Janese Talton-Jackson Facebook Photo

Another Woman Was Killed for Turning Down a Man Who Hit on Her

Last week, Janese Talton-Jackson was murdered because she wasn’t interested in a man who was interested in her. The 29-year-old Black woman, a mother of three, was at a bar in Pittsburg when Charles McKinney approached her looking for a date. After she declined his advances, he followed her outside and fatally shot her in the chest.

If the story of Talton-Jackson’s murder sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s almost exactly what happened to Mary Spears a couple years ago. In an interview with Hello Beautiful, Feminista Jones, who created the ‪#YouOkSis hashtag to highlight women of color’s experiences with street harassment, points out that many of the cases of women facing retaliatory violence from men they’ve rejected—and there have been several that have made the news in recent years—have involved women of color, especially Black women. “Street harassment has been an issue in which the experiences of Black women have gone ignored—even though the harassment is often harsher and starts earlier for us.” And she draws the connection between the disenfranchisement of Black men and violence against Black women: “For many Black men, the only power they feel is when they exert dominance over Black women, so with street harassment, it’s a public display of powerful manhood.”

This racial dynamic is worth noting—in part because, as Mychal wrote after Spears’ death, the devaluation of Black women’s lives means that there are no marches for Spears, or Talton-Jackson, or Daniel Holtzclaw’s victims. “No one has broken out the bullhorns or their comfortable sneakers,” he wrote. “There are no widespread calls to protect the autonomy of black women and their bodies. The community leaders haven’t deemed this unacceptable and a fate no one should ever face simply because they reject a man’s advances.”

It’s equally worth noting, though, that no community has a monopoly on this potentially violent sense of male sexual entitlement. That’s clear enough from just a quick perusal of the horrific stories that have been collected by the “When Women Refuse” Tumblr, which was created by Deanna Zandt after Elliot Rodger killed six people and himself in order “punish” all the girls who were never attracted to him in the Isla Vista massacre. As we’ve all said many a time before, it’s #notallmen, but it’s enough men—enough men who’ve absorbed the idea that their masculinity depends on sexual conquest of women, enough men whose sense of masculinity is fragile enough to be threatened by one rejection, enough men who’ve learned that violence is a way to recoup their power—that saying “no” always carries a risk for women.

Our hearts and solidarity go out to Janese Talton-Jackson’s loved ones.

Header image credit: New Pittsburgh Courier

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation