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Rape and Sexual Assault

Jessica Lunsford, Justice for Little Girls, Justice for Their Moms, Aunts, and All Women

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Jessica Lunsford and Angela Bryant, Jessica’s mother.

I haven’t been able to get Jessica Lunsford and her mom and her aunt, her mom’s sister,  out of my mind. 

I’ve been reading about it because the man who abducted, raped and murdered Jessica,  has been tried and found guilty this week, and it’s been in the news.  He was a neighbor.  He entered Jessica’s home through an unlocked door at 3 a.m.  and told her to come with him and not to yell.  He took her to his room in a house he shared with other people and he raped her there; police found her blood on the mattress.  He forced her to stay in his bed that night, then raped her again in the morning.  He imprisoned her in a closet while he went to work.   He was 48 and had a long criminal history which included sex offenses against children.  He had sexually assaulted his nieces, the young daughters of his former wife, and who knows who else, and had been fired from a job for writing inappropriate letters to a teenage girl who was an employee.   He hadn’t told authorities, as he was supposed to, that he wasn’t living where he had reported he was living.  

News that Jessica had gone missing was in the headlines once she’d been abducted and so her rapist had a problem which he decided to solve by killing her.  He tied her hands together, put her into two black trash bags, tied them securely, then buried her alive.  The coronor determined she’d suffocated to death.  She had managed to poke two of her fingers through the trash bags which became her tomb.  When her body was unearthed, she was clutching a purple dolphin her father had won for her at the state fair.

In reading about Jessica, I learned that following her murder, her father had spearheaded a campaign in Florida which resulted in “Jessica’s Law”, the Jessica Lunsford Act passed in Florida in 2005, which provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and lifetime electronic monitoring of adults convicted of sexual offenses against a child under 12.  Since the passage of the act, 42 of the 50 states have introduced similar legislation.  So a lot of the news reports make her father out to be a hero.

I’m not sure I can agree.

Jessica’s mom and dad split when Jessica was just a baby.  Her dad sought, and received, custody.  Most of the news stories about the case report that Jessica’s mom was “estranged” from Jessica, and  that she hadn’t had contact with her for four years such that police couldn’t find her at first to let her know Jessica had gone missing.  She learned her daughter was missing like everybody else in the country did, by hearing it on the news.

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It took me a while to find information about Jessica’s mom.  There is precious little which can be found, but there is some.   I noticed that photos taken just after she learned Jessica was missing show her holding a large, framed compilation of photographs of herself and her daughter.  She was reported to have said repeatedly that she believed Jessica would be found alive.  When Jessica’s murderer was arrested, she said she didn’t believe he had anything to do with it.  This tells me that this is a mother who loved and missed her daughter and couldn’t allow herself, mentally or emotionally, to believe her daughter might have been murdered, to conceive of the possibility that she would never see her again, never know her.

There is other information which I think is important to know about Jessica and her mom which you also have to look hard to find, like that Jessica’s dad had been arrested on charges of assault in November 1999 and May 2000 involving a woman he was involved with not long after he and Jessica’s mom had split.  The journalist who wrote the article  reporting these arrests says Jessica’s dad said of the assault charges, “If you made me mad, I’m liable to hit you.”  According to other reports I found, Jessica’s mom wanted to see her daughter, but Jessica’s dad wouldn’t allow her to, and ultimately, she did not know where he and/or Jessica were even living.  Jessica’s grandfather, with whom Jessica and her dad were living at the time of the murder, had been charged with kidnapping, assault and battery, and rape, all in the 1950s.  The kidnapping charge was for the grandfather having kidnapped his infant son, Jessica’s dad’s brother, when he was supposed to be having visitation.  He blows off the rape and assault charges, although affidavits were sworn against him both by the victim and another person.  Ultimately, the victim did not appear in court to testify against him so nothing came of the charges.

After Jessica’s mom, Angela Bryant, learned Jessica was missing, she and her husband, Lonnie Bryant, flew to Florida to help look for Jessica.  A neighbor bought them airline tickets and gave them enough money to stay for a week.  They don’t seem to have much money.  Angela is a nurse’s aid who works in a nursing home, and she is a mother to a five-year-old and stepmother to her husband’s sons.   When Angela and her husband returned, Angela reported she wasn’t able to see or speak with her ex or his parents much at all during her stay.  “They shoved me to the side,” she said. “They didn’t want me there. My heart is broken and tore out. I just want her home.”

The Bryants are conservative Christians.  In the newspaper articles I read, it is usually Angela’s husband, Lonnie, who speaks for her, as is common with conservative Christian families.  Their church, Living Waters, near Lebanon Ohio, held a memorial service for Jessica after her body was found, and 300 people attended in a show of support, which tells me the Bryants were loved and respected as members of their faith community.   “To see all of you people here puts a little bit in my heart — and my heart is so empty,” Angela is reported to have said.   And that’s all she is reported to have said.  Virtually all of the photos of Jessica’s mom depict anguish, grief, pain, fear– and silence.  She doesn’t speak.  It is said that she tried to talk to reporters at the memorial service, but broke down and rushed from the building. 

Mark Lunsford addressing legislators

Jessica’s dad, who is  a trucker, a biker, a Harley-looking guy with long hair, an earring,  and a noose on his lapel, symbolizing what he believes to be the proper end of rapists and sexual predators, seems to have no problem talking with reporters and never has, that I can see.  He has created the Jessica Marie Lunsford Foundation, intended to raise awareness around issues of sexual offenders/sexual predators.   He’s become quite the celebrity, speaking in various venues and on television.  He seems to makes a good impression on most people, who seem oh-so-intrigued by the bad-boy biker dad with the tattoo of his daughter, the size of a dinner plate, on his chest, where he can feel it every day, because, after all, as he says, “she came from this flesh.”   It doesn’t seem to bother many people that in fact, he wasn’t the person who really raised his daughter.  His mother raised her.

As for me, I don’t think much of a man who batters women and blows it off by saying if they make him mad, he’s going to hit them.  I don’t think much of a man who is a known batterer and who won’t let his daughter see her mom.  I don’t think much of a man who palms his daughter of on the women in his life, as reports say he did, relying on his sister and his aging mother and father to care for Jessica.  According to reports, he didn’t actually move to his parents house to live until 2004, a year before Jessica died.  Until then, mostly, his parents raised Jessica.  Reports suggest that he didn’t spend many nights in the house he is said to have shared with his parents and Jessica once he moved in, either; he spent most nights with girlfriends.  In particular, I don’t think much of a man who ignores his daughter’s mom when she comes to town because her daughter has gone missing.  I don’t think much of a man who creates a “Jessica Lunsford Foundation” website which doesn’t so much as mention, even once, Jessica’s mother’s name.

Jessica was being raised to be a traditional girl and lady, as American society counts such things.  Her picture-perfect bedroom was filled with dolls, stuffed animals, and feminine artifacts.  She is said to have loved Bratz dolls, the color purple, and the Disney movie, “The Princess Diaries,” and there were already love notes to boys in her room.  She’d started wearing makeup. She is said to have dearly loved her dad, and I’m sure she did, in the way little girls being raised as she was raised generally do love the remote, mysterious macho men who are their fathers.  She was sent to “Faith Baptist Church” regularly, and had been to church, in fact, the night before, memorizing the verse that says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  Girls learn these verses, believe in them.  I wonder whether she was reciting that verse to herself as she was being raped.  I wonder if she was reciting that verse in her mind while she was imprisoned in the closet of her rapist.  I wonder if that was the verse on her mind as she was suffocating, buried alive, dying.

Especially, I wonder what her life might have been, how it might have been different, had she known her mom, visited her mom, had access to her mom and aunt, lived with her mom.  As it was, she grew up in the household of a grandfather once  charged with kidnapping, assault and rape, and of a father once charged with beating a woman.   Some reports wonder why there were no signs of struggle in her bedroom; of course there were none.  She grew up in the company of violent, sexist men, with all of the lessons girls learn in that environment.  She was told to stay in a closet by the man who raped and murdered her while he went to work, and she dutifully stayed there, even though had she had the courage a girl can develop in the care of strong women, had she not learned obedience to, and fear of,  male authority quite so well, had she not been so schooled in traditional femininity, she might have realized she could walk out the door,  break a window, climb out of it, scream, and run to safety.  She might have made a break for it.  She might have fought her rapist, and even if he’d killed her then, she might have preferred that to being buried alive.

I also cannot summon much enthusiasm for the foundation created in her name.  On the website under “News,” there is a link to a February 25 St. Petersburg Times article about a rally recently held by the biker group Jessica’s dad created, “Jessie’s Riders.”  It begins as follows:

On the two-year anniversary of Jessica Lunsford’s disappearance, thousands of bikers called for retribution.

Let John Couey dodge the electric chair, they said. Let him get off on a technicality. We’ll be waiting.

“Pedophiles need to watch their backs,” said Sarah Davidson, one of the estimated 5,000 bikers who turned out for the third annual Jessie’s Memorial Ride on Saturday. “It’s an eye for an eye in this population.”

While bikers gathered to pay tribute to a slain girl, many couldn’t help but fantasize about punishment for the man accused of killing her, who is awaiting his trial in Miami.

“I don’t want him to die; that would be too easy,” said Davidson of Largo, who has five kids. “I want them to turn him loose in the general population and let them bury him alive.”

…Mark Lunsford’s speech behind the Crystal River Harley Davidson turned into an impromptu antipedophile rally. While the activist chose his words diplomatically, others weren’t so careful.

“He’s not retarded; he’s a damn criminal,” said emcee Randy Akers, with Born to Ride TV and magazine.

Other speakers urged the crowd to remain vigilant and angry.

The audience roared in response, shouting, “Lock him away!” and “Let him hang!” along with, “We love you, Mark!”

Through all this, Mark Lunsford stayed calm.

But as he read a poem to the crowd, “Predators Forewarned,” his quavering voice couldn’t hide his emotion.

“Your time is short, your shelters few,” he warned sex offenders. “Jessie’s Riders are coming for you.”

“Jessie’s Riders” might well come for the man who raped and murdered her.  I doubt he will last long in prison, and he may be executed, the sentence has not yet been set.  And yes, that will ensure that the killer, John Couey, never rapes or kills again.  But the world is full of John Coueys, who are the way they are, also because of the men in their lives.  Couey’s mom left his violently abusive dad when he was a baby, and moved from relationship to relationship.  One of Couey’s stepdads was a violent abuser who once slammed Couey’s head between a door and the wall for punishment.  Another man once nearly  drowned Couey to “teach him a lesson.”  His face is scarred from abuse.  He was a small kid, did poorly in school, possibly because of all of the moves, and was relentlessly bullied.  Indications are that his stepdad also sexually assaulted girls and that he learned sexual assault from his stepdad.   Men like this — and there are many of them — make victims through sexual assault, rape and battery, or by raising girls who fear and obey — and later may find themselves strangely drawn to — men like them, or by raising boys who fear, obey, and later imitate them.

“Jessie’s Riders” will not solve this problem.  Executing John Couey won’t solve the problem, nor will stiffer sentences for pedophiles, or better tracking for pedophiles, solve the problem.  Nothing will bring Jessica Lunsford back.   There will never be justice now for Jessica, her mother, or her womenfolk.   So long as the general public is impressed with guys like Jessica’s dad and his buddies, in fact, there will be no real justice for women, either.  For this, we need a new order, in which girls and women are not the property of men and their justification for what amounts to gang warfare. Whether or not it is sanctioned by the state, gang warfare it still is, men warring with men over the bodies of girls and women.  We need a new order in which male violence and male “bad boys” are not admired, in which girls are not raised to be “feminine” and obedient and to worship at the feet of bad-boy daddies or bad-boy men in general, but are raised to be strong and free and critical of men and of male power, and in which the answer to the problems of male violence and predation are not more and more and more male violence,  whether by individual males, by gangs of males, or by the state.    We need a new order in which women reject violent men as partners, and in which violent men are not  allowed near children nor given custody of children, just because they seek it.

In the meantime, I’m standing, from afar, in my heart and in my spirit, with Angela Bryant, mother of Jessica Lunsford, with Beulah Lee, Angela’s sister and Jessica’s aunt, and with all of Jessica’s womenfolk.  Had Jessica known these women, been part of their lives, she might be alive today.

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Heart
 

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Discussion

51 thoughts on “Jessica Lunsford, Justice for Little Girls, Justice for Their Moms, Aunts, and All Women

  1. Hm, not so sure knowing her mother better would have helped Jessica. From the above, it appears she was (with Jessica’s father) and is (with her current husband) involved with controlling, dominating men. So either way she would not have learned anything or been taught anything different.

    There’s also some interesting evidence growing out of the general consequences of “Jessica’s Law” type of regulation, you can find this over at the Sex Crime’s blog, http://sexcrimes.typepad.com/sex_crimes/

    Posted by anon | March 9, 2007, 10:49 pm
  2. Point well made and taken. I also wondered about Jessica’s mother throughoutthe entire ordeal,..thanks for shedding light onto the matter,..I had a really bad feeling about Jessica’s father,..now I know why!!

    This is a very good post and I believe you are right about women being pushed so far down that the can not even speak for themselves. I also believe that had Jessica had stronger and more loving parents she would have never been talked into leaving with a stranger,..why was the door open for this freak?? I pray fro Jessies mother and other women out there that are beat into fear and submission.

    No man has the right to beat a women down,..no man!!!! – L.A.Borguss

    Posted by L. A. Borguss | March 9, 2007, 11:01 pm
  3. This is so incredible sad, and infuriating. Why this:

    “Couey knows he has a problem, however, he has never sought medical assistance to help him control his sexual attraction for young children,” the Kissimmee police report said.”

    Why was this man not mandated ‘medical assistance’ under controlled circumstances when he was a known pedophile?

    In Canada there is now the possibility that such a person could be labeled a “dangerous offender” and incarcerated for life. If that is the only way we could protect our children then it should be done.

    http://www.justice.gc.ca/en/news/nr/2006/doc_31910.html

    Posted by Pony | March 9, 2007, 11:02 pm
  4. I wondered about that mindset with Elizabeth Smart too. She was 14 when she was taken and around other people a good part of the time she was missing. Watching interviews with her father, it was pretty obvious that she was raised to be obedient to men, to be the perfect blond daughter who never talked back or had a temper.

    It does matter who raises you. As a child, I never doubted that Mama (it’s what I call her, not some cutesy quote) was completely capable of taking anyone out that bothered her or me. Using threats to her to keep me quiet wouldn’t have worked!

    Posted by Miranda | March 9, 2007, 11:14 pm
  5. That photograph of her holding her lips presssed tight stopped me cold for a few moments. It could mean she’s trying to hold back tears. It could mean she’s got something to say but feels she cannot, or would not be allowed, to say it.

    Posted by Pony | March 10, 2007, 12:36 am
  6. Heart, thanks for finding the ‘story behind the story’, we rarely ever get a full picture from mainstream media. Good work.

    Sad story, I wasn’t aware of it until now.

    Posted by stormy | March 10, 2007, 12:57 am
  7. amen. i tend to think those programs that require sex offenders to register after being released from prison are a load of crap. if they are such a threat after they’ve actually served their pathetically short sentences, they shouldn’t be out. period. it makes me angry that nothing is done early on, in the lives of those who end up becoming sex offenders, to help them. the entire culture is whacked on this level. most offenders typically have a solid past of serious and repeated abuse. it is no excuse to go on and do it to another, but still.

    Posted by kara | March 10, 2007, 2:35 am
  8. I think they’ve committed many more sexual abuses than they are ever charged with. In the media we say 100 unknown for every one you hear from (referring to complaints.) I think this applies to pedophiles too. 100 ignored and unknown and dismissed, for every one that gets to court.

    Posted by Pony | March 10, 2007, 3:16 am
  9. “We need a new order in which male violence and male ”bad boys” are not admired, in which girls are not raised to be “feminine” and obedient and to worship at the feet of bad-boy daddies or bad-boy men in general, but are raised to be strong and free and critical of men and of male power, and in which the answer to the problems of male violence and predation are not more and more and more male violence, whether by individual males, by gangs of males, or by the state. We need a new order in which women reject violent men as partners, and in which violent men are not allowed near children nor given custody of children, just because they seek it.”

    This is an amazing piece. I was so completely moved by this… Heart you do good work and I am proud. I must agree with anon… I wonder that too sometimes. But then I am a living witness… My mom was in a similar situation with my dad though no physical violence and though she submitted and stayed with him, I have that fighter “not a devil in hell” type spirit that will not be beaten broken nor intimidated. (lol I’m sure you’ve noticed by now) I just wish there were something we could do to help her but it is too late for poor jessie… You posting this does serve a great purpose though. This post exposes the hidden pieces of her life, and challenges the “supporters.”

