Murder By Shock

A Greeley, Colorado, man was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole after killing an 18-year-old transsexual whose biological maleness “shocked” him as they were becoming intimate. He thought she was biologically female, but the presence of her male genitalia sent him into a rage that resulted in her fatal bludgeoning.

Yes, it was a hate crime. Yes, it was murder. And yes, it’s further evidence of the pernicious effect of patriarchy on our culture, a culture where women usually suffer in the most obvious ways, while men who suffer from the curse of patriarchy do so in ways much less obvious — like the stoking of male privilege that, in this case, resulted in a man’s killing another person because he was “tricked” into believing she was a woman. Patriarchy — men having power over not just women, but everyone else deemed societally subject to powerful men — is what makes a man believe that his sexual honor is a right and privilege that, when offended, must be reclaimed and defended even to the point of violence. Even violence against an 18-year-old suffering from gender confusion, whose crime was pretending to be a woman but possessing a penis.

That the murderer was humiliated, angered, and deceived is clear. But extreme forms of male privilege, and the homophobia that accompanies it, has convinced some men that any hint of homoerotic confusion or denial of sexual conquest is justification for retaliation. And so while we believe that rape, for example, is a crime, we teach our boys that intercourse once initiated must be completed — even when the partner says no. Men, we’ve been taught, simply can’t control themselves sexually. The man who initiates sex only to find out that his partner is biologically male becomes so indebted to societal feelings of male privilege and to his own horror of homosexuality that he lashes out in rage — a rage that no more confirms and secures male heterosexuality than it does confirm and secure Biblical manhood. While we condemn the murder of the young transsexual, too many of us believe that somehow the victim deserved it — a man shamed sexually, or restricted in expressing himself sexually, is thought to be carrying a burden that can only be resolved by his victory over the offender.

Scripture has another view, of course. The mutuality of sexual expression, exercise of authority, and voluntary submission in the New Testament is hard to explain away, although millions of patriarchal Christians try to. And why not? The Fall predicts and explains the sinful grasping of male privilege that the Church has practiced for centuries, and Christian men and women have to be held accountable in large part for our culture’s enshrinement of male sexual honor and disregard for female sexual security. Male sexuality is not a loaded gun, ready to go off at the slightest provocation.

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