I’ve spent a lot of time today thinking about a child who died over twenty years ago. Her name was Ebony Williams. Had she lived, she would be just a few years younger than me. However, in 1993, Ebony Williams was raped, her throat slit, her body stuffed into a cardboard box and burnt beneath a bridge.
She was raped and murdered by two men. Both were convicted, and Ebony Williams is still dead.
I don’t know how often you’re around thirteen year olds, but I’ve spent some time working with this age group. Their brains are cleaved in half – one half child, one half young adult. You can have grown up conversations with them, and you can also easily engage them in word search puzzles and sock puppets.
In form, in thought, they straddle two worlds.
Those of us who lived long enough to be an adolescent might remember this state of being. And those of us who remember, remember how much it sucks.
Adolescence sucked for me, and I was a well-cared for, white child growing up in an affluent suburb, attending a nice private school. And still, adolescence sucked.
Imagine then (or maybe you don’t need to), how much more it would suck to be adolescent and discarded – homeless, unkempt, hungry. Her teachers remember that she “always smelled badly” – evidence of neglect. Others remember that she had a “pretty smile,” which is a detail we always remember about girls who we have paid absolutely no attention to.
Honestly, I can’t even think about this child’s demise without a lump in my throat.
Ebony Williams’ case is not an isolated incident. Men often prey upon, rape, and murder girl children. Recently, major media outlets released the stomach churning audio of Subway Spokesperson Jared Fogle explaining how he would groom children in order to rape them, singling out the “girl from the broken home.” Men, not just Fogle, target girls who are already somehow marginalized, somehow wounded, knowing that these are the very girls society is most willing to dispose of, the way in 1993, two gang affiliated men, literally disposed of thirteen year old Ebony Williams.
The existence, the prevalence of such crimes in a civilized society should make our stomachs turn, should make it impossible to sleep, should fill us with rage. Frankly, to live with the knowledge of such horrific events, should render us in a perpetual state of vomiting and weeping.
So why am I writing about this? I’m writing about this because just when I thought liberal feminist media could not sink any fucking lower, Jezebel published, yesterday, a fawning interview with a child murderer and rapist, who is male, and who now “identifies” as a woman. See, we’re supposed to feel sympathy for this man because he feels he is a woman and he feels the conditions of his imprisonment are unfair and because he feels he has been treated unfairly by women who point out that he is a murderer and rapist.
(Trust me — they’ll do the same for Jared Fogle if and when he decides to come out as trans, and you’ll be a filthy transphobe if you disprove of their support of trans-Fogle.)
Let me be more precise: WOMEN are supposed to FEEL SORRY for a man who participated in the rape and murder of a female child because this man now feels like a woman.
I wonder if he “felt like a woman” when he was cleaning up after the murder of Ebony Williams. Or if he “felt like a woman” when he was smirking in the courtroom during the trial. Or did he first “feel like a woman” when he embarked on a storybook romance with the Zodiac Killer? (Google the latter, I’m not linking to any of this shit.) Or did he really, truly “feel like a woman” when Jezebel, a two-bit “feminist” website featured him as part of some “human rights” story?
In the whole of the Jezebel piece, the name of this man’s victim is not mentioned once. The details of the crime – which are horrific – are entirely obscured. Then again, the purpose of the piece is not to pay homage to Ebony Williams or the countless other girls like her whose lives were ended cruelly, brutally, at the hands of men.
At the heart of this piece is a “story” about how the convicted murderer was “hurt” when Laverne Cox and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project retracted previous public support for him after the gruesome nature of his crime was brought, once more, to the public’s attention: “[Cathy Brennan] publicized that Blast had been convicted for the murder of [. . .] Ebony Williams.”
The writer puts this information forth as though the story hasn’t been public record since 1993 (which it has), as though the interview subject was “mysteriously imprisoned” (which he wasn’t), as though anyone with internet access couldn’t Google the subject’s name and find countless documents detailing the crime (which they could), alongside a lengthy New York Times piece about his relationship with The Zodiac Killer.
The writer then notes that the convicted “was threatened and insulted online and received hate mail on the inside calling her a freak and woman hater . . .”
We’re supposed to feel bad about this. We’re supposed to feel sorry for this man because he was “insulted online.” And really, if we’re going to start filling online publications with “human interest” stories about people who were “insulted online,” then there will be no fucking room left for any other news.
Furthermore, we’re supposed to feel that he’s the victim of Cathy Brennan? Are you fucking serious? Laverne Cox withdrew public support for this man because despite Cox’s desire to make sad puppy dogs out of violent males who “feel like women,” even Cox couldn’t stomach the details of what this man did to Ebony Williams. Even Laverne-#Ilovemenbuthatepatriarchy-Cox didn’t want to align himself with this male person’s heinous crime.
But let’s blame Cathy Brennan. This writer’s purpose isn’t about advocating for prisoners’ rights, about critiquing the prison industrial complex, it’s about showing her allegiance to the bullshit notion that feminists (I mean the kind who advocate for and care about female human beings) are the cause of all the pain and suffering poor, poor men who feel like ladies endure. And it’s about ensuring that “thought crimes” – such as acknowledging that trans women are actually male — are more offensive to us as a society than “actual crimes” – like raping, murdering, and burning children.
