It’s become a grim ritual among the women I know: as soon as there is news of another mass shooting, we wait to hear the inevitable story about the shooter’s history of hurting women. (The shooter is always a man.) Sometimes he’s been violent to his mother or grandmother. More often, police reports reveal his history of abusing his girlfriend or wife.
But almost always he practiced his violence on a woman long before he planned his massacre, and within a day of the slaughter we’re sharing this history with impotent grief, asking again and again, what will it take to take women’s lives seriously? If we took women’s lives seriously, if men who abused the women in their lives faced any kind of real consequences, would the people we are now preparing to bury be alive today?
That’s a complicated question, tangled up with gun politics and our failed criminal justice system. But the core reality remains stark: it’s impossible to contain the suffering that stems from discounting and disbelieving women.
If we refused to accept the daily suffering of women and girls at the hands of men who claim to love them, we would have a federal policy removing guns from abusers, and we would ensure that it worked in practice. And we would have a lot fewer gun deaths. Period.
True, she’s written a book with Valenti but still, imagine being compared to Jessica and coming off second?