Misogyny is the oldest prejudice and men killing women is a tale as old as time. Men’s violence against women is the leading cause of the premature death of women globally. Everywhere on the surface of this earth men are the main reason women die prematurely. As in everywhere, everywhere all at once. You wouldn’t know this by reading media accounts of murdered women. One would be forgiven to assume from the news alone that these were isolated incidents and that the individual women had it coming. Nothing systemic or global to see here. These specific women deserved to die. Those men had reasons and we’ll gladly share them with you. Let’s talk about how the media report femicide and how they insist on telling us these women deserved to die.
Stone the prostitute
The Bible records a story in which Jesus bumps into a group of men intent on stoning, killing really, a woman who they believed was a prostitute. Jesus does his thing, saves the woman, the men leave and he tells the woman to go on her way. Prostitutes and women of questionable morals by the standards of men have always deserved death. The way patriarchal society sees it, they’re basically asking for it. It’s the wages, the consequences of their sin.
Over a decade ago, a Kenyan woman, Agnes Wanjiru was murdered by a British soldier on suspicion of being a sex worker. No justice has been served. Most recently, a Kenyatta University student called June Jerop was murdered in April 2023. The way the media has been reporting the news reminds us of this societal desire to stone the prostitute and kill the woman of perceived loose morals.
There are allegations that she was seeing multiple men at the same time. That’s bad enough. Worse is she ate a man’s money. She was living beyond her means, on a man’s dime and still being unfaithful to him. If there has ever been a woman that had it coming, the media headlines tell us, this one did.
It’s not the first time the murder of a woman has been justified because of her alleged consumption of a man’s money. Ivy Wangeci was hunted down and murdered in broad daylight by a man who claimed she accepted his gifts, and ate his money.
One witness for a man, two for a woman
Another religious tradition asserts that because of women’s inherent weakness, one man’s testimony is equal to that of two women. This logic is inherent in everything we do. People refuse to believe women and the disbelieving response to claims of sexual assault and violence is just one way this manifests in society. In the case of Jerop, we are reminded yet again about society’s insistence on believing men, validating their claims and centering them no matter the case at hand.
Jerop is dead. She was murdered, yet the media insists on inundating us with headlines from male suspects who have no shortage of stories to tell about the kind of person Jerop was. How she was living beyond her means, how she owes them money… If a man says it, it must be true. More importantly so what a woman is dead, men and their experiences, their side of the story must remain our focus. They are all we care about.
Not too long ago, the media houses came out with interviews of Ivy Wmangeci’s murderer talking about how remorseful he is. Men must be centred at all times. Even the ones who have confessed to murdering women. Who cares about women when you have men?
An isolated incident, nothing to see here
A woman is killed. If you were to go by the news, this is the most isolated of isolated incidents. Men don’t kill women like that all the time. Women are poisoned, stabbed, pushed off buildings, and hacked to death in broad daylight but it’s not a systemic issue. We don’t have to talk about patriarchy, sexism and whatever it is about masculinity and men that tells them they can kill women for whatever reason big or small. They are justified at all times. When women say men hate and women and #YesAllMen benefit from the patriarchy and violent men, there is no shortage of men coming out of the woodwork to call them bitter feminists. It’s not patriarchy. It’s not men’s misogyny. It’s none of that. There’s nary a statistic on femicide to be seen anywhere. Each incident is reported as such, as an isolated incident, untethered from the reality we know to be true.
Here are just a few of the murders that rocked the nation or at least a subset of the nation that lives in perpetual fear of being added to this growing list.
The list is endless but not according to the media. According to them, each case is completely isolated. Men don’t hate women. This society doesn’t aid and abet men. Femicide? What even is that? Nothing to see here.
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