WARNING: Contains content for mature audiences and may contain emotional triggers.
If you follow me on Twitter (which you definitely should) you probably saw me talking a little bit about the murders and suicide that happened at a college close to mine. If not, I’ll give you a quick summary:
A former student of Geneseo murdered his ex-girlfriend and the guy who was with her and then killed himself after she chose to end their long-term relationship.
I’ve been really sad about this recently. I’m heartbroken for the people who died and for their families. But more than anything, I’m disturbed. My first thought when I heard this news was “I hope I never get stabbed for rejecting a man.”
How sick is that? That I am afraid of being assaulted or even killed for exercising my right to say “no”. It’s terrible, but it’s a legitimate fear that people, particularly women, face. There are entirely too many examples of women becoming victims for rejecting a man’s advances or for ending a relationship. Just yesterday I saw this article about a woman who was shot after turning a man down in a bar. There is an entire blog dedicated to this subject called “When Women Refuse“. (I’ll warn you, some of the stories are pretty disturbing and can be very graphic)
In one study that was conducted, it was found that 94% of women who were murdered in situations where the victim/offender relationship could be discerned were killed by someone they knew. In fact, women are far more likely to be killed by an intimate acquaintance, spouse, or family member than men.
I’ll tell you why this freaks me out so much: this is a clear demonstration of men believing that they are entitled to a woman, be that emotionally or sexually, enough that they are willing to kill when they are denied. I can’t help but think back to this post I wrote several years ago about the mass shooting at UCSB.
One of the first things I told my boyfriend when we began dating was “well now I don’t have to lie to creepy guys when I tell them I have a boyfriend” because I am more comfortable telling a man that I am someone else’s property then I do telling him my feelings. When did “No” become not good enough? I don’t need to have a boyfriend, or be a lesbian to not be interested. You don’t need to be ugly or not a “nice guy” for me to say no.
And let me be clear: a man in a relationship with a woman has no more of a right to punish her for rejection than a man who is simply hitting on her in a bar. Coercion, assault, rape, and murder can all happen in the context of a relationship. And in the case of what happened at Geneseo it was the end of a relationship that prompted this violent act.
This comes from that sick mentality that says “if I can’t have you then no one can.” My amazing roommate, Katie, and I just recently watched The Hunchback of Notre Dame and it freaked me out so much. There is a whole creepy relationship where Frollo, the minister, is lusting after Esmerelda and (spoiler alert) he decides to have her burned at the stake when she will not have him and he sings this super creepy song where he says:
Destroy Esmerelda and let her taste the fires of hell or else let her be mine and mine alone…. be mine or you will burn
(I now understand why my parents didn’t like that movie when I was a kid)
That is just terrifying and it is the exact same thing as what happened in Geneseo. It’s one thing to watch that in a Disney movie where things always work out fine in the end, but it is another to see that played out to the point of death in real life.
I came across this article talking about what these murders that happened in Geneseo mean and I think it makes several good points. The main thing that stood out to me was the statement that “broken hearts don’t drive people to murder” but that possessiveness and a need to control do.
I don’t really know what the action items here are. What do we do to change this? How do we encourage women to get out of controlling relationships when they’re afraid of what could happen to their lives if they did? How do we fix this mentality of something being owed to men when this clearly isn’t an isolated incident? I don’t know.
I’ve just been really broken up about this for the last few weeks and I think this is something we need to be aware of and actively fighting. We need to teach our brothers and sons that women are not property that they deserve and we need to give women the resources to leave relationships and situations like these unharmed.