‘Rejection Killings’ Need to Be Tracked
Two more women died this week after saying no
Two women were killed this week because they had the temerity to say no to men.
Tamara O’Neal, a doctor at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital, was murdered by her former fiance; Dr. O’Neal had recently called off the engagement. Aisha Fraser was waiting for her divorce to be finalized when her estranged husband stabbed her to death — Fraser’s 8- and 11-year old daughters watched their mother die.
These crimes weren’t only domestic violence murders: they were rejection killings — a term I use to describe attacks by men furious with the women who deny them. Events like these — where women with abusive partners are killed when they are trying to leave the relationship, or have already left — have become sickeningly familiar in the United States.
Despite the rise of explicitly misogynist crimes and the increased attention on women’s issues, there’s no comprehensive tracking mechanism for rejection violence and rejection killings. Instead, it’s just story after tragic story.
There’s a reason that women give out fake phone numbers or invent boyfriends.
Tiarah Poyau was a 22-year-old graduate student and aspiring accountant when she told a man at a dance party to “get off” after he started to grind on her. His response was to shoot her in the face. Iowa college student Mollie Tibbets was killed by a man she told to leave her alone when he approached her while she was jogging. A Detroit mother of three was killed because she refused to give a stranger her phone number. A New York woman had her neck slashed when she declined her attacker’s offer for a date. And while all women are impacted, it is women of color who are disproportionately hurt or killed by this kind of violence.
There’s a reason that women give out fake phone numbers or invent boyfriends — we’ve learned that our own lack of interest in someone is not a valid enough reason to say no. Plus, we never know how angry a rejected man is going to get. Angry enough to send a cruel text or call us a bitch? Or angry enough to hurt us?