly something he could not accept."

He's not excusing his behaviour.  He's saying he couldn't accept what his ex wanted.  As in, he ignored his ex's wishes and went to see her knowing full well she had no interest in seeing him.  If anything suggesting that the woman invited him over to discuss the break-up, might be seen as blaming the victim (i.e. - she should have known better; she was sending mixed signals).  But that did not happen here.


ETA: cross-posted with Martin and I see your point about the difference between wouldn't and couldn't. 

martin dufresne

"...decided to go and see her as she was not responding to his (text) messages"

I think that, beside the "changing Facebook status pretext", this use of "as" by the Crown Prosecuting Service is clearly blaming the victim. Will U.K. women now be expected to answer harassing messages to save their life?


Couldn't that also be trying to follow the thought process of a criminal?

Something cops are trained to do. (Obviously not excusing the murderer!)

But the Facebook, or texting, or a few years ago, Internet, angle will always make the press. Sloppy journalism.

martin dufresne

It seems to me more than thought processes - indeed, it's the reverse - when mechanical causal relationships are presented as fact. I think this does implicitly excuse the murderer, as in "I couldn't stop because my brake lines had been cut."

I imagine that we are terrified at the thought that men could actually CHOOSE murder if they do not get their way - what a blow against heterosexual romanticism! - so we give credence to these mechanistic explanations, despite abundant evidence of choice on the part of the killers.


I don't read the same meaning into the "as" in that sentence.  I think that's reaching a bit.  Although I do agree that he should have used "wouldn't" rather than "couldn't".  But lots of people mix those up, and don't forget, this guy was making a spoken statement.  I'm constantly saying "can" instead of "will" and vice versa.  Claiming that someone is blaming a woman for her own murder based on the fact that the person used the word "as" as a connector in a sentence is a bit much.  A bit Clintonian: "Depends on what the meaning of "as" is.  :)


I agree with Lagatta - sloppy (or possibly, deliberately sensationalist )journalism.  I don't think the article is excusing or explaining his behaviour away necessarily.  They're explaining what the accused did and thought, presumably based on their investigation.  There may not be evidence that there was a pattern of abuse.  The victim is dead.  The accused is unlikely to confess to it.  If the woman was being abused, it's possible none of here friends or family knew.  If they'd been apart for a month, any bruises might have gone away. 

He's been given Life with a minimum 18 years in prison.  Clearly, the judge didn't buy the crime of passion defence (if there was one.)  Here's the rest of the quote from the police (my emphasis)


""She had decided that her marriage to Edward Richardson was over but this was clearly something he could not accept.

"The consequence was that Sarah lost her life in a brutal attack at her husband's hands in her family home.

"The verdict cannot bring Sarah back but we hope that it gives her family some form of comfort."


Is that blaming the victim?  Link:

martin dufresne

"...decided to go and see her as she was not responding to his (text) messages" 

Michelle, "as" could have only two meanings in that sentence from the Crown's spokeswoman: simultaneity or causality. I don't think it's merely simultaneity.


1. conj at time that: used to indicate that something happens at the same time as something else
A woman stands near the water's edge as two large golden retrievers frolic in the river.

3. conj because: seeing that
I'm not sure where we are in math, as I've been absent for the last week.


(Source: Dictionary - MSN Encarta)

Words matter.


Yes, he was saying that the husband's reasoning for going there in person is because she was not responding to text messages.  That was one of the things that enraged the husband.  That doesn't mean that he's claiming that it's the wife's fault for not responding.  That doesn't mean he's saying that it's the wife's fault that the husband got enraged.  He's just stating that the wife changed her facebook status, the husband got enraged, he tried to text message her, she didn't respond to the text messages, and when he didn't get a response from her that way, then he went over in person and killed her.  Summer posted the rest of the quote where it was really quite clear that the police officer giving the statement did not blame the victim. 

In other news: swinging out dictionary definitions when discussing feminism, anti-racism, or any other "ism" maybe makes you feel better, but it's really kind of pointless when people are actually trying to have a real discussion about what people mean when they say stuff.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Thanks for the working link, Summer. I'm going to copy it into the OP.

As for there possibly being prior abuse, my assumption is that there was, if not physical, then other kinds of abuse that happen when men are controlling and think of women as property that they "own". My experience has been that this kind of violence does not simply arise when she leaves him, but is either present, or lurking in other forms, I won't call them milder, but less provable in a court of law for sure. 

