Friday, April 24, 2009


(Neighbors create a memorial to a Middletown, MD family wiped out in the murder-suicide of Christopher Wood. The bodies of Wood, his wife, Francie Billotti-Wood, and their three young children were discovered last Saturday morning. Photo Credit: Katherine Frey, Washington Post)

For White Guys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Remnants of Straight Male Privilege Are Not Enuf

You know it’s a weird news week when you see a headline about a business executive’s suicide and your first thought is, “Great – At least he didn’t take out the wife and kids, too!” (You know, like this guy and this guy did, just this week in Maryland alone.)

What’s going on out there, fellas? Is it the economy? The ready accessibility of guns? A little bit of a copy-cat thing? Or maybe a few of you missed the memo about post-patriarchal masculinity? Let me recap the highlights for you, slowly and simply.

1. Women and children are not your property, even if you married or fathered them. That means, among other things, that you don’t get to answer that basic “to be or not to be” question for them, ‘kay? They get to make that decision, and a whole lot of others, for themselves these days.

2. Dads are not, by and large, the sole breadwinners in a household nowadays, so you need to let go of this idea that if you can’t support your family you are a big fat loser who might as well be dead. A lot of the women-folk have jobs and so do many children. Heck, we hear tell that in some households even the dogs have been put to work – you know, on the show circuit, in the blogosphere. Our point is: the burden is not all on your shoulders. If the family is in financial trouble, perhaps the family can collectively figure out a way to address and manage the trouble.

3. On the other hand, you may or may not have noticed that the entire global economy is in the crapper right now, so perhaps a little perspective is in order. We are all big fat losers, sweet pea, so let’s just hunker down and suffer through it together rather than going all kamikaze.

4. Real men don’t solve problems through violence anymore. I know, I know – It was a lot more fun in the good old days when you could challenge someone to a duel or maybe go out and beat a slave or two to blow off steam, but the world just doesn’t work that way anymore. Now, men are expected to do crazy girlie things like communicate about their feelings – using actual, you know, words – and go to yoga classes to cultivate calmness and flexibility. Sure, it sucks, but so does being dead, when you think about it. You might want to consider some of these wacky alternatives to death and destruction.

Do we seem to make light of your suffering, underestimate the tragic dimensions of your difficulties, mock the terrors that fuel your murderous rage? Perhaps we do, big guy, but is that any worse than your grotesque overestimation of your rights and privileges vis-à-vis the people who are closest to you? We think not. Indeed, we think if you had a little more of our ability to make light of things perhaps you’d feel somewhat less inclined to make mayhem, but that’s just us, crazy bitches that we are. Peace out.


  1. I am sorry that all of these events happened in such close proximity in your state--but of course, it could have been anywhere.

    From what I understand, both of the wives murdred by their husbands in these familicides were in fact "stay at home" mothers, and Wood wasn't in financial difficulty--he had a new and more lucrative job. When families are defined in these traditional ways, the idea that the men are the sole breadwinners may enhance their feelings of having the right to dispose of their wives and children as they see fit. I'm not blaming women who don't work for their murders, understand: I'm suggesting that it would be interesting to see if the men who commit these heinous crimes have "traditional" arrangements at home, and that these arrangements are just one marker of that sense of murderous entitlement.

  2. I like the term "familicide," creepy as it sounds. In fact, though, the Wood family was deeply in debt -- $460,000, mostly on credit cards, plus a Florida home that was in foreclosure, according to Wa Po (see the first link in this post). Probably hard to say whether more "traditional" marriage/family arrangements increase the likelihood of familicide. One might also imagine that a less traditional arrangement could lead to murder as a means of asserting control or dominance. Someone should be studying this stuff -- which is why, as you've suggested, these crimes should be seen as a public health emergency.

  3. Edgy, Roxie, edgy.

    I assume some mention of the fabulous Ms. Arthur will be in a future post. The many distraught calls from my gay male friends have distracted the writing all day.

  4. Julie -- Yeah, my typist was a little surprised that we ended up going snarky on the subject of murder-suicide, but we're hoping readers get the point. We honestly don't want to make light of these tragedies, but we are outraged at the lack of serious attention to the issues of domestic violence and guns. And, you know, of misogyny.


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