    On the other hand I must say that something is to be said that he is even working to bring about awareness. Maybe here we have a case of a man reformed because his behaviors have directly effected his “beloved” daughter. It might just be the piece to make him see the light… though I know that things are not so simple…

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 10, 2007, 4:42 am
  10. I can’t see placing the blame for this only on Lunsford’s father. It’s unfair, unreasonable, and unrealistic. Perhaps if Lunsford had a stronger female figure in her life she wouldn’t have been killed, she would have escaped or been found or something… but who is to say that her mother is a strong female figure? And with her father on record admitting he abused women when he felt they deserved it, why was she not taken away from his custody by the state or taken back to court by his ex-wife (obviously this may have happened and I simply am unaware of it, because I admit I’m not all that familiar with this case)? I just feel that if we are going to place blame, which is a waste of time since this girl is dead and it is far too late to help her, we should look carefully at everyone involved in this girl’s life: her mother, her father, her grandparents, her rapist and killer, her neighborhood, our legal and justice system, and the society in general. It’s all of these things that put her into the situation that caused her to be raped and killed. And this is, at once, disgusting and horrifying.

    Posted by Apple | March 10, 2007, 8:10 pm
  11. I just feel that if we are going to place blame, which is a waste of time since this girl is dead and it is far too late to help her, we should look carefully at everyone involved in this girl’s life: her mother, her father, her grandparents, her rapist and killer, her neighborhood, our legal and justice system, and the society in general.

    You’re right – all these factors did play a role in her death. I think the focus is being placed on her father because he’s getting so much positive attention and no criticism for the incident, whereas Jessica’s mother has been pretty much ignored. It’s revealing to see how the negative behavior of Jessica’s father is overlooked in this situation when, from our perspective, it plays such a significant role in why she remained passive in the face of possible escape.

    I disagree that it’s a “waste of time” placing the blame since the girl is dead. Blaming people unfairly is a waste of time; finding out why something like this happened so it doesn’t happen to another little girl is incredibly important, and requires a critical look at why these situations keep happening.

    Heart, I’m glad you brought up the fact that Couey came from a violent and abusive background. People want to villify the perpetrator in these crimes (understandably), but that mode of thought often prevents us from looking further into why it was that this crime occurred, or why pedophilia is so rampant in our society. Men who are abused are more likely to grow up to be abusers. We need to swork harder to stop it where it starts – in the homes of violent, destructive men who go untreated and unchecked.

    Posted by gingermiss | March 10, 2007, 8:58 pm
  12. I say all men grow up to be abusers no matter what they nuclear family context, because our misogynistic society allows them to abuse women with impunity.

    Posted by Pony | March 10, 2007, 9:26 pm
  13. Gingermiss, you’re right — it isn’t a waste of time in the sense that it may help other children, male or female, to possibly escape abuse and death. And if it does help, then I’m for blaming all of those who deserve it.

    I understand the anger towards how this man has been painted as heroic when there are obvious signs that he hasn’t been what we would call a “good man,” but it’s unfair to demonize him also. Perhaps, as Divine Purpose stated, he really did turn his life around in the wake of his daughter’s violent death. And perhaps his methods of drawing attention to issues concerning this are not sophisticated or even honorable, but he is still drawing attention to them and inspiring debate in the public forum. I think, at the least, that this is useful.

    We need to remember that men are not the only people who are violent and destructive or choose to abuse their children, although they seem to be the most dominant in American society (and, perhaps, all societies… I’m simply not well-versed enough in this to make that broad of a claim). It is easy to become militant and convince ourselves that women are always the innocent victims of male abuse, but this simply is not always true. Women are also implicated in the cycle of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, both as abusers and as enablers of abuse. This is something we need to think carefully about and debate on as a community.

    Posted by Apple | March 10, 2007, 10:04 pm
  14. he really did turn his life around in the wake of his daughter’s violent death.

    So a female has to die at the hands of a male before another male can turn his life around?

    We need to remember that men are not the only people who are violent and destructive or choose to abuse their children, although they seem to be the most dominant in American society (and, perhaps, all societies…

    Yes we need to remember, we need it thrown in our faces, we need to know that the 95% of violence by males is equal to the 5% of violence by women. Yes we need to remember this because 95/5 is the same in the poor men world as 50/50. I am so glad we have males and male enablers to keep us informed of what we need to think.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | March 11, 2007, 12:06 am
  15. Apple, in all of the hundreds of news reports and internet discussions of this event which I skimmed through, and in many cases read carefully, not only was this dad not demonized, he was also not criticized even once, that I can see– even though it is public information that not that long ago, he was charged with assault on a girlfriend, not once, but twice. Another interesting thing: there is absolutely no mention, in any of the news reports I read, of where he was the night his daughter went missing, at a girlfriend’s house. I don’t really care where he was or think it’s germane to what happened to Jessica, but here’s something I know: If it would have been her mom and she’d have been at a boyfriend’s house that night, we would have been subjected to every last detail. Not only do we not hear anything about where he was that night, we never hear about his girlfriends, his relationships, etc… even though he battered a woman, which is again, a matter of public record. If this had been Jessica’s mom and she had started up a foundation as the dad has, you can bet your bottom dollar she *would* have been demonized by a certain segment of the population, especially if she had many boyfriends and rarely spent any time at home and left her daughter to be cared for by her mother, as this guy did (and his mother had four operations last year) and father (especially if, as with this guys father, he had been charged with kidnapping, rape and assault in the past!).

    I don’t think my one blog can be accused of “demonizing” this guy, particularly when you place what I’ve written in the context of hundreds and hundreds of articles which practically anoint him father of the year.

    I’m glad he’s bringing attention to the problem of pedophiles who don’t comply with the terms of their release. At the same time, I don’t see, given what he said in what I quoted there, a change of heart: “Your time is short, your shelters are few, Jessie’s Riders are coming for you.” To me, that’s a threat, a threat of violence, particularly in the context of the other comments which were made. If he’d have had a change of heart, I think he’d be bringing issues of male violence against males and of the root causes of pedophilia into the public arena, rather than, with all the biker dudes and dudesses, corporately flexing his muscles in a way that is menacing and just more of the same in a violent culture.

    I don’t think we need to remember that men are not the only people who are violent/destructive/abusive– a male dominated society, men’s rights activists, anti-feminists, misogynists of all stripes, remind us of that every chance they get, usually to divert attention from the horrifying and relentless violences of men.

    When is the last time you read of any woman who kidnapped a child from his or her bedroom at 3 a.m., and raped the child then murdered the child, buried him or her alive? I’ve blogged about two instances of middle-of-the-night kidnap this past month, and that’s the very tip of the iceberg. Do you ever hear about women doing that? Do you ever hear about women, for example, murdering up to 65 prostituted women and then skinning them, grinding up their bodies and feeding them to the pigs, as Robert Pickton did? Do you ever hear about women ejaculating on random passengers taking a nap on their airline flights? How often do you hear about women taking guns into schoolrooms and sexually assaulting schoolchildren, then murdering them, as in a couple of instances in the past few months. When do you hear about women forcing their husbands into violent BDSM scenes for hours at gunpoint while they make homemade porn out of it? When do you hear about female soldiers making rape porn featuring females raping male soldiers? When do you hear about girls en masse tricking a boy into meeting with them, then urinating on him, forcing him to perform oral sex, and setting his hair on fire, all while they film while they’re doing, hysterically laughing? When do you hear about female soldiers gang raping 14 year old civilian boys, then murdering their entire families and setting fire to their houses?

    I’ll tell you how often you hear about this. Virtually NEVER. I see no point in focusing, therefore, on women’s “complicity.”

