I am grieving your coverage of the murder of Katelyn McFadden. Three days ago, Shane Brodeur shot his 20-year-old girlfriend. Three women die at the hands of men every day in the U.S. Three days ago, Katelyn lived — and died — this statistic.
The inclusion of Katelyn’s history with drugs and the criminal justice system, as well as the comment about her “living with another man,” knotted my stomach, brought tears to my eyes and made me curse. It made me feel shame and disappointment in our community’s (in)ability to tell her story; and it ultimately makes me even more scared than I was yesterday to live as a woman in this world.
“She was arrested when she was 18 years old for smoking crack cocaine in a Brattleboro motel” reads the Aug. 22 article “Police: Man kills girlfriend, self.” The inclusion of this story, as well as her history of partners and residence, is not only alarmingly irrelevant to her murder, it attempts to paint this beautiful, complex woman simply as an addict, as promiscuous, irresponsible, deviant, as unvaluable. These details seem like nothing but a cheap attempt to make Katelyn’s life, and death, smaller and less important.
The value and weight of Katelyn’s life will never be measured by her history with alcohol and drugs or her history with other men; so when you are talking about her stolen life, please don’t include it. Making women small and blaming them for their victimization sanctions the violence they endure. Some men kill women. But so many of us let them do it. Tonight, and yesterday, and tomorrow, I am tired of letting men kill.
We need to be better. We need to take responsibility for encouraging and sanctioning gender-based violence. This is a case of life and death.
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