As a society, we constantly wring our hands over the fates of men who harm women.
“It was a mistake,” people say, no matter the severity of the offense: rape, assault, domestic abuse, attempted murder. “It shouldn’t determine his future.”
Aisha Fraser no longer has a future. Full stop. She’s gone.
At age 45, she was allegedly killed by a man who had already been convicted for beating Fraser in front of their children in 2014. Her then-husband, Lance Mason, a Cuyahoga common pleas judge, served nine months in prison for felonious assault and domestic violence and was ordered to pay $150,000 in damages. “He was disbarred and prohibited from ever becoming a judge again,” reports Cleveland.com.
And then he was given a second chance.
Nine months into his two-year sentence, Mason sought early release. From Cleveland.com:
Part of his petition for early release included a letter to Fraser Mason in which he apologized to her, asked for her forgiveness and said he deeply regretted what happened.
Mason wrote that he “failed as a husband, father, and a man,” and promised that once he realized he was “broken” he became a better father and man, the letter said.
“My responsibility was to love and protect you,” Mason’s letter said. “Instead of loving, protecting and providing for you and our daughters, I have provided a terrible example, and exposed you to rage and violence.”
But it didn’t stop there.
In 2017, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson hired Mason, who had “punched his then-wife 20 times and slammed her head against the dashboard of his car five times, breaking her orbital bone,” as director of minority business development. That’s right; the mayor put a man like Mason in charge of people’s livelihoods.
And then Mason allegedly killed Fraser.
Mason was arrested Saturday on suspicion of murder after Fraser was found in her home, stabbed to death.
And yet we worry about these men’s futures—knowing how often men kill their partners and exes, how common these cases are.
What about Fraser’s future? What about her daughters, ages 8 and 11, and their needs? What about Fraser’s students, her family, her own dreams and desires and potential?
Shaker Heights Superintendent Stephen Wilkins said in a statement that Fraser was a devoted mother and a committed teacher.
“She touched so many of our children’s lives and will be deeply missed,” Wilkins’ statement said. “Her loss is unexpected and the impact of this news on our entire school community is unimaginable and profound.”
Women like Fraser are who we need to protect—not the men who go out of their way to destroy the lives of women they should be caring for.
There’s a lot to say about the way rehabilitation looks in our society. We know that prisons exist far more for capitalistic gain and institutional violence than for any greater sense of good. We know that we need to improve our methods of creating space for learning and accountability for those who have committed acts of violence. But it’s another thing entirely to prop these people up in a place of power.
In much the same way that whiteness protects itself, men protect and uplift each other to the detriment of those around them with terrifying constancy. And then those men do harm, often irreparable harm.
We need to stop pretending we can’t prevent these situations.
Time and time again it becomes evident that we cannot trust men to be the arbiters of their own morality. There must exist a communal, societal pressure to do good—or else. Instead, we consistently do the opposite. We uplift these men, restore their power in one way or another, and effectively empower them in the face of their own undeniable and unchecked inadequacies.
I’m tired of us not being able to muster any empathy for the abused—just a wave of pathos and empty rhetoric in the wake of preventable deaths. A never-ending nightmare of apologizing instead of asking, of permitting reprehensible behavior, then acting shocked when it repeats itself. I’m sick of society’s tendency of overlooking the safety of harmed and endangered women in order to wax philosophical over the well-being of men who will be perfectly fucking fine.
This is who we’re worried about? When you protect monsters, you don’t have a society. You have a fucking zoo, a cesspool of inhumane actors propping each other up in perpetuity. And then, somehow, we still put the focus on them, on their potential, on what they could be doing in the world.
But didn’t Aisha Fraser deserve a chance to live?
The Shaker Heights Teachers’ Association will be holding a vigil for Fraser on Monday at 5:30 p.m EDT. A GoFundMe has also been started for Fraser’s children.