    Having said that, in the situation of Jessica, I do see women who were complicit in abuse. First, I see Jessica’s dad’s mom, who stayed with his dad despite his dad having been charged with kidnapping, rape and assault, ensuring that her son grew up under this man’s influence and ensuring that he never had to face up to his own violence and sexual assault. I see the grandmother complicit in Jessica’s exquisitely traditional upbringing and complicit in the invisibling and mistreatment of Jessica’s mother. But I also see an aging woman, in poor health, with few resources available to her throughout her life, as is true of all women of her generation. I see a woman whose life depended on serving both her son and her husband. I see that Jessica’s mother’s life also depends on serving her son, her stepsons and her husband and on being a dutiful godly woman. In the midst of that I see a pathologically violent rapist, a man devoid of any shred of empathy, the man who killed Jessica. There is no evidence that he viewed her as even a sentient being, as human at all. He is the way he is in part because he was brutalized all of his life and learned sexual assault at the tutelage of a brutal stepfather. I see his mother as complicit in taking up with these guys who brutalized her son, I see her complicit in sending him to school where he was bullied, but only to the degree that she knew who she was taking up with in the first place and only to the degree that she had any other options, which, in fact, she likely did not. Mostly, women have no idea they are taking up with violent batterers or rapists, and once they find out, they are his prisoners. Most women have no choice but to send their sons off to school to be bullied. This “complicity” I see, and so many want to focus on, has to do with sexism and misogyny which are so deeply rooted and embedded in every last institution and relationship in our society and culture, including, especially, in the “nuclear family,” that women’s participation barely rises to the level *of* complicity in the first place.

    In this post, my goal has been — and this is always my goal in this space — to find the girls and the women and to work to understand their plight and, if possible, to tell their stories. Everybody is all about the dad and his loss and his courage. He sure isn’t lacking for anything, including public attention, compassion, donations, and a new job as head of his own nonprofit. Everyone feels for the grandmother, as well. Everybody hates the perp. The persons invisible in this story are Jessica’s mother and auntie and woman relatives. Invisible here are the factors which might have made it more likely that Jessica would obey the commands of a male stranger. In this space, they will not be invisible.

    Here on my blog, if nowhere else in the world, we will maintain perspective as to these atrociteis.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 11, 2007, 12:34 am
  16. I say all men grow up to be abusers no matter what they nuclear family context, because our misogynistic society allows them to abuse women with impunity.

    Exactly. I was reminded only yesterday on another forum that it is woman’s duty to be submissive toward her husband. There are few individuals who can hold that sort of power and not abuse it.

    Unfortunately for this girl and others like her, the submission training begins young – and much of the indoctrination is done by women who have been similarly indoctrinated in their life-time. I don’t know if Jessica’s life would have been different if she had had more contact with her mother, but I’m certain that to break this cycle, the children must also be away from the influence of women who buy into the whole ‘submit to patriarchy’ ethos.

    Posted by Sophie | March 11, 2007, 1:36 am
  17. Continuing my comment upthread…and women (as the example we see here) are socialized to make excuses for male violence, call it anything BUT violence, tell themselves they and other women are responsible if a man is emotionally or physically violent, rapes you and uses you in porn, and as here in the case of Jessica’s father, cynically uses you to earn his living and justify more violence.

    He washed his hair and some woman ironed a shirt for him.

    Posted by Pony | March 11, 2007, 1:49 am
  18. Absolutely Sophie. Whenever he takes his born option to use it against a woman, when he is 24 and you know him or later on in his life when you don’t, he will. BECAUSE society gives him that option. Frat boys, football players, movie stars, teachers, priests, your neighbour, the camp counsellor, your boyfriend or fiance, police officer–just a few in the news this week that took they born option to lambaste a woman in some manner or other.

    In my province the lastest news is that battered women’s shelters are turning women away by the thousands. There is no room. For each battered woman who goes to a shelter, there are hundreds others who are there, taking it, smiling, excusing him, loving him. accepting his apology, thinking hell KNOWING they have little choice.

    Tonight I passed two little girls, not more than 12, skinny, little purses, tight t-shirts, teetering through the slushy snow and ice to the bar scene. Wearing bunny ears on their heads and pink bunny puffs on their mini-skirts. They’re just doing what they think they must do. They aren’t children anymore now they’re women, and don’t we tell them: this is what a woman does. This is who a woman is.

    Posted by Pony | March 11, 2007, 1:57 am
  19. To make it clear, I know they won’t likely get IN a bar, but they will hang around outside, in the 7-11 nearby, at the ice-cream parlour across the street, stand shivering and smiling and flirting with the men who do get into the dozens of bars in that area, be invited into cars because they’re cute, and cold, and think this is how you be a woman.

    Posted by Pony | March 11, 2007, 2:01 am
  20. I don’t know how to imbed a link so: Twisty nails it again, and it fits in this thread.

    Twisty on “what about the meeeennnnnzzzzzzzz”:

    “I for one don’t hate women you are wrong you must have been abused as a child you stupid cunt” argument. ”

    http://blog.iblamethepatriarchy.com/

    Posted by Pony | March 11, 2007, 3:10 am
  21. Heart,

    both your post and your lengthy reply above have got me just… shaking. Thank you for all of your insights and for having the courage to put them into print. Can’t really tell if I’m overcome by passion or sorrow. To hell with the good girl syndrome. It’s a trap.

    Posted by Anon. | March 11, 2007, 4:28 am
  22. Feminism is much more positive than you are illustrating in your comment and blog; feminism is about striving for equality not pushing the sexes further apart than they already are. In no way was I attacking your blog, I was simply bringing another perspective to the subject. Part of being a feminist is being able to speak openly and rationally with other women about problems that may effect them, and not merely blaming everything on the opposite sex since complaining about how much we’ve been subjugated — and I’m not denying that women have been situated as the lesser sex throughout much of history — does nothing to increase our stature in society. I am not saying that we should not think and speak about this, but we should not dwell on it so much that it hinders us in action. I do not see the point in perpetuating the man-hating female stereotype that has plagued feminism for the past 20 years, and it is comments like yours that the mass media uses to undermine our efforts toward progression. This is exactly how and why, as Toril Moi has spoken eloquently about, feminism has become the “f” word for women around the country.

    If you do not find a point in stating the complicity of women in female issues then why do you do this in the next paragraph? Why is it okay for you to make excuses for these women who did as little as her father to protect her? Both women and men exist in our society, and it is pointless and alienating to blame one gender for all of our problems.

    I am not attempting to minimize male violence toward women. I am well aware of the statistics of violence, rape, and abuse that occur in this country. I am, instead, attempting to show that it is not useful to place blame solely on one gender. This does not and can not create solutions to our problems, instead it further separates us. Perhaps that is the difference between our arguments; I am much more concerned with finding solutions to the problems of intolerance while your arguments seem to suggest you are only interesting in showing these problems to a very specified audience. This is, of course, valuable, and I appreciate what you are doing, but there has to be a next step.

    I enjoy reading this blog, and I am very saddened by your obvious anger over my comment. I find it disheartening that your idea of maintaining perspective on issues concerning women largely means maintaining your personal perspective as that of the larger audience of feminists in America. If you are only interested in opinions that coincide with your own, then you should disable comments.

    Although I know you do not care, it would be more encouraging for nascent feminists of the coming generation if you were not so radical and final in your judgements (because that is exactly what they are). If you continue to spout hatred towards men then the new generation of women — who are taught by mass media (which is all conservative) and their parents, which includes a father — then there will be a backlash against feminism that far surpasses that which exists currently. We need to encourage conversation, not attempt to dismiss anything that does not match up with our idea of what is right.

    I beg you to please think more carefully about how your decisions may affect the future generation’s view of feminism.

    If you wish to speak about this more, please e-mail me, but I’m really unsure as to what else there is to say on this topic. I respect your opinions, and I simply don’t agree wholeheartedly with them.

    Posted by Apple | March 11, 2007, 6:44 am
  23. I do not see the point in perpetuating the man-hating female stereotype that has plagued feminism for the past 20 years, and it is comments like yours that the mass media uses to undermine our efforts toward progression.

    There’s a fine line between framing your beliefs in an understandable, inclusive way and pandering to the oppressor by saying something that pleases them. I can see your point, and I think it’s a consideration in the discussion of how to make the feminist movement more successful on a widespread, global scale, (as well as appealing to new generations of young women who are afraid of the feminist backlash) but I can also see the danger that comes with slowly softening your ideas until they become too blurry or powerless to mean anything. I believe radical feminists provide invaluable arguments and theoretical contributions to the feminist movement as a whole, but they’re radical – they’re not the mainstream. Although radical ideas may not be palatable to the run-of-the-mill, common denominator “feminist”, the discussions about them and the proposal of them bring about the arguments and ideas which are pivotal to any facet of the feminist movement.

    Look at how acceptable the works of other controversial male thinkers are – Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Darwin; even the writing of Adolf Hitler is considered important in the discussion of well crafted political propaganda. How many feminists are discussed in the same way? How many radical feminists, instead of being lauded for the groundbreaking ideas proposed in their writings, are criticized as insane or impractical, and are almost wholly dismissed? IF they are even discussed at all?

