Lone gunmen are men


I’m reading Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me. It’s so good in a way that makes me so sad. There’s so much good/sad material in this book, so I’ll just stick with one thing. Solnit says:

[T]he more than 11,7766 corpses from domestic-violence homicides between 9/11 and and 2012 exceed the number of victims on that day and all American soldiers killed in the “war on terror”.

I tried to do my own digging to find some numbers like this. CNN reports that American deaths from terrorism averaged about 35 a year after 2001. In that year, 2,990 Americans died. The Bureau of Justice Statistics, part of the Department of Justice, reported that, in 1992, some 1,414 women “were known to have been killed by their husband, ex-husband, or boyfriend”. This makes me think that Solnit’s number of domestic violence deaths could be an underestimate.

The number of American men killed each year vastly outnumbers the number of women killed (in 1992, about 21,200 vs.  5,000), and I say this only to point out that it entirely misses Solnit’s point. Men kill many men, and men kill many women. The more appropriate comparison is that 637 men were killed by their wife, ex-wife, or girlfriend in 1992. (And even that comparison may not be fair insofar as the circumstances of the 1,414 and the 637 could be different. How many women killed men because they feared for their lives? That should count differently than if someone killed someone else because of jealousy or hate.)

The phrase “domestic violence” has replaced “wife-beating”. This new wording is more fair in the sense that it is less gendered, and therefore includes the 637 men who were killed by their female intimate partners along with the 1,414 women who were killed by their male intimate partners. This wording is less fair in the sense that it de-genders a highly gendered thing.

If, in half of years, more men died at the hands of women than women died at the hands of men, then we might be able to say that this was something isolated or random. It’s not random. What have we done, and what kind of a people are we, that we keep making this happen, year after year?