The far end of the sexual violence continuum is murder

8 05 2009

On May 6th, Stephen P. Morgan shot and killed Wesleyan University student Johanna Justin-Jinich in a popular bookstore right off campus.  He turned himself in last night; in the interim, Wesleyan’s campus has practically been in lock-down.  A lot of fear has stemmed from Morgan’s journals, where he discussed targeting Jews in sprees.

It’s scary enough as a college student to learn about any such violence on campuses, where we’re supposed to feel safe (granted, this murder took place off campus, but to me, that’s like having a Tufts student murdered at a Boston Ave. restaurant).  It’s also alarming to hear of continued anti-Semitism.  But what struck me the most was the following:

Authorities have said Morgan and Justin-Jinich have known each other since at least 2007, when Justin-Jinich filed a harassment complaint against him while they were enrolled in a summer class at New York University.

The continuum of sexual violence is a very wide one.  One one end are things such as rape jokes, and other social attitudes that perpetuate a culture where sexual violence is okay.  On the other end is murder (whether it’s a rape and murder, relationship abuse ending in murder, stalking ending in murder, or harassment ending in murder).  While a 2007 complaint does seem like long ago, what’s important to me is that this man had harassed this young woman in the past, to the point where she filed a complaint; clearly, there was something wrong.

And I might have just been able to leave the harassment revelation and move on, except for this:

When police confiscated Morgan’s car they found a journal in which he spelled out a plan to rape and kill Justin-Jinich before going on a campus shooting spree, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is under investigation.

This new information sounded startlingly familiar.  It reminded me of the case of Amy Boyer, who was killed by her stalker Liam Youens.  While the cases are obviously not exactly alike (although, admittedly, many details about Morgan’s journals have yet to be released), both are examples of young men planning to kill young women, with sexual violence in the picture.

I consider this crime to be a sexually violent one, although Morgan did not rape Justin-Jinich (in the same way that Youens did not rape Boyer).  It’s the incorporation of sexually violent attitudes that places these murders on the end of the sexual violence continuum, instead of off the continuum altogether.

We will update you if there any more related information from this case is publicized.

NB: I chose not to discuss the anti-Semitic issues present in this case not because I don’t consider them pertinent, but because I wanted to specifically focus on the sexual violence and related attitudes.  I’m aware of the anti-Semitic issues, and you all should be, too, but that ain’t the point of this here blog entry.

Friday reads

8 05 2009

Sorry posting has been slow these past few days… It’s been a busy week, especially with packing up and moving out.  But here are a few good reads to catch up with:

Is there really a credible correlation between body measurements and mortality?

“Mad pride”?  People are rejecting pills and other prescriptions in our hyper-medicalized society.

Former soldier Steven Green is found guilty for premeditating and carrying out a gang rape of a 14-year old Iraqi girl and then murdering her and her family.

Done asking, done telling, and now done serving? The first Arabic linguist was dismissed from the Army for coming out on television.

More barriers to health care for same-sex couples.

Racially charged images in Gisele Bündchen’s latest photo shoot.

Dick Cheney, we are done with you. For the last time, please shut up.

An interactive map of hate groups active in the United States, as compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

No, we are still not a “post-racial” nation.

Happy Mother’s Day Michelle Obama! (And mothers everywhere!)

An interview with Kathryn Joyce about her new book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement.

An interview with Kim Longinott, feminist documentary filmmaker.

America is NOT a Christian nation despite what the Christian right wingers keep saying.

A female celebrity has gained weight?!  Gasp!  How dare she!!  Unsurprisingly, more fatism in the media.

42% of homeless youths are LGBTQ identified.  More on why/how homelessness is a critical LGBTQ issue and what can be done.

Follow-up on “We aren’t exactly closing the gap …”

8 05 2009

About a month ago, I blogged about an article in the Tufts Daily about the employment gap, and how during the recession, women appear to be closing the gendered employment gap that we’ve seen for years.  In my blog post, I commented on how men disproportionately losing jobs during the recession was not actually improving gender equality in employment.  I expressed my concern about how the Daily was reporting this narrowing of the gap in a positive light, without problematizing specific issues, such as the fact that women tend to work more lower-paying jobs in lower-paying industries than men do, and that more women work part-time than men (and part-time and full-time are extremely different in more ways than just hours worked).  I finally agreed with one person who was quoted in the article, who explained that simply because the numbers are changing and appear to show equality, women are still treated much differently (in a negative way) than men are in the hiring process.

Why am I repeating myself?  Well, I found this article today through Shakesville (available through a link on the right side of our blog).  In it, the author explains more fully the gendered aspects of the recession, going into great detail about the ways in which this recession is claimed to hurt men more than women.  Some highlights from the article:

So just to be clear: we’re neatly bypassing the facts that more men than women work, that women’s work tends to be part-time, and that it also tends to be lower-paid, and surmising that women are coming out on top in this economic crisis because fewer of them are losing their part-time/occasional, low-paying jobs.

We seem to assume that women’s response to economic hardship (moving or changing to find work) has little or no cost, whereas men’s reality (lost employment) does. There is a cost associated with this perceived flexibility, that may involve education, transportation, shifts in family care arrangements, or increased care burdens within the home.

And if the response is to invest in those industries with the highest losses, where men are more heavily concentrated, then at best, the post-recession economy will position men and women exactly where they were before: with women earning much less. What is required is not just worker protection laws to eliminate discrimination and create equal employment in those sectors without regard to sex, but also more jobs in women-dominated sectors, with higher, living wages and increased benefits.

This is an excellent blog post, with quotations and information that wasn’t present in the Daily’s article.  I highly recommend it.