    Feminism is not a one way street – you don’t have to be a radical to support feminist ideology and you don’t have to be a heterosexual, submissive girl-slave to try and achieve your independence within your constraints. The solution to these problems is more complex than any of us would like it to be, but the truth is that we need radical feminists AND amateur feminists to keep the feminist movement both alive and honest.

    Posted by gingermiss | March 11, 2007, 9:29 am
  24. P.S. – I wasn’t trying to use the phrase “amateur” feminists to demean those who aren’t radical feminists. I couldn’t think of another way to identify a less extremist feminist.

    Posted by gingermiss | March 11, 2007, 9:32 am
  25. Thanks ChasingMoksha, I had to quickly brush off the warm-fuzzies before they latched onto me — Phew!

    Heart, you are so right, if Jessica’s mother had been staying over at a BF’s, and had fobbed off Jessica’s upbringing onto other relatives, we would hear every last detail, and very doubtful that she would get such enthusiastic support to start a charity. It is swinging so far now that women are being held accountable for MEN’s actions (in the UK).

    Apple’s warm-fuzzies: “I beg you to please think more carefully about how your decisions may affect the future generation’s view of feminism.”

    You obviously need to read more and analyse how and why specific feminist movements had the successes that they did. Suffragists, and the 70s 2nd wave particularly. They didn’t get the results they did by lots of bootlicking to da menz. Large protests, lots of arrests, hunger strikes and even death for the cause. Not exactly warm-fuzzy-101. Their messages and protests were (received) as hostile by the status quo. ‘Nice’ feminism will get you no-where. It’s a waste of time. This is a radical feminist blog, and will therefore always call out men’s accountability.

    Your warm-fuzzies of waddabout da menz would be gleefully embraced at MRA blogs. *rolls eyes at the 20-somethings that know-it-all* DP may wish to tag along.

    Posted by stormy | March 11, 2007, 10:15 am
  26. Gingermiss, attributed to blogger LyaKahlo, “proto-feminists” in lieu of “amateur”.

    Posted by stormy | March 11, 2007, 10:17 am
  27. aware of the statistics of violence, rape, and abuse that occur in this country. I am, instead, attempting to show that it is not useful to place blame solely on one gender

    When one gender (that would be the MALE gender for anyone wondering) does over 95% of the violence, rape, and abuse, then I don’t see why that gender shouldn’t have the blame placed squarely on its manly shoulders. If holding men accountable for what they do is hating them, then that’s too bad.

    It’s the ‘boys will be boys’ types who really hate men, saying that they just can’t HELP raping and abusing women because of their biology or the pressure placed on them to be men or whatever the current reasoning is. I believe that not raping someone is pretty easy (as someone on Twisty’s blog said, you have to just sit there and not rape), and that men are capable of doing it.

    Posted by Miranda | March 11, 2007, 12:44 pm
  28. Watch the many ways writers and speakers find to hide who does it. Even here, above, a comment saying the majority of violence is against men. By whom? We must not say. I think virtually EVERY write up in media refuses to say. Every time I see that on an e-newspaper site, I write in and say in as civil and polite language as could possibly be, that it is men who rape women. Not once have these short, to the point letters been accepted. Do you know what they do? They classify this in the category of not finger pointing, like not saying any one race perpetrates most crime, or vehicular accidents, or anything negative. That latter use is correct; we don’t name race in stories, but to never say 95-98 per cent of violence against women is males is a lie.

    Posted by Pony | March 11, 2007, 5:26 pm
  29. I think I haven’t had enough coffee. What I had tried to say is this:

    Reporters and editors do not say the race of a person thought to be the perpetrator in a crime write-up. That *is* wrong. Always. But they use this same rule to justify not saying it is men who rape. You can say so and such many women say they were raped, but you can’t say all the rapists were men.

    Posted by Pony | March 11, 2007, 5:32 pm
  30. Apple: Feminism is much more positive than you are illustrating in your comment and blog; feminism is about striving for equality not pushing the sexes further apart than they already are.

    Well– I agree with you that feminism is positive, but my personal goal, as a feminist is not equality with men? My personal goal is nothing short of revolutionary change. I don’t want the freedom to have, be, do, what men have, are and do. I think the system men have created is irredeemable. I want to build something new, nourishing, nonviolent, creative, life-affirming, for all people. I am not really concerned, first and foremost, with whether the sexes are “apart.” Men dominating women for millennia has consequences, you know? Severe consequences, one of which is alienation. It isn’t the responsibility of those who have been dominated to heal the alienation the actions those who have dominated women have caused. If in getting free, the alienation deepens for a while — which is guaranteed, it has to — then that’s not women’s issue. Of course men and women are going to be alienated when women demand that men stop dominating us, stop abusing us, stop battering us, stop mistreating us and give up their privilege. They aren’t going to take kindly to this. But again, that’s not our issue, as women. Our issue, or my issue, is the building of a new world in which nobody is ever dominated.

    am not saying that we should not think and speak about this, but we should not dwell on it so much that it hinders us in action.

    Where do you see that any of us is hindered in action?

    I do not see the point in perpetuating the man-hating female stereotype that has plagued feminism for the past 20 years and it is comments like yours that the mass media uses to undermine our efforts toward progression.

    I think if we write to please and be accepted by the mass media (1) it won’t work; (2) we will accomplish nothing. People who buy what mass media sells hook, line and sinker would not be friendly to feminism in any event, and I am not writing for them. I am writing to thinking people, people who can see, with their own eyes, what is done to women.

    This is exactly how and why, as Toril Moi has spoken eloquently about, feminism has become the “f” word for women around the country.

    I think it’s wrong-headed to blame women and feminists for problems with the “f” word. I lay that squarely at the feet of misogynists of every stripe, both conservatives and liberals, who have been engaged on a smear campaign against feminism for 30 or more years now. Feminism proposes that women be, at last, fully human. Not servants to men. Not so much fodder for pornography and prostitution. Not deferring to men or concerned about being appealing to men. Men and women who are vested in things staying the way they are can be expected to resist feminism in all sorts of ways. That’s not my issue. My issue is to continue to do my own feminist work, in all the ways that make sense to me.

    If you do not find a point in stating the complicity of women in female issues then why do you do this in the next paragraph? Why is it okay for you to make excuses for these women who did as little as her father to protect her? Both women and men exist in our society, and it is pointless and alienating to blame one gender for all of our problems.

    I think I was pretty clear in that paragraph. I wrote about these women’s “complicity” to show that their actions barely rise to the level of “complicity.” The grandmother is old and ill. Her life depends on serving her son and her husband, and given her age, this has likely always been true for her. She evidently believes, based on how she was raising Jessica, that Jessica’s only hopes lie in embracing her feminine role, just as the grandmother felt her only hopes were in embracing her feminine role. Can you see how making a choice amongst your available options as you understand them is globally and cosmically different from making the choice to assault women (as the dad did), rape and assault women (as the grandfather did), or enjoy women serving you and raising your children (as both men did). These men *had* choices. They had the choice *not* to rape. They had the choice *not* to assault. They had the choice *not* to be served by the women in their lives. The dad had the choice to share custody. The dad had the choice to actually live with the daughter once he had custody. It was the MEN who were actively, consciously, complicit with patriarchy because it *benefits* them to be. The women’s “complicity” amounts to choosing among the lesser of evils and enjoying precious few benefits, most of them amounting to physical safety.

    I am not attempting to minimize male violence toward women. I am well aware of the statistics of violence, rape, and abuse that occur in this country. I am, instead, attempting to show that it is not useful to place blame solely on one gender. This does not and can not create solutions to our problems, instead it further separates us.

    Where men choose to abuse women and girls, I am calling them to account. If there is “separation”, men’s brutalities were the cause and ending their brutalities is the solution. My calling men to account, yes, blaming them, IS part of the solution. Until men accept responsibility for their brutalities and abuses, nothing will ever change. It’s not up to women to change men. MEN must change themselves and must work to change other men.

    Perhaps that is the difference between our arguments; I am much more concerned with finding solutions to the problems of intolerance while your arguments seem to suggest you are only interesting in showing these problems to a very specified audience.

