Preventing Jonesboros

Linda Purrington (
Sun, 29 Mar 1998 19:27:58 -0800

Forwarded by Linda Purrington <>

Boys Killing Girls. . .
Women Leaders Online <wlo@WLO.ORG>

WOC Alert 3/29/98 - Boys Killing Girls; Congressional Dis-courtesy

Whenever you hear gender neutral language from non-feminist sources,
you should be suspicious. And when this gender neutral language
occurs in discussing something which clearly and disproportionately
affects women, you can bet that either: * those controlling the debate
are trying to obscure the damage the issue does to women and girls
(for instance, "spousal consent" for abortion), or * the speakers
can't (or won't) admit that the problem is one that is overwhelmingly
caused by males (for instance, "deadbeat parents").

The coverage of the Jonesboro, Arkansas murders seems to meet both
tests. Once again _ just as in the December school massacre in
Paducah, KY and the attacks two months earlier in Pearl, MS _ all the
dead are female, killed by boys. But instead of talking about these
as gender-based hate crimes, all of the discussion is about "children
killing children." The result of this gender neutral discussion is
that girls are being put at greater risk, and the problem _
patriarchal attitudes and behavior _ hasn't been revealed.

There has been plenty of opportunity, yet little inclination, to
identify and eradicate this deadly misogynism. The media have talked
about the murders nearly non-stop, from nearly every angle: the
impact of TV, "the breakdown of family values," gun control, pervasive
violence, school pressure, giving the shooters the death penalty to
"teach them a lesson," the shooters' bonding as infants, their
relationships with pets, etc... But the glaring unreported fact that
these girls were killed by boys simply BECAUSE THEY ARE GIRLS.

And there is little doubt _ despite the denials by the Arkansas police
_ that these boys were targeting girls. The boys knew the school
schedule and that it would be classes of girls _ not girls and boys _
exiting the door they staked out. After the massacre, many students
recounted the repeated threats made by one of the boys to kill his
"former girlfriend" for breaking up with him, and to kill other girls
as well. And the young girl herself, injured in the shooting, said
she had broken up with him after only 3 days because she "found out he
was trouble."

This pattern isn't surprising for feminists, and it shouldn't be a
surprise to the authorities and the media. Batterers, young and old,
say the same thing when they kill and maim women and girls _ "if I
can't have her, no one can." Workers in shelters and the police know
that the most dangerous time for a woman is when she is leaving a
battering relationship. And it is no different for young girls.

While hindsight is always perfect, it is pretty clear that these
murders might have been prevented, if Title IX _ the federal law
forbidding discrimination on the basis of sex in any school, program,
or college that receives federal funds _ had been enforced. The
rampant rumors of the boy's threats against the girls should have been
investigated and acted upon. If the school wasn't aware of the
threats, we have further evidence of non-enforcement of Title IX, as
the school looked the other way while a hostile atmosphere was created
for the girls.

But the school can't carry the blame on its own. Indeed, when schools
around the country have tried to enforce Title IX, their actions have
often been met with derision and talk show-led community outrage.
Think of the many cases we have heard where a boy was suspended for
sexual harassment _ unwanted touching, kissing, etc. _ and the school
was accused of "over-reacting." After all, said Rush and his
wannabees, "Boys will be boys." And schools have been forced to
reinstate harassers, and the girls have been left with no protection.
The law that should have helped them was stripped away by the same
crowd who feed hatred of women on the airwaves generally; the very
same speakers who dubbed feminists as "feminazis".


We have to make sure that our nation knows exactly what these murders
are _ gender based hate crimes. One way is to insist that the Justice
Department investigate these murders as violations of the federal
Violence Against Women Act. Another is to ask key reporters to do
stories condemning boys' violence against girls. Meet with your
local editorial boards, write op-eds, letters to the editor. Meet
with your school administrators to make sure they are enforcing Title
IX, and let them know you are watching them. And _ as feminists are
already doing in California _ demonstrate! The message _ and the
moral _ of Jonesboro (and Paducah and Pearl) is clear: SEXISM KILLS
GIRLS.. . .

new message to this message