Why Does Oscar Pistorius Have So Many Female Defenders?

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, March 29, 2013 9:30 EDT
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Because the world is stranger and more fucked up than you could ever guess, it turns out that Oscar Pistorius—who shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp (and no, I’m not saying “allegedly”, anti-feminist wankers, because there is no doubt that he pulled the trigger)—has a bunch of female fans who patrol Twitter for the sole purpose of trying to scream anyone down who suggests that murdering your girlfriend is unacceptable behavior. Yes, there’s a similar group of Chris Brown defenders that call themselves “Team Breezy”, but that always seemed a little bit easier to understand—even if it’s absolutely appalling—because they can always justify it to themselves by pointing out that Rihanna forgave him. Also, more importantly, music tends to hit people on a deeply emotional level where it’s easy to convince yourself, especially if you’re young, that you really understand a musician’s soul, which can set you up to rationalize all sorts of fucked up behavior. But Pistorius runs really fast. I mean, it’s impressive, but cutting him loose seems like it’s easier than dealing with the fact that the singer who has touched your heart is actually a lying slimebag and the perceived emotional connection was all an illusion.

Anyway, Alex McClintock of Vice got attacked by some self-appointed “Pistorians” after she reasonably pointed out that Oscar Pistorius’s father is full of shit with his excuse-making for his son.*  She was immediately set upon by women who make it their life’s mission to defend Pistorius. So she interviewed  one of them to find out what’s going on. The young woman, who is named Marisca, explained why Pistorians believe he’s blameless. Their reason is a) they claim to believe his stupid “I thought it was an intruder” story and b) they think she probably had it coming anyway. That these two reasons are in direct conflict with each other, as Tracie Egan Morrissey pointed out. Obviously, what’s going on is that they, on some level, don’t believe the intruder story and, like Team Breezy, just want to blame the victim here. It’s just a little harder to pull it off when the victim is dead, so out comes this muddled garbage of it-was-an-accident-he-didn’t-even-know-but-she-was-no-saint-because-that’s-relevant-when-it-was-an-accident.

Obviously, even if someone is a “slut” and a cheater, that does not justify murdering her. But my point is that I suspect that’s what Pistorians are stabbing at, but they’re just reluctant to say it, and thus the muddled garbage they spout.

There’s two basic lessons I’ve gleaned from all this. One, whenever some asshole online is spouting a bunch of hateful shit about “misandry” or how guns or holy or whatever, it’s important to remember the world is large and weird enough in it to have people who think that there’s nothing wrong with unloading your gun into your girlfriend as she hides in a bathroom and/or unassumingly uses the bathroom without realizing that her boyfriend shoots first, knocks later. There is no opinion too stupid that some people don’t hold it, so it’s okay to brush that shit off. The irrational cannot be persuaded from their crazy opinions.

Second, this is the logical conclusion of all the minimizing of violence against women and victim-blaming that goes on out there. As I wrote at XX Factor regarding the female defenders of the Steubenville rapists:

[Blaming the victim] helps you convince yourself that you’re safe. Claiming that it’s the victim’s fault for tempting men with her drinking/sexual activity/mini-skirt means telling yourself that as long as you aren’t as “slutty” as the victim, you’ll be OK.

Most of the time, it’s left at that, but this tendency of women to tell themselves they could tame the savage beast by acting better than the victim can also take a romanticized spin. After all, one of the most common romantic fantasies presented to young women is the story of the woman whose loyalty, beauty, etc. causes the “bad boy” to mend his ways to settle down with her. Isn’t this really what “Twilight” is about—turning the vampire into a loving husband? Romantic comedies do it, too, with endless stories of women taming philanderers, sexist pigs, and even slackers.

But there’s a dark side to this fantasy, where the “badness” that is tamed is not just womanizing or smoking pot all day, but in fact abusiveness. Romance novels used to have a standardized plot where the nubile virgin is raped by the hero but then wins him over with her innocence. And really, even “Twilight” has that hint of violence to it, since, you know, vampire. Hell, the narrative is even present in popular children’s movies.

That’s what I think is going on with Team Breezy and the Pistorians. They have given themselves over completely to this fantasy that they would be the perfect girlfriend: Sexy yet pure, spunky yet submissive, beautiful and entrancing. And because they succeeded where Reeva Steenkamp and Rihanna “failed”, they would not be beat up or murdered.

Instead, their wonderfulness as girlfriend would turn the beast into the prince that he really is inside.

I hope I don’t need to point out that male violence against women is the result of male choices, not female inadequacies. But admitting that means letting go of the fantasy that one could be that perfect, special lady who turns bad guys good simply with her dazzling presence.

*Let’s be clear: There’s no scenario in which Oscar Pistorius isn’t a crazy, trigger-happy asshole in all this. Either he’s lying—the likeliest answer, considering his history of violence and reports that he was fighting with Steenkamp earlier in the evening—or his first inclination, when he found a shut door to a bathroom in a house that he knows for a fact has other people in it, was to riddle it with bullets instead of ask, “Hey, is that you, Reeva?” The story he coughed up to justify his behavior is so terrible he needs to go to prison for a long time. WTF.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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