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Ten people didn’t die in Santa Fe because a girl “spurned” a boy

Last week’s school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, didn’t happen because a girl “spurned” Dimitrios Pagourtzis. It didn’t happen because she “humiliated” him or “embarrassed” him in front of the class. It was neither “sparked” nor “provoked.” The headline is not that a girl rejected him. The headline is that Pagourtzis harassed her for four months before going on his killing spree.

Today in Required Reading: Lessons from scandals of the 90s

All these women confronted us with truths we did not want to consider, and so we terrorized them, mocked them, abused them, and rendered them finally voiceless. That was how terrified we were of listening to what they had to say.

In an election year which has just become even more polarised than previously due to differences of opinion regarding exactly who is throwing around any “womancard”, this article raises some extremely important questions about what today’s media and their audience (us) are and are not doing differently from what went down in the 90s.

Fifty Shades of Whatever, I Don’t Even Care Anymore, Life Is Meaningless: Grey

In a bid to wring every last cent out of the “Fifty Shades” phenomenon, author E.L. James has released Grey, the story of Fifty Shades of Grey as told from Christian Grey’s perspective. Some readers, both fans of the series and critics, were curious about Christian’s thought process during the original books, since the story we see from Ana’s point of view was so deeply creepy that dear God, there had to be something, something, something redeeming in the backstory to make it more of an edgy, kinky romance and less of an episode of Law & Order: SVU with a private helicopter.

Punished for fleeing abuse


Nan-Hui Jo, a South Korean woman, came to the US to study. She met her former partner, Jesse Charlton, and had a child with him, a little girl named Vitz Da. And in 2009, after suffering repeated violence and abuse, in an effort to save herself and her daughter, Jo took her child and went back to South Korea. Charlton sent her threats, including one of employing a “nasty bounty hunter,” and publicly admitted his violent abuse of his former partner, including that he grabbed her around the throat and threw her against a wall.

Upon her return to the US in 2014 (nothing I’ve found has said why), Jo was immediately arrested and separated from her daughter. She was tried for child abduction and the trial resulted in a hung jury. The DA has opted for a retrial, ignoring the violence and abuse to which Charlton subjected Jo. And even if she is found not guilty, she will be subject to immediate deportation and thus continued separation from the daughter she tried to protect.

This case is at the crossroads of so many of the important challenges facing feminism today: the racism and xenophobia towards a foreign woman of color, who is being accused of trying to use Charlton for a green card (never mind that she fled back to South Korea); the lack of options facing women, particularly those who are not US citizens, in escaping abuse; the incredibly high rates of abuse incarcerated women have experienced; the persecution of women who attempt action to save themselves and their children from abuse; the refusal of our legal system to recognize that a man who abuses the mother of his children is no fit parent. It seems to me that, as with the case of Marissa Alexander, we as feminists need to support Nan-Hui Jo and make crystal clear the traps she has been caught in.

More details can be found here, at the Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse’s site.
A Facebook page in support of Nan-Hui Jo can be found here.

Here is a Tumblr feed giving a play-by-play of what is happening in the courtroom.

Various actions and petitions can be found at these sites.

Just a few reminders before you buy those “50 Shades” Valentines

[Trigger warning for sexual violence and emotional abuse]

Valentine’s Day is coming up! That day of romance, of togetherness, of coupledom, of… domestic abuse… Valentine’s Day is the release date of 50 Shades of Grey, that sensationalistic movie based on the “How to Spot an Abuser” pamphlet in your college guidance counselor’s office. Women and men who have read the book and know perfectly well what the story is about will flock to theatres, either a) dreaming of the day that they’ll be stalked and violated by someone as dreamy as Christian, or b) hoping to score on Valentine’s night with the person they took to the movie. And while people are free to get their rocks off to whatever they want (within certain limits), it’s important to acknowledge that what may (for some reason) come across as sultry and sexy on the page would, in real life, be a Razorbacks halftime show’s worth of red flags.

Marissa Alexander: Out of prison, still being punished

As noted yesterday, Marissa Alexander was released from prison yesterday. She has been, however, sentenced to two years’ of house arrest (after having spent three years in prison already), all for the crime of, nine days after having given birth, firing a warning shot at her estranged abusive ex-husband who was threatening to kill her (you can find this info, and the citations, on Wikipedia–I know we’re all pissed at Wikipedia right now, and for good reason, but I don’t see a reason not to trust the article). She had tried to escape through the garage, but the garage door wouldn’t open, at which point she got her gun out of her car and returned to the house, which is when her ex threatened to kill her. Her ex, Rico Gray and his son, who was present, corroborate every bit of this, and other women who have been involved with Gray confirm that he’s an abusive asshole.

Angela Corey’s vendetta, and decision to attempt to go for a sixty year sentence, has been documented already here. Angela Corey feels that Alexander fired the gun “in anger, not fear.” Apparently, if you’re a black woman in Florida, you are not allowed to let anger at being abused and threatened taint your fear of your abuser. Do we need to talk about how this plays into racist tropes of the Angry Black Woman? That what Corey is saying here is that as an Angry Black Woman, Alexander did not have properly ladylike emotions, and therefore should be punished?

Anger is a legitimate response to abuse. This is something I had to reiterate in very different circumstances, when I was running a petition regarding a friend who had been sexually harassed and her attempts at redress. Women are allowed to be angry. Black women are allowed to be angry. A woman can be angry and still need to defend herself.

Under you learn something new every day, I did not know that Alexander is required to pay for the ankle bracelet monitoring her movements and keeping her under house arrest. As the email that was sent to me by Free Marissa Now notes, this bracelet extends state surveillance and control into Alexander’s very home, and forcing her to pay for it is part of the privatization of the prison industry (please see Maya Schwerner’s article for more on the former, and Professor Beth Richie’s piece for more on the latter).

As far as I’m concerned, no matter what pieties the courts may mouth about this, they have no credibility. They have no place sitting in judgment on a woman trying to defend herself in her own home. That’s all I have to say right now. I’d like to find the text of Judge Daniel’s ruling/statement, but no luck so far.

Marissa Alexander released from prison

I have every intention of writing a longer post about this, but today got away from me. I just want to note that Marissa Alexander was released from prison today, and is now under house arrest for two years. More tomorrow, I promise.

Time magazine: I can’t even.

Time magazine’s annual poll of the year’s “worst words” looks for words that make you “definitely cringe,” even “exhale pointedly,” even “seek out the nearest pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids.” And it asks people to “vote another word off the island” (and if I never hear that phrase again, I’ll be okay). This year’s poll includes bae, basic, bossy, disrupt, I can’t even…, influencer, kale, literally, om nom nom nom, obi, said no one ever, sorry not sorry, turnout, yaaasssss, and… feminist.

South Carolina: Swell for fetuses, less so for victims of domestic violence

In Florida, Stand Your Ground was used as the foundation of George Zimmerman’s defense after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. In South Carolina, it was used to defend a man who walked out of the house with a gun to confront “women thugs” who had threatened his daughter; he ended up shooting a teenage boy in his car instead. Also in Florida, Marissa Alexander has repeatedly been denied the chance to use the Stand Your Ground defense against charges after she fired a warning shot above the head of her abusive husband. This month, Charleston prosecutors moved to further endanger the Marissa Alexanders of South Carolina by saying that Stand Your Ground shouldn’t apply to victims of domestic violence who confront their abusers.