Getting Away with Murder on Long Island. Men having been getting away with murdering women forever. 2-3 women a day are killed due to intimate partner violence, often they don’t even make local news. Our culture supports violence against women, and particularly condones violence against “bad” women:
It’s not yet clear whether one killer or multiple killers are responsible. No suspects have surfaced. But that’s not what makes this story really tragic. Some of those 10 people might be alive today if it hadn’t been for the lackluster response of law enforcement and the press coverage of the case — much of it sensationalist and dehumanizing — all because of the first victims’ sex-worker status.
“There’s a certain voyeurism in this kind of coverage — a sense that you don’t have to worry about violence because it only happens to these kinds of women,” notes Melissa Gira Grant, a writer, activist, and former sex worker.
women participate in this victim-blaming as well, in what I take as an effort to otherize the victims and subsequently distance themselves from the reality that this can happen to anyone, not just those women. None of us are safe, realistically. Especially since most femicide happens in the context of family, friends, and acquaintances.. not a man jumping out at you from behind a bush.
This kind of press about the Long Island murders makes it possible to see how a man as sick as Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer, could feel so confident about getting away with murdering nearly 50 women.
the way our press, our communities, and us as individuals respond to violence against women absolutely makes perpetrators feel (know) that they can get away with murder, literally. We don’t take violence against women seriously in general, why would we take violence against already-stigmatized, labeled as “bad” women seriously?
For nearly a month since, the public has been subjected to a dazzling display of good intentions and limited understanding on the part of the police and press. When the law criminalizes sex work while the press treats “these women” as careless, sinful, titillating, or inconsequential “others” — and never as daughters, sisters, mothers, or friends — it forces women whose lives include transactional sex into more dangerous situations while rendering them less human in the eyes of those of us who work in less demonized professions.
this from the comments section was particularly.. insightful? Eloquent? something..:
Melissa Gira Grant’s analysis is key here:
In a University of California at San Francisco study published in 2009, 22 percent of San Francisco adult female sex workers surveyed reported having police as paying customers. Fourteen percent were threatened with arrest if they did not have sex with a police officer.
Point-blank, police officers are as much the problem with anti-sex worker violence as any serial killer. So what are we as a society going to do about that? Why are we okay with police arresting the very people they have sexually exploited or raped? What does that say about us?
My area has had several scandals where police officers raped or sexually coerced women. Some were sex workers, but others were motorists who made the mistake of driving while female. But that’s exactly the problem, isn’t it?
Violence against sex workers makes ALL WOMEN unsafe.