There have been two murder-suicides this weekend: Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins before killing himself. Keith Johnson killed his wife Andrea before killing himself. Today, two sets of families on two different continents are mourning the loss of their daughters; both murdered by their partners. Two women a week in the UK are murdered by the men who claimed to love them. Despite this fact, press coverage is always about what “nice” men they were. The coverage does not focus on the women murdered but on the careers and personal characteristics of the murderers. The coverage of the deaths of Kasandra Perkins and Andrea Johnson are no different.
The BBC coverage of the murder-suicide in Cromer includes these statements:
Mr Johnson, a former mayor of Cromer, became Conservative leader of North Norfolk District Council in May.
Fellow Conservative councillor Trevor Ivory, a friend of the couple, said: “It’s a complete shock. I last saw them both on Thursday evening and they were both very happy and seemed to be enjoying life.
“The words Cromer and Keith Johnson are synonymous. He typified what’s good about the town and the district of North Norfolk.”
In a statement, North Norfolk Labour Party paid tribute to Mr Johnson. Chairwoman Denise Burke said: “The death of Keith is a tragedy and a massive loss to Cromer and North Norfolk, too.
“Keith has been a real public servant throughout his life and will be sorely missed by the whole community. He was much respected across the political spectrum.
“Our thoughts are with Keith’s friends and family at this time.”
If Johnson typified all that was good about Cromer, then they have some serious problems. This man murdered his wife and he will be sorely missed? What about his wife Andrea? Will she be sorely missed? Andrea barely gets a mention in the article. We know that the man who murdered her was a well-respected career politician but, his wife, just an addendum to the story. Was Andrea’s death not a tragedy? Just the death of her murderer?
Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins before shooting himself in front of the coach and general manager of his football team, yet this story focuses on the fans and the team:
Although the game was unimportant — especially with neither the Chiefs (2-10) nor the Panthers (3-9) bound the playoffs — it did provide some relief for the team and community.
Kasandra is just as absent from this article as Andrea. There is no discussion of the grief of her family and friends. There is no mention of her life at all. Both Andrea and Kasandra are being written out of the story of their murder whilst the eulogies of their murderers begins.
This is the War on Women. Not only do we pay for the hyper-masculinity within the Patriarchy with our bodies through rape, torture and our deaths but we are also written out of the stories of our own lives.
I await with sadness the inevitable stories to follow which will blame the women for their own murders.
UPDATE: This is an excellent article by Heather Harvey on the issue of male violence within patriarchal family structures.
Duwayne Brooks, the Liberal Democrat Local Councillor for Downham ward in Lewisham said this on twitter tonight:
I have no doubt that complaints to the LibDem party will be pointless, after all these are same arseholes who bandied about the anonymity for rapists bullshit and suggested that the answer to the thorny issue of consent in porn is to drop the age to 16; that way pornographers wouldn’t have their feelings hurt by illegally employing 17 year olds. Their track record on women’s rights is appalling.
It does not matter what side of the prostitution debate we sit on, we can all agree that any man who claims to be sickened by the sight of prostitutes is an asshole.
This is woman-hating.
This is the war on women.
I love the ballet. I love the sounds of pointe shoes thumping on the stage. I love the artistry and the strength of the women dancers. I know ballet is one of the least-feminist friendly sports going because of the physical toll on women’s, and it’s mostly women’s, bodies. I know and agree with all of the feminist arguments against ballet; from it’s origins with its relationship to prostitution to the quite serious long-term health implications for dancers, particularly in relation to the fetishisation of eating disorders within the industry. Yet, I still love ballet. I know I shouldn’t but it’s one of those things I can’t *quite* give up.
I’ve been taking my eldest daughter to the ballet for years. It’s one of the best parts of living in this city: the sheer number of brilliant dance companies that tour here. Scottish Ballet’s The Nutcracker and anything by Northern Ballet Company remain my favourites. Recently, I took my daughter to see Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty: A Gothic Romance. It’s the first production I’ve seen by the company and I have to say I found it really quite disturbing. The story of Sleeping Beauty is the story of sexualised violence and the control of women’s bodies. I’ve just not seen it performed in quite so blatant a manner without any attempt to deconstruct the myths.
There is so much wrong with this version that it’s hard to know where to start. It still uses the modern telling of the myths of “Patriarchal Love” but rather felt like Twilight with tutus. The “evil fairy” dies quickly after cursing the princess Aurora so it is her son who makes the curse come true by pricking her finger. Aurora is not awoken by a kiss from a stranger but rather by the gardner she’d been fooling around with before pricking her finger. He lives for a 100 years because the good male fairy bites him and turns the gardner into another fairy. The erotic connotations of that “kiss” go unremarked. The son of the evil fairy guards Aurora’s body for a 100 years desperately kissing her to bring her back to life now that he has decided he wants to fuck her. There is a rather lot of rolling about on the stage between the son and the unconscious body of Aurora. In the original fairy tale, Aurora is awoken by the twins she conceived after being rape whilst unconscious by the king. I don’t know if Bourne was actively trying to reference that version but the implications of rape were very obvious. After a 100 years the son tricks the gardner into waking Aurora and then the son tries to ritually sacrifice her. She is saved
by the gardner/ new fairy whilst the other fairies kill the son. Then, Aurora gives birth to a half baby/ half angel.
I don’t expect much from productions of Sleeping Beauty. There is no way to reclaim the story from its original construction of rape but I have never seen a version so utterly problematic before. I’m actually surprised their was no trigger warning or child-viewing warning to the production. The dancing was beautiful but the story Bourne chose to show wasn’t.
Can you tell which side is the boys toys? And, which side is for the girls? Because, personally, I really struggled with this since I did not know that only boys were allowed to play musical instruments. I already knew that girls weren’t allowed to like science experiments or lego and that we were only allowed to play with dolls and prams so we didn’t get confused as to the exact purpose of the uterus but I totally thought we were allowed to play the piano. After all, Jane Austen was forever droning on about young girls being taught the piano in order to be “accomplished”. Have we lost the right to do this too? Was there a memo I missed? Should I donate our piano to the nearest boy in case in makes my girls grow a penis?