Twisting the story to fit your weird obsession is disrespecting the victim


A truly horrific case has rightfully caught the attention of the media in the UK, the murder of Sarah Everard. She was abducted by a police officer who raped and murdered her.

Yesterday, Sarah Everard’s killer – serving police officer Wayne Couzens – was sentenced to a whole life order. In kidnapping her, Couzens, who was a firearms officer at the time, showed Everard his warrant card and placed her in handcuffs, having ‘arrested’ her under Covid-19 powers. The 48-year-old then drove Everard 80 miles, before raping and murdering her.

It’s not just the personal horror of what happened to Everard, but the betrayal of a public trust, as we’ve witnessed over and over again here in the US. George Floyd was in terror of getting into a police car, and can you blame him? Imagine being a woman, expecting the police to protect you, but then they put handcuffs on you and lock you in the back of a police car, helpless.

That trust wasn’t violated by just one wretched awful person who deserves a long prison sentence, though — it’s the whole damn police culture.

But, this morning, it has emerged that five of Couzens’ colleagues are facing criminal investigation after sharing racist, misogynistic and homophobic material with him over WhatsApp. This follows earlier reports that Couzens had been nicknamed “the rapist” by former colleagues for making women feel uncomfortable. Numerous incidents of indecent exposure, including two at a McDonald’s, which should have been linked to his vehicle just 72 hours before the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard weren’t properly investigated. Couzens’ criminality was facilitated by the incompetence and blasé attitude to misogyny embedded within the institution that he worked for.

But wait. This is being reported in the UK media. You know what else the media over there is obsessed with, even more than the US news? You may have guessed it. Certain people are already, somehow, turning this from a “cops are bad” story into “let’s blame the transes”, which is rather remarkable given that neither the murderer nor his victim are trans. Would you believe that Catherine Bennett is using this crime as an excuse to deny trans women safety? Of course you would.

David Lammy, the shadow justice secretary, was among the prominent men tweeting their abhorrence: “Enough is enough. We need to treat violence against women and girls as seriously as terrorism.”

Sometimes, you gather, it’s acceptable to discuss endemic male violence against women and girls and sometimes it’s not. Just before the Everard verdict, Lammy had angrily dismissed women exercised by this very subject as “dinosaurs”. Women who value women-only spaces – where they feel safe from male violence – he characterised as “hoarding rights”.

Lammy, along with some Labour colleagues, simultaneously denounces male violence, then, taking victim-blaming to as yet unprecedented levels, is furious with any women concerned about losing the few places that individuals he depicts as terrorists can’t access.

These single-sex spaces – from refuges to hospital wards and rest rooms – historically protected women by excluding men where women were particularly vulnerable. #Notallmen, of course, but that’s safeguarding. “Preventative measures,” as Professor Kathleen Stock writes in Material Girls, “are usually by necessity broad-brush. They aren’t supposed to be a character reference for a group as a whole.”

She is quite wrong. Lammy called TERFs “dinosaurs”, not women who are exercised by misogynistic violence. Expecting the rights and safety of trans women to be respected is not synonymous with denying cis women any preventative measures.

Also, citing Kathleen Stock is an insta-nope from me.

I have to say I find it very disconcerting to read UK media and find such a wildly different focus with one conservative obsession that is somewhat different over here. Mainstream US news doesn’t usually turn every bad news story into an excuse to rail against trans women quite like a media culture saturated with transphobic mumsnet culture. There’s a difference there in our social media that’s probably worth serious study sometime down the road.

But not now. Now is the time to deal with the more pressing issue of police violence and corruption, and how some weird media figures try to place the blame on the blameless as a distraction, or how they play “blame the victim”.

Comments

  1. raz says

    Well, you see, if they didn’t deflect onto blaming evil evil terrorist AMAB anatomy for violence and ergo working themself into a froth about trans women, they might have to reckon with the corruption and actual abuse inherent to cop culture and then where would we be, hmm?

