On Gender
Politics

 

Revisiting Andrea Yates


On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates methodically drowned her five children. It was a horrible case into which gender politics inevitably intruded.

Most in the men’s movement were angry at the many women who wanted her husband punished for her crime, and that’s all they saw. Certainly the Dallas chapter of the National Organization for Women sought a return to the 1700s when, if a woman committed a crime, her husband paid.

One can understand resenting the double message from the very women who claim to seek independence. It highlights how reactionary feminism is: to not want women responsible for anything but always blame men. And these are the very people who, had Andrea divorced before this horrible incident, would have equally insisting she get sole custody. Who would they blamed then?

I saw the opposite. The fact Andrea was on trial at all, not husband Russell, was a major step toward equal accountability instead of just equal opportunity. This time, only a minority sought a male scapegoat and tried to play the gender card.

Back in the 1980s, women who committed a crime got off for having been abused as a child or neglected as a wife, rationales that would never be accepted for a man. Heck, a Washington State study found that 90% of prison inmates had been abused as children. No one takes past mistreatment as an excuse for men, though maybe they should. The point is the double standard.

But in 2001, women almost universally reacted that this crime was too much of a disgrace to all women to allow excuses. Women were fed up with feminist double standards.

Perhaps the greater tragedy is that, this, and many other articles, are about the gender politics. Did Andrea get a fair trial and reasonable consideration, or only men and women as social groups and is that what a trial should be? This is the effect of gender wars.

Distinguishing private from secret is inconvenient to the media. In the name of some alleged right to know, there is no privacy nor fair trial. The O.J. Simpson case, coming so soon after the Rodney King affair in the same city, was never about whether this man committed these murders. Promoted to the public realm it could only be a trial of public issues: Should blacks get away with murder just like they see whites doing?

Likewise, the painfully public trial of Andrea Yates promoted it from seeking the right treatment of an individual case to a trial of social issues. Andrea never had a chance at fair consideration. The public wants public executions, not justice, as happens when any part of the justice system is served to the media. Give me private trials (not secret, private) any day, and keep the media and public circuses out. A presumption of innocence means trials and family tragedies are not for public entertainment. What an obscenity!

But the case carried an even greater social indictment: how we treat the mentally ill. We do nothing, provide no facilities nor care, but wait for a crime to then throw them in jail.

Andrea was very sick. During the trial, psychiatrists testified that they’d never seen such a bad case. Where were they before the murders? They are a better scapegoat than Russell, who did whatever the experts told him to do.

But scapegoats are for ducking one’s own responsibility. Our jails are full of the retarded and mentally ill. As long as we provide no facilities, the blood of these crimes is on our hands.

©2008, KC Wilson

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To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. - Marilyn French

 

 K.C. Wilson is a social commentator and author of Where's Daddy? The Mythologies Behind Custody-Access-Support, and the e-books: Male Nurturing, Co-parenting for Everyone, The Multiple Scandals of Child Support, and Delusions of Violence: The Secrets Behind Domestic Violence Myths. For his personal life, he prefers anonymity. He writes as a nobody, for he is not your ordinary divorce expert with the usual credentials. He is not a lawyer or psychologist, he is not now nor has he ever been a member of the Divorce Industry. K.C. is simply a thinker and researcher, for the issues are not legal, but human, social and common to all. When change is indicated, should we turn to those that the very status quo which is to be questioned has promoted to "expert?" Society's structures are up to society, not a select few. So his writing is for and about you, the ordinary person. K.C. prefers to be known as simply one himself, and that is how he writes. Find out more at wheres-daddy.com

 



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