Rape Culture 101: A Love Letter to My Fellow Rape Survivors

Things that cause rape

It wasn’t your fault.  I believe you.  What happened to you was rape.  You are not alone.  Those are things I wish someone had said to me when I was raped.  But that didn’t happen.  I never reported my assault because I was 18. Because he was my sister’s friend. Because it wasn’t “rape rape.” Because I was more concerned with being pregnant or having an STD than getting revenge on my rapist. Because I was a virgin and had no idea what had just happened to me. And my story is not uncommon. And the repercussions of what happened to me are also not uncommon: anxiety, depression, total loss of self, unwillingness to trust, dysfunctional relationship with sex and my own body–this is what happens to those who are raped.  But we live in a culture where we don’t talk about these things. Because it’s traumatic. Because it’s embarrassing. Because we blame ourselves, or others blame us for our actions.  Because who wants to tell their new partner about how they have a really difficult time with intimacy because they were raped?  These aren’t first date discussions, and sadly they end up being non-discussions because we live in a culture that doesn’t talk about the bad, the horrifying, and the traumatic.  We live in a Facebook era where we only ever want to show the best parts of ourselves to the detriment of so many who believe they are the only ones who’ve faced this.  And it needs to stop.

The following is my analysis of our current rape culture, the reasons so many never come forward, and a call to everyone that we need to stop victim blaming and start looking at the root causes of sexual assault.  Why does this keep happening?  Why do we as a society still engage in victim blaming? Why is it still so difficult to believe their stories? And how do we stop the epidemic of sexual assault here and around the world?

As Jennifer Cady reports, “For the first time since accusations of rape were made against Bill Cosby, 35 of the reported 46 women total who allege that the 78-year-old comedian sexually assaulted them have united together to tell their stories. New York Magazine photographed and interviewed each woman separately and notes that each of “their stories have remarkable similarities . . . . An empty chair was also left on the cover to represent those women unable to tell their story, which subsequently sparked a Twitter hashtag around that discussion.”  Twitter users created #TheEmptyChair as a way for victims/survivors of rape, sexual assault and abuse who are/were too frightened to come forward due to shame, stigma or the possibility further abuse to have a space to share their stories.  Others have posted in support.  Though heartbreaking to read, I would encourage everyone to read these stories.

But the fact that in 2015, we need a hashtag for those who were victims/survivors of sexual assault to share their stories, prompted by a cover of a magazine in which only 35 out of the 46 accusers were visually shown, shows how far we have to go in the ways in which we treat those who have been sexually assaulted.  That empty chair represents far too many who never speak out for so many reasons. Too many people in my life have sat in that chair. Enough. We need to break this culture of silence.

So why is it, how is it, that in this day and age, it takes 46 accusers to bring down a serial rapist?  My top reasons in no particular order.

1) Victim blaming.  As Laci Green notes in this video, there are horrible ramifications when we blame the victim instead of the perpetrator.  We place the onus on victim/survivor to engage/not engage in certain activities or to “prevent” themselves from “getting raped” versus looking at what causes some to rape in the first place, victim blaming protects sexual predators, and it makes it harder for justice to be served.  We invent things like rape-proof underwear and rape-proof nail polish.  And while the intentions come from a good place, the logic is horribly misplaced.  Again, it tells women, “you’re most likely going to get raped in your lifetime, so you should probably wear these underwear so it will be harder for someone to assault you.” Or even worse in the case of the nail polish, “Ladies, men are so horrible and disgusting, that they’ll probably slip something into your drink every time you go into a bar, but worry no more! Just dip your nails into your drink to tell if you’ve been drugged! Problem solved!”  This again not only reinforces the idea what someone needs to “prevent” themselves from getting raped, but is an incredible insult to men who DON’T drug people like the four men who created the nail polish.  I’ll get to the problem with the “boys will be boys” mentality in a bit.  In addition to others blaming victims, victims often blame themselves which leads me to my next point.