P.S. A very sad note: while I was looking up a better link, I found one, then realized that it was a completely different story, but still in the UK and with the Facebook angle. So this is the "new" journalism as it reports these kinds of stories. Great. 


I agree that's what as means Martin.  But I think it is from the subjective point of view of the murderer, as explained to the public by the Police. 

The OP is about the article and its slant.  Another question is what the police meant.  I expect the judgment would explain whether it was pre-meditated or not.  If it was, then you're right the explanation should be  "decided to go and kill her as/because he was angry she was not returning his messages [and ignoring him and had severed the relationship]"

But if it was not pre-meditated which is likely the case, then that is why he decided to go see her at that particular moment (the straw that broke the camel's back, as it were).  They're not suggesting he had not choice, that she somehow forced him to by her actions.  He decided.  His choice.  Not hers. 


There's enough sexism in the world Martin without using definitions to stretch one simple sentence out of its actual meaning.  You do no favours to our cause.  Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and all that. 

 Not that I don't think the police are above blaming the victim (see Ghislaine's post above re the justice Minister).  It's just that I don't see it in this case.

martin dufresne

You have nailed it, Summer: "the subjective point of view of the murderer". Why is it that news organizations and even prosecutors feel compelled to couch women's life-death issues in these terms? And to embellish/distort that reality by excluding the element of men's choice, as I pointed out?

A film is about to be released in Quebec called "Polytechnique" and ALL the advance material being poured on us by the media is about the POV of Marc Lépine, the main actor explaining how he and the (also male) filmmaker went out of their way to try an instil depth and complexity in the assassin's character, which comes off on screen as a lot of pouting moodiness in a Harry-Potter look-alike!


Exactly, Summer. In fact, this is quite common with abusers - they hate it when their victims somehow get away and stop responding to their provocations. So they keep provoking, hoping to get a response, get angrier when they don't get one, and escalate the provocations until they do get one.

Unfortunately, with some men, they escalate it to the point where their victim dies at their hands. Doesn't mean that anyone is saying it's the victim's fault for not responding earlier. Describing this cycle, where the guy provokes, gets no response from the woman, gets angry, provokes more, gets no response, gets angrier, provokes even more, etc., is important, and that's what I saw the cop doing. He was describing a very common series of events. Why jump all over him when he was clearly laying the blame on the perpetrator in the rest of the quote?  I agree with Summer - it doesn't do anyone any favours when we nitpick to the extent that we change the entire meaning of someone's words.


I'd been thinking of the Polytechnique film since this topic started - and indeed thought the choice of actor was very strange. Not that one needs someone who looks just like Lépine, but the actor looked much more "appealing" than the geeky antisocial Lépine.

I have NO intention of seeing that film. First of all, I was on campus that night, and don't see how a film could add to the utter numbness and horror when we returned to campus the next day and tried to carry on with our exams. I had been to Polytechnique earlier that week, though I never had any classes there - I was looking for a technical term in the library - back then everything wasn't on line (though primitive Internet did exist, and I had an account with a lot of numbers in it).


   Why is it that news organizations and even prosecutors feel compelled to couch women's life-death issues in these terms?

The article in question was written about a sentence which was given to a man who killed his ex.  It was written from his POV because HE killed HER.  She is dead.  We don't know her POV.  If she were alive, she would have testified and we'd have some choice quotes from her.  He is in jail.  The journalist and police have his evidence and his quotes. 

The prosecutor has to frame if from the murderer's POV - that's how criminal justice works.  That would be another thread to discuss criminal justice and how the "victim"/complainant is not really involved.  We have this funny little thing called presumption of innocence so his subjective POV is kind of important from the whole guilt and jail sentence thing.  Her POV is not important to his guilt; it can play into his sentence.  If she was alive she could read a victim impact statement; her family members could as well (in Canada anyway)

As to why news organizations couch it in terms of his POV.  In additon to what I've written above, because people like to understand what goes through the mind of a murderer.  That sells more newspapers.  You probably are more interested in talking about the greater why: why people don't care about violence against women?  Why they dismiss it?  Why newspapers feed into that by sensationalizing certain cases and never discussing others?  Those are all huge issues but I still don't think the police was justifying the murderers' actions...

Maysie Maysie's picture

As the one who brought up the nit-picky stuff, that I actually don't think is all that nit-picky, I'm fine if we all don't agree with this.

