Earlier this week I was wondering aloud on Twitter whether anyone was going to address the gendered dimensions of the point blank shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords allegedly by Jared L. Loughner.
I realized that no one would, so it was my job.
By a gendered framework I mean aknowledging, naming and analyzing the fact that Congresswoman Giffords is a woman and that Loughner is a man and putting the shooting within a larger historical and a current framework of violence against women.
To put the shooting within a larger framework is to acknowledge that this is a violent culture against women, and once this is acknowledged, something will have to be done about it. That being said, it may be in the interests of those who organize society to act as if this is not a gendered act of violence. They have their interests, and I have mine.
In a culture that is violent against women, a significant amount of violence sexual or otherwise is committed against women, simply because they are born women.
- In 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner.1 That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner.2
- The poorer the household, the higher the rate of domestic violence — with women in the lowest income category experiencing more than six times the rate of nonfatal intimate partner violence as compared to women in the highest income category.11
- 60.4% of female victims were first raped before age 18.
- Among high school students, 9.3% of black students, 7.8% of Hispanic students, and 6.9% of white students reported that they were forced to have sexual intercourse at some time in their lives.3
Looking at the statistics helps us to get a sense of how this shooting can be seen as not only arguably connected to harmful Tea Party rhetoric but also to a narrative of violence against women.
Looking at the shooting through a gendered framework is helpful because it can help us to see how public acts of violence, such as lynching, rape and murder have been used historically in the United States to deter marginalized bodies from participating publicly and fully in Democracy.
Baldwin says to act is to commit, and to commit is to be in danger.
I don’t hold my breath, I also don’t hold my pen.
Have you noticed in mainstream media that there has been very little analysis of how this shooting was a gendered act?
What would happen if that were broached or even acknowledged?