She Said No: Part II

Two years ago today, my second article for was published. I featured the stories of girls and women who were murdered by boys and men they have never met. The reason for their murders was simply rejecting sexual/intimate advances.

Since the initial publication, more rejection killings have occurred. I think about Caroline, Janese, Maren, Whitney, Tiarah, and Andrea all the time. Their faces, their names, and their stories will never leave me. I feel it is my responsibility to them, and to those who loved them, to make sure their stories are known and never forgotten. Their families will never forget them, so it is very important to me to ensure that we do not forget them either. 

Telling Their Stories

Mollie Tibbets made national headlines during July of 2018. The perpetrator told investigators that he saw Mollie out jogging, and began following her in his vehicle. Following alongside or behind her, he reported that Mollie grabbed her cell phone and warned him to leave her alone, or else she would alert the police. She then continued running away, and he followed. Mollie was no longer a human being, but prey to stalk and murder for the crime of her brazen rejection and asserting her boundaries. Mollie Tibbet’s cause of death was multiple sharp force injuries. She was 20 years old. 

Bianca Devins was a 17 year old girl attending a concert in July of 2019. A 21 year old man stalked her to her location (shared on social media), and slashed her throat. He then took photos of her body, and posted them to social media and a popular messaging app. Afterwards, he attempted suicide. Police suspect that the reason was that Bianca was attending a concert with a male friend, and the murderer was angry because Bianca kissed the man she attended the concert with. She was then targeted by the “incel” community for being a “slut”. Her death was celebrated amongst this degenerate community, and photos of her corpse were sent to her mother and to the artist whose concert she was attending. The artist of the concert Bianca attended, a woman named Nicole Dollanger, made a public statement asking people to stop sending her photos of the nearly decapitated teenager. 

These girls and women deserve their stories to be told

Shemel Mercurius was a 16 year old girl from Brooklyn who was babysitting her three year old cousin. She buzzed her friend into her aunt’s apartment, where she had been living for four years after emigrating from Guyana. It was then that the perpetrator approached her, and an altercation ensued. The murderer opened fire on Shemel with a submachine gun. Shemel had only met him a week prior, and exchanged phone numbers with the intention of being friends. When paramedics arrived, Shemel was slipping in and out of consciousness – as her three year old cousin sat next to her, crying. She was able to speak to paramedics and name her killer, and told the EMT that he was angry because she did not want to have a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship with him. She was pronounced dead approximately an hour after arriving to the hospital. 

Tara Serino was a 19 year old young woman from Allentown, Pennsylvania. To those closest to her, Tara was described as “full of wonder and enthusiasm” and “honestly kind”. A 34 year old man she had befriended had grown to be infatuated with her. Two days prior to the murder, he proposed marriage. She said no. She told her father about the proposal. Her father was nervous about her meeting up with the man again, but Tara assured him that they were friends and she would call him to let him know she was okay. When the topic arose again at their next meeting, Tara told the murderer that she was sleeping with other people. He responded by strangling her, snapping her cervical spine, beating her with a 25 pound weight plate and hatchet, and then gouged out her eyes. She was reported missing by her father when he never received a promised phone call from Tara, letting him know that she was safe. The call never came. Tara was brutally murdered only ten days before her 20th birthday. 

Rejection killings are an insidious hate crime, and they are only continuing to rise.

Shana Fisher was a 16 year old girl attending high school in Santa Fe, California. For four months, she was persistently romantically pursued by a male student. Despite her multiple rejections, it all came to a head when Shana publicly rejected him in front of his classmates. Feeling “embarrassed”, this angered the male student. A week later, he opened fire at his high school. He targeted Shana’s art class. Shana was fatally shot. The school shooting took 10 other young lives, and wounded 13 more. 

I made it a point to not list the name of the murderers of these women. These men do not deserve to be aligned with the women whose lives they brutally snatched away. These girls and women deserve their stories to be told, but not to be connected with the men who murdered them – just for saying “no”.

Rejection killings are an insidious hate crime, and they are only continuing to rise. In the darkest corners of the internet, you will find communities of incels (“involuntarily celibate”) who praise rejection killers and fantasize about exacting revenge on every woman for daring to deny them what they feel is wholly theirs for the taking. They lament the “Stacys” and “Chads” in their worlds: the beautiful women they wish to possess, and the men who get to date and have sex with them. They dream of a world where women are deaf, mute, blind, and solely serve as an orifice for their pleasure. These men are dangerous. 

Where and how are boys and men internalizing this dangerous message of entitlement?

At a “Welcome Back” assembly in an Oklahoma high school in August of 2018, a 14 year old boy repeatedly stabbed a 14 year old girl. The names were withheld because both parties were minors, but law enforcement officials said that the motive for the attack was the boy’s anger at  being told that she only liked him as a friend. The victim was stabbed 9 to 11 times in the upper back, arm, wrist, and back of the head. 

In April of 2018,  Alek Minnassian drove a van into a crowd of people in Toronto, Canada. On his social media, he praised men like Elliot Rodger. “The incel rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!” Alek wrote.

Men like Alek and Elliot, and the other perpetrators of these crimes believe that women are responsible for depriving them of experiences like having a girlfriend, intimacy, and sex. They fault women – instead of taking an objective look at who they are, what they stand for, and how they choose to treat others. This sense of entitlement drives them to commit heinous acts of mass murder – while simultaneously confirming why the women in their lives made the correct choice by staying away from them. 

These were deliberate hate crimes against women, because they were viewed by these men as lesser than the human beings that they were.

In November of 2019, Scott Beierle opened fire at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida. Also a part of the incel community, the shooter cited the lack of female attention and sex as the reason for his deadly rampage. He specifically targeted the yoga studio because he believed it would be a place that specifically attracted a female based clientele. After shooting six women (and fatally wounding two of the six women), he turned the gun on himself. 

Facing the Darkness

So I ask again, two years later: how will this come to an end? Where and how are boys and men internalizing this dangerous message of entitlement? We can raise awareness and open the discussion but ultimately, we are not the ones perpetrating these crimes.

Our lives are not disposable. WE are not disposable. Mollie, Bianca, Baby Fayth, Shemel and Tara were not disposable. They were human beings, deserving of all the goodness and happiness. Their lives ended, but their stories will be told again and again – until real change arrives. 

So what will it take? What deterrent must exist for this to end? These are not random. These are not isolated incidents. There is no coincidence. These were deliberate hate crimes against women, because they were viewed by these men as lesser than the human beings that they were. These women were reduced to objects that existed solely for the gratification of men.

These women were murdered for asserting their boundaries, for daring to choose when and with whom they shared their affection, for refusing a man who would not be refused. 

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Ashley Hesse is a 20-something writer/musician and women’s rights activist. She is a former beauty/special FX makeup artist who put down the makeup brushes and raised her fist in solidarity to help fight the social injustices against women all over the world. When she’s not crusading for social justice and defeating bigotry in all its forms, she also enjoys feeding her soul with musical theatre, red lipstick and Ghirardelli brownies.

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