Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

American Women and Domestic Terrorism

The Deadly War on Women

I was doing a little baking this afternoon, and while I was making my son's favorite cookies (Martha Stewart's Double-Chocolate Chunk cookies, if you're interested), I was catching up on my podcasts.

And so it was that I listened to Gloria Steinem in conversation with Tom Ashbrook, an On Point episode broadcast earlier this week. The starting point for the discussion was Steinem's new documentary series, Woman (airing on the Viceland channel), but the talk ranged widely--though it maintained its focus on women's status in the world, particularly as victims of violence.

(For some reason, the mere discussion of this topic--that, globally, women are the victims of extraordinary levels of violence, enrages some people. The comments section at the On Point website is brutal . . . Apparently the idea that global violence against women is linked to political, social, and economic instability cannot be tolerated.)

One of the very first posts I wrote on this site was about Gloria Steinem (to see that earlier piece, click here.) What prompted me to write today was a comment she made in this recent conversation with Ashbrook--she noted that, in the U.S., since 9/11, more women have been killed by their husbands or boyfriends--domestic terrorists--than "all the Americans who were killed by 9/11 or in Afghanistan and Iraq."

I had heard her make this statement before--but it struck me particularly hard as I was standing in my kitchen making cookies. 

As it turns out, the statement seems to date back to 2014--and as shocking as it may sound, it has been fact-checked and proved to be true:
James A. Fox, a Northeastern University criminology professor, found that from 2002-12, the number of women killed by intimate partners was 15,462. A tally from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics showed 10,470 women killed in intimate partner homicides from 2002-10.
Fewer than 3,000 Americans died in the terrorist attacks on Sept.11, 2001. (There were 2,978 victims, but that includes people from 90 countries.) American deaths tied to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq total 6,838, according the Pentagon. Together, there were about 9,838 deaths.
In her 2015 Boston Globe story, headlined "In This War on Women, the Death Toll Mounts," columnist Renée Graham makes a similar point, using comparable statistics, adding:
We fret about terrorism and mass murders in public places, though violence against women claims far more victims while receiving a fraction of the attention. It cuts across race, class, religion, and every other demographic line, and is as much a repulsive trait of our national character as racism. With each lethal encounter, there are just as many imperishable scars — children dead or orphaned, families and friends shattered. Every day these women are dying among us; we owe them more than makeshift memorials and weary resignation.

And here is a direct quotation from Steinem, from an 11 May 2016 interview on PRI's The Takeaway:
Domestic violence in this country has killed since 9/11 — if you take the number of [Americans] who were killed in 9/11 and in two wars in Iraq, and in the 14-year war in Afghanistan — more women have been murdered by their husbands and boyfriends in the United States in that period of time than [the number of Americans who] have been killed in all of those incidences of terrorism and wars,” Steinem says. “We are not exempt here by any means. If all of us could raise one generation of children without violence, we don’t know what might be possible.

The Martha Stewart double-chocolate cookies are really good. But I sorta lost my appetite.