Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Facebook and Violent Masculinity

I was recently directed to this story about a man who was found guilty of killing his wife after she changed her Facebook "status" to single. For all the hoopla about how the internet will liberate society, there will be an equal number of examples showcasing how the internet is used to extend different forms of discrimination. In this case, although the net was certainly not the root cause of the problem, it did to some degree help spark the interpersonal violence. From the story (posted back on 1/23/09):

Edward Richardson, 41, was found guilty of stabbing to death Sarah Richardson, 26, a hairdresser, in her parents’ house in Staffordshire on May 12 last year.

Fiona Cortese of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Richarsdon became enraged when Sarah changed her marital status on Facebook to single and decided to go and see her as she was not responding to his messages."

Stafford Crown Court heard that Richardson, a carpenter from Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent, had sought out Mrs Richardson in her parents house and entered by breaking the front door window.

“Once inside he found Sarah in her bedroom and subjected her to a frenzied and brutal attack with a knife and then attempted to take his own life,” said Ms Cortese.

Here we see how dimensions of masculinity (in this case a violent sense of ownership over one's spouse) fuses with a new form of electronic surveillance, and leads to a tragic outcome. In a highly patriarchal culture, even those institutions that appear to be the most socially helpful will be used to maintain and perpetuate gender imbalances.

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