So far I’ve read two sets of commentary about the tragic murder of Ms. Love, and both of the comments disturbing. I hate to discuss murder; the family has asked that students keep silent, and I remember how I felt at Virginia Tech reading pundit after pundit explain how the shootings there were the president’s fault, the professors’ fault, the police’s fault, etc. You don’t need additional pain of Monday-morning quarterbacking when something like that happens. I really wish news sites would turn off the comments on these kinds of stories. Trust me: your opinion doesn’t matter here.
The first troubling comment appeared on Rate Your Students, where a somebody made the inevitable comment that professors should be more responsible for their young charges. Given that this is somebody close to the tragedy, we can probably forgive what is a desire for the impossible. I honestly don’t know how that works at the college level, or what is special about college students here. If we are supposed to live in a world where nothing bad happens to anybody, we all have to look out for each other all the time. In general, my students look out for me and I look out for them, and my sweet husband looks out for everybody from the homeless guys downstairs to every stay kitten he runs across. People do the best they can, I think: it’s not 100 percent, all the time, and thus it’s never enough to prevent the thing–whatever it is–from killing. Life is fragile even among the young and healthy, and the result is the impotent survivors’ guilt that leads us to say that somebody should have done something.
All this notwithstanding, men still beat women just like Mr. Huguely beat Ms. Love. And beaters go free with remarkable regularity.
The second story that bothers me appeared this morning in Sports Illustrated: The tragic story of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love – SI.com – Magazine. This story rather made it about the nature of violence against women on campus (important), and how lacrosse has come under scrutiny. The response from the lacrosse director is particularly meh: the lacrosse community is a victim here, not to blame. Whatever. If that’s all you have to say, send your condolences to the family, then shut up and go back to playing your sport. This isn’t really about you and your buddies and what people think of your sport.
What strikes me about the tragedy, honestly, is that tragic as this story is, it’s a story that I see all the time, only with lacrosse thrown in. I open the newspaper: a man has killed his wife, his ex, his girlfriend, or his whole family. It’s page 8 material, unless it’s the latter and he’s killed his children. For reasons beyond me, I am addicted to that 48 Hours show, and that show has one theme for the most part: a man kills his wife/girlfriend, will he get away with it? I swear you have to watch 20 episodes straight before you see “wife kills husband” story. Now, it could be a sampling problem–a bias in what producers show. But I am betting the bias isn’t towards repeating the same story about men and women; if there’s one thing the press loves, it’s a man bites dog story. If I had to, I’d bet that the show over-represents stories about women who are violent towards men simply because of the interest value.
I have no grand lessons to draw from Ms. Love’s death, other than to say something that has been observed a million times: misogyny kills, and it hurts both men and women.
Her parents must be devastated; his must be devastated and terrified.