6.29.2007

but we do know it will happen again

Thank you, Antonia Zerbisias, for using the word that the media won't learn: femicide.
So, World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Chris Benoit – a.k.a. "The Canadian Crippler" – sent "several curious text messages" to friends last weekend before apparently strangling his 43-year-old wife Nancy, smothering his son Daniel, 7, and then hanging himself.

Atlanta authorities suggest he may have suddenly snapped in a fit of 'roid rage.

Or was Nancy about to toss him out of the (marriage) ring?

Meanwhile, east-end Toronto sewing machine technician Alton Beckford killed his common-law wife, her mother and himself Monday night, just after returning from his 13-year-old stepdaughter's Grade 8 graduation. The girl escaped with self-defence wounds.

Beckford had reportedly lost his job five weeks ago because, according to what he told neighbours, he had complained about unsafe working conditions.

Guess he must have "suddenly snapped" after five weeks of hormone rage of a different sort.

Or were the women about to boot him?

After all, the Star's Betsy Powell tells me, Beckford felt burned by another woman.

In any case, the bottom line is, three more women and one more child are dead, victims of the men in their lives.

And always, the storyline is the same.

Each case is treated as an isolated incident. Nobody connects the dots. The word "femicide" is never used – and indeed is not even recognized by my spell checker.

In the U.S., reports the FBI, men murder an average of three women – and often their children – every single day. That's down 25 per cent from the period 1976-1996, perhaps because there are more shelters. But fears are that as the personal bankruptcies increase and employment nosedives, the killing will increase.

Canada's record is also spattered with blood.

Yes, as in the U.S., our rate of spousal homicides has declined in recent years. Women's groups report an average of 80 femicides in Canada per year – and that's unacceptable. Some 25 women a year are killed every year in Ontario alone, while the health-care system staggers under the $1.5 billion cost of abuse.

Most of these deaths are deemed "preventable and predictable" by the experts. The warning signs are well-documented.

At the University of Western Ontario's Centre for Research on Violence Against Women, there are stacks of studies, including a 2005 Domestic Violence Death Review Committee report to Ontario's chief coroner.

It shows that the "most consistent" and "most common" factors are "an actual or pending separation; a prior history of domestic violence; and depression (or other mental health or psychiatric problems)."

We're not talking severe mental illness. We're talking depression. Like losing your job, your family, your home, your manhood.

So, it's never a simple matter of a woman recognizing the threat to her life – she knows a broken jaw when she feels it – and sticking around for more punishment because she's too dumb to go.

There's little chance of getting out, once you're in.

And, as anybody who reads the posters in the TTC knows, you often don't know you're in until you're pregnant. That's usually when the violence begins.

Maybe we will never discover what really happened in Fayette County, Ga., or in Scarborough.

But we do know it will happen again. And again. And again.

In the end, only one thing needs to "suddenly snap" and that's the outrage.

7 comments:

Cin said...

Goodness. Thank you for stating this so eloquently. I've been 'connecting the dots' for some time now but didn't have a word for what it was.

Now I do.

And if you can explain, name it, discuss it - it's easier to fight.

Cin from Nota Bene

L-girl said...

Hi Cin. Thanks for stopping by. As much as I'd love to have written this, it's by Antonia Zerbisias, a terrific columnist in the Toronto Star.

To my knowledge, the word "femicide" was first used in Ms Magazine in 1990. Here's a long version of the article in which it appeared.

There is a also a lot of awareness of this in Latin America, where feminists call it femicidio.

M@ said...

This is only kinda-sorta off topic, but I couldn't help taking a feminist view of the video of Mika Brzezinski of MNSBC refusing to run the Paris Hilton story as the day's lead.

First, there are the two frat boy assholes mocking and jeering from the sidelines -- as though they are the ones with integrity and she is the one who can't be trusted.

Then there's the post-spin where speculation is posed -- sowed -- that MSNBC staged the whole thing. "Where'd she get the lighter?" (Yeah, those things are impossible to find.) "The shredder was right there!" (At the desk she walked to -- not actually on the set.)

I have a strong feeling that if she were a man, she would be hailed as a latter-day Ed Murrow. As it is, we have to actually defend her, first from the high school cafeteria-level idiocy from Joe Scarborough, then from the weak and puerile musings from the idiotosphere.

As I was talking about this with some people tonight, I kept coming back to the same point: this never would have happened, if she were a man.

Sorry. This is kind of off-topic. But it's not really that far away from the topic. And I'm not so stupid that I don't see the similarities.

The root cause has to do with weak, stupid men not being able to deal with the fact that they can't control women. The result is mockery and belittlement -- if the woman is lucky. Otherwise, the result is -- well, we've seen enough lately to know.

L-girl said...

M@, thanks for this. Because I keep my head in the sand for non-news like Paris Hilton, I didn't know anything about this.

In the next few days, as I sort through a pile of articles people have sent, I'll look into this. Sounds interesting.

TJ said...

Not to nitpick but, "In the U.S., reports the FBI, men murder an average of three women – and often their children – every single day.".

If that's true, I and every man I know are way behind in our quota.

L-girl said...

I'm not sure what you mean. That the sentence is badly worded? Perhaps "An average of three women, and often their children, are murdered by their partners every day." ?

James said...

I have a strong feeling that if she were a man, she would be hailed as a latter-day Ed Murrow. As it is, we have to actually defend her, first from the high school cafeteria-level idiocy from Joe Scarborough, then from the weak and puerile musings from the idiotosphere.

So far, all the reaction I've run into has been quite positive -- but then, I don't follow the likes of Joe Scarborough. I think the most negative thing I've seen about it has been, "maybe it was staged, but even if so it was worth staging".