rape proof underwearrape proof nail polish

2)  Culture of Silence/Self Blame/Shame:  In a culture where we blame those who get sexually assaulted and place such a high prize on purity and virginity, it’s no wonder that those who are assaulted don’t come forward.  In Jessica Valenti’s “The Purity Myth,” she claims, “The lie of virginity—the idea that such a thing even exists—is ensuring that young women’s perception of themselves is inextricable from their bodies, and that their ability to be moral actors is absolutely dependent on their sexuality. It’s time to teach our daughters that their ability to be good people depends on their being good people, not on whether or not they’re sexually active . . . . so while young women are subject to overt sexual messages everyday, they’re simultaneously being taught—by the people who are supposed to care for their personal and moral development, no less—that their only real worth is their virginity and ability to remain ‘pure.'”  So, what happens when you’ve been told that your power rests in your ability to stay “pure” until marriage, when you’ve decided to remain abstinent, when you’ve attended a purity ball (yes these exist) and you’ve made a conscious choice to not engage in sexual activity until marriage and then someone takes that decision away from you?  Many see themselves as “damaged goods” who no longer hold their v-card, and since their purity is now gone, they may engage in dangerous sexual activity or have an incredibly toxic relationship with sex and their own sexuality because they’re no longer “pure” in the eyes of their God or society.  In addition, survivors tend to use the same rhetoric others use when victim blaming on themselves, “well, I probably did drink too much” or “maybe I did give off mixed signals” or any other of the thousands of reasons we tell those who have been assaulted that they somehow brought this on themselves.  When that happens, these assaults go unreported, the victim rarely tells someone, and does not seek treatment which can lead to dangerous repercussions.

3) A taught behavior:  We assume this is normal, that “boys will be boys,” and that this is just part of human nature.  Again, this is HUGELY insulting to all the men who do NOT rape and assault other men and women.  In addition, as Emily Hauser notes, “We teach our boys, from a very young age, that access to sexual release is their right, that indeed, their manhood is to be judged by how many vaginas they can penetrate. We teach them that those who would deny them this release may be manipulated and ignored, because the measure of a man is more important than the humanity of a woman. We encourage them — in winks, nods, jokes, songs, and men’s magazines — to view women as prey and as body parts, women’s own needs and desires as obstacles to sexual release. If removing those obstacles requires roofies, so be it — but often enough, copious amounts of alcohol (the original date rape drug) will serve.  We teach young boys and men that they “can’t help themselves,” that they should be sexually aggressive, that if they DON’T objectify women, they are “weak,” and if they are not sexually active, they are “weak” or “less than” a “real man.”  So whereas women are told that their power lies in protecting their virginity, we have entire films devoted to men losing theirs to “gain” power or masculinity: Porky’s, Weird Science, American Pie, The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Girl Next Door, Superbad, Sex Drive–you get the point.

4)  Dehumanization:  In ads, films, and almost all popular media, women’s bodies are constantly turned into things and objects which creates a climate of widespread violence against women.  Again, it is not a direct correlation, but turning a human being in to a *thing* is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person.  As Jean Kilbourne notes, “Just as it’s difficult to be healthy in a toxic physical environment if we’re breathing poisoned air for example or drinking polluted water, so it’s difficult to be healthy in what I call a toxic cultural environment, an environment that surrounds us with unhealthy images, and that constantly sacrifices our health and our sense of well being for the sake of profit. Ads sell more than products. They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, success, and perhaps most importantly, of ‘normalcy.’ To a great extent they tell us who we are and who we should be.”—Jean Kilbourne, Killing Us Softly 4.  As Rance Crain, former Senior Editor of Advertising Age notes, “only 8% of an ad’s message is received by the conscious mind. The rest is worked and reworked deep within the recesses of the brain.”  Messaging matters.  Language matters.  It is because of these objectifying images and this toxic culture that allows boys to rank their female classmates in a bracket and see absolutely nothing wrong with it.  96% of sexually objectifying imagery is of women’s bodies.  When we don’t see people as fully human and only as parts and things time and time again, we create a culture where it is much easier to do harm to that person.

5) Lack of Conversations Around Consent:  There is a myth that consent isn’t sexy.  But as Laci Green points out here, not only can it be, but conversations regarding consent need to be seen as something that become part of our everyday vocabulary.  What is consent?  It’s clear.  It’s enthusiastic.  There shouldn’t be any confusion, and if there is, check in.  Ongoing dialogue should be part of sexual encounters. Still confused?  Maybe this will help.  What’s troubling is the lack of consent or discussion of consent anywhere in the media.  We don’t see people having these conversations, so how would we know how to model this behavior?

consent

6) Sexual violence/Street Harassment isn’t taken seriously.  I’ll just leave this right here.

