I’ve been overwhelmed by the #yesallwomen responses to the Isla Vista shootings, and have had hours-long conversations with Duane about what it means to be a woman, how it’s different from being a man, what this means to both of us, what men can do, what women can do, etc. I’ve read epic articles about what the massacre means to each of us and how it’s representative of a repulsive sect of society. Some of the most impactful things I’ve read have been written by men, even. (I’m looking at you, Arthur Chu.)
What I don’t understand, and would genuinely like a satisfying answer to, is the defensive behavior from some men. (Resisting every urge to work #notallmen into that sentence and you’re welcome.) I am an admitted repeat offender of the golden don’t-read-the-comments rule, and I should have known what I was getting myself into at the bottom of each piece I read. But in no way was I prepared for the things I saw. Men saying women shouldn’t be afraid, that in fact they’re the ones who should be afraid. Men saying frightening things about feminists and how the movement to bring gender equality is actually just a bunch of nut job [expletives] who don’t have anything better to do than to hate men. Men who are angry, truly angry, that this is happening to them. One commenter said, “It’s called life, sweetheart.” Another was so poignant as to say, “The resulting tizzy of an event that killed 4 men and 2 women is #YesAllWomen and some self-righteous shouting about the ‘culture of misogyny.’” All while this is happening.
What is going on inside these people that they can read the very same personal essays, the same outcries of injustices, see the actual facts behind what happened in Isla Vista and what happens in the world on a daily basis and be DEFENSIVE?
Of course not all men are deranged mass murderers looking to avenge their “incel” lot in life. That’s an insane leap to make. The #yesallwomen campaign is about the fact that every single woman, no matter her age, race or location on the entire planet, fears for her safety more often than she should. We all know the keys-between-the-fingers trick. It’s the first thing my mother taught me before sending me off into the world alone in a car. We know to always be aware. I remember for awhile the “trick” was to not wear ponytails because that’s how you get grabbed. These are things women deal with 100% of the time.
For the most part, the responses to this horrific attack have created a community of both men and women, and have given us all a reason to look at sexism and sexuality and misogyny and really talk about what it all means. I’ve been trying to remain positive; I’ve seen so many beautiful things and have a real hope that change, however slow, is going to occur. It’s the best way to bring meaning to the senseless and terrifying thing that happened.
But I just haven’t been able to stop wondering why anyone would think that this woman-hating murderer who rampaged on unsuspecting victims- both men and women!- is anything but a wake up call about ingrained gender issues and expectation? What about this incident, and the subsequent awareness and statistics and personal stories that have been spawned from it, makes any human say, “THIS ISN’T FAIR YOU WOMEN ARE ALL CRAZY!”?
This isn’t a rhetorical question.