You cry

Sometimes you cry because you know they never stood a fucking chance.  Never.  You see their faces, you understand their neighborhoods, you carefully crop out the tell-tale evidence of mug shots and you know that they were always going to live hard and die violently.  And you know they knew it, too.

Sometimes you cry because they are so young, because they were trying so hard, because they had a talent, some gift, that was going to lift them if they just got the opportunity.

Sometimes you cry because they could have been your cousin, your mother, that girl who grew up down the block from you, that young mother at work – wearing long sleeves in August in a Mississippi warehouse with no air conditioning.  You.

Sometimes you just cry.  You cry because you can’t not.

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The Count

In our attempts to count the deaths of women by men, it is more accurate to say that we currently are limited to counting media reports of women killed by men.  At a national level, the FBI and DOJ accumulate aggregate homicide statistics through law enforcement reporting.  Their reporting is not complete, nor is it timely – running years behind, and increasingly, the gendered hierarchal practice of propping up male supremacy via the use of male violence against women is hidden by terms such as ‘domestic’ ‘family’ ‘isolated’ ‘unidentified’ and the new, frighteningly frequent ‘suicide’ reporting of ailing, older women killed by husbands and caretaker sons.

To the best of our abilities, we scour local and national media to find reports of the deaths of women.  We read the reports, which usually take days, and sometimes, weeks, to be written and published.  We research as much additional information as can be found to form a more complete picture of the woman’s death at the hands of a man.  We make every attempt to locate an image of the woman, so that her humanity is visible to all.

We are furious about the deaths of women which our consolidated media outlets and law enforcement consider inconsequential and less necessary to report or investigate.  Overwhelmingly, these are our most vulnerable women:  homeless women, women who have been prostituted by men, women of color (Native, Black, Latina, Asian), women with a record of prior criminal activity or drug use.  The difference between reporting, investigation and media follow-up for an ‘unnamed’ victim versus an ‘unidentified’ victim is stark and undeniable.

We count and report, the deaths of women and girls aged 13 and up.  This age cutoff was selected to be consistent with other CountDeadWomen initiatives across the world.

We count women killed by men:

  • directly and intentionally (stabbed 30 times then decapitated by ex-boyfriend after filing for a restraint order)
  • as a result of being in the company of violent men (woman passenger in car of a man who initiates violent actions towards others and draws a violent response)
  • in the vicinity of cross-male violence (caught in a bar fight between men)
  • ‘accidentally’ through behaviors and activities associated with male pattern violence (discharge of loaded gun subsequently claimed as accidental)
  • ‘natural causes’ (woman fleeing abusive husband during February sleeps in her car in rural Michigan overnight, freezing to death)
  • indiscriminately in mass shootings, bombings and arson incidents.

These all represent acts of male violence, social phenomena which are overtly and covertly encouraged and cultivated by a global system of entrenched Patriarchy, a system which specifically and purposefully oppressess women and girls as a class based on our biological sex.  Women and girls are born female – this is the root of our oppression, men enact violence upon us as a means of dominating us in order that they may control our reproductive and sexual capability.