7)  “Rape Rape”/Trivialization of certain kinds of assault.  We are conditioned to believe that it only counts as “rape” if what happened to you was 1) done by a stranger 2) in a dark alley 3) at knifepoint/gunpoint.  The reality is:

Approximately 2/3 of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
73% of sexual assaults are perpetrated by a non-stranger.
38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
28% are an intimate.
7% are a relative.

This is why we have words like “spousal rape,” “intimate partner sexual violence,” etc.  Yes, you can get raped by your spouse. Yes, you can get raped by your partner.  Yes, you can get raped by someone with whom you once had consensual sex. Yes, you can get raped by a friend.  Yes, you can get raped by a loved one.  Not sure if you were raped? Read this.

So, what do we do?

Here are the realities, the statistics:

In Wisconsin

  • 1,224 women were reported forcibly raped in Wisconsin in 2012, up 3.6% from the year before.
  • 21.4 forcible rapes per 100,000 Wisconsin residents.
  • *The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), administered by the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008-2012
  • *Wisconsin Statistical Analysis Center Report, 2013
  • Crime Information Bureau
  • Department of Justice
  • P.O. Box 2718
  • Madison, WI 53701
  • ojasac@wi.gov
  • http://oja.wi.gov/sac/

In the United States

  • By age 18, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual violence
  • At some point in their lives 1 in 5 women and 1 in 33 men have experienced attempted or completed rape
  • Sexual Assault victims are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, 6 times more likely to suffer from PTSD, 13 more times to abuse alcohol, 26 more times to abuse drugs, and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide
  • *The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), administered by the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008-2012

Many of these numbers are low because sexual assault is still one of the most underreported crimes in our country.  Roughly only 27% of rapes or sexual assaults were reported to police in 2011.

  • *The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), administered by the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011

You know someone who has been raped.  Statistically, it’s impossible that you don’t.  So what’s the answer? Stop the blaming.  Intervene if you see something happening that seems wrong.  Speak out against sexual harassment, street harassment, rape, and sexual assault. Support ongoing training for those who investigate allegations of any type of interpersonal violence to include trauma-informed investigation training.  And support anyone who comes to you.  Every assault is different, but circumstances don’t make any assault less traumatizing.  Tell them you believe them.  Tell them you love them.  If nothing else, just listen.  You won’t be able to fix it.  Nothing *fixes* it.  As my fellow survivors know, you’re never really “ok.”  Ever.  Something has been taken from you and from that point on, your life is never the same.  No, you are not “damaged goods” but you are damaged.  A part of you will forever be destroyed.  But nothing will change if our culture remains the same.  If we place the blame on the victim; not the perpetrator.  If we don’t believe their stories.  We as individuals must speak out.  We need to read the heart wrenching stories of others and do our best to reframe the ways in which we talk about rape and assault in our culture.  To my brothers and sisters who survived these unspeakable acts of violence, and to the many others who did not, my heart breaks for you every day.  This is for you.  It wasn’t your fault.  I believe you.  What happened to you was rape. You are not alone.  We will heal.  We will survive. We will thrive.  And I will forever love and support you just as I was loved and supported by so many who made it possible for me to even write this.  Peace be with you all, and here is to hoping that by speaking out, someday, someday, we won’t all know someone who’s been raped.

Update:  since posting this yesterday, within less than 24 hours, I have had enough men and women contact me or publicly post their own stories that I could write an entirely new blog with just their horrifying experiences.

“The Perpetrator Was Caught, but the Killer is Still at Large”- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II: Why We Need to Stop Blaming All the Wrong Things and Truly Understand the Root Causes of Mass Shootings in America

 

bushmaster-man-card-banner

Rev. Clementa C.Pinkney. Cynthia Hurd. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. Tywanza Sanders. Myra Thompson. Ethel Lee Lance. Susie Jackson. Daniel L. Simmons. Depayne Middleton Doctor. As my beautiful friend, Suzanne Enck said, “remember their names. Learn their stories. Ensure that their legacies live on.”  In churches across Charleston this morning, church bells are ringing.  The Charleston Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau claims that “Charleston is often referred to as the ‘Holy City,’ a place where church steeples–not skyscrapers–dot the skyline.  This Sunday, our bells will ring loudly and proudly to proclaim our community’s unity.”  There has been much debate and conversation as to who and what is to blame for yet again another mass shooting in America, but I want to be clear.  On this Father’s Day, this is no joyous occasion for those who just lost their loved ones; whose names we must remember.  Whose stories, lives, memories, and legacies should be our sole focus.

