#YesAllWomen: Misogyny is not just an issue of women
Hearing the word “slut” is not an unfamiliar occurrence among college students. However, when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger used this word, it became all the more vile because he was talking of how he planned to “slaughter” them.
On May 24, Rodger went on a drive-by shooting rampage near the University of California at Santa Barbara. Seven people were killed and seven were wounded. Misogyny was the reason behind this shooting.
“College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years I’ve had to rot in loneliness,” said Roger in a video uploaded to YouTube before the shooting. “It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it.”
Rodger felt so entitled to women and their bodies that he decided they should be punished for refusing him, instead of respecting them and their autonomy.
“It was pretty stupid and selfish of him. It shows that something was wrong with him,” said electrical engineering junior Bryan Acuna.
What was wrong with him was his sense of male entitlement.
“It makes me mad that you would take the decision to end other people’s lives without realizing, ‘Oh, I’m just mad,’” Acuna said.
Society may seem to have progressed from the archaic view that women exist solely as objects of desire, but that is far from the reality of today. Nowadays, women have sound reason to be afraid of men, especially now that there is the fear that they could be killed.
“There’s no place for it in a progressing society,” English senior Beth Harper said. “More or less, on the terms of humanitarianism, I don’t think that any gender, race or religion has any priority over another and I hope that’s where our future is heading … that everyone will be on a truly equal ground.”
There is something to be taken from this tragedy. This hate crime toward women has helped expose how prevalent misogyny is in society. The resulting social media campaign, #YesAllWomen, is aimed at raising and spreading awareness of this issue.
“I think that is a good campaign and I think that we are equal and … if there are men out there that feel that … they’re more powerful or have higher standing than women, they need to have a wake-up, call because we don’t live in the early 1900s,” said hotel and restaurant management senior Sophie Mulvaney.
Petroleum engineering junior Hector Alaron agrees.
“First of all, I think it’s disgusting that women are seen as sex objects,” Alaron said. “I really hope that it changes guys’ minds with this. You don’t think about it, but it does happen a lot.”
Alaron said that his girlfriend gets hit on a lot and explained that the perpetrators “come up with these commentaries and they say stuff to her,” and he doesn’t want to get mad at her because it’s not her fault.
That’s the way it should be. Women should not be blamed for rejecting unwanted male advances. Men should not be harassing women.
Women should not be burdened with the fear of getting unwanted attention at every turn and having to constantly be on guard. Men should be taught to respect women.
The fight for women’s rights doesn’t benefit just women; women’s rights benefit everyone, including men.
Many traditionally feminine qualities are associated with being seen as weak and inferior, and because of this, some men are marginalized for their interests or qualities because they’re too “girly” and aren’t representative of real men and masculine values.
If women were seen and treated as true equals, men would no longer have to fear ostracism for these interests and qualities. In addition, men sometimes get unfair treatment in alimony and child custody battles because it is often assumed that women are better caretakers when that may not be the case.
It is also wrongly assumed that many expectations for men stem from having to appeal to women in our largely heteronormative society. A good example of this is men being expected to pay on dates.
Women are not the cause of this problem — societal expectations driven by misogyny are. It needs to be recognized that misogyny hurts everyone, not just women.
However, there are ways to become aware of misogyny and actively fight against it. One way is to take a women’s studies course at UH that discusses all sorts of issues related to sexism and provides a strong foundation in the fight against misogyny.
If taking this class is not a possibility, women’s studies professor Tracy Butler suggests reading articles or listening to experts talk about issues related to sexism. These resources can be found through the Women’s Studies Living Archives Series lectures, TED Talks and on the UH Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies Facebook page.
After becoming aware, the next step is actively fighting misogyny. Butler said that the easiest way is by educating people on the issues or speaking up when someone makes a sexist comment.
“These seem like such small gestures, but they can go a long way if you have the courage to speak out against injustice,” she said.
Other options include joining protests or writing to our representatives about these issues.
But if one thing is taken away from this article, it is that everyone needs to be aware of misogyny and the different factors that influence and play into it.
The media is a powerful and often underestimated form of influence. The ways it can impact someone’s thoughts and views on sexism are subtle but ever-present. This has gone on for too long.
It makes one wonder why people aren’t more appalled. A majority of students, if not all, would agree that women deserve to be treated as human beings and not as sexual objects made solely for male pleasure.
The scary thing is that this is normal. This happens on an everyday basis. Not the shooting, but the objectification of women by men. It happens so seamlessly that a majority of the population is not even aware it exists. Its roots run deep, and digging them up to expose them takes time and effort, things people are not often willing to give.
It’s depressing that it took a tragedy for a campaign like #YesAllWomen to finally gain some traction, but if there was ever a starting point to wake people up and call the discrimination of women to the forefront, this is it.
At this moment, the campaign has been changed to #EachEveryWomen because the creator of #YesAllWomen has received death threats. Some have felt so threatened by women trying to create a safe, equal space for themselves in society that they resorted to death threats.
These men do not need to take and dictate the space women are trying to create; they should take the space they currently inhabit and make it so that it supports women.
Misogyny is real, and it is deeply entrenched and pervasive. Most people may not want to murder someone because of it, but that does not mean it doesn’t hurt women in many other ways. Society needs to take it upon itself to not fall prey to this inequality and support all women every single day.
Opinion columnist Julie Nguyen is a communications junior and may be reached at [email protected].