Last week (January 22nd), Janese Talton-Jackson was at a bar in Pittsburgh when a man approached her and asked her out. She rebuffed him and left the bar. The man followed her outside and shot her, killing her. The murderer was eventually apprehended, and I hope he faces justice for what he did.
As I stare at the picture of Ms. Talton-Jackson that has circulated through various media outlets, I can’t help but imagine that my daughter, Teresa, would look similar to her when she grows up. Granted, Ms. Talton-Jackson has more in common with my wife than my daughter – both women of color, approximately the same age, mothers both. Yet, while my daughter still has her mother, Ms. Talton-Jackson’s three children are preparing to bury theirs.
This story scares me, Alarmers. I’m afraid for my wife, who still has to fend off advances from men who are undeterred by or are oblivious to her wedding ring. I fear for my female friends, who each have had to turn down a myriad of unwelcome advances, occasionally with force. Mostly, I fear for my child. I look forward to watching her grow up and go out into the world. I especially welcome the day she falls in love, is loved in return, and hopefully starts a family of her own. It would destroy me if someone, whose ego is so fragile that he cannot cope with the fact that a woman has the right to say “no,” robs her of that chance by taking her life.
What disturbs me more is the men who likely saw this happening and did nothing. It was closing time; there couldn’t have been many people around at that point, so a woman being followed outside by a man couldn’t have been hard to miss. What if Teresa finds herself in a similar situation, where the man doesn’t get the message the first time? Will anyone even care enough to keep an eye on her, let alone intervene? Or will they simply stand by and then afterwards think, “Maybe if she’d just given him a chance…?”
I’m definitely planning on looking into self-defense classes for my daughter as she gets older, and I will absolutely ensure that she is prepared for the worst case scenario for doing something as trivial as exercising her right to choose the person to whom she gives her time. I hate that we live in a world like this, that is so hard on women that they cannot even say “no” without fear for their safety. It’s easy to say that men should learn how to take that “no” for an answer. I’m not saying that the culture that perpetuates this sick sense of entitlement many men have toward women and their bodies isn’t the problem. Until the culture changes, I will do everything in my power to keep my child from becoming a victim.
What do you think, Alarmers? Leave your comments below.