I wrote that the Sodini murders were (are) illustrations and evidence of the problem of violence against women.
Chad takes issue with the proposition that separately identifying "women" as victims of the attack helps anyone understand how to fix the underlying problem.
Chad's bottom line:
The problem with the George Sodinis and the Ronald Taylors of the world isn’t who they’re killing; it’s that they’re killing at all. And, while I wish I knew where the best solutions can be found, I’m fairly certain they will not come from overstating the threat, nor from sensationalizing the impact, of violence against one particular group. And I'm damned sure they will never come from responding to one man’s insanity with a well-meaning, but ultimately misguided, assault on reality.Ronald Taylor was the black perpetrator of mass killings of white men in Wilkinsburg nearly 10 years ago. Chad wonders about the absence of commentary at the time about violence against white men. Speaking only for myself, I have to say that I wasn't blogging then. More important, there is no evidence in Chad's post that the Taylor murders were motivated by animosity towards white men. Where Chad sees two nearly identical events -- but for gender -- I see two very different things.
The shootings in Collier represent a horrific act of violence against women. Violence against the three women who were killed. Violence against the nine women who were wounded. Violence against all of the women who happened to be at the gym at LA Fitness on Tuesday evening. And indirectly but distinctly, violence against all women everyone [sic -should be "everywhere"]. Wives and girlfriends and partners, mothers and sisters, daughters and nieces, friends and neighbors and colleagues. The shootings in Collier meet my definition of terrorism: acts of violence against unarmed individuals who are accused of representing an entire community. In his mind, the gunman was attacking all women.Chad writes that I "who damned well ought to know better, could not resist the contention that there are larger, and more ominous, macro lessons to be learned from this most micro of examples." He's done some good homework, picking out statistics -- that I don't quarrel with -- showing the number of men who are victims of violent crime ("homicide, rape, robbery, and both simple and aggravated assault") exceeds the number of women who are victims of violent crime. But micro examples often do supply more ominous, macro lessons, and if we ignore that possibility, then we may miss all the macro lessons and lose ourselves in the micro. Not will, but may.
Curiously but importantly, Chad doesn't actually disagree with anything that I wrote. He doesn't really respond to what I wrote. I don't want to go on at the length that he does, but I do want to emphasize two points that are lost in the defense of gender equity:
First, to take my post apart sentence by sentence (as in other cases Chad is expert at doing):
"The shootings in Collier represent a horrific act of violence against women." No argument there; Sodini didn't target any human beings; he targeted women because they were women. I'm happy to join Chad in condemning violence and violence crime against humans (and animals, too; we're looking at you, Mike Vick), but nothing that happened at LA Fitness gave me any personal pause about my safety or security.
"Violence against the three women who were killed." No disagreement there.
"Violence against the nine women who were wounded. " Or there.
"Violence against all of the women who happened to be at the gym at LA Fitness on Tuesday evening." I don't see a disagreement on this point, but perhaps we're disagreeing about the semantics of "violence." When it comes to "violence," and "violence against women," my definition is broader than the definition used by the Justice Department in compiling the statistics that Chad cites. Were the LA Fitness patrons who were not murdered or injured that night the victims of a violent attack? I believe so. And I'm sure that the women themselves believe so.
"And indirectly but distinctly, violence against all women everyone [sic -should be "everywhere"]. Wives and girlfriends and partners, mothers and sisters, daughters and nieces, friends and neighbors and colleagues." I'm trying to be careful here, avoiding a glib equation of what happened to the three murdered women with what happened to those who survived or with what was felt by women who felt personal revulsion when they heard the news -- "there but for the grace of God," etc. No disagreement in Chad's post.
Second, it's wrong to promote the cause of ending murder, rape, and assault against all people -- again, a cause that no reasonable person can disagree with -- at the expense of dismissing the real harm suffered by members of groups who are targeted for violence solely on account of their gender -- or race, or other characteristic. We don't dismiss anti-Semitism and violence against Jews just because the numbers of victims relative to the overall population is relatively small; we don't say "anti-Semitism isn't the problem; violence against all people is the problem." We don't do that when the Ku Klux Klan targets African Americans. The examples are unfair in a sense, because I'm hoping that Chad doesn't disagree on this point. But I'm hoping that he sees that my parallels are closer to the Sodini murders -- in the sense that the victims were targeted for their gender and for no other reason -- than the Taylor murders are.
And I am counting violence here in the sense not only of the pain suffered directly by the murder victims and the wounded, but also in the sense of the empathic pain and anxiety suffered by the other women at LA Fitness that evening and women elsewhere and the actual violence of women injured every day -- physically -- in ways that do not show up in crime statistics. Whether or not you wish to call it an "epidemic," there is a massive amount of it in this country (around the world, in fact) directed at women because they are women, and a great deal of that violence does not show up in Justice Department statistics on murder, rape, and so on. is speculation on my part to say that there is no comparable massive amount of violence in this country or anywhere else directed at men because they are men, but I'll say it anyway, because I believe, and I've never seen a credible account that offers data to the contrary.
Even if there were not a massive amount of violence against women because they are women, even a small amount of violence on that score is cause for serious concern. (Likewise, violence against men because they are men, which does exist, is also cause for serious concern.) It is a cause for speaking out against it and for conducting prayer vigils in its wake. Its presence in our society scares all women, just as violence against Jews in the Middle East today scares Jews in the United States and violence against African Americans in the South today scared African Americans in the North. It reminds them of the precariousness of their positions in this world. Violence against women because they are women scares me on behalf of the women I love.
And saying that does not lessen the seriousness of the cause of reducing violence overall. Violence of any sort, against any person or animal, denies the humanity (in people) and individuality (in animals) of the victims. Violence treats victims as objects. Things. I'm pretty sure that Chad and I agree on that point, and I'm pretty sure that we agree that this is what happened at LA Fitness in Collier. But things aren't things aren't things; they are not all the same. Not at all.