For background, please see previous posts from Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.
Yesterday, the New York Times published a long and widely shared article about Robert Dear's background: "For Robert Dear, Religion and Rage Before Planned Parenthood Attack." There is no acknowledgment of their previous reporting in which they drew a picture of a "gentle loner" who only "occasionally unleashed violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew."
Now, they report: "But in court documents and interviews with people who knew Mr. Dear well, a picture emerges of an angry and occasionally violent man who seemed deeply disturbed and deeply contradictory: He was a man of religious conviction who sinned openly, a man who craved both extreme solitude and near-constant female company, a man who successfully wooed women but, some of them say, also abused them."
That Dear both "craved extreme solitude" and "near-constant female company" (an interesting, ahem, way to describe a man who was arrested for rape and voyeurism) is not a contradiction. Men who abuse female partners often want to isolate themselves and the women they abuse from outsiders, who might object to their abuse and intervene to stop it.
That's a basic and well-documented dynamic of domestic violence, and it should not be reported as a "contradiction." Unless, of course, one's intent is simply to draw a portrait of a man whose behavior is incomprehensible, thus underwriting narratives that he is "crazy."
There could hardly be a better way to avoid addressing conformity with cultural misogyny and substitute in its place the suggestion of inexplicable instability than reporting a history of violence toward women, alongside details about anti-government paranoia and internet ranting about pot, without ever connecting the dots between domestic misogynist violence and anti-choice terrorism.
The common denominators of which are a seething hostility toward women's agency, autonomy, consent, and safety.
That's not evidence of mental illness or contradictions. That's evidence of consistent fealty to patriarchal narratives about male ownership of women's lives and bodies.
In the article, we further find out that this was not even Dear's first act against Planned Parenthood:
A number of people who knew Mr. Dear said he was a staunch abortion opponent. [Barbara Micheau], 60, said in a brief interview Tuesday that late in her marriage to Mr. Dear, he told her that he had put glue in the locks of a Planned Parenthood location in Charleston.So Dear has a history of anti-choice interference, was arrested for both rape and being a "peeping Tom" (a situation which likely would have escalated to rape had he not been caught), has multiple ex-wives who report vicious domestic violence, and somehow the word "misogyny" never appears in the entire article, and the headline announces "Religion and Rage Before Planned Parenthood Attack."
"He was very proud of himself that he'd gone over and jammed up their locks with glue so that they couldn't get in," she said.
Sure. Religion and rage. It's technically accurate. But it seems rather more important that he was a violent misogynist, whose religion was a convenient justification for his violent misogyny, and whose rage was directed at primarily at women.
This is not a matter of semantics. To fail to call violent misogyny by its name is to abet it.
Just two months ago, in a piece entitled "The Media Is Failing Women," I wrote:
Just a series of unconnected events, each of which happens in a vacuum! So we're meant to believe.Lots of people are rightly angry that the media refuses to call Dear's actions anti-choice terrorism. We should all be equally angry that the media refuses to connect that to the larger issue of violent misogyny.
That similar failure is no coincidence. It's all violence done against (primarily) women, targeting women who are exercising sexual and reproductive agency, who want control over our own bodies, who insist on deciding for ourselves who we fuck and whether we birth (their) babies.
Violent, entitled men who subscribe to narratives of a profoundly toxic masculinity are waging a terrorist campaign against women's autonomy, agency, and consent. They are killing us (and other men in the process) in order to terrorize us into yielding our independence.
And the media is complicit in their terrorism, because it flatly refuses to call these acts what they are. The media is failing women by refusing to connect the dots.
The only people for whom that concealment is a favor are violent misogynists.
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