Let’s Talk About Kasandra Perkins for a Change-How does violence against women turn into a gun debate?
A lot of people are talking about the murder of Kasandra Perkins. But not so many people are talking about Perkins herself. Maybe this is because she was murdered by a famous man, NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher, who subsequently killed himself—because we want to forgive our heroes, salvage their characters, and absolve ourselves of the guilt of loving someone who did something very bad. Maybe it’s because our culture is still uncomfortable acknowledging patterns of domestic violence that routinely (and often predictably) take the lives of women, particularly women of color. Maybe we simply don’t have access to that much information about Perkins, relative to the very public life of her killer. Maybe we just prefer luridness over sadness.
But whatever the reason, we have minute-by-minute breakdowns of Belcher’s last hours. We have solemn accounts of Belcher’s funeral. We have opportunistic, victim-blaming pro-gun screeds, claiming we’d have seen a happy ending if only there’d been more guns in the house, not fewer. We have former White House press secretary Dana Perino saying that female domestic violence victims should “make better decisions.” Most notably, we have numerous explorations of what a swell, genuine guy Belcher was, and how shocking and out-of-character his crime. Collectively, we are more focused on the last 12 hours of Belcher’s life than we are about the last 22 years of Perkins’s.
Jessica Valenti has a must-read piece in the Nation:
A good person. Genuine. Pleasant. Nice. Hard-working. A family man. The media has used all of these terms to describe Jovan Belcher after he murdered Kasandra Perkins, shooting her nine times. In fact, these glowing descriptors are all from just one article in The New York Times. But don’t worry, there are plenty of pieces sharing lovely sentiments about the man who killed his girlfriend, the mother of his barely 3-month-old daughter.
While mainstream media and supporters of Belcher have no problem spouting off flattery, most are hesitant to call what happened domestic violence. They’ve gone out of their way to suggest that Belcher murdered Perkins-who friends called ‘Kasi’-because of sustained head injuries or because of alcohol or drug abuse. A police officer, Sgt. Richard Sharp, has even suggested that Belcher committed suicide after killing Kasi because “he cared about her.”
“I don’t think he could live with himself,” he said. What a romantic.