Oscar Pistorius: Para-Olympian or cold blooded murderer?

Published: May 5, 2014
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Leaving the courtroom. PHOTO:AFP

Leaving the courtroom. PHOTO:AFP Oscar Pistorius sitting in his dock during the trial. PHOTO:AFP

We are completely hooked on the live coverage of Para-Athlete Oscar Pistorius trial as it is far more engaging than any successful reality series or a season finale of a TV show.

Oscar Pistorius crosses the line to win gold in the men’s 400m — T44 final during the athletics competition at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Photo: AFP

Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp four times on Valentine’s Day 2013, allegedly mistaking her for an intruder. This led to a trial termed as the ‘trial of the century’ and is proceeding amidst massive media coverage. What makes this homicide special, apart from its enormous celebrity status, is the fact that it taps into the intriguing hinterland of human nature, not only in terms of crime and the criminal but also revealed the indelible audience’s demand for real life drama.

Oscar Pistorius at the beginning of his trial. Photo:AFP

The cathartic relief of retribution is making this trial, a huge television hit. The sight of lead prosecutor, Gerrie Nel cross-examining and mocking the writhing Pistorius lends some meaning to our disillusioned existence. Deep down, we are satisfied that justice is being served and having front row seats to the trial (courtesy: social media) makes it all the more engrossingThe fall from grace always attracts great interest, as we are extremely fond of debunking seemingly saintly souls and love to bask in the satisfaction of exposing their darker sides.

Special persons have always been associated with vulnerability and an angelic taint bestowed on by nature. If the vulnerability is fused with the resilience and ambition to succeed, then it becomes almost godly. And hubris is the tragic flaw which leads to the fall of our ‘so called’ heroes. The vulnerable, sometimes tend to compensate for their weakness by the use of some intimidating and dominating force and in the case of Oscar Pistorius, it was firearms and aggression.

How painful would it have been to, work so hard, achieve so much, yet remain constantly insecure of impending danger: the looming probability to be deprived of all the fame and the love flowing in with it.

Oscar Pistorius sobbing during the trial. Photo: AFP

All that rage, show of arms and bullying his girlfriends could be an instinct of self-preservation and a sign of chronic insecurity. Shooting a gun triggers similar euphoria to sex and drugs, both symbolise dominance, manliness and strength. How false and ridiculous do these ideals really become, if they have to be supported by such demeaning elements?

Oscar Pistorius has an infamous record of ‘picking on’ his girlfriends, become easily jealous and insecure, and then resort to violence.

Considering and treating women as property, is an age old notion but for a physically disabled man things did get complicated.

How could he let her talk (or as he put ‘flirt’ in her text messages) to other men in his presence? Does it ring familiar undertones?

Women have always suffered male jealousy, masquerading as chivalry, leading to volatile situations over minor issues. It has always been rebuffed as a normal testosterone reaction, but no effort has ever been made to unearth its horrible consequences.

Reeva Steenkamp was shot four times in the bathroom connected to the bedroom. Photo: AFP

Reeva Steenkamp was shot four times in the bathroom connected to the bedroom. Maybe she was hiding there to save her life or to simply avoid an argument. It often happens that when the heat of an argument becomes unbearable, the saner partner usually resorts to creating distance in order to break the intensity of the situation. But when Reeva did that, she posed a challenge not only to his manliness but also to his handicap; as the court witnessed how small and vulnerable he looked on his stumps without his prosthetic legs on, he nonetheless felt he had to cover up that loss of height and speed with something powerful. And nothing gives the delusion of power more than a gun fuelled with rage. Research has time and again proven that, having firearms at home multiplies the possibility of violence to almost 75%. The headlines in the daily news under homicides of domestic violence are a testament to that.

Yet there is another aspect to it; somehow, somewhere, women are also culpable for being in an abusive relationship and not having the courage to sever ties at the right time. Being with Oscar Pistorius meant huge exposure and unlimited opportunities but was it all worthy of risking her own life?

Abusive relationship often becomes addictive for the oppressed and it becomes almost impossible to break away from its shackle. It is not just limited to ordinary women, many celebrity couples have been an example of it. Rihanna was brutally assaulted by boyfriend Chris Brown but she reunited with him singing “unapologetic” and calling it “nobody’s business”. British food writer and chef Nigella Lawson was attacked by her husband Charles Saatchi in a restaurant and the pictures of the assault raised serious concerns over her safety. The one thing that will always remain in question is why, despite being strong, independent and insanely famous, these women still choose this illusion of love over self-respect and safety.

What this does reveal however, is a message for all domestic violence situations and every woman out there: keep your personal safety and self-respect above every relationship.

Fatima Majeed

Fatima Majeed

An avid reader, freelance writer and home-maker.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.