Oscar Pistorius knew exactly what he was doing

On Thursday,  Judge Thokozile Matilda Masipa found Oscar Pistorius, 27, guilty of culpable homicide, “a vindication for the athlete who vehemently protested his innocence during a trial in South Africa that gripped millions around the world,” reports The Guardian.

Last year, on Valentines Day, Pistorius fired four shots through the bathroom door, killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, 29, who was on the other side of the door, locked in the bathroom. “Culpable homicide” is equivalent to a manslaughter charge, meaning that Pistorius will get 15 years max. Max. There is no minimum sentence. It is unlikely Pistorius will serve 15 years. He could be punished with community service and fines. Pistorius got away with murder.

He was not charged with murder because Masipa felt “It cannot be said that he foresaw that the deceased or anyone else would be killed when he fired shots at the toilet door.” Had he been convicted of murder, Pistorius would have faced a minimum of 25 years in jail.

His lawyer, Barry Roux, asked that Pistorius remain free on bail: “I think it is premature to think of a likely sentence in this case,” Mr. Roux said. “There is no reason not to allow him out on bail.”

Culpable homicide means Pistorius was found guilty of negligence rather than intent. Which means that we are to believe Steenkamp’s death was an accident.

Steenkamp’s death was not an accident.

Pistorius claims he fired at the bathroom door, thinking “an intruder” was on the other side, and only realized it was his girlfriend after breaking the door down with a cricket bat.


Pistorius knew she was in there. She was, after all, trying to escape from him. How many women have locked themselves in the bathroom, hiding from their partner? We know what she was doing in there. We know how she got there. We know Pistorius probably chased her in there, that he clearly heard her screaming and crying. That he probably threatened her. Neighbours testified that they heard a woman screaming. She had her cell phone with her. She must have been terrified.

“I’m scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me,” Steenkamp had written in a text message to Pistorius, weeks before her death. He was extremely jealous, from the sounds of it.

“Every 5 seconds I hear how you dated another chick, you really have dated a lot of people, yet you get upset if I mention ONE funny story with a long term boyfriend,” she’d complained. “You… throw tantrums in front of people.”

Pistorius has a history of violence. His ex-girlfriend, Samantha Taylor, said he was “angry and possessive” and that she was afraid he would kill her.

“His jealousy was very tough. He’d phone my mum and dad 10 times a day to find out where I was. In one month I received around 700 calls… It was excessive. If I hadn’t replied to messages within 30 seconds I was doing something wrong.”

“I had to show him photos ‘look at me in my pyjamas – I’m not out! Look I’m watching TV, sitting with my brother.’”

“He didn’t like me dressing up and other men looking at me.”

“It could have been me,” Taylor had said about Reenkamp.

Taylor says Pistorius would bite, pinch, and spit on her. He was mentally, verbally and emotionally abusive, locking her in the house and leaving her all day and night, alone, without food. He had a volatile temper and extreme mood swings. He would drive up to 200 mph with her in the passenger seat in order to instill fear — to “punish” her. At one point Taylor was so scared of him she hid his gun.

I point to all this because any woman who has been with an abusive man will recognize this behaviour instantly. Certainly I do.

Pistorius has taught abusers everywhere that they can come up with the flimsiest of lies and will be believed. Women everywhere have learned that their partners can terrorize and abuse and and even murder them and get away with it.

She must have been terrified.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Lola

    This is absolutely outrageous. There are no words to express so much anger and disbelief. I heard the judge speaking and I just couldn’t believe she was serious. What is the proper, legal wording for “a woman’s life is not as worthy as a man’s career/reputation”?
    Oh poor poor Pistorius, I bet he’s going to receive a lot of support because, you know, his life has been distroyed. Unlike Steenkamp’s, who didn’t have the chance to run away from him.

    Sad sad day for justice.

  • derrington

    I certainly recognise his behaviour as gender psychopathy. Men like him think they are superior to their girlfriends and therefore however they treat them is not a crime against a human, its them trying to control a subhuman to get them to fit in to their internal expectations of how a subhuman can behave. I can imagine exactly how Reeva felt because I’ve been in that same situation myself, minus the cricket bat and the gun. In a country where girls are more likely to be raped than to finish school, it sends the message that men are above the law and women and girls are beneath it when it comes to gendered attacks. My heart feels very very heavy at how many violent sexists will take heart from this case and the verdict so far.

