We can all raise our voices to echo her “no”

Glosswitch in the Independent:

If only Shana Fisher had said yes. This is the implication of countless headlines following Dimitrios Pagourtzis’ decision to slaughter her along with nine of her teachers and classmates.

According to a Facebook post by Fisher’s mother, Fisher “had four months of problems from this boy” where “he kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no. He continued to get more aggressive”. So a girl endures several months of harassment, until her harasser kills her. How are we supposed to see this?

Spurned advances spark Texas shooting.” “Texas school shooter ‘killed girl who turned down his advances’.” “Spurned advances provoked incident at Santa Fe high school.

What I’m saying. The Danish cartoonists who drew Mohammed didn’t “provoke” riots; the cartoonists and writers at Charlie Hebdo didn’t “provoke” their own murders; Salman Rushdie didn’t “provoke” the fatwa on him; my dear friend Taslima Nasreen didn’t “provoke” the riots and treats that target her; the atheist bloggers murdered in Bangladesh didn’t “provoke” their own murders; Shana Fisher didn’t “provoke” that murderous boy.

The message, in case you’ve missed it, is that Fisher’s rejection – her “spurning” – of Pagourtzis is what caused his murderous rampage…

There’s something truly depressing about finding the world view of a killer reflected in the reporting of his crimes. Then again, belief that women and girls exist to tend to the sexual and emotional needs of men and boys is everywhere. It does not confine itself to those murky message boards where incels, MRAs, PUAs or whatever the latest misogyny hate tribe call themselves have decided to congregate.

If it did it wouldn’t keep turning up in headlines.

Male pride rests on the delusion that females can always be dominated (or “persuaded”, as it is so often recast). It is a delusion that is poisoning the minds of boys, creating a sense of grievance – and actual pain – where there should be none. For all the bullshit we hear from the Jordan Petersons of this world, there is no possible social arrangement in which men and boys can be guaranteed the willing, uncontested sexual and emotional labour of women and girls. You can brainwash, harass and threaten girls all you want, but even in the most extreme of circumstances they will carry on having minds of their own. It’s far easier and kinder to change the expectations of boys.

I believe this can be done, but not in a world which seeks to guilt-trip dead girls for their failure to pander to the male ego. And what, one wonders, would have happened had Shana Fisher said yes? How long can a woman serve as a buffer to absorb male disappointment with the world? And when she starts to flag, isn’t she always the first to go?

There is nothing Shana Fisher could have given that would have been enough. We can, however, challenge the rage and entitlement she faced. We can all raise our voices to echo her “no”.


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