There’s a lot of talk surrounding the UCSB shooting that occurred on Friday. First of all, my heart truly goes out to the victims, their families and friends, all of the students at UCSB and its surrounding community. Also, I do not want to give the shooter any attention so as to mention his name, because he does not deserve any of it. I just want to share some thoughts since I feel this event brings up deep issues in our society that we need to pay attention to, reflect on, and work to improve together. Yes, we could talk about gun rights and mental health issues but I honestly just want to focus on the misogyny and male entitlement that fueled this tragedy. I’m here to talk about the #YesAllWomen hashtag and why it’s so real, relevant, and important. (If you haven’t kept up with the hashtag, please do so now. I’ll still be here when you come back. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)
The UCSB shooter blamed and hated on women for not being attracted to him, as if that attention was something he was entitled to. He objectified women and based his self worth on his ability to acquire those objects/women, adopting an extreme example of a definition of masculinity consistently depicted and reinforced in our own society. Quoting this post from Reappropriate:
For [the shooter], masculinity was defined primarily through sexual conquest: the degree to which a man successfully woos a woman, and the quality (i.e. beauty) of the woman wooed. Disturbingly, Rodger’s sex-based definition of masculinity was not unique: it is a definition prevalent throughout American popular culture, and one embraced by the Asian American community, too. It is reflected in countless popular culture films (for example, Don Jon), and it is a central tenet of the “seduction community” where it is called the “game.” Pick-up artistry refers to self-help workshops (costing thousands of dollars a session) that purport to teach men the seduction skills to “score” a woman (called “targets”) rating 7 or higher on the program’s standardized beauty scale.
Our society is flawed in that men associate masculinity and power with how well they can “get girls;” as if women are objects and courting is a “game” to win; as if they are entitled to “conquer” or “own” women. There’s a real problem when men blame, hate, and punish women for not complying to their desires or for being autonomous with their body, their words, and their life. It’s sad that it’s easier to say “I have a boyfriend” than “no” because men are more okay with respecting another man’s “domain” than respecting a woman’s autonomous decision that she’s simply not interested.
And the double standard for women that arises from such views is so unbelievable and difficult. Read this article on the impossible paradox on women’s sexuality that became deadly this week: Slut Shamed to Death For Saying Yes to Sex, Murdered for Saying No… I just can’t. Those tweets to Alyssa Funke are disgusting and terribly sad. They’re the same people rebutting the #YesAllWomen tag with dumb misogynistic remarks and jokes—it’s all very sickening and I can’t believe people like that exist in our world.
Ultimately, a woman has the right to choose what to do with her body, her words and her life, like every human being should. Women’s rights are human rights. It really should be quite simple. We need to start respecting people for who they are and for their decisions, even if we don’t agree with them. It’s called having love for the human race, AKA justice.
To all the guys out there saying #NotAllMen are like that—yes, you’re right. But these tweets:
“UNFAIR! NOT ALL MEN!” Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. 10% of them are poisoned. Go ahead. Eat a handful. Not all M&Ms are poison. #YesAllWomen
— Martin Wagner (@wagnerfilm) May 26, 2014
Women know that not all men are rapists, murderers, or violent—but the thing is, there’s no way to tell. This article speaks it clearly:
…when a woman is walking down the street, or on a blind date, or, yes, in an elevator alone, she doesn’t know which group you’re in. You might be the potential best guy ever in the history of history, but there’s no way for her to know that. A fraction of men out there are most definitely not in that group. Which are you? Inside your head you know, but outside your head it’s impossible to.
And more importantly, this:
— Jean Johnson (@JeanJAuthor) May 26, 2014
Stop being defensive, because when you’re defensive, you’re not really listening or making an effort to understand. If you want to be constructive, start actually listening, supporting, and speaking up amongst other men. Promote discourse until it becomes more and more the norm.
Here’s a snippet from a solid article Not All Men, But Still Too Many Men:
Instead of telling women that it’s not all men, show them.
Show them by listening and supporting.
Show them by cleaning the dogshit out of your ears and listening to their stories — and recognize that while no, it’s not “all men,” it’s still “way too many men.” Consider actually reading the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter not to look for places to interject and defend your fellow men, but as a place to gain insight and understanding into the experiences women have. That hashtag should serve as confirmation that women very often experience the spectrum of sexism and rape culture from an all-too-early age. Recognize that just because “not all men” are gun-toting, women-hating assholes fails to diminish the fact that sexism and rape culture remain firmly entrenched and institutional within our culture.
Because if your response to the shooting is to defend men (or worse, condemn women) instead of speaking out against this type of violence and attitude, then you best check yourself.
This isn’t the time to talk about nice guys. Or friend zoning. Or men’s rights. Or rejection.
I hope you also share your thoughts on this with somebody, anybody. Just start the discussion. Because when you don’t speak up about misogyny and violence against women, your silence condones it. In order to become better citizens of this world, we all need to open our minds, ears, and hearts and make an effort to understand the issues around us. We can’t change the world alone, but by continuing to share our thoughts and promote discourse on social issues, we can collectively shape a new norm and move society towards a brighter future.