The Jessie Davis Case and Media Coverage of Violence Against Women
By Suzanne Reisman on June 25, 2007
BlogHer Original Post
Last Thursday while I was at the gym, I had no choice but to watch FoxNews. (It was on a huge flat screen TV approximately four inches from my face, thanks to the way my gym is set up.) Ever the fine source of news, the pundits speculated non-stop about disappearance of Jessie Davis, which led to one of the most exploitative â€œreportsâ€ that Iâ€™ve seen in a few months about the murder rate of pregnant women. It seems that outside of medical causes, murder is the #1 cause of death for pregnant women.
FoxNews of course treated this as a sensational opportunity to scare women and at the same time, blame them for getting pregnant by the wrong man who would then turn around and kill them. They interviewed experts who nodded seriously while noting that women get into unstable relationships and then itâ€™s practically inevitable that their lovers will kill them. Not that I expect FoxNews to approach the topic in a way that actually provides useful advice for women in dangerous relationships, but making it sound as though all pregnant women are risking getting killed, then indirectly blaming pregnant women for their own murders is pretty distasteful, even for them.
Discussing the case, N Search of Ecstasy wrote, â€œI canâ€™t help but wonder what in the hell would make a man kill a nearly nine months pregnant woman?â€ (The blog also, through some of the comments, begins to discuss how the victim is portrayed as an innocent white woman victimized by a black man, and wonders what other aspects of her life will come out as sensation about the case continues to build.) Good in Theory also wants to stop blaming the victims:
Now the media is saying this should be a lesson to girls not to get involved with â€˜messyâ€™ menâ€¦men who have many women and suchâ€¦To this I say: No one should lose their life to teach a lessonâ€¦AND do you think she knew about ALL aspects of his life when she first got involved with him? Of course not. Heâ€™s obviously I liar, and a criminalâ€¦ good at manipulating. How dare they put any kind of blame toward her, even if its hidden in a statement meant to warn.
Aspazia at Mad Melancholic Feminista ties the sad event and statistics to the bigger picture:
It is tragedies such as this that should be a reminder to all of us why feminism is not irrelevant. Until a pregnant woman is no longer in danger of being murdered by her husband or lover, we are far from living in a world that values not only women, but mothers.
Of course, violence against women â€“ pregnant or not â€“ happens around the world with alarming frequency, even if it does take the tragic death of a cute pregnant white woman to bring attention to the issue. If you are in the New York City area tonight, I encourage you to attend a panel discussion hosted by the New York Times â€œTimes Talksâ€ series. No More Violence Against the Worldâ€™s Women will take place from 7:30 â€“ 9:00 pm. Tickets are $25, but the panel is worth every penny. The discussion will be moderated by Celia Dugger of the New York Times and includes an unbelievable panel: Bob Herbert, New York Times Op-Ed columnist; Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of â€œinfidelâ€ and human rights activist; LaShawn Jefferson, ED of the Womenâ€™s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch; and Rachel Mayanja, special advisor on gender issues and women at the UN. If you are unable to attend (as is unfortunately the case for me), the Times does seem to offer podcasts of events, so hopefully we can catch this important discussion at a future date.
Itâ€™s time to not only end violence against women, but the exploitation of the issue as well. Not just in the US, but everywhere.
Suzanne also blogs at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants