AMES, Iowa — In light of the murders of Celia Barquin Arozamena and Mollie Tibbetts women are arming themselves with self-defense tools and knowledge. But when Collin Richards allegedly told an acquaintance that he was feeling urges to “rape and kill a woman” in the week leading up to the murder of Barquin Arozamena, advocates, and the women they advocate for, say it speaks to a much larger issue.
According to the CDC, nearly one in five women reported being raped at some point in their life. The Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault believes the recent killings of both Barquin Arozamena and Mollie Tibbetts are based in a cultural objectification of women.
“Both of these women are young women that were capable and athletic and were still seen as targetable people, which means they were seen as somebody ‘less than’ and disposable in our society,” said CASA Associate Director Kerri True-Funk.
Jorie Mallinger, a junior at Iowa State, says she feels the burden to avoid confrontation has been placed on her, and women in general, rather than the people who commit them.
“I’ll like, be on my phone or pretend to have a conversation just so strangers don’t come up to me and talk to me and try to pull stuff on me,” said Mallinger.
Mallinger says she’d rather do that then have those confrontations but feels she shouldn’t have to do it in the first place.
“There needs to be a shift in the attitudes of men and perpetrators in general to like…. not,” she said.
True-Funk say that shift will take time.
“Raise better kids, raise kids who know what respect and consent and bodily autonomy mean and change how we talk about masculinity. It shouldn’t be about physical power and power over other people, masculinity should be about expressing themselves and growing up into productive members of society,” said True-Funk.
True-Funk says that as a society, as a culture, we need to look for a real fix rather than a band-aid.
“We need to have more nuanced conversations, it can’t be ‘women stay out of dark places, travel in packs’ it needs to be ‘hey, everybody, be responsible for yourself, be a good bystander, be a member of a society and don’t harm each other,’” she said.
True-Funk says that in the short term, men can help the cause by believing women when they say they feel unsafe. She says they can also be a good bystander by being ready to step in when other men may be doing things or saying things which promote a culture of objectification.