Monday, August 04, 2008

More on Angie Zapata and violence against trans women.

1. "It."

As Cassuto noted, when people objectify others, they find it much easier both to possess and to kill them. What he meant by objectification was not sexual, but literally treating a person as an object. Cassuto also pointed out that humans are never fully able to conceive of another person as a thing, and so they enter that space in between thing and human--they become monsters.

In most of these cases (Angie Zapata's and others), the transgender woman is doubly objectified--first as a woman that the person feels entitled to, sexually (the usual feminist definition of objectification) and then when they find out that she isn't exactly what they were expecting, she becomes a thing, and thus something that can be killed--"it."

It's that very monstrosity-through-objectification that is threatening, though, because if she were simply a thing, she would no longer be frightening and need to be killed. It's the fact that she's still at once the woman he was attracted to and yet not what he's 'supposed' to be attracted to that makes her monstrous, that requires her death, that creates this 'panic' that to some people actually justifies killing another person.

2. The media.

In the news, the trans woman is both acceptable victim because she is a woman, and deserving victim because she does not fit the box that we've put 'women' into. She's another step removed from the Natalee Holloways and Laci Petersons of this world--particularly from Peterson, who was so defined by her biology, her pregnancy, her fetus, always so obsessively named in the media.

It is appropriate for a woman to be a victim of violence, and even more appropriate for a woman of color to be a victim of violence--it's expected. News coverage of violence against women goes in a hierarchy, but trans women are at the very bottom of it, (well, trans women of color sex workers would be the very bottom) and that's just wrong. It's "not a typical hate crime"? Then what else is it?

Back to the monster theory for a second--do you think that people who commit hate crimes against those of a different race than them don't have a similar process in their brains that tells them people of this other race are less human than they are, different, Other, monsters, and thus killable? Is the so-called "irrational" reaction that made this man kill a woman less a product of his hate and fear than a Klansman's hatred for black people or a Nazi's hatred for Jews?

3. Sexual assault.

As I mentioned above, Angie Zapata was doubly objectified--first as a woman. The man who killed her stated for the record(!) that he found out she had a penis by grabbing her genital area. As if it's some male right to check for himself, right? To test out the goods?


So this guy not only killed a woman, he sexually assaulted her first, and then stole her car, and we're supposed to believe that somehow he's the victim in this case? I mean, if I grab some guy's cock, find out he's not circumcised, am I allowed to bash his head in and then drive off with his car because it offends me as a Jewish woman?

I doubt it.

Lisa has more.