Thursday, April 16, 2009

Susan Estrich On Phil Spector Verdict And Victim Blaming

Susan Estrich wrote about Phil Spector's 2 murder trials, the second of which ended with a conviction.

Both Clarkson and Spector were on trial for the second time, after the first jury to consider murder charges against the music producer deadlocked 10-2 in favor of conviction.

Spector's defense, once again, was to portray Clarkson as the ultimate nut and slut, a has-been, a depressed former B-movie actress who would kill herself at the home of a man she met hours before. His defense lawyer vowed, in the wake of Spector's conviction, to fight the judge's ruling that had allowed testimony from five other women who claimed Spector had held them at gunpoint. [...]

As far as I know, none of the "other women" in the Spector case brought charges against a man they knew to be dangerous. Clarkson, had she survived the night, probably wouldn't have, either. The reason should be obvious. They would have been destroyed. If you think Clarkson's image took a beating in these two trials, imagine what they would have said about her if she were still alive and complaining. The only thing that saved her is the fact that she is dead.

This reality is why solutions which focus only on encouraging women to report are no solution at all. These so-called solutions are often a way for people to excuse other people's negative contribution to violence against women.

One of the common lies which gets put forth is that the only reason a woman reported against a man with money is that the alleged victim is a gold digger. This is often presented as the only possible motive and that depends on the fallacy that those with money are incapable of being violent -- physically or sexually.

Being poor doesn't make a man violent and being rich doesn't make a man non-violent. Being violent is what makes a man violent. But popular denial can help certain men cross the line between non-violent and violent. This denial can also communicate to those who want to be violent who they can select for their victims to maximize their chances of getting away with one or more felonies.

The verbal attacks, and too often physical attacks, against those who report violence isn't limited to those who report violence committed by the rich or famous.

Estrich focuses on the power of bystanders to deal with someone who chooses to be violent or abusive. In this case those people are friends and associates of Phil Spector. Their choice to ignore criminal behavior or to protect the person who is violent -- even if that means additional harm to those who committed no crime -- is a choice which needs to be focused on if we are serious about reporting and prevention.

In the long run bystander enablement didn't benefit Phil Spector since he will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison. And rightfully so.

Accountability may have come too late for Lana Clarkson, but it did come for Phil Spector.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:37 PM   1 comments links to this post


At April 16, 2009 5:18 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

It is useless encouraging women to report to police when a man/men rapes them because as this case once again shows, it is always the female victim who is on trial. Unless a female victim has lived a life in total isolation from other human contact, defence counsel will find ways of discrediting her.

Phil Spector was a vicious, violent man and he was rightly convicted of murder. Lana Clarkson's personal lifestyle was irrelevant because she did not ask to be murdered by Spector. Violent men exist in classes, both rich and poor and the ones in between. They all have similar aims and that is to enforce power and control over someone, primarily women because these men know they will get away with it. Reason is because women are increasingly blamed for supposedly causing men to commit violence against them. This reason also allows bystanders to ignore the realities of male violence and look the other way. It is no wonder so many men get away with violence against women.

As for Spector's character - he is hardly squeaky clean but being male automatically makes him more privileged and entitled than any woman.


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