[Marxism] Oscar Pistorius and the Global Death Cult of Misogyny

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Thu Feb 21 06:06:56 MST 2013


Dave Zirin –

http://www.thenation.com/blog/173033/oscar-pistorius-and-global-death-cult-misogyny

A professional athlete; a home with an arsenal of firearms; a dead young
woman involved a long-term relationship with her killer. In November, her
name was Kasanda
Perkins<http://www.thenation.com/blog/171559/how-can-they-play-murder-suicide-and-national-football-league>and
the man who shot her was Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.
Now her name is Reeva
Steenkamp<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/19/reeva-steenkamp-funeral>,
killed by Olympic sprinter and double amputee Oscar “the Blade Runner”
Pistorius. We don’t know whether Pistorius is guilty of murdering a woman
he claims to have deeply loved or is guilty merely of being an unbelievably
irresponsible gun owner, firing four bullets into the door of his bathroom
in an effort to hit an imagined burglar. We do know that this is either an
all-to-familiar story of a man and the woman he dated and then killed or
it’s the story of a man who thought a burglar had penetrated the
electrified fence that surrounded his gated community to break into his
house and use his toilet.

Just as with Belcher and Perkins, we will learn more than we ever wanted or
needed to know in the weeks to come about the nature of Pistorius and
Steenkamp’s relationship. We will learn about the “allegations of a
domestic nature<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/14/oscar-pistorius-murder-charge-south-africa>”
that had brought police to his home in the past. We will learn about
Pistorius’s previous allegedly violent
relationships<http://mg.co.za/article/2013-02-15-00-reports-of-aggression-haunt-oscar-pistorius-social-relationships>with
women. We will learn about the variety of guns he kept at close hand.
We will surely discuss male athletes and violence against women: the sort
of all-too-common story that can create commonality between a football
player from Long Island and a sprinter from Johannesburg. We might even
ponder the way these gated communities, one of which was also the site of
Florida teenager Trayvon Martin’s murder two years ago, become throbbing
pods of paranoia and parabellums. We will learn about everything except
what actually matters: there is a global epidemic of violence against women
and South Africa is at its epicenter.

Two days before Steenkamp’s death, there were protests outside of the South
African parliament <http://mg.co.za/article/2013-02-12-f> about the
failures of the state to adjudicate the unsolved rapes and murders of women
across the country. As the executive director of the Rape Crisis Centre
Kathleen Dey said on February 12. “There are no overnight cures to the
scourge of rape that is affecting South Africa. We have the highest
instance of rape in the world and we cannot continue in this way.” The
official statistics are shocking. Every seventeen seconds a woman is raped
in South Africa yet just one out of nine women report it and only 14
percent of perpetrators are convicted. The Rape Crisis Centre and other
organizations are starved for funds, with the demand for social services,
counseling and even HIV tests far outstripping their capacity.

There have also had to be demonstrations against what the Women’s League of
the African National Congress has termed “femicide.” In this country of 50
million people, three women a day are killed by their partners. When news
of Steenkamp’s death became front-page news across the country, it pushed
out ongoing headlines of the February 2 Western Cape gang rape and
mutilation of a 17-year-old girl named Anene
Booysen<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anene_Booysen>.
Before her death, Booysen identified one of her perpetrators: it was
someone she both trusted and knew.

This is hardly a South African problem, of course. We are confronting
nothing less than a global system of brutal misogyny. Too many men across
the world see too many women as repositories of their rage, frustration,
narcissism, or simply their will to enact violence. The World Health
Organization’s reports that depending on the country, anywhere from “15%
(Japan) to 71% (Ethiopia) of women report physical and/or sexual violence
by an intimate partner at some point in their
lives<http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/>,”
Like in South Africa, every statistic on this issue must be viewed with
skepticism because of the transnational stigmas and shame that silence
women who have survived.

In the United States, rape culture and the rape it produces has been
normalized to the point where Notre Dame athletes accused of
rape<http://www.thenation.com/blog/172042/notre-dame-and-penn-state-two-rape-scandals-only-one-cry-justice>can
take the field for a national championship football game without a
peep
from the sports pages. It’s a country where Fox News host Bob Beckel can
ask incredulously<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/bob-beckel-college-rape-guns_n_2726173.html?utm_hp_ref=media>,
“When’s the last time you heard about rape on a college campus?” It’s a
country, and a world, where people are now saying enough is enough.

It’s a global problem that will get solved only with a global response if
we want to even dream of a world where violence against women is a relic of
history. That’s the sentiment behind initiatives like “One Billion Rising
to End Violence Against Women and Girls <http://onebillionrising.org/>” and
this kind of brave solidarity and support is extremely welcome. This very
solidarity was displayed by Reeva Steenkamp herself just before her death.
Distraught over the murder of Anene Booysen, Steenkamp sent out an
instragam message. It
read<http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/olympics/2013/02/14/reeva-steenkamp-oscar-pistorius-murder/1919001/>,
“I woke up in a happy safe home this morning. Not everyone did. Speak out
against the rape of individuals in SA. RIP Anene Booysen.” Short of a
billion of us rising, happy and safe homes will not be a reality for the
women of the world. It should be. We have to act now unless we want to keep
telling the stories of Kasandra Perkins, Anene Booysen and Reeva Steenkamp
over and over again, only with different names.



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