Last month, police say, University of Mary Washington student and feminist/LGBT activist Grace Mann was murdered — bound and asphyxiated by a male housemate and fellow student.
An antifeminist blogger is blaming her death on feminist jokes about misandry.
As Mike Oelke of the Feminism is a Fraud blog sees it, Mann’s death was the inevitable result of the unwillingness of feminists to “learn misandry is not a joke.” In an older post, Oelke had predicted that
one day a feminist wearing an “ironic” KILL ALL MEN t-shirt will walk down the wrong street, enter the wrong room and encounter the wrong man; a man that does not value her as a woman and chooses not to treat her as an equal. The man will not see the t-shirt as ironical humor, but be offended and beat her savagely, laughing as he licks the tears from her crying eyes.
WIth Mann’s death, he says, this “prediction has somewhat been proven true.” And he promises that there will be more violence directed at feminists who
constantly laugh off their misandry as a joke, while treating misogyny like a scourge. Some types of males are going to take that badly with predictable results.
While he says he doesn’t “feel good” about his prediction “somewhat” coming true, he also claims that
this young woman’s death serves a purpose. She “Took one for the team.”
That callous and cruel last line, whatever Oelke meant by it, seems more than a little ironic given the facts of the case.
While we still don’t know the motive of the man who allegedly murdered her, Mann’s death took place on a campus that feminist activists say has become an increasingly hostile environment for them.
The campus group Feminists United — of which Mann was a member — has faced a barrage of harassment and threats online and on campus since last fall when it started to “expose the insidious misogyny and hatred” on campus, as the group’s president Paige McKinsey put it in an op-ed for the school paper in January.
The most egregious example of this “insidious misogyny” was the violent chant — celebrating the rape of dead “whores” — that the school rugby team performed at a party last fall. Surreptitiously recorded by a (male) friend of McKinsey who happened to be at the party, the noxious chant was brought to the administration’s attention by Feminists United last November.
Once the school began disciplinary actions against the team earlier this year, its supporters reacted with outrage — and an even bigger wave of harassment against campus feminists, including hundreds of threatening comments made on the anonymous chat app Yik Yak.
There were rape threats and numerous vicious, sexually explicit personal attacks against McKinsey; Mann was also targeted and threatened with rape. One supporter of the team warned that feminists would “burn” if the team was suspended and that “there will be no survivors.” Another threatened that “Dandy’s about to kill a bitch … or two.” When Feminists United reported these threats to the school administration, they were reportedly told that the school could do little about them.
The rugby team was suspended in March. Mann, a prominent member of the group whose activism led to the team’s suspension, was murdered in April. The suspect, a returning student named Steven Vander Briel, was a former member of the rugby team.
And while there is as yet no clear evidence that there is any connection between the suspension of the team and her murder, it is hard not to wonder if she was killed, not for any ironic jokes about misandry, but for challenging the culture of violent misogyny that seems to infect the Fredericksburg, Virginia, campus.
Mann, who was gay, was not involved with Vander Briel, police say; she was assaulted during what was supposed to be a brief stop at her home after returning from a Day of Silence event to raise awareness about bullying and harassment directed against LGBT folks.
In the wake of Mann’s murder, Feminists United, along with the Feminist Majority Foundation, has filed a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education charging the University of Mary Washington with a “systemic failure to protect” members of the group “from a sexually hostile school environment, from sex-based cyber assaults, and from threats of physical and sexual violence.”
At a media event on campus announcing the complaint last Thursday, Frederickburg.com reports,
Attorney [Debra] Katz said the complaint does not allege that the university caused Mann’s death, but that it “failed to act in the face of vicious abuse and ridicule” Mann suffered.
According to Frederickburg.com, Julia Michels, a University of Mary Washington student and one of the complainants in the Title IX complaint, said at the media event that while
she hopes the threats did not have anything to do with Mann’s death … when she heard the news … her thoughts immediately went to the threats.
“I know she had been mentioned by name on Yik Yak, and I know she was scared, as I am,” Michels said. “I know she was angry, as I am. Most of all, I know she was disappointed in her school for failing to protect her, just as I am disappointed at UMW for failing me.”
We will know in time, one can only presume, what motivated Mann’s murderer. But the damage that can be done by the sort of violent misogyny that she and other members of Feminists United were subjected to on the University of Mary Washington campus — and which her friends still face — is already very clear.
“Misandry” is a joke. Misogyny can kill.
NOTE: This discussion thread is a NO TROLLS, NO MRAs, etc thread. If you’re a troll, an MRA or similar and you comment in this thread you will be banned.
EDIT: I have added a few things to highlight Mann’s LGBT activism.