After the Isla Vista shootings that happened last week, a spotlight has been cast on the motives that took the killer to take the lives of four men and two women. The killer drove around the University of California campus in Santa Barbara looking for people to kill because he was frustrated at not being able to attract women. You can read the story on CNN.com.
The killer whose name I will not print, left behind notes and videos in which he believed he was entitled to women’s attention and he resented seeing couples acting romantically in public because he didn’t understand how could women prefer other men other than himself.
Enter the movement #YesToAllWomen which has exposed the bare facts about gender violence and discrimination in the US and worldwide. Let me be blunt: all women face some form of sexual harassment which often becomes abuse at some point (or several) throughout their lives. A person close to me told me the following: “All women have a stalker.” If it makes you and I feel ill, imagine how they feel every day. Or better yet let them tell you:
And that last one is a big reason why I’m compelled to write a post that has basically been written already by far better writers than yours truly. Believe it or not, we have a part to play in this. Yes, you and me part of the nice guys in the internet who treat women with respect.
First of all, let’s be quite clear about this: nobody is entitled to the right to abuse another person. I don’t think anybody will argue with that point but let me paint a subset of that maxim with all the relevant nouns and adjectives: A man does not have any right to impose his will on a woman. Yet many, many guys feel entitled to do so.
If you are a nice guy that gets angry when a woman doesn’t respond to your romantic advances to the point of entertaining violence, you were never a nice guy in the first place. Here’s the first thing we all have to accept about a woman: she’s a person. She has rights. She has the same rights that you have. That’s the first thing that should come to mind when you’re talking to her. That means you have no rights over her decision.
In the real world, women often have to come up with excuses for male advances. They have to. It’s self-preservation. The excuse of already having a boyfriend or being married will work better than a negative. I’m going to quote Amanda Hess from Slate.com:
We agreed that she had said this because aggressive men are more likely to defer to another man’s domain than to accept a woman’s autonomous rejection of him.
– Amanda Hess, Why it’s so hard for men to see mysoginy
In other words, there are men who put their desires and above a woman’s rights. Here’s the knee-jerk reaction: if this doesn’t apply to me, why should I hear it? Let me illustrate that with an example. A man goes through airport security having to take off his shoes, his belt and empty his pockets. He thinks the way he’s treated is completely unfair. “This,” he would say, “should only be done to terrorists!” I agree. Now, how do we do that?
Not all men abuse women. But a lot of them do. So, let’s teach all men not to abuse women. Does that sound feminist? It should. Feminism is not women’s rights about men’s rights. It’s gender equality. It’s ending gender bias. We often as a society are quick to deem rape and abuse as women’s issues. They’re not. We are all involved. From a certain age, young women are warned about the perils of walking alone and being safe. Shouldn’t we be telling the other side of the equation, the young men, that they should not rape women? It should be obvious, right?
Let me just add one more tweet here:
That will not do for now… but it’s a start.