Ok. I wasn’t going to do this. I was going to wait until after my honeymoon to write a nice article about my wedding and share some pretty pictures. Now, I find myself so angry that I have to take time out of my busy day to get some stuff off my chest.
There was a shooting in Santa Barbara over the weekend. The killer left a video manifesto blaming his actions on the rejection he felt from women. He blamed women for his virginity and felt that he was entitled to their affections because he was “a nice guy.” Then he killed six people. Super sweet dude.
From this tragedy, a conversation has arisen in the form of the hashtag #YesAllWomen. The purpose and driving force of this tag is that every woman, every single woman you have ever met, has experienced some form of violence, abuse, threat, or objectification at the hands of a man. Please reread that sentence. EVERY SINGLE WOMAN YOU HAVE EVER MET. I have experienced it. My sister has experienced it. My mother, aunts, grandmothers, cousins, best friends, enemies.
Every single woman you know lives in a culture of fear. Not one of them is safe to walk down the street at night. Not one of them is free from the fact that somebody, somewhere, is going to objectify, belittle, and dismiss them. Every woman and girl you know will at some point in their lives be told, “boys will be boys” or “just ignore it.”
This is no way for women to live. It seems like this should be obvious. However, there’s actually a backlash occurring. Instead of standing with their wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers, men are standing up and shouting “Not All Men!”
Now, ask me why this pisses me off so much.
Of course we know it’s not all men. Not all men actively harass women. Not all men rape, murder, or abuse women. But guess what? Some do. The best analogy I’ve read so far goes like this:
Imagine a bowl of M&Ms and 10% of them are poison. Go ahead and grab a handful. Don’t be scared. Only 10% of them are poisonous.
When I’m walking through the parking lot of the mall or down the street, I don’t know which man I pass is going to politely pick up my book that I dropped and which one is going to grab me and drag me behind a building. Men don’t wear signs on their necks or give off pheromones that indicate their potential for danger or safety.
When a portion of the bowl is poison, a woman learns to treat the whole bowl as poison. It’s the only way to survive.
Alongside #YesAllWomen is #NotAllMen. If a man reads a story about a rape victim and how she (or he) is now terrified of men and his first reaction is to defend the “nice guys,” he is part of the problem. He is derailing the conversation away from the point at hand. He is making it about himself. He is changing the subject because the material makes him uncomfortable and he needs to feel better about himself.
I got into a fight on Facebook (I know, right?) because somebody I don’t even know is offended that women are making the Santa Barbara shootings about their “agenda.” He claims that because men were killed, too, that doesn’t make it a women’s issue. Even though the shooter’s manifesto clearly states he is punishing women for not having sex with him, the fact that men were also victims means the statement no longer holds true. From my understanding, the men were killed because they took the women away from this lunatic.
Suddenly, it’s not about violence against women and how dare women point out that it happened.
Guys, I’m tired. I’m so tired of living in fear of walking alone or being marginalized because I have a vagina. I am tired of being looked at as an object to be possessed. I am tired of men assuming that I owe them something because they have a penis.
I was recently married. The sad thing is that I will not be on the receiving end of this treatment as much not because I am respected, but because my husband is. A man will back off of a woman when told she is taken because he respects the husband/boyfriend. If a woman tells a man she is a lesbian, the first response tends to be “Can I watch?” or “I bet I could change that.”
People, the year is 2014. We have a space station in orbit and are able to communicate instantaneously with people on the other side of the globe. We have the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips. If we’re such an advanced society, why the hell is half our population terrified of the other half.
I wonder how many death threats or rape threats I’ll get for this article? I am a woman, after all.