For me, I'm very aware of language, and what values and assumptions go along with it. Certainly everyone in this thread knows this stuff already, but there are always sublteties that challenge me.

I was enraged when I started this thread, in reaction to seeing this idiot story first thing this morning. Maybe reverting to language analysis is my way of intellectualizing this bullshit, tucking it away so I can get on with my life, who knows.

The truth is we *don't* always hear about murder from the murderer's perspective. If the victim is considered "innocent" we hear no end of the victim's perspective, alive or dead.

This was a short online article. I'm not presuming anything of the author's intent around this innocent stuff, they just got to the "good stuff" which in my opinion is the tired old misogynist crap. Maybe milder than the past, but still there.

No, the police weren't justifying the actions of the murderer, but choice of words does indicate a move towards mutual, or equitable responsibility, that is the faint shadow/memory of the news from yesteryear of "she must have done something to set him off". 

martin dufresne

Just to clarify: We are not discussing a police statement but that of a spokeswoman from the Crown Prosecution Service. Their job is normally to try and establish if they have a chain of evidence establishing a suspect and premeditation, if any. I read their statement as denying the suspect's criminal agency by speculatively referring to his inability to accept the victim's decisions nor to obtain response in text messages - as if he was entitled to that.

I don't think it's ever the Crown's business to provide the media with such speculation - I see no indication that the statement of incapacity to accept Ms. Richardson's decision to leave came from the suspect.

My point is that offering this kind of rationale is the defence's job, not the Crown: indeed I question the quality of a prosecution that starts on such tottering bases. 


You're right.  I mixed up the two quotes.  The one about him not accpting the marriage being over was the police.  The one about the text messages was the prosecutor. 

Regardless, my point from post #16, stands. Stop stretching, you're liable to break in half pretty soon.  The prosecutor is allowed to tell the media what happened during the trial.  I don't know what "criminal agency" means and how she denied it.  The prosecutors got him life in prison.  He was found guilty. 

How do you know the comment was speculation?  There was a trial.  Prosecutors are allowed to summarize evidence from the trial. 

 "Tottering bases"! pfft.  give me a break.  Life in prison.  Min. sentence 18 yrs.  What's the problem?  you question their quality?  What more would you like? the death penalty?


martin dufresne

I apologize for having read the OP too quickly, missing the fact that one of the quotes *was* from police and more importantly that the trial had already happened. Sorry about that. It *is* possible that the prosecutor and the police officer summarized testimony or evidence produced at the trial when they alluded to the murderer's inability to act otherwise. I am glad the judge didn't follow suit.

martin dufresne

Maysie, I am curious at to why you write: "The truth is we *don't* always hear about murder from the murderer's perspective. If the victim is considered "innocent" we hear no end of the victim's perspective, alive or dead."

As you know, I monitor murders of women by men and I was under the contrary impression, i.e. that news stories tended to dismiss the victim as that of a "tragedy", limiting discourse about her to "sadness", "her family's grief', etc., whereas they took up the murderer's POV, throwing up loss of employment, possible depression, financial straits, general moodiness or even the victim's illnesses as possible explanations for the act. They sometimes omit the obligatory flourish that "these do not constitute justifications, of course." Which to me indicates, that yes, they function as such.

There is also the matter of statements that could be called defamation and that are omitted from media discussions of assaulters' dynamics. When it comes to statements hostile to someone who is still alive, the media are reluctant to publish elements that demonstrate premeditation, agency, misogyny or other elements that could be targeted as defaming the suspect. For instance, a rape victim's perspective on her assaulter emphatically does make it past editorial desks.

Si, I am eager to read how you see it.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Martin, absolutely, the contexts of the victims are portrayed as you've mentioned: "tragedy", "nobody could have seen this coming". So sickening, really.

I'm referring not to issues of "domestic" violence or intimate partner violence and how it's portrayed in the media, but rather to violence in a racialized context and it's portrayal in the media. Whatever the cultural background of the victim, if the perpetrator is a young black man (in the Toronto or urban context) and/or an Aboriginal man (in other contexts in Canadian news) the "innocence" of the victim is focussed on, as a way to gain both sympathy for the victim, reinforcing racism against the perpetrator, and usually calling for more "tough on crime" legislation.

