by Sonali Paul
Edit: Since the publishing of this post, the creator of the #YesAllWomen campaign has received death threats, much to the dismay of the campaign’s responders. Some tweeters feel as if abandoning the original hashtag weakens the solidarity of the original message. The Twitter community has now shifted the campaign name to #EachEveryWoman as per the creator’s request, however.
This exact misogynistic response to any sort of feminism or equal rights and safety talk is the author of this post’s main point. If there is no respect during a conversation, let alone a social media chat, imagine how much lack of respect there is when it comes to the daily and realistic situations women face.
Anger. Envy. Greed. Lust. Pride. What do these five words all have in common? Besides being five of the seven deadly sins, they also serve to give insight into the world of the troubled man, Elliot Rodger – otherwise known as the mastermind behind the so-called retributive killings in Santa Barbara, California on May 23, 2014.
Rodger’s chilling autobiographical manifesto can be read here in its entirety.
Several issues such as gun violence, as well as gun laws, psychotic issues including twisted feelings of inadequacy, rejection, arrogance, and premeditation surround this appalling act. Most notably however, the most transparent issue at the forefront of this tragedy is misanthropy. Defined as a general dislike of humankind, Rodger possessed an extreme combination of misogyny and misandry so much so that a viral social media hashtag almost immediately came into conception: #YesAllWomen, a play on words after the popular meme “Not All Men.” The hashtag has caused a plethora of women (and some men) to respond with their experiences on fear of rejecting men and male advances, and stories of sexual abuse prevention methods as part of their daily routines.
Starting off with these five characteristics mentioned above, a startling revelation can thus be made about the overall psyche of humankind in America:
Spurred by his current state of virginity, lackluster financial status, and the lack of interest he received from girls, Rodger was deeply angered by his state of affairs. Additionally, most of his anger stemmed from the fact that women rejected him. It was his direct plan to punish those women who rejected him because he believe that he deserved their adoration and admiration, being the white “beautiful” man he was.
Outwardly envious of the men surrounding him, since the onset of puberty, Rodger expressed his feelings about his lack of sexual experiences. These feelings soon festered into a general hatred towards sexually active men as well as good-looking people “who must be enjoying the pleasures of sex.”
According to Rodger, wealth, along with sex, was the gateway to a life full of smooth sailing and happiness. Realizing the (odd) importance of wealth in today’s world, Rodger exhibited characteristics of the ultimate materialist. His obsession with winning the Megamillions lottery is the clearest example.
In conjunction with Rodger’s envy of other men, he desperately lusted for attention from girls. Unfortunately for him, his lust outweighed his actual experiences. In turn, a mass hatred for both the girls that denied him as well as the girls who seem to rule society with their sexual prowess ensued.
With feelings of entitlement at an all-time high for Rodger during this time in his life, confusion about why others did not view him as he viewed himself was a large source of misunderstanding. Although Rodger possessed somewhat of a low self-esteem, he did view himself as “good-looking” and “did not understand” why girls did not share themselves with him. His attitude was representative of our materialistic entitlement culture as Americans. Not only do we feel entitled to things if we have the money, many people (especially those who commit such crimes) feel entitled to other people, just because it’s “dictated by nature.”
Through the researching of this case, I started to form a few of my own opinions on this odd but actually seeming-to-be common mentality in American society (mentality referring to same “young, troubled mass shooter,” just different settings). I’ll begin with the obvious issue – HOW IN THE WORLD WAS SUCH A DISTURBED YOUNG ADULT ABLE TO OBTAIN A GUN, LET ALONE THREE!? Pardon my yelling, but honestly, since the horrific Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings in 2012, have we not learned anything about gun control? The NRA should not have ANY say in the safety of our communities. If this isn’t another wake up call to our elected representatives on what needs to be legislatively changed in order to ensure citizen safety, I’m not sure what is. It’s almost as if the government is immune to gun violence or something? Like COME ON. As a member of the voting population now, I will be paying extremely close attention to this issue as the election season nears. Shooting after shooting has occurred, with each successive one gaining more and more media-paradigm attention. The shooter is usually boxed in with some form of mental illness, and the news story dwindles down to a broadcaster advocating about some unrelated or out-of-scope issue instead of boiling it down to the true causes.
Secondly, speaking of causes, it’s probably a good time to bring up this issue of misanthropy that seems to be rampant in our society. With it’s subtle beginnings in the music industry to now it’s full-blown appearance on college campuses, the military, the workplace, and even the parking lot, misanthropy rears it’s ugly head mostly in the form of sexual violence. I mean think about it, stemming from a tiny sexual desire – by man or woman – the life of an innocent person is targeted just to fill that “natural desire.” For recent generations, it’s all about instant gratification and required sexual experimentation before one enters into the institution of marriage.
Sadly, this has become one of the major causes of sexual abuse in America today. With attacks occurring in broad daylight to unwanted sexual advances in public places, a misogynistic-condoning society is rapidly forming and what has been the response? A woman’s norm. Let me explain for those who might not be familiar with this concept. Since the time she is able to walk, a girl is taught not to talk to strangers, leave her comfort zone, and to yell “HELP!” if someone – mainly any strange man – offers her candy and tries to kidnap her. As a growing and young adult, the precautions increase but begin to become second nature to her. Maybe holding her car keys a certain way in anticipation of self-defense if she is attacked, or maybe taking self-defense and carrying self-defense items such as mace or a Taser, or most commonly, not venturing outside after sunset are just a few of the measures women take to live their daily lives harm-free. Now, ask any man what he does for protection? Does he hold his purse a certain way as to possibly utilize it as a self-defense weapon? Does he wear extra spiky heels to work at night? The simple answer is probably not. Men haven’t the slightest clue as to what being alert for your life on a daily basis means. (That’s not to say that all men don’t know. There are men who have experienced this kind of alertness as a result of 9/11 for example, but on a whole, self-defense isn’t really on the mind of men on a daily basis is my point.)
For the purpose of this article, I’ll mention a small anecdote to support my statement. As move-in day for college freshman appears every year, there is always that young man who thinks a girl is cute and notices her heavy keychain. “What’s that” he asks. “Oh just my mace” the girl replies. “Let me see that” as he snatches it from the girl’s hand and starts spraying it into the open air. His thought? What a joke, this is fun. Her thought? I hope he doesn’t use it all up. So in short, some sort of misogyny is present here, even if the young man doesn’t call it that. His sexual desires will be fulfilled he thinks, subconsciously. But at whose expense? Surely not his.
I’m not here to put down men, just as it is not the intention of the #YesAllWomen campaign, which has more than 1.2 million tweets posted in response to the mass shooting. It’s just an attempt to bring much needed awareness to the umbrella of problems that occur from inadequate education, absence of respect for others, and lack of attention to preventing and correcting mental distortions about gender roles and sex. Males always make fun of their girl friend that goes to the washroom with her friends; but is he really aware that it’s not just some party trick? There are many more aspects to this issue, but I’ve only listed the most important as seen through my eyes. I’ll leave you with a quote for thought:
“When a man says no in this culture, it’s the end of the discussion. When a woman says no, it’s the beginning of a negotiation.”