We need to talk. I am outraged. And I think that anyone who is a woman or who loves women should be outraged too. There are a lot of conversations that could be had in response to the shooting at UCSB, but I am not going to talk about most of them. I’m not here to talk about gun violence/gun control. I don’t want to talk about the stigma surrounding mental illness, the speed in which the media assigns labels, or characteristic traits of Aspergers and how it does not equate to violence. I don’t want to talk about the shooter at all. What I want to talk about is the positive response his actions are getting on the internet. I want to talk about the many men who think he had the right idea. What I want to talk about is the Men’s Rights Movement, the message that young men are being raised with, and the fact that this is not a one-off incident. The tragedy of the UCSB shooting is that it has happened before and it will happen again unless we all start having more conversations about misogyny and start changing our culture.
Elliot Rodger was a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA), a member of many MRA websites and forums, and subscribed to several “pick-up artist” and “player” channels on Youtube. The sole purpose of these sites is to teach men how to manipulate women into having sex with them and also to blame women for withholding sex. They are taught that just for being men, and therefore superior, they deserve sex. They feel entitled to access to women’s bodies. The MRA sites teach that women lie, cheat, and manipulate men, trying to steal their power. They teach that men need to take their power back, by force if necessary, and become the “true alpha male”. Each of these websites and Youtube channels have tens of thousands (if not more) of subscribers. So, we aren’t talking about a few “gun-toting crazy” men who are going to snap and kill everybody. We are talking about normal, everyday men that you may know, and that is what is truly terrifying. The UCSB shooting didn’t happen because one man was (allegedly) mentally ill, it happened because this viewpoint has become normal. This happened because last month a 16 year-old girl was stabbed to death by a classmate for refusing to go to the prom with him, and it’s so normal that you probably didn’t hear a thing about it. Six people are dead because Elliot Rodger couldn’t get laid when society taught him he had a right to it.
It is truly frightening to see how many positive responses there are to the UCSB shooting. And these horrible sentiments are getting “likes” and upvotes, so it’s not only a case of the extremist minority. Whether the comments are sincere or said in jest (there are some of both), these thoughts are out there in the mainstream. Here are some real life responses that I have seen:
- “I applaud what this guy did and encourage other young men to take women’s lives, it’s the only way we can fight feminism.”
- “Whenever a crazy guy asks for sex, you better drop them panties and take one for humanity.”
- “This would never have happened if those stuck up women had given him a chance.”
- “Thank you, Elliot, for putting these bitches in their place. I really appreciate your sacrifice. R.I.P.”
- “I really feel bad for him, rejection is agony.”
- “Involuntary celibacy [screws] with a man’s mind… No one cares about a man’s suffering until he starts killing people.”
- And one of the worst to a current UCSB student: “If you had just given him a little ass, those people would still be alive today.”
People, what the fuck! Why are you defending a mass murderer? We need to talk about this. I realize that the majority of my audience is female, but that’s fine. Talk to your brothers and your friends, and especially your sons. Tell the men and boys in your life that sex is not a right, it’s a gift. Tell them that no means no, and it doesn’t mean they are now challenged to wear the women down. Tell them that real men respect women. Tell them that feeling “entitled” to sex is a short step away from taking it by force. Ask them to think about the mothers, sisters, and female friends in their lives and take those women as evidence that not all women want to manipulate and use them. Give them examples of how humanity works best when men and women work together. Explain that there is no “one right way” that a man should be. Explain that men come in all different shapes and personalities, with different talents that are just as valid as the next. Explain that women are the same way. Women aren’t objects, or property, or receptacles, or trophies, or caricatures, or body parts. Explain that a woman might say “no” for any number of reasons and many of them may not have anything to do with the guy, but the important part is that they have the right for that “no” to be respected. Teach them that they don’t have to fear a smart, successful woman. Teach them that capable women make excellent partners. Teach them to respect a women, not because she is someone’s sister or daughter, but because she’s a fucking human being and we share a planet together.
This conversation needs to happen. “But,” you say, “the men in my life are all fine upstanding citizens who love women.” That’s awesome! Get them to talk to their friends. We can not keep perpetuating a misogynist culture where rape jokes are perfectly acceptable on facebook, men can make youtube channels dedicated to tricking women into sleeping with them, and women get brutalized (verbally and physically) every day simply for being a woman. My heart goes out to all of the victims that were shot, stabbed, and run down by Elliot Rodger. But mostly I am pissed off that even one person can look at this guy and his manifesto of hate with sympathy, understanding, or agreement. There is a very popular Margaret Atwood quote circulating the internet right now: “Why do men feel threatened by women? They’re afraid women will laugh at them and undercut their world view. Why do women feel threatened by men? They’re afraid of being killed.”