  2. wzrd1 says

    What gets forgotten, yet again is, LEO’s, like various political positions are positions of great public trust. When that trust abrogated, the crime is especially heinous and we entirely fail to treat such an abrogation properly.
    Betrayal of that trust should have aggravating factors applied automatically.
    No need to disband law enforcement, as then the only law enforcement we’d have left is vigilantism, but harshly punishing the offending betrayer to give a loud and clear message.
    So, that fine officer should be confined to prison until his victim is alive again and accepts his apology, otherwise, bury him inside of the prison, as was formerly done with executed inmates.
    Although, my preference is a fair bit more bloody minded, involving the old punishment for treason in the UK…

  3. says

    Lammy:

    Violence against women and girls is comparable to terrorism.

    Bennett:

    So you admit that trans people are terrorists responsible for all the violence against women and girls?

    Guardian:

    Ooh! Nice take. We should publish that.

    Cis folks, I literally cannot tell you how much this hurts. Not merely because of Bennett, because there will always be a few hate mongers out there (though, yes, her words hurt) but because this isn’t found on some soon to be cancelled instagram account. This is what cis people with media power believe the public needs to read, and this is what the cis populace pays money to read.

    You kill people with this stuff, cis folks. You’re killing people.

  4. PaulBC says

    having ‘arrested’ her under Covid-19 powers

    When I saw this, I thought it was the part of the story that was going to be twisted to fit a narrative. (Maybe that’s the difference between US and UK conservative media.)

    Expecting the rights and safety of trans women to be respected is not synonymous with denying cis women any preventative measures.

    This belongs to an entire category of obvious statements that somehow are lost on large numbers of people.

  5. beholder says

    @3 Crip Dyke

    Guardian:

    Ooh! Nice take. We should publish that.

    You kill people with this stuff, cis folks. You’re killing people.

    It’s part of a greater display of deep depravity from the ruling elite, expressed through their propaganda organs like The Guardian. Whether it’s casual transphobia, austerity politics, or warmongering, the Guardian can’t get enough of it and they can’t help expressing the contempt they hold for the rest of us.

    If it ever crosses their mind that they’re killing people, they probably feel delighted about it.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Keir Starmer of labour. opposes the calls for the top cop to resign.
    As Starmer has a past in the judicial system this is not surprising, but it reinforces his image of being the establishment politician.

  7. kome says

    People in power keep inflaming social prejudices because it keeps the rabble fighting themselves, thereby preventing them from banding together to fight unjust power structures. Prejudice is being used to serve existing power structures and dynamics.

  8. DanDare says

    I saw a day ago a quote that women should learn their rights in law to prevent false arrest. As if a woman telling an officer trying to cuff them that “it isn’t legal” would be a safe thing to do.

  9. Grace says

    To lift up what Crip Dyke says at #3: she is not exaggerating even slightly. That is the state of play in British media about trans people, right now. It has been absolutely unreal, watching trans people get progressively more hatefully vilified in the UK media. And it’s not like they’re starting from a good history, either.

    The impacts on trans people are direct, and often lethal.

    The state of trans healthcare in the UK involves long wait-times, a refusal to use medications routinely used in other countries, including the US, and poor surgical outcomes. It is now understood by the best healthcare providers in the US that trans healthcare is nuanced, and not one-size-fits all; dosages and monitoring matter, and we are starting to learn a tremendous amount from the informed consent model, where thinking adults are informed of the risks and benefits and choose their care, and then we get to see the results. The results for quality-of-life can be profound. I have a friend who has struggled with impulsiveness and mood disregulation her entire life. She thought that was just how her brain worked, and she was an intelligent and driven registered nurse. Then she and I found some recent research by a doctor who has a lot of trans patients because he treats us like humans, and who is therefore seeing so many trans people that he can see patterns, and she followed his advice. Turns out her healthcare providers had been undermedicating her for over two decades with low-dose oral estradiol. Now she has a regimen of injectable estradiol and daily progesterone. Suddenly her brain flies straight and level, her quality of life is much better, and she makes much better decisions about relationships and finances. In the UK, a case such as hers would be unknown, first because she would have been left to languish for up to several years (the standard NHS wait time for basic trans services), and second because the NHS simply does not prescribe injectable estradiol, and third because the NHS simply does to prescribe progesterone. In other words, they treat us so poorly that they have no opportunity to see how we thrive when treated well, and therefore they cannot envision a good outcome.

    As far as I can tell, there is not a single world-class surgeon in the UK who does trans-related surgeries. UK trans people are very well-recommended on the discussion boards for genital surgery, chest reconstruction, and facial surgery in many other countries, though. (I’m not saying there aren’t surgeons; I’m saying that if you are trans, live in the UK, and do your research, you typically go abroad to access surgery.)

    It should be shockingly that one of the best healthcare systems in the world produces such outcomes on a vulnerable minority. But that’s what happens when that vulnerable minority is regarded as fundamentally broken, disposable, and frankly less trouble if we die and go away. The UK media actively drives that attitude.

    It is truly frightening.

    Grace

  10. Silentbob says

    I feel a rant coming on… (breathe)

    Certain people are already, somehow, turning this from a “cops are bad” story into “let’s blame the transes”, which is rather remarkable given that neither the murderer nor his victim are trans. Would you believe that Catherine Bennett is using this crime as an excuse to deny trans women safety?

    This is So.Fucking.Disgusting.

    Not only did this have nothing at all to do with trans people, not only did it have nothing to do with “single sex spaces”, taking place out in the open in public – Asshole Bennettt completely ignores that the victim could just as well have been a trans woman. It’s not like the cop did a fucking chromosome check before abducting her. And if he had discovered she was trans that would only make her more likely to be murdered. It’s what violent, misogynist men tend to do when they find out an attractive woman is trans.

    If fact, appallingly, “trans panic” – rage at finding out a woman is trans – has been used in the past as a defense against murder!

    Asshole Bennett writes:

    Lammy, along with some Labour colleagues, simultaneously denounces male violence, then, taking victim-blaming to as yet unprecedented levels, is furious with any women concerned about losing the few places that individuals he depicts as terrorists can’t access.

    (My bold.) Victim-blaming? Victim-blaming?!!

    No, saying it is wrong to strip rights from a minority because of a crime that had nothing to do with them is not “victim-blaming”. You know what is victim-blaming? Telling transgender women – a tiny minority known to be vulnerable to violence including sexual violence from cishet men – that they need to have their rights and protections stripped from them as punishment for… the violence of cishet men. That’s fucking victim-blaming!

    Needless to say of course, there is no link between trans women having access to “single sex spaces” and violence against women. And that’s been well established for years.

    How much do you have to have pickled your brain in a vat of transphobia before you’d take a horrific abduction, rape and murder, and decide the best thing to do is cynically use it as a chess piece in a ploy to get bigotry against an innocent minority enshrined in law? Especially if you’re a woman. What a scumbag.

  11. tonycann says

    Just to highlight one quote from the Observer Nick Cohen article:

    Progressive institutions are too scared to defend the material reality of biological sex difference, without which the theory of evolution, with its emphasis on sexual selection, could not exist. Like creationists, they have locked themselves into anti-Darwinian obscurantism. But unlike the religious right, they cannot claim that God made them do it.

    Interesting to learn that the vast majority of life forms who don’t practice sex cannot have evolved. Presumably Cohen doesn’t believe in homosexuality either?

  12. KG says

    Glad you picked this up, PZ, and also that jacksprocket@10 linked to the similarly bizarre if less disgusting article by Nick Cohen on the same day – another reliably transphobic Guardian columnist (and also a fanatical Zionist, fond of accusing anyone criticising Israel of antisemitism). Contrary to beholder@5’s usual simplistic leftier-than-thou tosh, there are some columnists at the paper who support trans rights, e.g. Owen Jones, although of course even one transphobe would be one too many.

