Monday, February 4, 2008

Sexism and the Mary Winkler case

Just when I thought it couldnt get any more absurd, I find this outrageous case, read on if you dare......or are able to stifle the rising sense of utter indignation that is sure to accompany your perusal of the material that follows - GRK

By Denise Noe, Antimisandry

The killing of Church of Christ minister Matthew Winkler of Selmer, Tennessee, by his wife Mary Winkler appeared to be an obvious case of first-degree murder. She shot him in the back while he lay sleeping. The nearby phone had been disconnected, apparently to prevent the wounded man, who did not immediately die, from calling for help.

After shooting her husband, Mary piled her three children in a car and drove off. She drove 200 miles to Mississippi on the day Matthew was killed and checked herself and her kids into a hotel. The next day, Mary drove another 200 miles to Alabama where the now fatherless family checked into a motel. She was arrested later that day at a traffic stop.

Investigators soon uncovered a motive for Mary to murder Matthew. According to a Dateline article by Keith Morrison, a check for $6,500 arrived in the Winkler’s mailbox in December 2005. Morrison noted that a “specialist in bank scams” described the check as an obvious fake.

However, Mary took the check to the bank. The teller failed to catch it and the check was deposited. Morrison writes, “[Mary] spent the money, but the check bounced.” Mary opened a P.O. box at the Selmer post office. She also opened up five different bank accounts. The article states, “She would deposit a worthless check into one bank, then draw money on the check and put it into another bank before the first bank discovered it was worthless. It’s called check kiting, it’s illegal, and bank tellers noticed.”

Officials from one of the banks demanded a meeting with Mary – and her husband. That meeting was scheduled for March 22, 2006 -- the day Mary killed Mathew.

However, according to Mary’s attorneys, she was the true victim, (oh of course she killed her husand, is a women therefore must be the victim....can you see anything wrong here? GRK) suffering for years under her husband’s tyranny before she snapped.

After all, she was a member of the Church of Christ, a denomination that, like many conservative Christian groups, emphasizes the Bible verse in which St. Paul admonishes, “Wives, submit to your husbands.”

Mary’s lawyers said that the disconnected phone was innocently explained: she had unplugged the phone so that the baby could play with it. The P.O. box, the bank accounts, and the check kiting were all Matthew’s idea. Mary had acted under his orders. (yes of course that old chestnut, didnt you know that anytime a woman commits a crime in the company of a male she is always under his direction, and extrapolating from this any time a woman kills her husband we know that she must have been provoked to resort to such extreme actions and that any dodgy deeds that the couple may have engaged in were no doubt the product of his foul, twisted, wicked, coniving murderous, lustful male mind.......quite simple really...GRK)

Moreover, the defense contended that Matthew had been an abusive husband who had beaten her. To back up these accusations, the defense put on a neighbor who said Matthew threw a temper tantrum over a dog’s barking. A church member testified to seeing Mary with a black eye.

The defense also contended that Mathew had sexually abused Mary. To prove the point, Mary’s attorneys displayed white platform shoes and a wig that Matthew was said to like her to wear, along with what she considered “slutty” lingerie, for a sex life that included both oral and anal sex. He also “made” her watch pornographic videos. Sure enough, hundreds of porn pictures had been downloaded on Matthew’s computer.

Perhaps most damaging to the dead man’s memory was Mary’s testimony that he had abused their children. In order to get a baby to go to sleep, Mary claimed Matthew would “pinch her nose and hold her mouth" (yeah pinching a child's nose will really help it get to sleep this is utter BS - GRK)

After years of such abuse, the defense suggested, it was not so shocking that Mary went into a “fog” state and killed her husband without being able to form the conscious intent necessary for murder. (Funny how you can fail to form the conscious intent to do something that is utterly reprehensible ie committ cold blooded murder, that requires clear planning and thought, was she possessed by the devil, perhaps a demon.....she took a bloody pistol, loaded the thing, probably fired off a few practice shots in the backyard in the weeks leading up to the event, waited till her husband was asleep so he was defenceless and then, disconnect the phone before shooting him in the head at close convenient that she was unconscious during all this.... I might use that excuse the next time I get pulled up for speeding and see how far it gets me...GRK)

The jury rejected both first-degree and second-degree murder charges to convict Mary only of voluntary manslaughter. (she didnt mean to kill him when she shot him at point blank range in the head while he slept in their bed......yeah right, pull the other one - GRK ) She had been in county jail for five months at the time of the verdict. The judge sentenced her to an additional 210 days, up to 60 of which could be served in a mental health facility.

Mary is now free and has had the obligatory Oprah interview. Unlike a verdict of either first or second-degree murder, that of manslaughter means that she can sue for custody of the children she rendered fatherless. (So girls if your husband gives you the shits just shoot the bastard and tell everyone he was a violent man who beat her and sexually abused the kids..... guaranteed to work every time - GRK)

Why was Mary treated so lightly? ( because she is a woman and not a man or otherwise she would be spending life in jail - GRK) The role of sexism in the case may be easily seen if we try to imagine a husband who killed his wife offering excuses similar to Mary’s. It is unlikely that one black eye and a wife’s temper tantrum would be accepted as evidence of a continuing pattern of mistreatment. Nor would people sympathize with a man who had accommodated a wife’s sexual fetishes.

However, they did sympathize with Mary because she and her attorneys slotted both Mathew and Mary into traditional sex stereotypes.

Mathew appeared as domineering and tyrannical while Mary seemed proper and pious. Men have traditionally been viewed as the “lustful” and “beastly” gender; women are considered the romantic sex. These traditions made it easy to see Mary as a victim of male sexuality, a woman yearning for “a Sunday kind of love” and degraded by the role-playing represented by a pair of clunky shoes.

It also seems possible that traditionalist churches, perhaps in reaction to the feminist movement, have over-emphasized a handful of Bible verses counseling woman’s “submission” to men. Stressing men’s dominance and women’s obedience may inadvertently hand a get-out-of-jail-free card to female criminals because it paints women as puppets to men. It is also contrary to the truth that intimate relationships are inevitably more complicated than ones of simple dominance and submission.

Charles Dickens saw this when he wrote in Oliver Twist that the character Mr. Bumble was told that “the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.” A flabbergasted Mr. Bumble makes the famous reply, “If the law supposes that, the law is an ass.”

No comments: