Writing in the Daily Beast, Barbie Latza Nadeau has taken to defend Ashley Olsen, the American woman who was murdered in Florence by a man she had picked up for sex. Links here and here.
To many people the story recalled Looking for Mr. Goodbar. To Nadeau it read like Eat Pray Love.The first book was about a New York woman who picked up Mr. Wrong one night at a bar several decades ago and was murdered by him. The latter book was about a post-divorce spiritual excursion. Comparing this murder to the second, not the first, bespeaks wishful thinking or poor judgment or both.
Ashley Olsen did not go to the sex club and did not bring the Senegalese man home with her because she was looking for spiritual renewal. She was looking for some hard, rough sex. That is, she was looking for a thrill.
Nadeau calls what Olsen was doing “hard partying” but clearly, she is obscuring the truth. Olsen had picked up her hookup partner at a private members-only sex club that was known for drugs and violence. One notes that Olsen must have been a member of the club.
Nadeau is also upset that Olsen has been slut shamed in the Italian media because, by her lights or perhaps by the lights of Italian reporters, being slut shamed means that you deserve to die.
Among other things, this tells us that the concept of slut shaming, which has now become the kind of token or password you intone if you want to appear to belong to a certain group has been so overused that it has lost its meaning. Or better, that its meaning has undergone a strange permutation, influenced by a certain aberrant culture that believes that women who dishonor men must be murdered.
One suspects that the concept of slut-shaming originated on college campuses when certain students, upon glancing out their dorm windows on Sunday morning were greeted with the vision of a young coed walking across campus wearing her Saturday night best. Students dubbed it the walk of sham, but obviously it had nothing to do with deserving to die. It was all about reputation, about the way people looked at you, not about the way they were going to inflict corporeal punishment on you.
After all, anyone who has read Sherlock Holmes will easily conclude that said coed stayed over in someone’s room—not her own—and that the rendezvous was not planned. Anyone might also conclude that the coed and her hookup did not have very much of a relationship. If they had, she might have stayed for breakfast.
One notes that those who are most likely to look askance at the coed doing her walk of shame are female. College aged men are less likely to look down on such a woman as to register her as an interesting hookup prospect.
Obviously, it has nothing whatever to do with deserving to die, thus with the death penalty. It’s all about how others look at you, not whether or not you deserve to be punished. Exception made, again, for a certain depraved culture that sees shaming in guilt cultural terms.
In our current culture, no one is allowed to judge anyone for anything. Said coed was merely living her liberated sexuality. If you don’t approve, shut the fuck up.
Then again, if young women are so proud of their sexual liberation why are they making such a fuss about the way other people see them? Why do they care? Do they want to control what other people think of them, how other people see them, what other people say about them? Doesn’t this feel like mind control? Doesn’t it seem like a way to cover up the obvious fact that said coeds, taking their walk of shame, are not very proud of themselves and do not want anyone to know what they did?
Surely, these coeds have engaged in unwise and perhaps even dangerous behavior. They have a right to do so, but they also have a right to learn from their mistakes. When you talk about the behavior being shameful you are not saying that it ought to be outlawed and punished but that it ought to be discouraged. When you remove the stigma you are saying that it ought to be encouraged.
As a sidelight, consider this. In truth, the woman who does a walk of shame is not being judged for what she did the night before as much as she is being judged her exhibiting it to the general public. The shaming has more to do with indiscretion, with public disclosure than it does with what she was doing in the privacy of someone's dorm room.
People rarely make this distinction, so we do well to emphasize it.
Meanwhile, back in Florence. By all accounts, Ashley Olsen had a perfectly acceptable and appropriate boyfriend. And yet, things were not going so well with said boyfriend, so she had taken to frequenting a private sex club. Or perhaps it was the other way around. One does not know whether she hung out at the club with her boyfriend or whether her membership in the club had something to do with the difficulties she was having with her boyfriend.
Anyway, Nadeau offers the latest from the Italian press:
Yet as the gory details of Olsen’s senseless death emerge, the local press in Italy have started slut-shaming her corpse, implying that she was as much to blame for her death. Headlines about “cocaine-fueled sex” and Olsen’s “habits of the night” and “preference for Africans” have replaced those about what a nice, sweet person she was. And the photos of her sitting with her beloved beagle, Scout, have been replaced by those with her in lacy black dresses.
Let’s be clear: She may have made a series of seriously questionable decisions the night before she died, but even if she did consent to sex, as the prosecutor believes, she does not deserve this slut-shaming and certainly did not deserve to die.
Let’s be even more clear. Apparently, Olsen was sexually liberated. Perhaps she liked her sex raw and even a bit kinky. When people have been desensitized to sexual stimuli-- the product of an oversexualized culture-- they tend to require more stimuli.
This does not mean that Olsen was not a nice, sweet person, but it does suggest that she was comfortable attending a sex club which was not the most respectable place in town. It was a place for casual and even violent sexual encounters, perhaps with people one did not really know, fueled by cocaine. It was not well viewed, either by the citizens of Florence or by the police.
Again, the question is not whether or not Olsen consented to sex or whether her African stud used a condom. According to the murderer himself, she was murdered because she was culturally insensitive. She said the wrong thing to this Senegalese man and naturally he could only follow the rules of his culture—which, keep in mind, is just as good as any other culture—and murdered her.
Authorities have said Olsen’s official cause of death was strangulation with something “other than bare hands.” She also suffered two cranial fractures that the prosecutor suggested were serious enough to kill her. A 27-year-old Senegalese man named Cheik Diaw, who is an undocumented immigrant in Italy, was picked up as the prime suspect after the two had been seen together on surveillance footage leaving the members-only Montecarla nightclub early last Friday morning….
Because Olsen is dead, Diaw’s version of events is the only one we have. His lawyer says that after the two had sex, Olsen told him to go away out of fear her boyfriend would return. “He was offended,” Voce says….
Those press reports indicate he says he left her apartment to buy cigarettes and then returned and the two had consensual sex. After that, Diaw reportedly told authorities, Olsen demanded that he leave. “She treated me like a dog. She pushed me and hit my side,” he told investigators, according to the leaked transcript. “I pushed her back and hit her in the neck.”
One might add that Olsen was reasonably discreet about her behavior. After all the club was a private club. And yet, she was murdered because she lacked multicultural sensitivity. By all appearances this man from Senegal could not accept that any woman would tell him what to do. Requesting that he leave her boudoir felt to him like being treated like a dog. He felt that she was demeaning and degrading him, using him for his sexual object, and shaming him.
In his culture, women who do so deserve to die, not because his is an honor culture, but because certain cultures have a depraved notion of honor and believe that the only way to avenge an insult to honor is to murder the offending party.
The person who thought that Olsen deserved to die was her murderer, not the Italian press. She wasn’t killed because she was a slut, but because she said something that offended one man's false sense of honor.
The murderer's a culture is not a patriarchy. It might be male dominant but it is dominated by ineffectual men, men who have failed to protect and provide for their families. It is dominated by men who feel the shame of their failure more painfully as they witness other men succeeding. Those who cannot build anything of their own often try to deconstruct what others have built. And those who lose out in competition, be it military, industrial, commercial, political, scientific or creative, often vent their spleen at women, especially the daughters and wives of those men who have defeated them.
Surely, they are doing so to humiliate Western men. They think that they are doing something manly. But this is patent nonsense. Killing or maiming or abusing or molesting or raping women signals cowardice. What kind of man loses out in fair competition with other men and decides that he can only show how strong he is by beating up and murdering a woman?