  13. sarah00 says

    The Guardian has become increasingly transphobic under the editorship of Katharine Viner. The Cancel Me, Daddy! podcast recently had an interview with Eoin Higgins about the censorship of the Judith Butler piece to remove her discussion of the links between trans-exclusionary feminists and the far-right. The interview explained that while there are a lot of people who work for the Guardian who are not transphobic, they are mostly in junior positions. Those who are in positions of power and authority hold transphobic views and are pushing their transphobic agenda, particularly through the editorial pages.

    I am absolutely disgusted that the murder of Sarah by a cis man is being used to attack trans people. It shows more starkly than ever that they don’t actually care about women, they just hate trans people. They are bigots trying to hide their bigotry behind a distorted version of feminism.

  14. beholder says

    @13 KG

    Contrary to beholder@5’s usual simplistic leftier-than-thou tosh

    Really? I would have agreed with everything you were saying if it weren’t for that little jab. Whatever.

    Yes, not all columnists, but it seems to be more than just a few bad apples. The Guardian has a very opaque process between the journalist and what gets published. This is problematic for a lot of reasons, not least of which it seems that there’s a clique of transphobes somewhere in there calling the shots.

  15. raven says

    Progressive institutions are too scared to defend the material reality of biological sex difference, without which the theory of evolution, with its emphasis on sexual selection, could not exist.

    I tried to figure out what this creep is saying here and I can’t do it. It’s gibberish.

    .1. Evolution doesn’t emphasize sexual selection.

    Sexual selection – Understanding Evolution https://evolution.berkeley.edu › article › evo_28
    Sexual selection is a “special case” of natural selection. Sexual selection acts on an organism’s ability to obtain (often by any means necessary!) or …

    Yes, there is a section of the Theory of Evolution that deals with sexual selection aka how the male peacocks got their tails.
    It’s a subset case and not even remotely close to the main points of evolution i.e. how and why life changes through time.
    This creep is making up his own facts.

    .2. More to the point. We don’t organize and run our societies on the basis of the Theory of Evolution. It’s irrelevant.
    Evolution is a biological theory, not an organizing principle for human societies.

    .3. Progressive institutions are too scared to defend the material reality of biological sex difference, … No we aren’t. This is a strawperson. Biological sex differences are not under attack and they don’t need anyone to defend them.

    Under attack by who? Trans people? Gay people? Women? Uppity women aka Feminists? Republicans? Fundie xians?
    People who criticize cops who murder women for fun?

  16. KG says

    beholder@16,

    This is what I mean by simplistic leftier-than-thou tosh:

    It’s part of a greater display of deep depravity from the ruling elite, expressed through their propaganda organs like The Guardian. Whether it’s casual transphobia, austerity politics, or warmongering, the Guardian can’t get enough of it and they can’t help expressing the contempt they hold for the rest of us.

    If it ever crosses their mind that they’re killing people, they probably feel delighted about it.

    Are the ruling elite given to feeding their propaganda organs large-scale leaks of the details of the offshore accounts and financial manipulations of billionaires, world leaders and public officials? Do they encourage those propaganda organs to publish exposes of the American “security” apparatus? You blithering numpty, get it into your head that both individuals and organizations may be neither socialist superheroes nor evil moustache-twirling villains. One of the most disturbing aspects of transphobia is that, through its faux-feminism, it has infected many who are otherwise on the progressive side of issues more often than not.

  17. Aoife_b says

    It’s become so atrocious in England that one of my friends is very likely fleeing the country for the US in the next couple years.
    I’ve seen the sorry excuse for surgical outcomes the NHS finds acceptable. It’s an absolute failure of a system with very little signs of improving

  18. erik333 says

    @18 raven
    Are you saying the theory of evolution does not apply for humans? Why would this part of science be irrelevant? It’s not that uncommon for people to e.g. suggest that immigration is advantageous in that it will increase the genetic diversity of a population.