  • Survivorthriver

    “Pistorius has taught abusers everywhere that they can come up with the flimsiest of lies and will be believed. Women everywhere have learned that their partners can terrorize and abuse and and even murder them and get away with it.”

    You nailed it.

    Now I’m waiting for his sentencing, hoping for the maximum 15 years. If he’s let off scott-free he will wear a target for the rest of his life. With his violent background I bet he won’t be able to stifle more assaults/crimes. This is 2nd gun crime, though, so I hope they nail him.

    “Guns Don’t Kill People, Men Do”….

  • Lenora McGaffen

    So you know the South African legal system better than the judge? To make these comments you must of been inside Oscar’s house on the night. You should be asked to review the case as obviously you feel that everything the judge said was wrong and how she has ran the triAl. You just have to read what she said about some of the witnesses. Also under intense pressure from Gerrie Nel Oscar still denied murder do you not think that if he had murdered her if he had planned it he would have cracked under pressure and where are her parents dignity for giving interviews to the likes of OK magazine. We have all lost children in traumatic ways myself included.

    • Meghan Murphy

      He knew he was trying to kill her. Even if we choose to believe that he didn’t know she was in the bathroom (which clearly he did, because she ran in there to hide from him), he would have heard her scream.

      “A South African police ballistics expert… testified that the first of three bullets that struck Steenkamp hit her in the right hip, giving her time to scream before she was hit in the arm and head.”


    • derrington

      It has nothing to do with the legal system – its called discrimination and it goes on right across the world. The judge herself said he was evasive and inconsistent under cross examination, the forensic evidence said she was eating 3 hours after OP swears they went to bed and several independent witnesses say they heard a violent argument seconds before she was shot. What you are doing with her family is victim blaming by talking about how the parents should react given their daughter was murdered by a man with a history of gender based violence. As for losing children in traumatic ways, think your damning comments towards the victim’s parents are indicative of a serious dose of lack of humanity towards the victim and her family.

    • Meghan Murphy
    • C.K. Egbert

      It would be irresponsible to assume that we should only believe what the legal system says–the legal system which continuously victimizes and, as is evident from this case, refuses to protect women. A lot of the evidence is in fact publicly accessible, and it demonstrates the problems with the system. If people never questioned the system, or the “truth” of the powers that be, there would still be apartheid in South Africa too. If no one sought for the truth, there would never have been any recognition of the widespread human rights violations committed under the apartheid regime.

  • Nick

    Did he have to break down the bathroom door because it was locked? Does anyone lock the toilet door when they are going to the bathroom in the middle of the night with only their partner around? That seems odd if that is the case.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes, it was locked.

    • kesher

      No, people usually don’t lock the bathroom door when they’re just using the bathroom in the middle of the night. Steenkamp locked the door to keep Pistorius out.

      • Kate

        And no one carried their phone to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

  • TheRealThunderchild

    Nobody’s opining that they know the SA legal sysem beter than the judge.
    That said, I did posit that this was a verdict based on technicalities- that Masipa knew a murder verdict may well have been turned over on appeal and didn’t want a murderer walking.
    That said, I find her statements very strange, and can only query them through the lens of overall violence in SA…and how this may have blunted Masipa’s perspective.I can only speculate.
    Also, as so often in crimes of male hate, where the victim is the only witness, or like Reeva -dead…men walkn due to the circumstantial nature of much of the evidence.
    That said, many commentators. Who DO know the SA legal system, are equally perplexed, and have sais a Jury would likely have convicted.
    Women are RIGHT to be outraged, and have a right to say so – whatever your circumstances and feelings, sorry, but they are.

  • Survivorthriver

    ABC News is reporting that his former girlfriend believes she might very well have become his victim. He had guns, he drove 200 mph in the car to terrorize her…The former girlfriend questions Pistorius story because it did NOT match her experience with him in his house.

    Men are running amok.

    I’m sick of femicide.

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  • jose

    The testimony of the judge is something else.