    I think that in order to recognize the solutions all of the women here apply themselves to, sexism and misogyny have to be recognized as the problems we are solving. Domestic violence work, anti-rape work, anti-pornography/prostitution work, anti-sexual harrassment work, anti-objectification work, pro-mutuality-in-relationships work, anti-violence work, off the top of my head, are “solutions” to the problems of sexism and misogyny.

    As to showing the problems to a specific audience, I’m here, on the blogosphere, and thousands of people read what I write every day. It’s up to them how they respond. I don’t make any efforts to speak only to a specific audience, unless your suggestion is that I should work harder to make what I say appealing to the mainstream, and I’m not really interested in that, beyond the efforts I already put into make persuasive arguments. What is true is, men brutalize girls and women. That unhappy truth is one the mainstream doesn’t want to focus on. Well, I’m focusing on it.

    I enjoy reading this blog, and I am very saddened by your obvious anger over my comment.

    Hey, Apple, I wasn’t angry, just intense and passionate.

    I find it disheartening that your idea of maintaining perspective on issues concerning women largely means maintaining your personal perspective as that of the larger audience of feminists in America.

    Why would you think or say that I am “maintaining my personal perspective as that of the larger audience of feminists in America.” This is my blog– my one woman’s blog. And so, of course, this is my one woman’s perspective. Can you explain why you think I’m suggesting mine is the perspective of a “larger audience of feminists”?

    If you are only interested in opinions that coincide with your own, then you should disable comments.

    Possibly you ought to read more carefully here– there are tons of comments on this blog which do not coincide with my own! For starters, try the “Ashley Treatment,” thread, or the Amber Abreu thread. Also, your own comment is here, you know?

    Having said all of that, feminist women, historically, have created our theory and politics by way of sharing our lives, thoughts, opinions. That’s work that goes on in this blog and which I value very highly, and that’s why I have a comments section, or one reason, so that those of us who are feminists can analyze all sorts of things from various angles and perspectives. The blogosphere — which, of course, can be counted upon to be as sexist as society in general — may enjoy the spectacle of trainwrecks in feminist blogs caused by trolls, anti-feminists, misogynists, and contentious types who want to argue for the sake of argument and to drain women’s energy, but I’m not interested in providing bandwidth for that. I am interested in providing bandwidth for feminist discussion of issues. To the degree that someone disagreeing or challenging what is posted here *helps* the feminists here to clarify our own positions and to deepen our analysis, I approve the comments. If someone just wants to stir up shit for fun and games, well, no, I don’t have time for that.

    Although I know you do not care, it would be more encouraging for nascent feminists of the coming generation if you were not so radical and final in your judgements (because that is exactly what they are).

    Nuttin wrong with women making judgments. Nuttin wrong with being radical or final about them, either. As to nascent feminists of the coming generation, my own experience is that lots of very young feminists — teenagers and younger — find the arguments of radical feminism appealing and sound. It seems to me you, yourself, might be attempting to speak for more than yourself?

    I think all kinds of feminism and feminists are necessary and important, and I’m happy for all, including you, Apple. At the same time, I have to be true to who I am, and to what I believe.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 11, 2007, 5:53 pm
  31. All right, everybody should make sure they scroll up and read Stormy’s longer comment which got sent to the spam queue for reasons unknown. :/ But that link you posted is pretty scary, Stormy.

    Pony, so true what you say– the headlines say a woman was raped or assaulted or victimized, but it’s less clear that the assailants were men. That’s true of many kinds of writing. One of the creepiest things I ever read was an article about reproductive technologies, written by doctors and scientists, which was all about removing ova from women, and NOT ONE TIME was the word “woman” mentioned! Just “patient.” And then the names of body parts, as though they were disembodied somehow and had nothing to do with the woman herself! Just this sexless “patient.” This stuff is *totally* and *completely* political. One reason I have the category “male terrorism” on my blog is, although males clearly terrorize girls and women, *nobody thinks in those terms* and for good reason, people don’t *want* to think in those terms, especially men don’t want to, and the headlines and news reflect that.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 11, 2007, 6:19 pm
  32. As one whose initial reaction to this case was to wish the perpetrator the types of violence the father’s biker buddies want to dish out, I thank you for challenging me with this post, Heart.

    You are absolutely right. Macho “Dirty Harry” style vigilantism just perpetuates the status quo– it won’t save any little girls from future assaults. It won’t do a damn thing to help them.

    Miranda, if you’re still around, your point about Elizabeth Smart is dead on. You might be interested in reading, “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer, if you haven’t already. It’s an examination of the FLDS and the author devotes a chapter on the Smart case. Yes indeed, she was raised to be a humble, subservient girl-child. And yes, this conditioning absolutely contributed to the long delay in her rescue.

    Posted by Gayle | March 11, 2007, 7:44 pm
  33. I’m listening to an open line call in show “should serious sex offenders be kept off the streets permanently. Concurrent with the online calls (tightly moderated this is CBC) people are e-mailing.

    To listen now 2 ish PDT
    Pick Vancouver on the right if you have Windows Media

    http://www.cbc.ca/listen/index.html#

    One of the e-mails:

    http://www.cbc.ca/checkup/letters070311.html

    I agree whole heartedly with Jane Doe that the rise in hysteria over this case is destructive to the message women have been clearly articulating for decades – that we are not safe, that we are not safe from men, and that we have a right to be safe. Until then, we have the right and the responsibility to be the expert. We are not being listened to. Even now, it is the man who is getting the attention.

    Do you know how many sex offenders there are in Canada? Both public identified and still not publicly known? It is not the same man who is raping a woman every 17 minutes. Who is watching for them? Where will we house so many, many, many sex offenders? How many will be incarcerated until we realize this is not the solution? 1000? 10,000? That won’t take long.

    There are options not being discussed. What about chemical chastration? What about the recognition that many violent offenders also have highly elevated levels of testosterone? And that Depro Provera reduces those level? I would like to hear your guest, the Attorney General of Ontario, speak about that option and any others he is aware of, even if they are still in the study stage.

    Jan Dymond
    Happy Valley Goose Bay, Newfoundland & Labrador

    Posted by Pony | March 11, 2007, 9:22 pm
  34. You obviously need to read more and analyse how and why specific feminist movements had the successes that they did. Suffragists, and the 70s 2nd wave particularly. They didn’t get the results they did by lots of bootlicking to da menz. Large protests, lots of arrests, hunger strikes and even death for the cause. Not exactly warm-fuzzy-101. Their messages and protests were (received) as hostile by the status quo. ‘Nice’ feminism will get you no-where. It’s a waste of time. This is a radical feminist blog, and will therefore always call out men’s accountability.

    Your warm-fuzzies of waddabout da menz would be gleefully embraced at MRA blogs. *rolls eyes at the 20-somethings that know-it-all* DP may wish to tag along.

    Cute… :) I want to add that the suffragists were quite effective in their work… They fought diligently and damned hard throughout history. They were effective, and are the reason that we can vote today. I would also like to add that they were also pretty good at being racist… Both the radicals and the “warm-fuzzies” though it was the strong radicals (Cady-Stanton, Shaw) who took such stance. No dear, DP will not wish to tag along. I am not interested in acting as if I “know it all,” but it is funny how that was linked in together.

    I think that Apple raises some very good points. I too had similar feelings about the “F” word. You cannot say feminist and expect to be taken seriously and that is a shame. A lot of that has to do with male and political attempts of devaluing the arguent’s and causes of the feminist movement. If you comment about an issue as a feminist, people dont want to hear you much like how some people feel about me due to my words in a different thread.

    I think that this…

    “One reason I have the category “male terrorism” on my blog is, although males clearly terrorize girls and women, *nobody thinks in those terms* and for good reason, people don’t *want* to think in those terms, especially men don’t want to, and the headlines and news reflect that.”

    is very true. Its important to use language that will get the attention of those who disagree. Any man who is abusive will certainly take exception to such a term. It is a very intelligent way to link the two, especially NOW after the 9/11 tragedy and terrorism is feared and wont be tolerated, to call it “male terrorism” is genius!

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 11, 2007, 11:13 pm
  35. Heart, perhaps I will now have to be known as “st0rmy” (like R!ch) in order to sneak past the spamulator!