If the victim is a young person of colour, the "gang" trope is revived, whether it's true or not. This isn't an example of the "innocence" trope, but of course the racism and the "tough on crime" are activated in those cases as well.

martin dufresne

OK, yes, I totally agree. Victims of what is unfairly deemed racial violence are framed as innocent to accentuate the suspects' guilt - and justify our society's general racism. But what is aired is not the victim's POV, only that stereotype of inoccence.


About this "gang" trope, it is telling that most Montrealers have been led to believe that the latest victim of a police killing in Montreal, Fredy Villanueva, was part of "those Montreal-Nord Black street gangs we need to get tougher with", when that unarmed 17-yr old, shot for playing dice in a park and resisting his brother's arrest, was Latino. His family is so incensed about the way it has been treated by investigators since the killing that they are threatening to pull out of the official "inquiry" into his murder.


Of course people try to figure out what motivates people like this guy to abuse and murder.  It ISN'T "making excuses" to try and figure out why some people kill and abuse and others don't.  It ISN'T "making excuses" to try to look at people's backgrounds to figure out what makes them tick.

I feel like you're veering a bit into a knee-jerk reactionary direction, Martin.  There are no root causes!  Anyone who tries to understand criminals are just coddling them and making excuses!  Other people don't commit crimes, so why do these guys?!  Throw away the key!  If I'm mistaken about this, please let me know - maybe I'm reading something into your posts that isn't there, but that's what it seems like to me.

I just don't get it.  It's horrible, what this guy did.  But there definitely IS a place for trying to understand what creates and triggers abusers.  Which is why the slant on this article is so unhelpful - they make it sound like Facebook turned this guy into a jealous, raving murderer, instead of focusing on the real dynamic, which is that he, like other abusers, felt ownership over his wife and felt he had the right to kill her for trying to leave.

Until people start understanding the REAL motivations and triggers for abusers, women will never be safe, because there is no way a society can make people safe if they don't understand why they're unsafe.  To understand why a woman is often MORE unsafe when she leaves her partner, people have to learn about the relationship dynamics of an abusive relationship, and yes, the motivations and patterns of abusers.  That means that you can't just dismiss anyone who tries to understand them as people who just want to make excuses for abusers.


Thanks for posting that Michelle.  I was thinking pretty much the same thing! 


I think there is a difference between explaining behaviour and justifying/excusing/explaining away behaviour. 

Bottom line: men who abuse women do so because they are misogynists.  But what makes them misogynists?  Why does one person who sees a Facebook status change in his relationship go over to his ex's in a rage and kill her?  What does a man who has a bad day at work go home and punch his wife?  What causes him to do that?  It's something internal in him but there are external influences that affect the person he is.  (unless you believe that these men are evil monsters that are born to turn into abusers- and there's nothing that can be done - but that is dismissing the problem, IMO)

martin dufresne

I really think there is at least another perspective than the evil monster - mechanic ticking - something makes them do it models. The simplest way I have heard VAW activists voice it is: "Because they can."


Well, that's great.  And I agree that they do it "because they can".  But that really doesn't explain the motivation behind what they're doing, does it, or what causes them to make that decision when most people don't. 

I mean, just leaving it at that is basically just another way of saying "evil monster", isn't it?  


I am glad he got "Life" in jail but why the hell does he deserve the possiblity of parole in a 18 years? He should have gotten Life without the possiblity of parole.

 It seems that women's lives are not valued as they should be.


"because they can".  If that's the reason men abuse women, why don't you hit women Martin?   Can't you?

I don't believe that all men are monsters where the ones who hit women do so because they can and the rest would like to but don't because they're afraid of jail or whatever. 

You don't hit women because you don't hate women.  You don't hit women because you respect women.  Maybe you don't hit women because you're able to fight with words instead of fists.  Maybe  you don't hit men for the same reason.  Whatever it is, you don't hit women because you "can't".  You don't hit women because you choose not to.


Excellent points, Summer. Pretty much the majority of men "can" hit women, as the majority are stronger than women. Quite a lot don't - why don't they? Why are some men violent?

I don't think examining these questions trivializes violence against women, nor should it absolve the man in question of responsiblity for his choice to move from "can" to "will".

However, we also need to tackle the reasons women are not respected enough in society, why men feel they can get away with violence against women and the attitudes that portray it as a woman's fault. I think the article in the OP and the article I posted re: the Nunavut cabinet minister display similar underlying attitudes - although to different degrees.

The attitude being that the women must have done something to "cause" the violence or bring it upon herself.  Yes, the media needs to report on what the offender says "caused" the violence.