    He shot four times through the door? Ok but I don’t believe he intended to kill whoever was behind the door.

    Witnesses heard the woman screaming? Nah they’re unreliable.

    Pistorius lied under oath about where they were and about his gun? Ok but that don’t mean he’s guilty amirite?

    Pistorius (that proved liar) says it was all an accident. I believe him.

    Who the hell is that judge? His mother?

  • Henke

    Another one of us males walks free from murder charges, disgusting and not the first nor the last.

    “Pistorius has taught abusers everywhere that they can come up with the flimsiest of lies and will be believed. Women everywhere have learned that their partners can terrorize and abuse and and even murder them and get away with it.”

    I know another poster here already took this quote but I too think you nailed it perfectly so I want to share it aswell.

  • Terre Spencer

    Women worldwide are terrified of the growing frequency and brutality of male violence perpetrated upon us. Many of us have lived with male violence for decades. Those of us alive are the lucky ones. One in three women has been physically assaulted by a male.

    To see a man get away with slaughtering his girlfriend communicates to women worldwide that legal systems will not protect us from the scourge of male violence.

    Men are no longer even pretending that they have the slightest concern about women. their crimes are growing in number and veracity. And the legal system is exonerating them for slaughtering women now.

    It is past time for women to revolt. Way past time.

  • I don’t think jealousy is the problem here. Checking where someone is constantly is not a rational response to concerns about someone cheating on you. If think abusive men just like controlling women and knowing where they are every second of the day is part of that. It makes them feel like they own the women. Jealousy is an understandable human emotion. Nobody likes to be undervalued and told that they are replaceable. Abusive men call their desire to have total control over women “jealousy” in order to make it seem more legitimate.

    Blaming abuse on “jealousy” is like blaming it on anger. They both open up the possiblity that the woman did something to trigger the abusive behaviour. Women do not trigger this sort of behaviour through their actions. Abusive men have abusive characters (which does not necessarily mean that they were born abusive, I think that an abusive character is largely a product of masculine indoctrination.) They pick women who they perceive as vulnerable so they can get away with abusing them and then they come up with excuses like “jealousy” and “anger”. These excuses make it seem as though the abusers have no self control and are thus not culpable for their actions, when in reality they usually planned the whole thing right from the start. We need to stop buying into abusers excuses.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Extreme, irrational jealousy is a huge red flag. Only one time have I been with someone who was like that and it was totally nuts! Like, I couldn’t figure it out at first — why he would get so weird and moody and want to leave randomly when we were out, stopping by unexpectedly, etc. I figured out eventually that it was because he was jealous (and controlling) and he started to use his jealousy to try to control me and to make me feel as though I was doing something wrong and was untrustworthy. There was NOTHING to back up his fears at all which was why it was such a mindfuck. As you say, “Abusive men call their desire to have total control over women “jealousy” in order to make it seem more legitimate.”

      He pretended that his jealousy, and the subsequent efforts to control me and force me to alter your behaviour to try to placate him, was both about ‘loving’ me so much, but also about me — like me being flirtateous or whatever, as well as using it as an excuse to be a fucking asshole to me and start drama while we were out, force me to leave parties when I was having fun, and yeah, to try to convince me that I was somehow untrustworthy and flawed somehow despite the fact that I’d never given him any reason not to trust me or done anything to imply I wasn’t committed to the relationship.

      Ugh. It was so gross and weird and unattractive. It was ultimately a huge part of why I broke up with him (that, tied with explosive anger and a few other pretty obvious red flags: http://www.thefrisky.com/2014-07-10/girl-talk-5-red-flags-that-told-me-to-leave/). It is one of the biggest signs that a man is or will become abusive, imo (though I have been with an abusive man who wasnt’t extremely, irrationally jealous too, so it isn’t the *only* sign….)

    • quinn

      Why would using terms like “angry” and “jealous” to characterize an abusive man imply that the victim might be somehow culpable. Seriously, this is a strange game of semantics you are playing. Both terms are valid and meaningful ways to describe emotions and behavior. It is GOOD to talk about warning signs in accessible language so that other women and girls might recognize red flags for abuse when they have “jealous boyfriends who get angry quick”.

