Monday, January 10, 2011

Why do we refuse to acknowledge that men, as a class, can be victims?

Which gender did Jack the Ripper target?  Everyone knows that.

But what about the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski?  Pretty notorious case, that one. But in all the news coverage about the Unabomber's reign of terror, you probably never heard that aside from Kaczynski's effort to blow up an airplane because he thought it would be populated by businessmen (an act that even he later regretted), his targets were exclusively male, although some women did get caught in the crossfire.  In his "manifesto," in which he advocated a revolution against the industrial system, he decried the "craziness" of leftism and tied it to political correctness: "Political correctness has its stronghold among university professors, who have secure employment with comfortable salaries, and the majority of whom are heterosexual white males from middle- to upper-middle-class families." It is little wonder he went after members of his own gender.

Have you heard about the Brazilian teenage girl who, in 2009, claimed to have murdered thirty men?  She decided to confess before turning 18 so she could be tried as a minor. She claimed she targeted men in Sao Paulo for reasons that varied from “money, revenge and to bring justice.” She appears to be the world’s most prolific teenage serial killer. See here and here.  Generally, if a teenage girl is the world's most prolific anything, the story is plastered all over the newspaper. That one seems to have gone unnoticed.

Ah, you say, but the vast majority of serial killers are male, and when they target one gender for their victims, it is typically female.  Correct.  But doesn't that make it all the more newsworthy that the Unabomber's victims were male, and that a girl confessed to killing 30 men?  (And by the way, how many of these have you heard of?)

You seriously don't think the news coverage is different depending on the gender of the victims? Here's an article that contrasts two similar killing sprees in one city, except the genders of the victims were different. The difference in the reactions was predictable.

When men die in accidents, or are killed in an attack, their gender is typically ignored in the ensuing news coverage. When women are killed, their gender is trumpeted in the headline.

It is beyond dispute that innocent men are more vulnerable to the criminals than innocent women. Check out a source feminists could not dispute, J. Friedman, J. Valenti, Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape (2008) at 23: "Men are 150 percent more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than women are. . . . . Men are more likely to be victimized by a stranger (63 percent of violent victimizations) . . . ."

One of the great conundrums we face in doing this blog is the almost religious-like resistance we get from the persons who dominate the public discourse about rape when we dare even suggest that men, as a class, can be victims. I am sorry, but I do not pretend to have an answer to the question I posed in the title of this post. Many of our readers are better versed in these macro-gender issues than I am, and I will defer to them. Whatever the answer, I see this as the single greatest stumbling block we face.