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This Woman Murdered For Stopping Harassment Proves Feminists Aren’t ‘Overreacting’

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german student tugce albayrakOne of the main responses to stories about the kinds of harassment that women face on a daily basis is that it’s no big deal – some sort of twist on the old saw about how sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you. Well, a 23-year-old German student is dead today because she made the choice to take a stand against harassment. Can we please stop pretending now that the routine and relentless harassment of women is just a bit of “boys will be boys” naughtiness instead of the symptom of malignant male entitlement that it really is?

Heroine Tugce Albayrak rushed to intervene when she heard screams from two teenage girls in a McDonald’s bathroom. The young women were being harassed by a small group of men, whom Albayrak successfully managed to rout. But when she left the McDonald’s later, one of those men, identified only as Sanel M, attacked her in the car park, reportedly with a baseball bat. Albayrak suffered a traumatic head injury and her parents finally chose to take her off life support on Friday – her twenty-third birthday.

So let’s be clear: this wasn’t an instance of a guy getting his ass handed to him by a woman and then immediately snapping (which would still, of course, be a disgusting crime that should send him directly to jail without passing Go or collecting $200). But this man was so angry at being denied the opportunity to attack two young women that he decided to bide his time in the parking lot waiting for Albayrak to appear so he could punish her for having the gall to interfere with his god-given right to harass those girls. He has since admitted to the attack, and further reports from surveillance video allegedly shows that one of his friends even tried to hold him back, but no – he had a premeditated plan to make her pay for what she’d done.

Shame on Sanel M for feeling his entitlement to attack those girls justified his murder of Albayrak. Shame on his friends who joined him in that bathroom, and shame on them for letting his resentment fester to the point where he was waiting around in the parking lot to attack his victim. And shame on all of us for letting things get this bad, and for not working harder to make things better.

Harassment isn’t just some ‘boys will be boys’ misbehavior that deserves a wagged finger and a stern shake of the head. Harassment is just one more way men demonstrate their feeling that they somehow deserve women’s time and attention, and when they’re deprived of that attention, things turn ugly fast. Albayrak isn’t the first women to die for stepping in between a harasser and his target, and she isn’t going to be the last – not until we start taking harassment seriously as a society, and not until we treat it like the real threat that it is.

Albayrak is being honored by thousands of people attending candlelight vigils held in her name, and many Germans are calling for her to be awarded a posthumous national order of merit. She deserves all of this attention for the risk she took putting her own life on the line to protect other women, but you know what would have been even better than an order of merit? A world where she would have gotten to go back to college after winter break next year. And one where the next woman won’t have to think twice about whether to stand up for another harassment victim because she’s afraid she might be murdered in cold blood in the parking lot afterward.

(Image: Twitter)