Naked headless women golf tees, it’s all a bit of a laugh, eh? Adding, according to Dunlop, “a little humour to your game” or “the perfect gift for someone who takes the sport a little too seriously.” Bend down and stick the nice bit of pink plastic tits and arse in the ground, balance your golf ball head, swing and “thwack”. Hilarious.
But what about those of us who aren’t laughing?
I grew up in a village in Yorkshire with a pub called The Silent Woman. The pub sign was a picture of a woman carrying her head in her hands. To be silent a woman had to be headless. A misogynistic leap of association, dragging in the nagging wife, the fishwife, the gossip: to be silent a woman must be headless. Is there a feminist on social media who hasn’t experienced attempts at silencing when she expresses her opinions? I’ve lost count of the number of men who have told me “Don’t start with ….”, “Shut up,” or called me variations of screeching, bleating feminazi. The Silent Woman in Slaithwaite did not have a unique pub name, there are several across the UK, with The Headless Woman as a variation. Sometimes the name appears with the couplet: “Here is a woman who has lost her head, She’s quiet now—you see she’s dead” (Author unknown) just in case the inference from name alone isn’t clear enough. Carl Jung talked about cultural archetypes. Cross cultural , universal concepts that he believed indicated a collective unconscious. Unconscious forces that are expressed in images, religion, stories and mythology as they enter consciousness and shape our interactions in society. The silent woman, synonymous with headless woman is a patriarchal archetype. It reflects sexist misogynistic cultural values. Not convinced about the concept of patriarchy? Remember Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects? “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.”
The objectification of women, reducing us to hilarious little objects that exist to titillate men, to give them a giggle, is another means of keeping us unequal. Reducing us to hilarious little objects towards which to swing a golf club makes hitting us fun. Making a joke out of the objectification of women and male violence against women is another way of normalising and reducing our ability to stop and stand back, to confront the horrible reality of what is happening.
Male violence against women does not exist in a social vacuum, it simultaneous reinforces and is reinforced by inequality between woman and men, given more than a helping hand by the objectification of women. Two and a half years ago, I started counting UK women killed through male violence. Since I started counting in January 2012 and the end of May 2014, 333 UK women had been killed; amongst them, I am aware of six women who were decapitated. Anyone still laughing at Dunlop’s golf tees?
Is it funny if I remind you of 29-year-old Gemma McCluskie? She was actor living in London. In March 2012, her brother Tony McCluskie, 36, killed her by hitting her head and then chopped her up with a cleaver and a knife. The next day, he took a cab carrying a heavy suitcase. A week later, her torso was found in the suitcase in the canal close to where he was dropped off. A week later her arms and legs were found in black bags. It was another six months before her head was found.
Will you laugh if I tell you about Elizabeth Coriat? In March 2012, Daniel Coriat, 43, killed his 76-year-old mother Elizabeth Coriat in their shared home in London. She was found on her bed, fully clothed, decapitated and mutilated with various weapons embedded in her head and body, injuries to the wrists and ankles in a ‘crucifixion-like’ pattern. She had suffered almost 50 separate injuries inflicted by weapons including carving knives, secateurs, a chef’s steel and a pruning saw. Her head had been cut off completely off, rotated 180 degrees, and placed back on her body.
Will your golfer stop talking the sport so seriously if we think about Catherine Gowing, a 39-year-old vet who was murdered by a serial rapist Clive Sharp, 47, in October 2012? He raped her for 4 hours before killing her. The next day he bought bleach, petrol, a hacksaw and spare blades, and a Halloween mask. He dismembered Catherine’s remains in open ground before disposing of her body in various locations in North Wales. Only her torso, right hand and foot have been recovered; her head and remaining body parts were never found.
Will the story of Reema Ramzan bring back the missing humour to your game? 18-year-old Reema from Sheffield was murdered by her boyfriend Aras Hussain, 21, in June 2013. According to forensic evidence although he had stabbed her in the chest, Reema was likely to be alive while her head was being cut off, though would of course have lost consciousness at some point. A post mortem showed Reema had also been stabbed in her shoulder and leg. Injuries on her hands were consistent with self-defence. Judge Mrs Justice Cox told Hussain “”The pain, terror, anguish and desperation she would therefore have suffered, as you inflicted these appalling injuries upon her and ended her life, is truly horrifying to contemplate.”
Finally, if your sense of humour needs a final nudge there’s 60-year-old Judith Nibbs who lived in Hackney, London. Judith had been active in the local community for many years and had worked delivering meals-on-wheels to the elderly for the last 6 years. She also cared for her disabled daughter. In April 2014, police responding to a call found her decapitated body in her blood-splattered flat. Her estranged husband, Dempsey Nibbs, 67, was also there. It is believed he had stabbed and seriously injured himself after killing Judith. Police are not looking for anyone else.
Those golf club thwacks to the head have a broader context beyond beheaded women. There are numerous women murdered through blows to the head: garden ornaments, kitchen implements, hammers, feet, fists, blunt force trauma, fractured skull, brain injury. There’s also 68-year-old Sally Hingston, murdered by 25-year old and 6ft 10 Benjamin Radojezic: Sally survived a brutal beating – with a golf club – only to be dumped half naked in a ditch where she took 17 hours to die in Buckinghamshire in 2009.
Off with her head. Oh, such a laugh. The naked headless woman – a little bit of humour for your game of golf. I’m not laughing. After reading this, could anyone be?
Jo Sharpen has stated a petition to Dunlop to remove the naked woman golf tees from sale. You can sign it here https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dunlop-sport-remove-the-misogynistic-nudie-tee-product-which-features-a-decapitated-woman-s-body# %85
The headline “Woman stabbed to death ‘because she was wearing traditional Muslim dress’” is repeated across today’s news.
Attacking Nahid Al-Manea because of what she was wearing was a racist hate crime and blaming her clothing is judgemental victim blaming. I have no desire to defend any religion. All religions that I am aware of oppress women. But I want to know why we can almost immediately place her murder in a box called ‘religion’ or ‘racism’. So far this year, I’ve counted more than 70 women in the UK killed though suspected male violence, but I’ve yet to see anyone other than feminists identifying this a problem with patriarchy or misogyny.
According to the Tell MAMA UK project, 58% of anti-Muslim attacks reported to them are against women and girls with a 2:1 ratio of women victims in Islamic clothing compared to men in Islamic clothing, 75% of perpetrators are male. The sex differences are clear – and predicable – to anyone who cares to look for them. When race or religion are a factor in violence, these are rightly identified and named . Why isn’t it the same with sexist and misogynistic murder?
We’re not calling racially motivated attacks isolated incidents, nor should we, but that’s still how male violence against women is too frequently viewed. Racist violence does not happen in a vacuum that is unaffected by other forms of hate-crime. Of course we need to drive out racism but we need to open our eyes and make the connections between all crimes of male violence against women – any woman, all women.
Within minutes of the breaking news of the violent murder of Lee Rigby last summer, his death was being linked to Islamic extremism– a threat to “our British values”. The government’s emergency response committee, COBRA, was convened the following day. Why hasn’t a COBRA meeting been called to look at fatal male violence against women? The murder of Lee Rigby was abhorrent, but any murder is abhorrent. There should be no hierarchy. Could it be that it is only when the primary aggressors are those acting against, not reinforcing the dominant ideology, that the structural root of violence is identified?
According to Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell MAMA UK “If the killing is found to be an anti-Muslim in nature, then this will be the second Islamophobic murder in 14 months,”. Two in 14 months is two too many. Nahid al-Manea, 32, was stabbed to death. A 52 year-old man has been arrested. I’ve seen more than 70 versions of this same story in the UK already this year. Over 70 dead women. Over 70 male killers. 70 dead women in five months. Women with a wide range of backgrounds. Nine dead women this month so far. Who isn’t making the connections?
A piece written by Sian Norris today “Go die in a fire” is not just an idle threat – as I know only too well” made me think. In Sian’s words:
“ Telling women to die in a fire is no idle threat. It is the reality of millions of women throughout history. It is the reality of women alive today. It is my reality, as a survivor of having men set my hair on fire. It is not ok to despise women’s real life experience of male violence. It is not ok to use women’s experience of male violence in your desperate efforts to make women shut up.
I, too, hate that saying. Through my work counting dead women, I know that 17 women in the UK were either murdered in fires or set alight after they had been killed between January 2012 and December 2013. As Sian concludes
“If you read this, and you are one of those people who has told women to die in a fire, who has threatened to silence women by setting them on fire, then for fuck’s sake, think about what you are saying and who you are saying it to.”
I’d like to add “If you tell women to “die in a fire,” please remember:
Stacey Mackie, aged 35, was doused in white spirit and set alight on 27th January 2012. Police broke into her flat when a neighbour raised the alarm, They found her sitting in the lobby with 80-95% burns, her clothes were almost entirely burned off and her hair was singed. As a police officer tried to comfort her, she replied: ‘I know I am going to die.’ Terrence Armer 61, was convicted of her murder, killing her after she had ended their relationship. In court he denied that he had killed her and told the jury that he loved her.
Catherine Wells-Burr, aged 23, was smothered by Rafal Nowak. Anna Lagwinowicz and Tadevsz Dmytryszyn removed her body from the house and drove it in her car to a remote countryside location. Her badly-burned body was found in the burnt-out car on 12 September 2012.
Kayleigh Buckey, 17, her six month old baby daughter Kimberley and her mum, Kim Buckley, 46, were killed in a fire in their home. Kayleigh’s partner and father of Kimberley, Carl Mills, aged 28 was found guilty of their murders.
The body of Una Crown, aged 83, was found on 13th January 2013. She had suffered serious burns. Officers first thought she had accidentally set herself on fire before serious stab wounds were identified in her post-mortem. Her murder remains unsolved.
The body of Chloe Siokos, 80, and that of her husband Argyrios Siokos, 69, were discovered after a fire at their home on 22 January 2013. Police said Chloe had other injuries inconsistent with the fire being the cause of death and that it was thought that Argyrios Siokos had murdered her before starting the fire.
Sasha Marsden, aged 16, was sexually assaulted and stabbed in the head and neck by work colleague David Minto, 23. Her body was wrapped in a bin liner and carpet underlay, and dumped in an alleyway on 31 January 2013 before being set on fire. Her injuries were so severe that she had to be identified by DNA from her toothbrush.
Ellen Ash, aged 83, was smothered by her son Jeffrey Ash on 21st March 2013. He set fire to her home and fled before handing himself into police. Fire crews found her badly-burned body on the living room floor.
Naika Inayat, aged 52, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a fire started by her husband Mohammed Inayat on 17 April 2013. Their three daughters were also injured in the fire, one of them, 16-year-old Saimah, who had to jump from a bedroom window, suffered 50 per cent burns
Julie Beattie, aged 24, was murdered by Ashley Williams on 19th July 2013. He hit her over the head with a hammer before he doused her in a mixture of petrol and diesel fuel. She staggered out of the house in flames and said “‘Ashley did this to me”, before collapsing. She later died of her injuries. Her murder was witnessed by two children aged four and five, they became the youngest witnesses to give evidence at a murder trial.
Varka Rani, aged 24, was strangled with the pipe of a vacuum cleaner by her husband Jasvir Ginday, 29, on 12th September 2013. He had previously filed a missing persons report about her ‘disappearance’. Police found her remains in the garden incinerator when neighbours reported thick, unpleasant-smelling smoke. Ginday told police he had been burning leaves, but one of the officers lifted the lid and saw the remains of a skull. Varka had been placed in the incinerator in the foetal position after her death.
Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her 19-year-old daughter Zainab, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamal,15, all died in a petrol-fuelled blaze at their home after it was mistakenly targeted in a revenge attack on 13 September 2013. Kemo Porter, 19, Tristan Richards, 22, Nathaniel Mullings, 19, Shaun Carter, 24, Jackson Powell, 20, Aaron Webb, 20, Aaron Jeffers, 21, and a 17-year-old youth who cannot be named for legal reasons are standing trial. The trial continues.
Ahdieh Khayatzadeh, 46, suffered severe burns after being doused in petrol and set on fire by her ex-husband Ahmad Yazdanparast on 12th October 2013. Firefighters who brought her out of the building alive said she was in “horrendous” condition, so badly burned that they couldn’t tell if she was male or female, and “very much conscious”. She died in hospital the same day, Before she died she told a paramedic that her ex-husband had carried out the attack because she had divorced him.
Mahnaz Rafie, aged 48, died of stab wounds before a fire started in her home on 12th December 2013. Her mother Dolleh Joseph, 74, was rescued by fire crews but pronounced dead at hospital from smoke inhalation and burns. Her husband Hassan also died from smoke inhalation and burns. It is believed that the fire started after the gas supply was tampered with. Police said they were not looking for anyone else
“Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
Catch you with another man
That’s the end’a little girl”
John Lennon and Paul McCartney
“I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me but I will punish you all for it. …….. If I can’t have you girls, I will destroy you. [laughs] You denied me a happy life and in turn I will deny all of you life, it’s only fair. I hate all of you.”
Male entitlement is a deadly seam running through male violence against women whether coercive control, FGM, rape, prostitution, trafficking or murder.
According to government statistics, approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year, that’s an average of 233 women raped by men in the UK every day. Last year in the UK, 142 women were killed through suspected male violence, that’s one dead woman every 2.5 days; and between January and April this year, 50 UK women have been killed. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to one of the first three types of female genital mutilation. Prostitution, pornography and trafficking reduce women to commodities, possessions and objects for market exchange, men the purchasers, controllers and profit-makers. It is estimated that prostitution revenue is around £110 billion per year worldwide, involves around 40-42 million people worldwide, of which 90% are dependent on a procurer, 75% are between 13 and 25 years old and the overwhelming majority are women. The global pornography industry was estimated to be worth £57 billion in 2006. Approximately 230 girls are still missing, more than a month after they were abducted in Chibok, Nigeria. Women are still routinely ‘given away’ by their fathers in marriage ceremonies and fathers, not mothers are named on marriage certificates. Male entitlement to women and girls and male violence against women and girls are inextricable.
Mass killings make news headlines in the way day-to-day fatal violence rarely does. The day after Elliott Rodger murdered six people, 82-year old Harold Ambrose called the police from the home he shared with his wife in Boxted, Essex, and told them that he had shot her dead. When armed police reached the house, they found 77-year-old Wendy Ambrose, sitting dead in a chair in the living room with two gunshots to her head and face. Harold Ambrose was found dead in the garden with a single gunshot wound to his head. Harold Ambrose’s name has not trended on twitter, it has not made widespread national, let alone international, news coverage. A man killing a woman is so ‘everyday’ that those who set the agenda do not deem it worthy of attention.
Male entitlement to women’s spaces crosses the realms of the theoretical, cultural and physical. Whether it’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers aka Stockholm Syndrome: the musical, misogynist fantasies of emotional and sexual abuse in the guise of stories for children or adult women, Tom Jones (for example and by no alone) with his songs of Christmas rape or murdering women, popular culture from fairy-tale to pop-music and film is littered with the message that women exist for men. The guy gets the girl. Reward. Happy ending. Some of the men that haven’t management to grasp the intricacies of women’s liberation from structural oppression demand to be, rather than support, feminists. Socially constructed gender and biological sex become conflated, woman is seen as a state of mind. Women-only conferences are threatened by men’s rights activists and women’s domestic and sexual violence services are increasingly re-commissioned as ‘gender-neutral’ services under a barely disguised reactionary ideology. And whilst I was delighted to learn that Sweden has just elected the only formal feminist party to the EU parliament with a Roma woman, Soraya Post as its representative, my heart sank when I read that the role of men is seen as the same as that of women in the Swedish Feminist Initiative. How can we be the same when in patriarchal society we are anything but?
It has now been confirmed that Elliot Rodgers killed six people, four men and two women, the motivating force of his entitled misogyny and bitter jealously revealed in his self-recorded “last video”. Elliot Rodger’s sense of entitlement is glaringly obvious. Prostitution was even suggested as a possible – missed – solution to Rodger’s choice to kill. As explored here by Megan Murphy “What could possibly be a better cure for male entitlement than more male entitlement?” Glaringly obvious and not unusual, male entitlement is frequently accepted as an excuse or justification for everyday fatal male violence against women. For most women, leaving a violent relationship is the best way to end the violence (63%) but for over a third it is not: the violence reduced for eight per cent, stayed about the same for five per cent,changed to something else, such as stalking and other harassment, for 18 per cent, got worse for three per cent and only started when they split up for three per cent. In my tracking of UK women killed through male violence, women being killed by men when they ended relationships, as they left, as they formed relationships with others or after leaving a violence relationship is ever present: Jabeen Younis, 30; Samantha Medland, 24; Rosemary Gill, 48; Chloe Siokos, 80; Gabielle Stanley, 28; Julie Beattie, 24; Da In Lee, 22; Shaista Khatoon, 33; Marion Vita, 48; Janee Parsons, 31. This list could go on and on. Whilst men’s murderous entitlement to women’s spaces, bodies and lives continues unchecked and sometimes supported by liberal capitalist ideology, male violence against women and girls will continue and the lists of women killed by men will continue to grow longer.
When I talk about why I started counting dead women, I begin with my realisation that in the first three days of 2012, seven UK women had been killed though male violence. More than two years later, I found out it wasn’t seven women in three days, but eight.
Betty Yates, a retired teacher who was 77 years-old, was found dead at home in her house in Bewdley, Worcestershire on 4th January. She had been beaten with a walking stick and stabbed in the head four times, two days earlier. The knife used to kill her was still embedded in her neck. Stephen Farrow, 48, was charged with her murder through DNA evidence matched after he murdered vicar John Suddard on 13 February.