      • I agree that we should talk about warning signs. If a man tries to control every little thing a women does and it constantly trying to find out where she is and what she is doing that is a major warning sign. I don’t disagree with the claim that the behaviours which Meghan (and other abused women) label as “jealous” and “angry” are warning signs which women ought to be on the look out for. I just don’t think those labels are accurate, they are words that abusers use to justify their behaviour (e.g. “I am sorry I hit you, but sometimes I just get really angry with you and then I cannot help myself”.)

        If a man is constantly telling you that he is “angry” or “jealous” that could be a warning sign, but he is probably lying. Anger and jealousy are emotional states and emotional states are often brought on by circumstances and are difficult to control. When abusers claim that their actions are motivated by emotional states, they are denying that they are responsible for their actions and implying that some external entity is responsible. Often the external entity that they want to blame for their emotions is their victim. Other times it is the victim’s friends and family, but I argue that abuse is caused by the abuser’s personality (not some emotion he was feeling at the time of the abuse)and if that is the case then it cannot possibly be the victim’s fault, because one’s personality is typically determined by things that happen to them before they enter into serious romantic relationships.

        Maybe some abusers really do feel anger and jealousy, but if so, those feelings are still not the ultimate cause. Their desire to dominate is. For abusive men, the desire to dominate is constant, emotions are not. This may just be a matter of semantics, but I think it is important to make clear that abusers are in control of their actions (meaning they are not totally overpowered by negative emotions) and to question the words they use to describe themselves and their reasons for abusing.

      • Non-PC RadFem

        “Why would using terms like “angry” and “jealous” to characterize an abusive man imply that the victim might be somehow culpable.”

        Because ‘jealous’ doesn’t mean the same for men and women. When a ‘dong-bearer’ is ‘jealous’ people automatically assume the woman is giving him, at least some kind of reasons to be ‘jealous’. When the jealous one is a woman, she’s assumed to be a paranoid, controlling b!tch on wheels. Talk about reversals!

        Welcome to society’s gender-bias! =D
        A lovely place where even the very same word means different things depending on what sex you’re applying the word to.

  • LIsa B.

    I live in the US where gun violence is a huge epidemic and I am also a volunteer advocate for survisors of rape and domestic violence. I can’t understand the ruling given the evidence I wasn’t in the courtroom, so mine is the court of public opninion and media coverage. While I can probably get behind that it was not pre-meditated, I can’t fathom how this was not deliberate. When women are murdered in the US in the heat of a passionate argument (usually with a gun but not always), it is in the middle a fit of rage or passion, so the perpetrators are usually convicted of murder two (deliberate or in an act of violence intentionally) but not murder 1 (pre-meditated murder). However, this vertict was the same as ‘involunteary manslaughter’ in the US… and I just can’t wrap my head around how the judge could not see how this was a deliberate act of rage. The prosecution failed to do their job. It’s another blow to women all over the world. The message is still clear, women are shamed and have to prove they are worthy of justice, and men are given the benefit of the doubt.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I can’t wrap my head around it either. It defies logic. I’m just so upset and horrified.

  • Insult added to injury.

    Quote: Oscar Pistorius plans to write a book giving his account of what happened when he shot dead his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, and his ordeal in standing trial for her murder, his manager said on Saturday.


    All these guys, it is as if they were in the next room, watching their violence against women on some kind of video screen. Like OJ, two decades earlier…

    And yes, they are like the ultra-violent, murderous version of men equally clueless about their callous behaviour towards women in their lives. Dr relationship-denier and Mr wife-killer.

    • Meghan Murphy


    • Is he fucking serious??? OMG I hope no one publishes it, but knowing what kind of world we live in, someone probably will. 🙁

      • Meghan Murphy

        If a publisher takes this on we need to petition them. This is completely gross and unacceptable.

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  • Deb Hillman

    what is even sadder for me is that the judge was a female. Once again our biggest obstacle are all the women who have been so brainwashed that they truly buy into the patriarchal system of power and control and blatant misogyny. I too will petition and harass any publisher who takes this on, but remember…the patriarchal culture is all about money, thus the publisher will look at dollars and “freedom of speech.” I just hope it is not a female publisher who once again falls for all the lies and betrayals!

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