    Women are frequently demonised in the media, this is an area of study that I have stumbled into. Rape victims are frequently portrayed as somehow deserving it, or deemed not worthy of sympathy. In the headlines of the DV-infanticide cases “Woman Let Boyfriend Kill Her Baby” and “Mother Allowed Baby Son’s Murder”, both headlines have a misleading verb that indicates that these women had an active part in their children’s deaths, when in reality, neither was home at the time. It also serves the dual purpose of making the male perpetrator completely invisible, whilst making women responsible for men’s violence. Only when (the media) deem a violent crime so heinous do they lay the blame on the male, they then do a little media dance called distancing by making out he is a monster and not like ‘normal men’. The thing is, I post pictures of the DV murderers on the DV memorial blog primarily to show, they are normal men, and certainly one could not pick them out of a line up. If non-violent men wish to be excluded from this group, then they can damn-well speak out against male violence against women and children, for to remain silent is to condone.

    Heart’s background investigation to this story is the most illuminating, showing the father to be a serial abuser of women, who like many men who seek custody of the children do so for reasons of control and punishment — this is evidenced by the way he fobbed off the care of his daughter onto his female relatives. He is no bloody hero.

    When the warm-fuzzy MRA cheerleaders show up, I get just a tad snippy with them. Either you are going to identify that males have choices in the violence they perpetuate (to rape/murder/beat women/children) or you can do the warm-fuzzy dance of let’s not blame the men. I have no time to nurture and encourage proto-feminists on the path of feminism, that is spoon-feeding. I am old, cranky, seen too much male dominance in action, and have long lost the wide-eyed naivety of not offending men way of feminism. It’s time to grow up.

    Posted by stormy | March 11, 2007, 11:17 pm
  36. Another interesting thing: there is absolutely no mention, in any of the news reports I read, of where he was the night his daughter went missing, at a girlfriend’s house. I don’t really care where he was or think it’s germane to what happened to Jessica, but here’s something I know: If it would have been her mom and she’d have been at a boyfriend’s house that night, we would have been subjected to every last detail. Not only do we not hear anything about where he was that night, we never hear about his girlfriends, his relationships, etc… even though he battered a woman, which is again, a matter of public record. If this had been Jessica’s mom and she had started up a foundation as the dad has, you can bet your bottom dollar she *would* have been demonized by a certain segment of the population, especially if she had many boyfriends and rarely spent any time at home and left her daughter to be cared for by her mother, as this guy did (and his mother had four operations last year) and father (especially if, as with this guys father, he had been charged with kidnapping, rape and assault in the past!).

    Heart I agree with you here. You’re right her mom would have been dragged through the mud and the media would have had a field day with this. No one would want to support the fund if the shoe were on the other foot. Actually, the media has also made her mom look like, with the help of the great dad, an absentee mom. It looks as if she does not care or at least like she didnt until the girl was murdered and this is something that helps them to “anoint him father of the year.”

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 11, 2007, 11:21 pm
  37. When the warm-fuzzy MRA cheerleaders show up, I get just a tad snippy with them. Either you are going to identify that males have choices in the violence they perpetuate (to rape/murder/beat women/children) or you can do the warm-fuzzy dance of let’s not blame the men. I have no time to nurture and encourage proto-feminists on the path of feminism, that is spoon-feeding. I am old, cranky, seen too much male dominance in action, and have long lost the wide-eyed naivety of not offending men way of feminism. It’s time to grow up.

    LOL YES DP AGAIN. Stormy I love this. I agree… trying to spare the feelings of men who rape, murder, abuse women is rediculous. I dont feel that approach will get us anywhere.

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 11, 2007, 11:23 pm
  38. It’s time to grow up.

    4 real doe (sic).

    Posted by chasingmoksha | March 11, 2007, 11:50 pm
  39. Wow. Just. Wow. Heart you nailed it square and center with this piece.

    Posted by Ginny | March 12, 2007, 12:51 am
  40. There are options not being discussed. What about chemical chastration? What about the recognition that many violent offenders also have highly elevated levels of testosterone? And that Depro Provera reduces those level? I would like to hear your guest, the Attorney General of Ontario, speak about that option and any others he is aware of, even if they are still in the study stage.

    Pony, I was just talking about this with a group of women at a round table. I live in the inner city region of Boston and I must tell you, not to take away from else where, but the rape cases are disgustingly high among inner city GIRLS. LITTLE GIRLS… It scares me because I have young sisters and many young friends… We were talking about the solutions you listed in your post. The sad consensus was that men will fight tooth and nail about this… calling it a violation and so forth. Actually we had a few men in the group who were all rah rah rah pedophiles and rapists are terrible but changed their tune when we began to discuss chemical chastration.

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 12, 2007, 2:08 am
  41. Thank you, stormy. I’m always looking for a phrase to describe the mindset I was trying to describe, and that works well.

    Posted by gingermiss | March 12, 2007, 6:25 pm
  42. I am, instead, attempting to show that it is not useful to place blame solely on one gender. This does not and can not create solutions to our problems, instead it further separates us.

    Apple, the problem with what you’re saying is it completely obscures the problem and makes it impossible to define. One cant’ define the problem if one won’t discuss it.

    Consider your words in another context:

    “It is not useful to place the blame for racial bigotry on whites…it further separates us.” *

    or “It is not useful to place the blame for homophobia on straight people…it furthers separates us.” *

    Remember the two incidents recently where men came into schoolhouses, sent out the boys, and raped (in one case) and killed (in both cases) the girls only. (two cases in a week! the mind reels)

    Now imagine that the KKK had done this is the South; come into a school, separated the black kids and killed them all. Now imagined it happened twice in one week–in two places in different parts of the country. (or the Jewish kids. Or the Catholic kids.)

    Can you imagine the outcry? The task force that would be formed, the hand-wringing editorials, the crys of “where have we gone wrong?” The public demand that something–ANYTHING–be done to stem this tide of hatred and violence?

    What did we get in those cases? ~~crickets chirping~~ We read long diatribes about how forgiving the Amish are. Only one major commentator that I read –Bob Herbert of the NY Times (bless him forever) wrote about it like it was.

    Imagine if Mel Gibson had ranted about women–“The women are responsible for all the wars in history!” or if Kramer had been caught on tape shouting at a club patron “She’s a c***! She’s a c***!” Everyone would have laughed it off–apologize to women? Not hardly. Because no one wants to name the true oppressor.

    Because it’s not “PC” to say that “a man raped a woman in Central Park last night” so they say “a woman was raped in Central Park last night” as though it happened by magic, or bad luck. The passive voice is not acceptable in standard academic English, but journalists do it all the time when women are the victims.

    Also, they’ll report “the man attacked 7 students” never mentioning they were all girls or my personal favorite: “three students were accused of raping a stripper” SHE WAS A STUDENT,TOO! but she’s a thing once takes her clothes off for money.

    *(Setting aside for the moment that racism and misogyny are also internal factors that affect the groups internally –ie women can and are misogynistic and gays can be homophobic. That doesn’t seem to be your focus, but rather that calling out the men as 95% of the violent criminals will upset them and the women who partner with them.)

    Posted by Gaias Muse | March 15, 2007, 11:11 pm
  43. Oh, let’s just call the whole shebang what it is: human sacrifice perpetrated by men upon women/children.

    Maleness seems to have this ‘thing’ about blood, blood and yet more blood– so much so that I think that the Freudian concept of penis-envy is actually a male admission-by-dissociation of the real problem, which is Menstruation/Pregnancy Envy, big-time. When one gets down to it, there is all kinds of stuff in the historical record about men piercing/cutting their penises in imitation of female bleeding. Subincision (which later morphed into the milder form of circumcision) split the penis open lengthwise so that it looked more like labia, and the men who did this to themselves also made themselves ‘bleed like women’ by reinjuring themselves on a monthly basis. Mayan kings– whose bloodletting was supposed to keep the world running– made their ‘special blood’ available by (you guessed it) lancing their penises. The men of Native American tribes who performed the Sun Dance (where they inserted leather-tethered eagle-bone spikes through their pectoral muscles and danced until they ripped loose) repeatedly told historiographers that they did so ‘in order to show the same courage as a woman who sheds blood to give birth’. Of course, when you have lard-assed white men writing the history books, they all blatantly ignore the endless parade of maleness through the centuries trying to coopt female menses/birthgiving through everything from couvade and penile mutilation to crossdressing in what are essentially ‘priestess/shamaness robes’ the world over in order to assume religious/political status. That most famous of ancient garments, the Roman ‘senatorial’ toga, was originally a form of female dress, the red-dyed hem indicating a menstruating Mother.

