WARNING: Contains content for mature audiences and may contain emotional triggers.
I really want to write about all of the wonderful things I’ve learned this semester, but today I am sad and very very angry about recent events, specifically the UCSB shooting.
I woke up this morning to see that a good friend of mine had posted this article on Facebook. After reading it I was shocked, angry, confused, and so heartbroken. I then stumbled across this article which includes the video posted by the UCSB shooter (if you’re easily disturbed then I would not recommend watching the video as it is really horrible,) which outlines his plans to exact revenge on women because they have rejected him and not loved him. On Friday evening the UCSB shooter killed seven people, including himself, and wounded 13 others.
There’s a movement that I’ve seen, specifically on Tumblr, to not use the shooter’s name because studies show that giving attention to the shooter instead of the victims can actually increase the likelihood of more mass shootings. Because of this I am choosing to not use his name. I also want to take a second to say somethings that have been overlooked:
1. The shooter did not kill only women. He killed five men, including himself, and two women. Those are the facts.
2. People are taking one of two approaches to explaining the shooter’s actions. Either he is a poor, mentally disturbed boy or he was a horrible, entitled, misogynistic man. I’m here to say that he was not one or the other. It was confirmed that he was seeing therapists and was “a high-functioning patient with Asperger’s syndrome” (here) and he very clearly feels entitled to women and their bodies and this attitude had a significant impact on his actions, (this is not me standing up for him in anyway, I just think it’s really important to know and spread the truth.)
And that’s what I want to talk about and am so angry about: the shooter’s attitude of entitlement. He felt that because he was a man he had the right to “a girlfriend, […] sex, […] love, affection, adoration.” (here) He felt that because women had chosen to “denied [the shooter] a happy life,” he would ” deny all of you [women] life.” (also here) What he’s saying here can literally be interpreted as: being denied sex = being denied life. He sees the denial of sex and women that he is entitled to as punishable by death. But somehow this denial of sex is not his fault, it is the fault of the women he “wanted.”
The shooter was objectifying women to the extreme. The shooter saw women as objects who’s only purpose was to serve his desires for love and sex and who he felt entitled to. It is this attitude of entitlement that convinces me that feminism is so incredibly important. This is the kind of entitlement that leads to catcalling, ogling, groping, “complimenting,” and all sorts of other uncalled for attention towards women. #YesAllWomen has been trending on Twitter all day and the things I’ve seen with that hashtag have been really horrible to read, but also really important to read. The idea is that Not All Men are [jerks, rapists, whatever] but Yes All Women have dealt with the repercussions of sexual violence and objectification.
It’s because of things like this.
It’s because of the attitude of entitlement.
It’s because I have to tell guys I have a boyfriend so they don’t continue to hit on me.
It’s because when I was 16 a coworker asked if my breasts were real.
It’s because I don’t feel safe walking alone at night.
It’s because I know to never take drinks from guys.
It’s because pepper spray comes in cute pink key-chains.
It’s because I was told to yell “FIRE” if I was being assaulted.
It’s because it wasn’t assault because I kissed him.
It’s because catcalls are a “compliment.”
It’s because my body is the problem and his eyes aren’t.
It’s because boys “can’t control themselves.”
It’s because I must be a lesbian because I didn’t appreciate his advances.
It’s because I “walk too sexily.”
It’s because what I choose to do with my body makes me a slut.
It’s because what men choose to do with their bodies makes them gods.
It’s because some day I will get paid less than my male coworkers.
It’s because my worth is dependent on how many men have touched me.
It’s because my dress is too short.
It’s because my shirt is too low.
It’s because it’s my fault that I don’t want him.
I’m so angry. So very angry. I’m angry that for the rest of my life I will be unjustly blamed, discriminated against, objectified, and disrespected simply because I was born with a second X-chromosome. I’m also really angry that it took a worldwide trend on Twitter to get issues as important as this recognized.
I’m not saying that feminism would have prevented the horrible things that happened, but teaching our children, brothers, sisters, friends, coworkers, and parents to respect women and their bodies and their voices could decrease the frequency of this entitled attitude.
This is not an attack on men or just an opportunity for me to unleash a feminist rant on you, this is what these horrible events have made me think about, these are the stories I’ve read and heard, these are the things I’ve experienced.
My heart is broken for the victims of this horrible crime and for all of the families who have suffered as a result of what has happened. But my heart is comforted by all of the women who have come forward with their stories and for the overwhelming support that has come with those stories. It gives me hope that we will see a world where the attitude of entitlement and objectification is all but eradicated and that the crimes fueled by these attitudes will be unheard of.
Here’s a thing to look at if you get a chance. This video and Laci Green in general have really shaped my ideas about feminism.