As I watch the service, I am filled with such incredible sadness.  When I first heard of the massacre, I was sitting in a hotel lobby, lazily eating my continental breakfast and watching the news, the giant television one foot away from my face, and my eyes just welled with tears.  Perhaps this tragedy hit me harder than others because I’d just spent so much time in peace and beauty, high in the mountains of Glacier National State Park, feeling connected and loved and forgetting how much darkness still exists in this world.  Perhaps it’s as my friend, Richard Grusin said, “The older I get, the harder these horrifying attacks hit me. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”

Because this is neither the first nor the last mass shooting I will bear witness to in my lifetime.  As Jelani Cobb points out speaking of the recent death of Walter Scott along with the Charleston massacre, “The two incidents seem like gruesome boomerangs of history until we consider the even more terrible idea that they are simple reflections of the present. The daisy chain of racial outrages that have been a constant feature of American life since Trayvon Martin’s death, three years ago, are not a copycat phenomenon soon to fade from our attention.”  And sadly, the plot line remains the same.  Horrible tragedy occurs.  There is moral outrage.  Politicians and pundits blame the media, violent video games, mental illness, and lax gun regulations.  The sitting president calls for stricter gun regulations and policies.  A bill is proposed, maybe two.  And then the next salacious news story grabs our attention.  Nothing happens and we forget.  We forget so quickly.  As Melissa Harris-Perry posed this morning, we have to ask ourselves whether “emotional solidarity formed in trauma can last and whether it can make lasting change.” Sadly the answer, I believe, is no. A few months will go by and we will forget.  We will forget them.  Perhaps the Onion displayed this sentiment best in its headline following the Isla Vista shooting back in May of 2014 when it read, “‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”

I’ve been wanting to write about the issue of mass shootings in America for awhile now because of this very reason.  I’m tired of this plot line.  I’m tired of this cycle.  Phrases like “mass shootings” and “school shootings” shouldn’t exist in our culture.  And until we start talking about what motivates those who engage in these mass shootings to do this kind of ultimate act of violence, we as a society will never progress.

I do not claim to have all the answers, but this is my attempt to continue a much needed dialogue regarding the role of gender in mass shootings and the misplaced blame on mental health, violence in the media, and gun control legislation.

The author, Jackson Katz has been writing on this for years, so if you’re familiar with him, you will notice a lot of his arguments here.  If not, I highly encourage you to become familiar with him, his advocacy, and his work.  I always say, if I ran the world, I would make everyone watch his groundbreaking documentary, Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood, and American Culture. It’s summary: “In this highly anticipated update of the influential and widely acclaimed Tough Guise, pioneering anti-violence educator and cultural theorist Jackson Katz argues that the ongoing epidemic of men’s violence in America is rooted in our inability as a society to move beyond outmoded ideals of manhood. In a sweeping analysis that cuts across racial, ethnic, and class lines, Katz examines mass shootings, day-to-day gun violence, violence against women, bullying, gay-bashing, and American militarism against the backdrop of a culture that has normalized violent and regressive forms of masculinity in the face of challenges to traditional male power and authority. Along the way, the film provides a stunning look at the violent, sexist, and homophobic messages boys and young men routinely receive from virtually every corner of the culture, from television, movies, video games, and advertising to pornography, the sports culture, and U.S. political culture. Tough Guise 2 stands to empower a new generation of young men — and women — to challenge the myth that being a real man means putting up a false front and engaging in violent and self-destructive behavior.”