The headline should have been formulated to indicate the man said he killed the woman over the facebook status.  To present such a headline as some sort of objective fact or truth of the case is ridiculous.

Obviously that is not "why" he killed her.  I don't think it is being overly picky to have problems with that wording. It implies that she would still be alive if only she had left her damn facebook status alone. This line of thinking leads to "well, you should stay with him as he may kill you".

 I think we all know that she probably would have been dead either way.

martin dufresne

Summer: "You don't hit women because you choose not to".

Yes. And the corollary is also true. Men who hit women choose to. Because it gets them what they want. Which is where I think we can intervene. By making that choice less beneficial.


Right.  They choose to.  So what's wrong with explaining why they make that choice?  What's wrong with attempting to explain the men's  behaviour?  Please don't tell me you see this as an either/or situation:  we can either explain the behaviour or we can try to stop it/intervene, but not both?

 "Because they can" = he's a monster.  Please link to where VAW has said that's the reason men abuse women.  Because that does trivialize the issue and make it impossible to do anything about other than to tell women to stay away from all men (or vice versa). 

martin dufresne

I have said that they hit because it gets them what they want (control, power over, silence, submission, a "feel good" moment, sometimes sex, sometimes the privilege not to share money, food, speaking time, whatever). My point is that their choice is self-interested - they go on and on about these reasons in counseling - not driven by some mechanism ticking, not even by outside forces or personal pathology.

Does that make them "monsters"? Not any more than Canadians who kill Afghan citizens because it is in Canada's interest to invade and control that country. Or than Southern Whites who used to lynch Afro-Americans because it kept them in line.

I don't understand why Summer writes: " "Because they can" = he's a monster.  Please link to where VAW has said that's the reason men abuse women." No, VAW activists do not say that, and neither have I (I thought I had clearly challenged the 'batterers = evil monsters' perspective when I said there was at least another).

I can't speak for VAW activists any more than I did by quoting the "Because they can" line (more recently from Jalna Hanmer) but personally, I find it ineffectual to label wife batterers or other sexist criminals as monsters or even misogynists as if this explained their behaviour. Isn't practically everyone de facto a misogynist in a woman-hating society like ours? The point of men acting out sexist violence is accruing benefits for themselves and other men: women's submission for rapists and batterers, money for child support thieves or pay equity scuttlers like Mr. Harper, etc.

At one point, we switched from the "Why does he do it (batter)?" question to "Why don't all men do it then?" I don't have an answer. I know that for a few men to do it is enough to instil submission in women for all men's benefit. I know that the research disputes the notion that men who do it are somehow different. I know that even if I don't do it, I can do it - because I too am self-interested and I know society would most probably give me a pass. The fact that someone doesn't exercise privilege doesn't mean that he doesn't have it and that it isn't the reason other men exercise it, does it?

Does this help? I certainly don't have many answers. I learned the little I know from feminist and pro-feminist counselors and activists such as Rose Garrity. Also, here is a good Myths&Facts info sheet put out by other women fighting VAW.

ETA: On the way to their daycare centre, an Australian father threw his 4-yr old daughter off a 50-metre bridge in Melbourne this morning, then drove his two remaining children to a downtown courthouse. An Acting Detective expressed "concerns that he is suicidal and could self harm". Victoria State's Prime Minister's response was to wonder "the father... what are the cirumstances that could have brought this about...".

remind remind's picture

So he threw his DAUGHTER over the bridge and took his 2 SONS to safety.


"watching the tide roll away"

martin dufresne

The thing I really hate in this kind of newspaper coverage is the journalist letting the police get away with a statement like "this was clearly something he could not accept.""

Excuse me but how does he know? Because Richardson killed her? Women leave every day and 99,999% of men do accept it. That cop and that newspaper are implicitly saying that whenever a man kills, it's because he can't accept it. Not won't, can't. Instant alibi.

"So to be clear, it's a woman's fault when she stays, and it's a woman's fault when she leaves. "

And it's never a man's fault if he hits or kills a woman who asserts her independance because, hey, for sure he COULDN'T take it.