2012 then, in the first three days of the year, eight women were killed though male violence. Three days: 8 dead women: 3 shot, 2 stabbed, 1 strangled, 1 smothered and one beaten to death through 15 blunt force trauma injuries.
By the end of the year, I’d counted and named 107 women killed though suspected male violence, but as cases of women’s killings went to court, that number grew. By February 2013 it was 109 women, by the end of July it became 114, then 118. In October 2013, I added Carole Waugh and then later Louise Evans; in March 2014, I added Sally Ann Harrison. May 2014, and not only is there Betty Yates but Jenny Methven, Yong Li Qui, Patricia Seddon and Eleftheria Demetriou.
Jenny Methven was 80 years-old when she was found dead on 20th February, she died through blunt force injuries to her head and body. Her skull was fractured from one side to the other with bone splinters embedded in her brain. 46-year-old William Kean has been found guilty of her murder.
Yong Li Qui, 42, was murdered by Gang Wang, 48. In his trial, he denied he intended to kill her or cause her really serious harm. He had beaten her head with an object so severely that her skull was fractured and her brain tissue could be seen. She died on 25th March, a week after being attacked.
Patricia Seddon, 65, and her husband Robert, 68, were shot dead by their son Stephen. Four months earlier, he had staged a road accident and attempted to kill them by driving into a canal with them strapped in the back seats of a car.
Eleftheria Demetriou, 79, was stabbed to death by Hakim Abdillah, 38, she was killed through multiple wounds to the heart and spleen by a man she had befriended and who used to call her ‘grandma’.
I’ve written before about how I initially started counting women killed by men who were partners, ex-partners or family members: domestic violence; I’ve also looked at how femicide is a more useful but still problematic term because, whilst using patriarchal society as a context it focuses on women killed because they are women and not enough on toxic masculinity.
Between the five women above, two, Betty Yates and Patricia Seddon were murdered by men who also murdered a man. I don’t know how the sex of 80 year-old Jenny Methven, 79 year-old Eleftheria Demetriou, and 77 year-old Betty, was relevant when they were killed by William Kean, 46, Hakim Abdillah, 38 and Stephen Farrow, 48. The age gaps between killer and victim, the inevitable differences in their strength; and the brutality of their attacks mean masculinity and power over women and misogyny, the hatred of women cannot be ruled out. But the differences between the numbers of men who kill women (or men) to the number of women who kill women or men; and the number of men who kill their mothers (or father) to the number of women who kill a parent mean that if we want to end male violence against women, we need to look at patriarchy, sex inequality and socially constructed toxic gender for the answers.
Culture is the ideas, social behaviours and traditions or customs of a particular society or group.
Cultural violence occurs when an someone is harmed as a result of practices that are part of her culture or tradition. In patriarchal societies male violence against women is cultural, it is normalised, it functions as a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men.
In the UK, for April 2014, we could represent cultural violence like this:
(Left to right. Top row: Doreen Walker, Senga Closs, Kayleigh Palmer, Image to represent Sandra Boakes, Yvette Hallsworth; Middle row: Isabelle Sanders, Judith Nibbs, Pauline Butler, Angela Smeaton, Doreen Webb; Bottom row: Image to represent Elaine Duncan, Malgorzata Dantes, Ann Maguire, Carol Dyson).
The fourteen women above were all killed in the UK in April 2014. The primary suspects alleged to have killed them are all male. Fatal male violence against women in the UK is so normalised that only the killing of one of these women made a significant impact on the media. In the UK, the predominant culture makes fatal male violence against women invisible, it is rarely named as a cultural practice and there is resistance to attempts made to do so.
The woman killed though alleged male violence in the UK in April 2014 were aged between 16 and 75 years old. Their killers were aged between 15 and 79 years old. The men who allegedly killed the women made the following choices: One to kill a woman through multiple injuries, one to kill a woman through head injuries, one to strangle a woman, one to decapitate a woman, one to smoother a woman and seven to stab women to death The methods by which two women were killed have not been made publicly available, we don’t yet know about the choices the men made who killed them. At least seven men are alleged to have killed a partner or former partner, one is alleged to have killed one of his teachers and one is alleged to have killed his mother. The relationship between alleged perpetrator and victim has not been released in four cases when men killed women in the UK in April 2014.
In the UK, if asked to describe the term ‘cultural violence’ in relation to April 2014, do we think about these fourteen dead women? If not, we should.