    As far as I am concerned, the crucifixion is just another blood sacrifice fixated on by men who were/are pissed off because they can’t menstruate. Xtianity as it is practiced today focuses on the human (+deity) sacrifice of Jesus as the centerpiece of the religion– i.e., humanity has to be saved by a male shedding blood, while women’s natural menses are turned into the untimate taboo substance, presumably so males sticking their pee-pees with thorns and sting-ray spines and nailing each other to crosses won’t look like the life-denying idiots they are.

    In conclusion:

    1. War is a three-part mix of Menstruation Envy, mass male psychosis, and armed robbery perpetrated by rich men who want more of whatever it is they already have to excess. ‘Smaller’ acts of violence just involve fewer victims.

    2. Rape is a political con-game perpetrated by men against women to ensure that women are kept in a supporting, subservient role to men; i.e., women need ‘good men’ (husbands, cops, judges) to ‘defend them’ against the predations of ‘bad men’ (rapists, batterers) and therefore there is a strong conflict of interest set up when men judge other men, as the ‘good men’ require the ‘bad men’ as the reason for their special status. This is in a nutshell why rapists will always be around as long as men wield the bulk of political power.

    3. Xtianity that takes as its main focus the crucifixion/blood redemption of humanity is predicated upon the ‘magical efficacy’ of human sacrifice. As long as it makes the torture and death of its founder the centerpiece of its dogma, I hold that it forfeits the right to be considered a bona fide religion on the grounds of moral terpitude– torture and murder are *not* sacred or holy acts in any way, no matter who the innocent victim was, either Jesus or Jessica.

    4. Since Jessica’s father was A) her legal guardian, and B) supposedly one of the ‘good men’, he bears full responsibility for not protecting his daughter adequately enough. While parental vigilance is not 100 percent foolproof in preventing child victimization, it absolutely *does* go a long way towards keeping a child safe and secure. Since he was granted full custody of his daughter by law, it was incumbent upon him to be BOTH Father and Mother to Jessica, which apparently, he was incapable of doing. If he was really interested in protecting his daughter, he would have agitated for a ‘Jessica’s Law’ *before* his daughter was a victim, not after. While laws that adequately protect children from physical harm are needed, the circumstances surrounding the enactment of the abovementioned smack of self-righteous breast-beating after the fact on the part of Jessica’s father.

    5. ‘Bikers For Jessica’ is part of the problem, not the solution.

    6. Jessica’s father showed how much real regard he had for his daughter by how much regard he showed to her Mother. The fact that he couldn’t be bothered to be the one to tell his former wife what had occurred (and she found out via TV) is indicative of personal cowardice on a breathtaking scale. I don’t care how much enmity there was between former husband and wife, when something of this nature happens, the fate of the child trumps ‘adult’ grudges.

    7. By and large, Mothers make much better parents than fathers. They are far more invested in the welfare of the child’s individualized self as opposed to seeing the child as a reproductive status-object or as a political-policy pawn. Some of the best-adjusted people among my own friends are those who had Mom as a single parent, so I speak with knowledge of the form-book here.

    8. There are lots of men out there who find the idea of sex with children exciting. A lot of other people know who they are and don’t tell. A child may not be always be able to tell on an abuser, but an adult has a clear-cut moral obligation to come forward, and to tell what they know, in any circumstances.

    Posted by akkarri | March 22, 2007, 11:15 am
  44. In my previous message, the 8 with a ) coded a smiley, which was not intended. Just letting you know…

    [Akkari, I fixed it by changing all the paragraphs to periods. On to read your interesting-looking comment! -- Heart]

    Posted by akkarri | March 22, 2007, 11:21 am
  45. akarri what an amazing post. I’m sitting here nodding yes, yes, and yes.

    Thank you and welcome, and I look forward to reading more from you.

    Posted by Pony | March 22, 2007, 3:12 pm
  46. Akkarri, amazing post. Very interesting and true. Some of it, the cross, mayan kings etc, I had never thought of in that light. Thank you!

    Posted by Divine Purpose | March 22, 2007, 3:38 pm
  47. Wow, akkari, that was GREAT.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | March 22, 2007, 4:34 pm
  48. Thanks so much to one and all for your supportive comments. Also thanks Heart for changing the numbering in my previous post.

    I have seen a lot of gross stupidity in my 57 years on this planet, but nothing quite approaches the whole male-menses-by-proxy/human sacrifice thing. It is so societally pervasive that most people actually don’t honestly recognize it for what it is.

    There was an example of this ‘sacrificial imperative’ in my own neighborhood awhile back. A group of concerned parents organized and went to our City Council to request that a traffic light be installed at an intersection by our area elementary school. They were asking for one because the street the school was on is a major thoroughfare with very heavy traffic, and because people tended to drive way too fast in the designated school zone. There had been repeated speed-traps set up by the police, which didn’t really have any long-lasting effect, and folks were legitimately worried about the possibility of an inattentive driver plowing into a group of schoolchildren.

    When they broached their initial idea to their City Councilperson’s office, they were told– and I am not making this up– that the City had a ‘formula’ for installing traffic lights, and that one could not be installed at that intersection until ‘the City had determined there was a real danger’ at the intersection. When pressed, the so-called formula was that there needed to be three serious/fatal injury accidents at the intersection.

    People were of course incensed, and rightly so. What the City was in effect saying was that several hunks of metal, electrical wiring and a few lightbulbs were ‘worth’ the blood/suffering/lives of three human beings.

    The story has a happy ending, as the parent group contacted the media with the story of the ‘human-life traffic-light quota’ that they had been given, and the media presence embarrassed the City Council into installing the needed light system PDQ. Thinking back on this incident, I felt it was too bad that somebody hadn’t *really* embarrassed them in front of reporters by observing the following:

    ‘If you are saying that our children’s lives are what buys a traffic light, how about us asking three local families to each provide a child as a payment for the light? We will then take the three children to the intersection, and will publically behead them there with an axe, so that the blood of three human beings is spilled within the confines of the four corners of said intersection. Having thus met your criteria, can we then have a traffic light for the benefit of the remaining children?’

    I am being sardonic, of course, but with good reason. As Womb-holders who do in fact ‘bleed without dying’ for the benefit of our people, we need to call attention to menses-imitative bloodletting as the copy-cat, impotent act it is.

    I am in the process of preparing a couple of articles for my own blog (which deals with my own personal Inner Magickal Cosmos and my adventures therein), which will relate to various aspects of this issue. One will be on the complete inefficacy of blood sacrifice as a Magickal ‘potentiator’ of anything (other than of more acts of mayhem and death), and the other will address the primary reason for orthodox (patriarchal/hierarchy-bound) religion’s fervid desire to discredit and suppress all forms of shamanism. It is taking me awhile to organize both my thoughts and my notes, but in the meantime, I am enjoying posting here.

    Anyway, thanks for listening to a Turtle-Woman.

    Posted by akkarri | March 22, 2007, 9:18 pm
  49. Lunsford is a scary man as is someone I believe is feeding him what to say, Walsh. He seems to parrot everything Walsh says without thinking about anything, just as he seems to live his life.

    I blame Couey for what happened to Jessica, period.

    But I also blame the state of Florida for refusing Couey the help he BEGGED for since 1978, I blame the women he lived with and I do blame Lunsford for the reasons you pointed out Heart.

    Lunsford is a scary man as shown by his willingness to blow off his own violent past and now he wants to run for the Senate.

    Posted by pinky | March 31, 2007, 11:54 pm
  50. Little Jessica’s horrendeous nightmare that culminated in her death haunts me. I’m afraid that she, as so many others have, will become another “profie” another group to blame when I think it has to be all of us in our not seeing one another or the fear of being involved. I’m sure someone knew something that could have warrented action. But no. I see only a little girl too frightened to cry out as she was buried. Mabey that to do so wouldnt have been ‘good’ that mabey if she did what she was told it would stop. My God, may she be forever at peace. Jessica YOU will be remembered an innocent in the hands of monsters. yours forever, Michelle

    Posted by Michelle | May 4, 2007, 3:38 pm
  51. wow i hate reading this stuff it makes me cry! i am so very proud of mark and jesses mom!! mark has done so much to help his babygirl and make sure her name was left on this world!!! NOT ALL MEN ARE ABUSERS so people who feel this way need to look up some facts and they need to realize! i am praying for you mark and josh two men who i feel are amazing people!!!! glad to know jesse is lookin over use but it sucks at the same time that a loved one had to be taken from us at such a young age!!!

    Posted by lindsey stratton | December 8, 2008, 3:12 pm

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