Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Two days ago I wrote of a fans dismissal of Sitiveni Sivivatu's assault on his partner:

Fan Craig Clapson, at the match with his son, said Sivivatu should be able to play. "I can't condone wife beating, but from what I've read, it was basically a domestic that got a little out of hand and they've reconciled."
Yesterday, the NZ Herald used the following headline: "'We thought first shooting just domestic,' authorities say" (it has now been taken down, but Audra wrote about it).

'Domestic' is such a tidy way of saying 'what men do to women who are in a relationship with them doesn't matter.'


World Socialist Website has an article: The Virginia Tech massacre--social roots of another American tragedy. Lenin's Tomb covers some of the same ground

Do you want to guess what they don't mention? Do you want to guess what they don't think might be relevant?

It’s not actually that hard to include some feminist analysis, even if you’re a Marxist. It’s true that better minds than mine have been defeated in trying to understand reproductive labour within a Marxist economic framework. But looking at the history of school shootings, and some of the details that have come out about this one, you don’t have to rewrite any Capital to understand that maybe a deeply misogynist society might be playing a part.


  1. Well, I didn't actually know who the killer was when I wrote this, much less that he killed his girlfriend. Please bear in mind that I have only the odd half hour spare to write off-the-cuff responses these days.

    I completely agree with your larger point, however.

  2. Anonymous3:43 pm

    From what i've been reading, she wasn't ever his girlfriend, that was why the Uni didn't shut down entirely , because they assumed it was a domestic(?)the rest was simply media speculation. Virginia Tech Massacre

  3. As misogynist victim blaming this from a British paper must take the prize. The media of course has a long tradition of blaming women for their own murder

  4. Lenin I appear to have made the same mistake of rushing off, because she wasn't his girlfriend. Although there was evidence that he was stalking women.

    I think my larger point still stands. One common factor among shootings has been misogyny (not among all, but among enough for it to be a pattern). I thought about that straight away as a possible explanation.

  5. Anonymous9:01 am

    yes Maia, the point still stands, the very fact that the Tech response jumped from 'a woman has been murdered, it must have been her boyfriend, no need to alert the other students, we'll just remove her and other mans body and call it a shooting incident', was the very reason he was not stopped sooner. It wasn't taken seriously enough, "just" another "domestic." Obviously she pissed him off, and well he felt it necessary to shoot her dead. Classes continued.

  6. Anonymous1:11 pm

    I agree that the WSWS article sucks. But the Socialist Equality Party has never agreed that “the woman question” is anything other than a class question. You’d think they could have at least said something about the objectification of women that encourages some men to see them as commodities they are entitled to have, by any means necessary.

  7. Anonymous1:35 pm

    On the issue of Marxism and feminism, I came across an article on the web today that raised my hackles. According to the reported statements of Jill Ovens at an Alliance conference in March 2006: “feminism is out of touch with where the vast majority of women are at, and that’s why it has become irrelevant….[since when do Marxists wait until the vast majority are in agreement before taking a political stand?].

    “Women cannot be liberated until all humanity is liberated, and that can’t happen under the present economic system.” [ie, “get in behind” – I’ve heard an Islamist push a similar line: that economic change must happen before female emancipation can be achieved for Muslim women]. The Critic writer who reported Oven’s views described them as “more in the tradition of Marxist feminism”. These attitudes are archaic and were challenged by Marxist feminists in the seventies. Looks like they need to be challenged again.

  8. I have to say anon above that doesn't sound much like Jill, but I stand to be corrected.

  9. Span - I think Anon is off-stating what Jill said a little, but not by that much. I remember reading, and being very frustrated by the way her speech was misrepresenting the feminist movement. But I did read it a long time ago, so I may be remembering it wrong, or had missed some subtleties. I'll try and find it and post a link here.

  10. Anonymous8:13 pm

    Jo and Maia: I made it clear that I was quoting Ovens' reported statements at an Alliance Party conference; they may not be an accurate depiction of her personal views whatever they may be. (I should not subsequently have used the words "Ovens' views" - rather I should have said "Ovens' statements".} I assumed the reported statements represented Alliance Party policy, and that is what I was criticising.

    With females accounting for only 2 out of 16 spokespeople (post Nov 2006 conference), and no spokesperson on women, it does look as if the Alliance Party has slipped backwards on the issue of women's representation and women's rights. It's too bad that the left has apparently weakened its support for feminism at a time when it is under attack by the far right.

  11. Anonymous8:15 pm

    oops, that last post should have been addressed to Span and Maia (not Jo)

  12. Anon, Jill Ovens is no longer a member of the Alliance and hasn't been for almost a year now, she is in the Labour party these days.

    I too find the lack of women in the Alliance leadership a concern, but I hardly think you can write off the whole "left" because of one minor party. Yes I think the Left as a whole could be more feminist and is sometimes quite misogynistic in parts. I write that as an Alliance member since 2000.

  13. Your "read before commenting" link is broken.

    If you look at the hyperlink it has two sets of the "http://" text in the link.

    For me, it redirects me to a Wikipedia article on HTML (which is kind of fittingly ironic).

    Anyway...just thought you might want to know that because I couldn't read before commenting, yet I felt compelled to anyway.

  14. Domestic violence works both ways. Women are slightly more likely than men to use physical aggression, whilst men are more likely to inflict an injury.