Miriam: Women are Disposable
My first love was Zachary Johnson. We were nine years old. I distinctly remember thinking that I could not imagine why we would not be together forever. We talked on the phone all the time (I still know his phone number by heart). We liked playing Doctor Mario. We liked baseball. What else could we need? We amicably split when we were eleven years old and kept in loose contact over the years.
He had a younger sister who was my brother’s age. We all grew up together, going to the same schools, playing in the same neighborhood. I lost track of her until a phone call from my brother today. She had been missing for three weeks and her body had just been found in a trash can. They think her ex, the father of her children, did it. He had a history of serious domestic violence towards her and the police had been looking for him since she went missing. In a haze I searched the internet and social media for news about her. I didn’t understand how she had gone from a rambunctious seven year old to a domestic violence murder victim.
In a Facebook post from January she said “I am one of the many who have overcome this horrible life of control and violence.” A month later she was dead. She thought she had escaped him. He has not been charged and I know of no proof that it was him but you just know it was him. It’s almost always the abusive boyfriend, husband, ex. In half of homicides of women the killer is her partner or ex. The VAST majority (98%) of those are men.
How is this possible? How is it possible that we see men abusing women and allow them to walk the streets? How is it possible that we give them the opportunity to hurt them again—to kill them?
These aren’t rhetorical questions. I’m really asking.
I am a pacifist. I don’t believe that violence is a useful solution to problems. I believe violence begets violence. I believe it is morally wrong to harm another person for any reason. But I struggle in these moments. Why shouldn’t I tell women to arm themselves against men? They are killing us—not sporadically, not occasionally. Regularly. And the law isn’t protecting us.
When the CDC released its most recent report on violence against women they also provided their thoughts on the implications of these statistics:
Knowing that in 10% of intimate partner homicides, women experienced violence shortly before the homicide gives us an opportunity to “facilitate immediate safety planning and to connect women with other services, such as crisis intervention and counseling, housing, medical and legal advocacy.”
I’d like to offer my own thoughts on the implications of this same statistic:
Knowing that in 10% of intimate partner homicides, women experienced violence shortly before the homicide gives us an opportunity to “INCARCERATE THE PERPETRATOR OF THE INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE SO HE DOESN’T HAVE A CHANCE TO KILL THE WOMAN.”
Excuse me for shouting.
Actually, no. Don’t excuse me. I’m not going to be sorry for being angry. I’m angry all the time. I’m angry that I make 78 cents to a man’s dollar (and it’s only that high because I’m white). I’m angry that 78% of sexual perpetrators are men. I’m angry of 99% of sexual perpetrators will never serve jail time—you’re more likely to be audited by the IRS. I’m angry that women head 80% of single family households in the US but make up only 20% of the US House of Representatives. I’m angry that women have a 20% chance of being raped in their lifetime. I’m angry that we haven’t figured out how to bill men for our emotional labor. I’m angry that I can’t walk to the gym without being catcalled, followed, and shouted at that I’m a “dumb bitch” for not responding. And I’m angry that a mother of 4 was killed and put in a garbage can.
I could drown my anger (which, to be honest, is my short-term plan). I could become violently radicalized. I could move to a less violent country. But what I’m going to do is continue to share these statistics. I’m going to continue to bring women together to talk about their experiences and how we are going to respond. I’m going to continue to call men out for not standing up for women. I’m going to vote for women, shop in women owned stores, read women. I’m going to keep fighting because even in 2018 in this country of privilege with its illusion of enlightenment women are not safe. The next time you encounter someone who isn’t sure that we still need feminism, tell them about the 31 year old mother of four who was murdered and put in a garbage can by the father of her children.
Please consider supporting women and children in escaping a “horrible life of control and violence” as Miriam put it, by making a donation to one of these organizations or to a similar local organization in the name of Miriam Johnson.
Rape, Abuse, and Incent National Network (RAINN) https://donate.rainn.org/
Women Against Abuse http://www.womenagainstabuse.org/donate
The National Domestic Violence Hotline http://www.thehotline.org/donate/
National Domestic Violence Helpline (UK) http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/
Article by Claire Ryder
VERVE Operative USA & Humanitarian Activist