Last night, a gunman opened fire outside a South Florida restaurant, killing his wife; he then moved inside, where he targeted and killed three women, leaving three others in critical condition. The shooter, Gerarldo Regalado, then committed suicide. This tragic story is rendered more disturbing because according to the police, Regalado bypassed at least two men in the restaurant, specifically targeting the six women.
The mainstream news stories about the shooting focus, at least initially, on the fact that the gunman was the half-brother of former baseball star Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, a fact that’s hardly relevant to why he felt the need to gun down seven women. Instead, Police Detective Eddie Rodriguez’s chilling statement, “He went straight for the women,” appears much further down the page. It seems that some of the women may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, emphasizing the utter misogyny of the act.
Reading these articles, it’s hard not to think about last summer’s shootings, where George Sodini walked into an all-female aerobics class and opened fire. Sodini was reacting to a lifetime of feeling systematically rejected by desirable women, and his blog chillingly shows that the women in the gym died that day simply because they were women, and Sodini felt that they deserved to be punished.
The Sodini shootings, admittedly, were an extreme case, and we don’t know very much about this violent incident, although Regalado was seen arguing with his wife outside the restaurant before the shooting occurred. But these cases are eerily familiar, and the pattern of violence against female partners (or women generally) is one that is very often ignored by the media. Earlier this year, I wrote about a shooting in Finland, where the gunman killed his girlfriend and four of her work colleagues. The gunman had a history of violent crimes, and the girlfriend had a restraining order against him. The crime, however, was chalked up as a “domestic dispute,” mild words for such a horrible and misogynistic act.
In a post from 2007, Jennifer Pozner wrote about the horrific Virginia Tech shooting, pointing out that the “gendered nature of the crime” was mostly ignored. Pozner writes that although it became clear that Seung-Hui Cho, the perpetrator, had stalked women on campus, “few outlets explicitly named misogyny as a root cause.” Instead, the media wondered “ad nauseum, ‘What was his motivation?’”
It’s possible that in further coverage of this horrific event, more attention will be paid to the role of gender in Regalado’s choice of victims – perhaps the Sodini shootings were dramatic enough to show us that for some men, violence against women is far more normal than we could believe.
Photo from Flickr.