The real purpose of the Jezebel piece is to vilify women who call bullshit on people like the article’s subject. If this wasn’t, in fact, the purpose then there’d be no reason to mention Cathy Brennan.
In the Jezebel piece, the murderer discusses his self-described “elation” when he found out Laverne Cox and the SRLP were going to “be” his “voice.” The world was going to hear my words, he writes.
Mind you, there was no one to be Ebony Williams’ voice, nobody to hear her words. Then again, she was just a girl.
The convicted then expresses how crestfallen he was when TERFS [. . .] started a smear campaign calling me a rapist.
I know that I now live in a world where logic is not terribly en vogue, but when you’ve been convicted in a court of law of RAPE, it’s not a fucking “smear campaign” when someone calls you a rapist. Like, calling Jefferey Dahmer a cannibal isn’t a “smear campaign.” Calling Ted Bundy a “serial killer” isn’t besmirching his character. If you killed people and consumed their body parts, you’re a fucking cannibal. If you raped a child, you’re a fucking rapist. It’s not conjecture. It’s fact.
And if what makes one a TERF is acknowledging that it’s reprehensible, sickening, and incomprehensibly repulsive to make a folk hero of a man who raped and murdered a child then I’m happy to be a TERF.
The writer of the Jezebel article, however, wants us all to know that she is not a TERF. She tells us this by giving this criminally minded, murderous, person a platform to obsess over Cathy Brennan (how feminist! how responsible!), a woman who has absolutely nothing to do with this person’s crime or case.
The writer wants you to know that, unlike Cathy Brennan, she will happily defer to a child murderer, who is male, for insight on what makes one a feminist:
How do you think transphobia shaped the way Cathy Brennan described you – or the danger she claimed that you posed? Would you call her a feminist?
Let’s take a moment to let this sink in. Really sink in. Here a writer for a so-called feminist publication is encouraging a violent, gang affiliated, MtT, who, by all legal accounts, participated in the rape and murder of a child, to ruminate on his feelings about a woman who, in his warped little mind, has “wronged” him. In the mind of this person, Cathy Brennan, and not his heinous actions, are the cause of his suffering.
The writer, vis-a-vis Jezebel, vis-à-vis Gawker Media, suggests that it is not the facts of the crime itself, not the fact that Ebony Williams was raped and murdered and burned, that suggest this person “poses a danger,” but Cathy Brennan who suggests this person “poses a danger.”
And, ironically (or not so ironically), in bringing Brennan up repeatedly in the course of the interview, stoking the flames of the interviewee’s irrational ire, the writer poses a danger to Brennan.
Oh, and then, the writer asks this “man who identifies as a woman” whether or not he thinks Brennan is a feminist, as if his answer should matter to the reader.
I, for one, do not care what this man, complicit in the death of Ebony Williams, thinks of another woman, thinks of feminism. I do not take my political worldview from unrepentant men who participate in brutalizing and murdering girl children. And I certainly don’t get my feminist theory from fucking Jezebel.
She is a monster, the convicted says of Cathy Brennan.
[She] is not a feminist, the murder and rapist says. I am a feminist. I am against women being harmed. I am against women being raped.
And we are to believe he is against these things, just as we are to believe he is a woman.
Ebony Williams, sadly, wasn’t around for his change of heart. Ebony Williams didn’t encounter the womanly, feminist version of this man. In the course of her devastatingly short lifetime, I’d hazard that Ebony Williams didn’t meet many nice feminist men like the one who raped her and placed her body beneath a bridge to be burnt like so much garbage.
As for Cathy Brennan, her crime was daring to bring up Ebony Williams just as LGBT media and trans activist groups were in the process of canonizing her murderer.
Because this, apparently, is what we do now: if someone who identifies as “trans” has to face consequences for an unethical or illegal action, we make saints of them. If said “trans” person is a “trans woman” we automatically interpret their deserved consequence as “persecution.” In this way, trans women – even the ones who straight up murder people – benefit from male privilege. I mean, this gratuitous display of moral and ethical exemption has never been extended to women and girls.
Also, if “feminist publications” wish to extend their sincerest sympathies to people in prison, there are lots and lots of women in prison as a result of abusive spouses and boyfriends, lots of young women behind bars as a result of long histories of sexual abuse, lots of women serving out grim sentences because they were trafficked by men. There are lots of girls who, unlike Ebony Williams, survived adolescence and ended up incarcerated because they were societal throwaways.
But Jezebel isn’t interested in “being the voice” of those women.
So fuck Jezebel, and fuck their parent company, Gawker Media.
For my small part, I’ll be encouraging those I know to stop reading and sharing articles from these sites. I’ll tell anyone who will listen that Jezebel doesn’t care about girls like Ebony Williams, that Jezebel has a vested interest in encouraging violent males to target women who disagree with their brand of “feminism.” And I’d encourage any well-intentioned feminist reader of this blog to do the same.