Once again, a woman has lost her life because she did not reciprocate a man’s interest. On Jan. 22, Raw Story reports, Janese Talton-Jackson, the 29 year-old mother of three children, was followed outside and then shot in the chest when she rejected a man’s advances. The man, identified as Charles McKinney, has been arrested.
It is appalling that this is not an isolated incident. Mary Spears, who was also a mother three, was shot to death in Detroit in Oct. 2014. Let’s also not forget — although we wish we could — the actions of Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and himself in the Isla Vista Massacre, which was intended to punish all the women who were not attracted to him. Rodger’s actions were the catalyst for the creation of the Tumblr blog, “Women Who Refuse,” where women share horrific stories of the violent consequences that came with them refusing men.
There is a disgusting pattern of violence against women in the United States, and women of color, particularly black women, are being targeted at alarming rates.
It must be noted, though, the lack of alarm and news coverage regarding this incident.
Mychal Denzel Smith wrote regarding Mary Spears’ death — and it is equally accurate here — “No one has broken out the bullhorns or their comfortable sneakers…There are no widespread calls to protect the autonomy of black women and their bodies. The community leaders haven’t deemed this unacceptable and a fate no one should ever face simply because they reject a man’s advances.”
The case of Daniel Holtzclaw is a little different from these others, but the same basic dynamic of black women being harmed by a man who feels entitled to their attention, is still present. Holtzclaw exploited his power as a police officer and committed 36 sexual crimes, ranging from stalking to rap, against mainly black women. Holtzclaw was eventually convicted, thankfully, but to the public, the crimes he committed against these women still remain largely unknown. His lawyer even had the audacity to refer to him as an “all-American good guy.”
Returning to the case at hand, the death of Janese Talton-Jackson proves that things are not getting better for women in the United States who dare to say no. There is a disturbing sense of ownership that too many men feel over all women.
Male masculinity so deeply depends on this ownership, an ownership so frightening because the only way men seem to know how to handle rejection is to respond with violence. This violence, of course, is not from all men, as the hashtag that completely misses the point reminds us, but it is coming from enough men that it has led to all women being afraid to say no, afraid of the danger that comes with them exercising their autonomy.
There is a real and serious problem in this country, and it is not going to get better until more people recognize it. Until more people recognize the harm in patriarchy and the fragile male ego. This gross misogyny is an institutional issue, and it’s time for something to change. It is time to speak the names of all the women who are victims of men’s violent entitlement. Let us start with Janese Talton-Jackson. #SayHerName.
Featured image via Raw Story