Here are some excerpts from an insensitive and poorly researched article by Deborah Tetley at The National Post (Canada):
“This is hard for us because Derek will be missed, but we feel so much grief for all those families, too,” said Fay, 20.
“So, tonight we are trying to enjoy and remember Derek for the guy he was and not how he went, because we don’t know that guy.”
“He could finish your basement, then tune your car up and act as your hunting tour guide,” said Fay. “He knew how to do everything and would do anything he could for anyone at any time. A shirt-off-his-back kind of guy. That’s why none of this makes sense to us.”
Here are excerpts from another insensitive and poorly researched article by Nadia Moharib at The Calgary Sun.
“Friends say he was a popular young man, the type who wouldn’t even pick a fight.”
“Everybody is making him out to be a villain,” said a close friend who didn’t want to be named out of respect to Jensen’s family.
“And he’s not.”
Below is a blogger’s empassioned, succinct and accurate response to journalistic pieces (such as those by Nadia Moharib and Deborah Tetley) that are an embarrassment to the profession. What is most frustrating about the two examples given above, is the fact that they are not only written by public educators, but by women.
“When women are murdered, the most likely perpetrator is her intimate partner. In all cases of domestic violence, women are the victims 85% of the time, and women who are killed by their spouses are most often murdered after separation. It is absolutely ridiculous to read an article about Derek Jensen being a great guy who “shockingly” murdered three people and then committed suicide. This was not a random attack, it was not a mental breakdown, it was a case of spousal violence. Jensen murdered his girlfriend and shot the three others who were with her. The article’s mention of Jensen’s “broken heart” is laughably irrelevant, and does not even come close to justifying his violent murder of his ex-girlfriend. Additionally, it was not a “mix of booze and rage or something” that caused Jensen commit these murders, as his close friend speculated. Call it what it was: domestic violence. Ignorantly disregarding this fact does absolutely nothing to help the thousands of Canadian women who are abused or killed by their intimate partner every year.”
My thoughts on media representation of violence against women.
I guess the fact that Derek Jensen shot at four people including himself and killed three (including himself) is a minor detail to the teams at The National Post. What is this perverted obsession that media outlets have with representing CLEAR cases of stalking, partner violence and eventual murder as something random that just “makes no sense”? Are the writers of such articles ignorant? Dishonest? Stupid? All of the above? What about the editors that permit such yellow journalism to be published? What happened to their sense of duty towards the public? To educate? To present facts? Particularly on matters that affect their daughters, mothers, sisters, wives, friends and girlfriends? If you read the details of Tabitha Stepple’s relationship with Derek Jensen, it becomes patently obvious (to someone who has made an effort to educate his/herself on the most pervasive kind of abuse in the entire world) that what Derek Jensen did, DID follow a pattern. It makes absolute sense that his behaviour went from controlling, abusive and threatening, to physically violent and murderous. If you don’t wish to take my word for it, watch this video (and the remaining two parts). It will only take up 15 minutes of your time in total.
All the research is available yet so many individuals and media outlets are either ignorant to or deliberately misrepresenting violence against women as some “random” “inexplicable” act. Quite frankly, I can’t say which is worse. Why is this happening? I think we all know why. As my husband describes it, it’s the elephant in the room.
There’s Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men”, there’s Sut Jhally’s documentary “Dreamworlds 3″, there’s Jackson Katz’s book “The Macho Paradox” , there are his videos/documentaries such as “Tough Guise”. These resources are all designed for public education. What more information do people want? Everything is a click away. How lazy and irresponsible can the media industry get? Why the hell aren’t editors at The National Post and the authors of articles that are so devoid of ethics, asking themselves “WOULD I WRITE SUCH A GLOWING REPORT ABOUT THE MURDERER OF MY CHILD?” Somehow, I don’t think they would.
This is not a call to start a media lynching of men who were a product of a society we all contribute to. This is a call for journalists, editors and media outlets of all kinds to do everything in their power to understand intimate partner violence since they are contributing to the education of the masses.
This post is dedicated to Tabitha Stepple. A young woman who – regardless of what the ill-informed might think or say – was blameless in her demise and the demise of her friends. This was NOT a case of “temporary insanity” or a “crime of passion”. If we as a society were not so hell-bent on blaming women for all of the world’s woes (including their own murder), if we were not so pig-headed and in denial about what the realities of intimate violence actually are, perhaps Tabitha and many others would be alive today.
Tabitha was a victim of not only an abusive and violent young man, but a society and culture that normalises behaviours like jealousy as expressions of “love”…and murder as an acceptable outcome of “heartbreak”. Society does this through negative and inaccurate depictions of masculinity and relationships not only in movies, music videos, video games and patriarchal interpretations of religious teachings, but through irresponsible journalism. Journalism that instead of explaining the causes and solutions of violence against women, seeks to paint murderers of women as some inexplicable anomaly, a bleeding lamb that must have been wronged by women or society and is therefore justified in murdering a woman. Shame on Nadia Moharib, shame on Deborah Tetley. Shame on every journalist and media outlet that reinforces the idea that heartbreak is an acceptable reason to kill a woman. IT IS NOT. As public educators, you have a duty to know what you are talking about it before you type or publish a single word. It seems that journalists and editors will not understand the gravity of their irresponsibility unless they are unfortunate enough to be touched by the brutal violence and misery of intimate partner violence that Tabitha’s family and friends have had to endure. I would never wish that upon my worst enemy.
It is time for the widespread ignorance and denial on the subject of intimate violence to be formally addressed and it’s time for us to educate ourselves on the most pervasive form of abuse and violence of our times. No-one else is going to do it for us.
Further information: For those who would like an example of responsible journalism on the subject of intimate partner abuse and violence, here is an excellent example, by Joanne Richard at the Winnepeg Sun.
“Rethinking Charm” by Lundy Bancroft. Bancroft comments on Facebook “Charming people tend to be instantly appealing, but as often as not, they are trouble. Here’s why.”
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