Take a quick glance at my key ring. Right next to my car key fob is a bulky plastic ace of spades, meant to be aimed at the throat of a potential attacker. Hanging by that is a token of my mom’s love — a personal security alarm, which emits a high-pitched siren to ward off any assailants.
In the depths of my purse is a hot pink stun gun. In my car is a pocket knife. In my apartment is a metal baseball bat.
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For as long as I can remember, my parents have cautioned me: Always watch your back to make sure you aren’t being followed. Grip the key blade between your fingers when you walk alone at night. Check the backseat of your car before driving. Ask a security guard to escort you out of the grocery store if it’s too late. Never let your drink out of sight at a party.
And most importantly, don’t trust anyone.
Women live in a culture of violence
I used to roll my eyes at the perpetual warnings — lessons my male friends never had to learn. But raising a daughter means handling a specific terror: Will she be the face on the news for the next story on an assault, kidnapping or murder?
Because being a woman is dangerous. And in the case of Instagram star Bianca Devins’ viral killing, it is every negative word in the dictionary: sickening, tragic, outrageous.
But it’s hardly shocking. Our society maintains a culture of violence against women.
And statistics back this.
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Nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline. And 1 in 6 women have been stalked.
The issue won’t disappear by teaching our girls how to defend themselves. The abuse stops when we tell our boys to respect their female counterparts.
I know there are malevolent women out there, too. Putting it simply, though: “Men still hold most of the power in the world, and it is no surprise, then, that they perpetuate most of the violence,” states Psychology Today.
Case in point: In the United States, the number of male murder offenders in 2017 was “more than seven times the number of female murder offenders in the same year,” reports Statista.
Devins’ death wasn’t about the internet
Seventeen-year-old Devins was viciously killed, stabbed in the throat. Photographs of her bloody body were plastered across Instagram, Discord and 4chan allegedly by the 21-year-old suspect, Brandon Andrew Clark.
And if that wasn’t vile enough, then just look at the internet’s reaction. Devins’ stepmother Kaleigh Nicole Rimmer had to post a Facebook status berating users for continuing to circulate the murder images, according to Refinery29.
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The hashtag #ripbianca results in either enraged tweets about the issue or posts urging others not to unwittingly click on the photographs of Devins’ death.
But this teenage girl wasn’t slain for social media’s sake. The views, comments and likes were just the cherry on top for the alleged killer.
“It’s about dominating her world and wanting to be the only person who is important,” said Cindy Southworth of the U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence.
Kindled online, the nature of the relationship between Devins and Clark is murky at best.
It’s about dominance
The whole situation makes me sick to my stomach.
So did the news about 18-year-old Gabrielle Walsh in Britian, punched in the face by a man following her, whom she told, “I’m sorry, I’m not interested.”.
So did the news about the baby in California, shot in the head by a man whose flirtations were dismissed by the mother, 18-year-old Deziree Menagh.
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It’s been said that men’s worst fear is rejection. Well, women’s worst fear is being killed by those slighted men.
Fingers point the blame to the length of a skirt, the alcohol level in a system, the “promiscuity” of a female body, the happenstance of a wrong place at the wrong time.
They point everywhere but the truth. It’s the need for power and control.
And to the guys beating the “it’s not all of us” drum, my response is: I know it’s not.
It’s not my dad. It’s not my boyfriend. It’s not my boss.
It’s those men riddled with crippling insecurities over their masculinity.
But it’s enough to matter.
Megan U. Boyanton is a Pulliam Fellow at The Arizona Republic, where she writes opinions pieces and editorial columns. She attends Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication as an MMC candidate in news journalism. Follow her on Twitter: @meganululani. This column originally appeared in The Arizona Republic.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Violence against women: Bianca Devins’ murder isn’t about the internet