Since Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympian sprinter, was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February, many women have come to his aid and believe in his innocence. These women, known as “Pistorians,” are loyal fans of the Paralympian gold medalist and have created a community based on their mutual attraction toward him, and their belief that he is not guilty of homicide.
The Pistorians spend their time on Twitter and respond to negative tweets about him. They are devout and hostile in their defense of the athlete, for they feel he embodies nobility and applaud his actions.
Some have gone so far as to discredit Steenkamp, such as 18-year-old Marisca Fourie. While the Cape Town native feels “really sorry” for Steenkamp’s family after her death, Fourie questions her overall innocence, stating, “I think that everyone says nice things about her and bad things about Oscar. With this whole [South African rugby player and Steenkamp friend] Francois Hougaard story I heard, Reeva wasn't that innocent.”
Here, Fourie alludes that Steenkamp is partially to blame for her own death due to the allegation that she had cheated on Pistorous with Hougaard.
This is nonsense. There is a huge detachment between Pistorius’ innocence through self-defense and the justification of his action due to the fact that his girlfriend might have had a romantic interest in Hougaard. Instead, what this insight adds is a potential driving force for Pistorus to commit this act.
We have seen these super-fans in American society as well after the Chris Brown domestic violence incident broke out in February 2009. His fans — called Team Breezy — responded in a similar manner after photos circulated after he assaulted his girlfriend, Rihanna. Following this, Brown’s female fans wrote tweets such as, “Not gonna lie…I think I’d let Chris Brown beat me,” and “Chris Brown can beat me all he wants…I’d do anything to have him.”
It is disappointing to see that these women did not immediately go on the defense for Rihanna and, instead, wished that abuse upon themselves. Furthermore, the music industry still embraces him as “the next great star” as opposed to condemning him for his actions, implying that this form of domestic violence is excusable.
These fans, intentionally or inadvertently, exalt actions of dangerous men. While it is acceptable for people to believe that Pistorius is innocent until proven guilty, it is concerning that the Pistorians glorify his actions that resulted in the death of a young woman.