I am not an activist. I have never been very focused on politics. I don’t follow the news, I don’t listen to talk radio, and I am not as aware of the world around me as I should be. But, I do know that without the actions of good people who can’t stand the way of things, the world will never change. I have become more politically aware as I’ve gotten older. There are certain causes that I truly believe in. Mainly, though, I simply refuse to remain silent as society crumbles around my feet. So, instead of leaving your with that sobering quote from Margaret Atwood, I will choose to end on a different note. Have a conversation. Don’t talk about the gory details of what happened at UCSB. Talk about why it happened. Talk about gun violence and gun control. Talk about the stigma surrounding mental illness, and the speed in which the media assigns labels. Educate yourself on the characteristic traits of Aspergers and then talk about how it does not equate to violence. Talk about misogyny and the Men’s Rights Movement. Educate yourself, and then spread the word because we have a hell of a lot to talk about.
“Not only will we have to repent for the sins of bad people; but we also will have to repent for the appalling silence of good people.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
My friend Kelly recently posted an entry on her blog that has me fired up. In general, her blog is about analyzing the books that she is currently reading (largely romance novels) and talking about the random musings that the books spark. I do not read romance novels, and I don’t think that I have read any of the books that Kelly has featured on her blog, but I love her witty, self-deprecating writing style so it hardly matters that I will never read any of these books. Today, she posted an excellent entry about women and silence, the topics that we are not allowed (by society, our mothers, our friends) to discuss. The topics range from bodily functions, to the ins and outs of pregnancy, to rape. This last bit is what really caught my attention and cheesed me off.
While talking about a rather unpopular dinner party conversation topic, there was this quote: “the conversation was fascinating, because we kept getting stuck on our own culture (in a conversation about how rape is rape regardless of what either party is wearing, it was still important to point out and consider that if one chooses to wear revealing clothing, one should not be surprised at the inevitable result.” (This was a small portion lifted out of the whole of the post, and not representative of Kelly’s viewpoint.)
I have to say that I got stuck here and couldn’t move on. The “inevitability of rape”? Really? I am shocked that people still use that as an argument. Think for a moment about what those words mean. Basically, if you believe that rape is “inevitable”, then you are saying that the perpetrator couldn’t help but force sex on an unwilling party, that they didn’t have a choice. It completely removes responsibility from the aggressor. The rapist becomes a victim to circumstance. This is absolute bullshit, plain and simple. Taken to its logical conclusion, anyone who truly believes that rape is inevitable is a very dangerous person because they are admitting that there can be a set of circumstances where they, themselves, could be driven to be a rapist. If it is “inevitable” then they wouldn’t be able to stop themselves. I certainly would never want to be alone with that person.
People, please, can we stop blaming the victim? How many times have you heard the sentiment “oh, well they deserved it”? The victim of gay bashing should have been more discreet, but they “flaunted it”, so what did they expect. That person went into a bad neighborhood where they didn’t belong, so of course they got mugged and beat up. That kid should dress better/stop acting so weird/try harder to fit in, and then he wouldn’t be bullied so much. The woman dresses like a slut and is promiscuous, so she got what was coming to her. God is punishing them for their sins. No! No, absolutely not, stop it! Stop blaming and shaming the victim. What are we, animals that can’t control ourselves? Are humans so depraved that we can’t help but be violent and aggressive? We need to put the blame back where it belongs, on the perpetrators. No one deserves to be a victim of a violent crime, no one is “asking for it”.
And we need to speak up. Rape, abuse, discrimination, bigotry, sexual harassment… we need to call these things out. Perpetrators are allowed to continue to be perpetrators because we as a society do not want to hear about such ugliness. We shame the victim into silence, and the violence is allowed to continue. We create a society where it is unsafe to come forward. We tell the victim that he or she is lying, or that he or she deserved it, and take all of the responsibility off of the abuser. The only way to break that cycle is to have open and honest dialogue. We need to create a safe environment for victims to come forward. We need to educate ourselves. We need to stop bigotry and victim-shaming by calling it out for what it is. We need to be able to talk about what it means to be a women is today’s society and the realities we face. We need to stop sugar-coating. Women and men need to come together and openly discuss our shared human existence, so we can better understand each other.
I was really pleased to read a blog entry about speaking up. Granted, I took it in a whole different direction than the original post went, but I was a little pissed off. In general, though, I agree with the sentiment that women, especially, should speak up. It’s not the 1950’s anymore, and social taboos aren’t so taboo these days. If we’re doing it, we should be able to talk about it, no matter what “it” is. For a less ranty take on the subject, plus a book review, you should check out Kelly’s blog. Read her post here.