The Power of Derailing Political Discussions about Male Violence
This morning we received a link to a Jezebel article entitled "Woman Shot and Killed After Refusing to Give Man Her Phone Number" from @ma_franks. 27-year old Mary "Unique" Spears was shot to death for refusing to give out her phone number to a man. The unnamed (as of yet) suspect shot Spears three times and then injured 4 other people as they left an American Legion following the funeral of a family member.
The comments below the article are full of women sharing their stories of a man refusing to respect their boundaries, continuing to harass them and then the subsequent victim-blaming when the incident changed from a man refusing to accept the word no to violence. We recommend that all our male supporters read through the comments to understand the reality of male violence that women live with everyday.
One comment, in particular, stuck out:
Following an article where a woman was brutally murdered by an entitled man who did not believe she had the right to personal & bodily autonomy, one man felt the need to include the caveat "certain men". This is a derailing tactic. Women understand that only certain men perpetrate misogynistic violence - whether this be domestic & sexual violence and abuse, street harassment, or fatal violence. Women cannot tell, just be looking, which men will perpetrate violence so women take precautions. We tell men, as Mary Spears did, that we "belong" to another man (in this case she was out with her fiancé); we give false phone numbers, and sometimes we acquiesce to the unwanted social interaction because of fear of being killed. These fears aren't unreasonable or paranoid.
When men derail women's conversations about their experiences of male violence to say "not all men" or "certain men", they are telling women their individual experiences aren't important. It is a silencing tactic which suggests that men's feelings are more important than women's safety. This leads to blaming women for experiencing male violence: if only she was nicer to him, made it clearer she wasn't interested, said no "properly".
This derailment is part of victim blaming culture and it needs to stop. Women are allowed to say no - without fear of consequence and men need to understand that women sharing their personal stories about male violence do not need the conversation derailed. This isn't about one man who doesn't perpetrate male violence having his feelings hurt - it's about women being killed for saying no. It is about male entitlement - and - trying to derail a conversation about male violence is male entitlement.
Mary Spears was brutally murdered by a man who refused to take the word no as an answer. The conversation should be about Spears - and all the other women who have experienced violence in similar situations.
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