Let’s start with the troubling “go to” arguments we regularly hear following these massacres:

Mental Illness:  Here’s the thing.  Women suffer from mental illness, too.  They do not commit mass shootings.  Arther Chu has a great breakdown of why we need to stop focusing the blame on mental illness here, so I won’t go into much detail, but he does point out a few key arguments: “We do have statistics showing that the vast majority of people who commit acts of violence do not have a diagnosis of mental illness and, conversely, people who have mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators. We know that the stigma of people who suffer from mental illness as scary, dangerous potential murderers hurts people every single day — it costs people relationships and jobs, it scares people away from seeking help who need it, it brings shame and fear down on the heads of people who already have it bad enough . . . . ‘mental illness’ never created any idea, motivation or belief system. ‘Mental illness’ refers to the way our minds can distort the ideas we get from the world, but the ideas still come from somewhere . . . . We love to talk about individuals’ mental illness so we can avoid talking about the biggest, scariest problem of all–societal illness. That the danger isn’t any one person’s madness, but that the world we live in is mad. After all, there’s no pill for that.”

Violent video games, music, Marilyn Manson, etc., etc., etc.:  I am the first to admit that the power of the media to influence values, perceptions, beliefs, and actions cannot be overestimated. However, as I stated with the mental illness argument, women also play violent video games.  They listen to Marilyn Manson.  And they do not commit mass shootings.

Lax gun laws/lack of gun control legislation:  Rather than debating the merits or effectiveness of gun control legislation, I want to point out again that women have access to guns.  They have access to illegal guns.  Women do not commit mass shootings.

Let’s start with some statistics, what I believe, and make a few things very clear:

I do not hate men

I do not think men are inherently evil

I do not think men are biologically predestined to be rapists, murderers, or abusers

I don’t think parents intentionally raise their sons to be rapists, murderers or abusers

I do believe there is a correlation between constructed masculinity and violence

I do believe masculinity is socially constructed learned behavior

I do believe the repercussions of constructed masculinity are real, dangerous, and need to addressed

Why does this matter?  The same ways we train young girls to think their only value lies in their beauty, we also train young boys to associate strength with violence.  And the repercussions are deeply troubling.  According to Katz, compared to girls, boys in the U.S. are more likely to:

1) Be diagnosed with a behavior disorder

2) Be prescribed stimulant medications

3) Fail out of school

4) Binge drink

5) Commit a violent crime

6) Take their own lives

Males are most often both the victims and the perpetrators in 90% of homicides.

90% of people who commit violent physical assault are men.

Males perpetrate 95% of all serious domestic violence.

86%  of  armed  robberies  are  committed  by  men.

77%  of  aggravated  assaults  are  committed  by  men.

87%  of  stalkers  are  men.

86%  of  domestic violence incidents resulting in physical injury are perpetrated by men.

99% of  rapes  are  committed  by  men.

Men  commit  approximately  90%  of  murder.

Since 1982 there have been more than 62 mass shootings in the U.S  In only one instance was the gun user female. 

The purpose of listing these statistics is NOT to show that men are inherently evil, though many argue that men are just more biologically dispositioned to be violent and do violence.  To me, that is THE greatest insult to all men–to assume that being rapists and murderers is encoded in their DNA.  No.  This is learned behavior.  We train our young boys to be “tough,” to “man up,” to be emotionally constipated, and to never, never fall outside the constraints of what it means to “be a man.”  And if all of these messages can be learned, if violent masculinity is, in fact, manufactured, it can also be unlearned.  The training can be undone.

So how and where are young boys getting these messages?  Everywhere.
Grand Theft Auto

gatorade50 centchuck norrislynx

300, Tree of Life, Fight Club, Drive, Snickers, Snickers Australia.  You get the point.

The  key  here  with  all  of  this is that this isn’t just about deviant individuals.  The men committing these mass shootings aren’t just a few bad apples. So often they are described as “lone wolves” detached from society–sociopaths committing atrocities in isolated incidents–when in reality, many men often turn to violence out of fear that they don’t measure up to our rigid cultural codes of manhood. Psychiatrist  James Gilligan  interviewed  hundreds of violent criminals in American prisons and found that that the single most powerful reason they turned to violence was because they felt shamed, humiliated, or disrespected as men.  They were so afraid of being perceived as weak, they had been bullied, abused, and taunted to such a breaking point, they were willing to engage in violence to somehow “regain their man card.”  As Katz argues, “What  all  of  this  amounts  to  is  that  our  violence  problem seems to be a lot less about lone wolves and monsters who fail to conform to society’s norms than it is about too many men, in a sense, conforming to our norms and ideals of manhood out of a fear of not being seen as men.” In the documentary, “The Mask You Live In,” the director highlights what so many young men face growing up–trained to be emotionless, to see seeking help as weakness, and to see violence as a way of gaining respect.  Some of the quotes from the young men speak volumes:  “Once I went into high school, I struggled finding people I could talk to because I feel like I’m not supposed to get help.” “As a man, respect is linked to violence.”

