FixedIt: he’s not the victim and she’s a person

Coventry Live reported that a man who stabbed a woman in the neck, head and chest was jailed for 21 years. He was described as “jilted”, she was labelled “sex worker”.

Words matter, they give form to thought and shape our understanding of events. When a violent man who committed a savage, unprovoked attack on a woman is described as “jilted” it implies an excuse and invokes sympathy for him. He’s suffering because a woman rejected him and that’s why he stabbed another woman, so really the problem started with a woman, not with his choices to be violent.

This is a recurring theme in reporting on men’s violence against women. “Jilted” or “spurned” lovers who committed violence frequently make headlines, perpetuating the myth that violent men aren’t fully responsible for the violence they commit because they are forced into it by women’s cruelty. This myth infantilises men and blames women for the choices made by men who commit violence.

There is only one thing that causes violence and that is the choice to be violent. Anyone can feel hurt, rejected, ashamed or angry. Feelings are not the problem, choices are, because there are any number of choices someone can make in how they respond to their feelings. Crying, talking to someone, going for a run, lying on the couch with Netflix and ice cream, standing in the back yard screaming into the wind are all choices. So is stabbing a woman. This man made the choice to stab a woman, that’s what caused the violence, not the breakdown of his relationship.

The woman he stabbed is a person. She is, as we all are, so much more than just her job. Women who work as hairdressers, plumbers, bank tellers and accountants aren’t dehumanised in this way when they are subjected to violence. Sex workers are not different or lesser than any other women. They have the same rights to safety and dignity that all women should have. But again, this is a common trope in reporting of violence. If a woman does sex work that’s all she will be in any headline about violence committed against her. It’s an abhorrent form of victim blaming and it has no justification in modern journalism.

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron


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