BTW, I am not ready to deduce from the facts that the relation was abusive beforehand. I have seen cases where men who had not been formerly abusive - or had not been reported to be - whipped themselves into an entitlement fury when a woman left them or turned them down and killed her. The murder is abuse enough that we need not buttress it with speculation as to former abuse. (Back-edited for clarity:)This argument could even lead some to question a woman's right to leave or her claims for protection if a man hasn't been abusive.

martin dufresne

Yup, that struck me too. And he took them not to safety but to the local courthouse where he turned them over to male personnel... the mother arriving a few minutes later according to the newsstory, so it is conceivable that he took the time to summon her there. This seems to me totally staged like a warped 'battling dad' fantasy.

ETA: Yes, the murderer was in a "custody fight", yet he and his ex-wife had "agreed to share access" a few days before. He did give her a phone call and there is speculation that he may have been prevented by a woman motorist from killing both of his other children too.

So maybe add "getting back at a woman" among the reasons why men kill.


No kidding.  That's pretty awful, and even when it's not taken to such extremes, some pretty awful psychological damage can be done to kids through alienation as a way of revenge.  It's the ultimate nightmare of people who leave emotionally and/or physically abusive spouses, that they'll get revenge through the children.  And so often, they do.  And so often, the system lets them get away with it. 

martin dufresne

Indeed - athough the term "alienation" is abused by the Fathers Lobby who call it a "syndrome" to dismiss any child resisting their will and demonize ex-partners indiscriminately.

I am concerned that the Australian press is making the murderer, Arthur Freeman, into somewhat of a victim/model for divorced men with titles describing him as "Custody Fight Dad", even though he had come to an agreement with the children's mother days before he killed his daughter. His lawyer has the gall to STILL call him a "very devoted father"... Those boys aren't out of harm's way yet.

remind remind's picture

Devoted fathers do not throw their children off of bridges.

The stupid fucking misogynist lawyer is really stating "no harm done it was only a FEMALE child."

Say nothing of how he has damaged those boys mentally. Which again is something DEVOTED fathers do not do.


"watching the tide roll away"

martin dufresne

The priority of the well-to-do killer's lawyers has to be covering their corporate ass, since they must have been arguing, mere days before the killing, that Mr. Freeman was a great dad who shouldn't be kept from his children. Their mother seemed to have been asking that custody be left with her - he had just returned from an extended stay in London. Under pressure from organizations such as F4J and their media flunkies, mothers' concerns and reports of threats/abuse are routinely dismissed or even treated as proof of maternal malevolence by the courts.


Ghislaine wrote:

Obviously that is not "why" he killed her.  I don't think it is being overly picky to have problems with that wording. It implies that she would still be alive if only she had left her damn facebook status alone. This line of thinking leads to "well, you should stay with him as he may kill you".

 I think we all know that she probably would have been dead either way.

If not because of the Facebook thing, something else probably would have come up that got him angry enough to attack her - abusive guys are like time bombs that way. The only reason I can think of for the Facebook aspect being noteworthy is that it makes something that's usually private into something immediately public and it could be what this guy really couldn't stand was the embarrassment of getting dumped in front of everyone.  Being a murderer should be even more embarrassing, but who said killers were rational?

Heather Lloyd

I went to the BBC News and other UK news sites and found more detail about the estranged Richardson couple.  Not only did Edward Richardson break into Sarah's parent's house with black tape to quiet the shattering glass and the carving knife, he was high on cocaine and alcohol.  Sarah Richardson was found with 13 stab wounds, 39 lacerations, and ribs that were shattered from the force of the attack.

Going back hundreds of years women have been seen by numbers of men as property to be owned and controlled, such as slaves, and our patriarchal society set up law to support it.  For example, in North America it was legal for a man to rape his wife until very recently.  In many parts of the world it continues to be legal.

We are definitely in a society which trivializes violence against women.  Personally, I want to know how to achieve status of women as human beings with rights and privileges equal to that of men. 

I'd like to hear some of your ideas.

martin dufresne

Well you just attempted to - basing sexist abuse on a mechanist view (that "time bomb" ticking away, some "thing" getting him angry enough to attack her) and on a rational justification, the abuser's alleged embarassment at a woman's freedom.

remind remind's picture

Stop allowing gender biased commentary occur around you. Call men out on their abuse as you see it, zero tolerance, should be a primary policy... go to work as a volunteer at a woman's shelter. Take some women's studies classes. Read feminist literature, vote for the party that is not trying to erode women's rights. Write letters in the papers everytime the media condones, or diminishes hate crimes against women. Fight to have male violence on women and children considered a hate crime.


"watching the tide roll away"