We view mass shootings as the number one cause of gun violence in this country, when in reality, most gun deaths are a result of men and boys shooting themselves.  Suicide accounts for close to two thirds of all gun deaths in the United States.  Suicides by gun accounted for about six of every 10 firearm deaths in 2010 and just over half of all suicides, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  If we really want to solve gun violence in the United States, if we really, really want to solve this problem, we need to look at the toxic culture in which we are raising our young boys and the messages we send them on a day to day basis.

So what does this have to do with the South Carolina shootings?  Many politicians, pundits, and reporters have been quick to label the shooter as mentally ill, a racist, and a terrorist, and the media coverage has been entirely predictable.  Many have blamed this attack on everything from the lack of concealed guns in the church to anti-intellectualism.  Clearly, from his own manifesto, Dylann Roof had racist ideologies–indeed this massacre was racially motivated and to not acknowledge that would be wholly irresponsible–but even these ideologies are deeply ingrained in gender identity.  In an excerpt from Michael Kimmel’s “Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era,” he notes, “It is through a decidedly gendered and sexualized rhetoric of masculinity that this contradiction between loving America and hating its government, loving capitalism and hating its corporate iterations, is resolved. Racism, nativism, anti-Semitism, antifeminism—these discourses of hate provide an explanation for the feelings of entitlement thwarted, fixing the blame squarely on ‘others’ whom the state must now serve at the expense of white men. The unifying theme is gender. These men feel emasculated by big money and big government. In their eyes, most white American men collude in their emasculation. They’ve grown soft, feminized, weak. White supremacist websites abound with complaints about the ‘whimpering collapse of the blond male,’ the ‘legions of sissies and weaklings, of flabby, limp-wristed, non-aggressive, non-physical, indecisive, slack-jawed, fearful males who, while still heterosexual in theory and practice, have not even a vestige of the old macho spirit.'”  And, as Lisa Wade points out, “Roof’s act was racist, yes, but his racism was built upon colonialism and sexism. Our hierarchies interconnect, interweaving, providing each other with support.”

If you read Roof’s language closely, it was as if he was trying to prove himself to someone.  Numerous accounts from those who knew him described him as shy, antisocial, a boy who had very few friends, and a home life that left much to be desired.  In pictures, he scowls at the camera, performing the “tough guise” Katz describes, sometimes armed, sometimes not.  But I’ll stop there.  Speculating about Roof’s motives doesn’t get to the heart of this tragedy, nor does it allow us to have a much needed conversation between the correlation between violent masculinity and mass shootings.  Surely he was influenced by racist ideologies, but we have to ask–what led this young man to seek out such hatred?  Roof did not come out of the womb with the will to kill 9 human beings and the intent to take his own life.  What was going on in his life that was so miserable, he just wanted to “hurt a whole bunch of people?”

And that, that is the question we need to be asking.  In the wake of these tragedies, we want to assign blame.  We want to make sense of that which seems so senseless.  We want answers.  We grieve.  We mourn.  We debate.  And tragedy upon tragedy, the cycle continues.  We don’t get answers.  We move on with our lives.  And we forget.  We forget Rev. Clementa C. Pinkney.  Cynthia Hurd.  Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.  Tywanza Sanders.  Myra Thompson.  Ethel Lee Lance.  Susie Jackson.  Daniel L. Simmons.  Depayne Middleton Doctor.

Today, let us not forget.  This Father’s Day, today, let us send love to those who lost their fathers in this tragedy and so many others like it.  Today, let us truly try to look at ourselves and our society and understand how these shootings keep happening time and time again.  Today, let us stop misplacing blame on symptoms and look at the root causes of this systemic violence.  And let us hope that by doing so, I may not have to write about this again.

Update: for further reading on the gendered nature of mass shootings, I highly recommend this piece:

Angry misogynist murders women at showing of film by feminist comedian; police worry “we may not find a motive.”

http://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2015/07/24/angry-misogynist-murders-women-at-showing-of-film-by-feminist-comedian-police-worry-we-may-not-find-a-motive/

Thank you, David Futrelle.