  19. says

    @erik:

    Nope, that’s not what Raven is saying. Read the comment, including that part to which Raven is responding (originally injected into this conversation by tonycann’s comment #13, but which tonycann is quoting from The Observer, and a piece written by Nick Cohen):

    Progressive institutions are too scared to defend the material reality of biological sex difference, without which the theory of evolution, with its emphasis on sexual selection, could not exist.

    Raven is saying that the theory of evolution does not emphasize sexual selection. If it emphasizes any force for change, it emphasizes natural selection. Nick Cohen, therefore, is wrong and full of shit. Nothing in the particular error Cohen has here made, however, implies that humans did not evolve or are no longer evolving.

    Natural selection is not a synonym for sexual selection, thus the problem. Sexual selection is a relatively narrow (though still important, of course) topic within evolutionary biology.

    And, of course, Raven is accurate in further noting that evolutionary facts are not generally used as organizing principles for a society. For instance, it’s an evolutionary fact that species can and do go extinct. We do not, because of this fact, then create laws or customs to encourage extinction on the basis that since species can go extinct, they should go extinct.

    Evolutionary biology, then, is irrelevant to whether or not trans people should be allowed to use otherwise public bathrooms.

    Raven is, in sum, stating that
    1) Nick Cohen made at least one important error of fact, either by artificially inflating the importance of sexual selection to evolutionary biology OR by not knowing the difference between sexual selection and natural selection and as a result using the term “sexual selection” in a sentence that is false in relation to sexual selection because they intended to use “natural selection” in the same sentence … which would have made the sentence true. Whether through dishonesty or incompetence, Cohen’s statement is wrong
    2) Whether or not cohen was correct about evolutionary theory’s emphases, he is engaged in a naturalistic fallacy and his argument should be held a failure for that reason.

    None of that remotely deals with the genus homo’s propensity for descent with modification.

  20. raven says

    erik333 the serial killer troll:

    Are you saying the theory of evolution does not apply for humans?

    No I didn’t say that. I didn’t even imply that. And I don’t like you claiming I said stuff I never even hinted at.
    You are another boring, stupid serial killer troll. Of strawpeople.

    Why would this part of science be irrelevant?

    I explained this.
    I also don’t like near illiterates who can’t read simple English.
    We don’t organize and run our societies based on the Theory of Evolution.
    I’m sure you are too stupid to get this point but even Richard Dawkins has pointed this out.
    We humans were organizing and running our societies long before Darwin. The USA itself has a constitution written in 1787 while Darwin published in 1860.

    It’s not that uncommon for people to e.g. suggest that immigration is advantageous in that it will increase the genetic diversity of a population.

    So what.
    It might even be true.
    That isn’t why we have immigration or why people immigrate.
    My recent ancestors immigrated in search of a better life not to increase genetic diversity.
    People were immigrating everywhere for literally 100,000’s of years before Darwin wrote his book.

  21. consciousness razor says

    Are the ruling elite given to feeding their propaganda organs large-scale leaks of the details of the offshore accounts and financial manipulations of billionaires, world leaders and public officials?

    I would’ve said that you should thank the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists for that, not The Guardian.

    Do they encourage those propaganda organs to publish exposes of the American “security” apparatus?

    Thank Edward Snowden. But a lot of good that did us — thirteen years later, and if anything, it’s only gotten worse.

    Also notice that, for this very reason, many have come to believe Glenn Greenwald belongs on the left. So it is indeed providing cover for him, even now. How does it happen that the praise transfers over to somebody like him (as well as The Guardian, also by association), despite all of the other shit he does, while somebody like Snowden is all but forgotten?

  22. PaulBC says

    cr@25 Thanks for the correction. I was just going to Wikipedia to double check if my memory was off by that much.

  23. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC:
    Yeah, sorry…. We’re not that old yet, although sometimes it does feel like it.

  24. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Can we be done with the ideas that TERFs can retain any kind of feminist priorities? (I know, I’m mostly preaching to the choir here).

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