Salon, Vogue, and others on the unexamined epidemic of violence against women.
There were five mass shootings this week. All of them were acts of violence again women. In the most shocking, a 21-year-old man walked into a Florida bank, lined up five women and executed them. Also killed this week: mothers, girlfriends, and ex-girlfriends, and four teenage girls at a prayer vigil. None of them made more than a ripple in the national news.
This week’s spree was, sadly, not unusual. Of the 156 mass shootings that occurred between 2009 and 2016 54 percent were related to domestic or family violence, according to an analysis from Everytown for Gun Safety. The Santa Fe shooter was rejected by a classmate. The driver of the van who mowed down 10 people in Toronto last year counted himself a soldier in the incel rebellion.
As we how racism and anti-semitism inspire mass killings, we also need to better understand the role misogyny plays. Noted feminist author Jessica Valenti has coined the term, “rejection killings,” violence inspired by women who “had the temerity to say no to men.” She also called for the tracking of these attacks.
“Gun culture steeps troubled and ineffectual men in this notion of redemption through violence and then makes the most deadly weaponry available to them, ”John J. Donohue III, a Stanford researcher on mass shootings told Salon this week. “We see from diaries of the mass shooters that they see the AR-15 or some such as the vindication of their manhood and power and a vehicle for addressing their perceived grievances,” he said.
Vogue’s headline got straight to the point, “Toxic masculinity is killing us.” In her column, gun control advocate Shannon Watts explains part of the reason she’s working so steadfastly to “prevent dangerous men from getting a gun.” She writes:
“As a mom of five, including four daughters, I’m terrified. What is happening to our sons? How can we protect our daughters? The reality is that dangerous misogynists exist in every country, but only America gives them easy access to arsenals and bulk ammunition.”
Indeed red flag laws are gaining momentum, the House of Representatives last month introduced a bill that would mandate federal background checks for gun buyers, and Watts’ organization Moms Demand Action is pushing to close “the boyfriend loophole” in states across the country.
But too often threats made—and violence perpetrated—against women is ignored, leading to their deaths and the deaths of others. In Idaho alone, 13 women have been killed by the men they loved, or once loved, since 2017. However, when police actually step up and pay attention, lives are potentially saved. Just last week, Denver police arrested Christopher Wayne Cleary, a man on probation for felony stalking and threats toward women, for making the following threat on social media:
“All I wanted was to be loved, yet no one cares about me I’m 27 years old and I’ve never had a girlfriend before and I’m still a virgin, this is why I’m planning on shooting up a public place soon and being the next mass shooter cause I’m ready to die and all the girls the turned me down is going to make it right by killing as many girls as I see.”