26 May 2014

Yes All Women

This whole clusterfuck in Isla Vista and the media coverage of it has been somewhat... triggering, I guess. I'm not curled up in a corner quivering (though that has on occasion happened). But I've been quite upset by it all. More than I am by the usual tragedy. Far more than I was by Sandy Hook, for example. There are so so so many issues.

Mental health: Look, Male Entitlement Syndrome is not a recognised mental illness. Maybe it should be! "But your honour, I had to kill the bitch! She wouldn't fuck me!" "Yeah, she wouldn't fuck me either. Not guilty!" Pfft. Smacks of "I'm too rich to know the difference between right and wrong. And I wouldn't do well in prison!" And what's more, even if he was legitimately mentally ill, the chances that THAT was what caused this are very low. One can be mentally ill, commit a crime, and the mental illness not be the cause. It seems clear to me as an armchair psychologist that this man had some mental health issues. Borderline Personality Disorder is my unqualified diagnosis. And you know what? That's not enough for an insanity defense. Furthermore, it's not crazy to believe what you are taught. And in our society (and most societies) men are taught that they have the right to our bodies, our affection, our attention. No matter how we feel about it. Yes, everyone has the right to be loved. But not by anyone they set their eyes on!

Misogyny is rampant in the world. It's systemic. It's endemic. It's institutionalized in many parts of the world. This young man thought he was entitled to have sex with women. And when they would not, he was so angry, he murdered them. That is fact. That was in his video. That was his own stated reason for it. And still in our ridiculous society, we go on about why this happened, without any mention at all of misogyny! In fact, in Gurney's article, he doesn't even mention women. This was a hate crime. Can you imagine a radical Muslim extremist going into a church and shooting it up, and the media not mentioning Christianity as a target? Me neither. And back to the mental health issue, I think a big problem with labeling this as a result of mental illness is that it completely sidelines the systemic misogyny. It's a hate crime. As much as a murder of a gay person is. He killed them because they were women and they refused him what he thought was his right. And other men are calling him a hero, and blaming the women. If he had a mental illness that was not being addressed, that may have been the spark, but it was by no means the whole story. Mental illness may have taken him from anger about his situation to actually murdering women as revenge, it, but it is a rape culture that gave him the idea that he had a right to women's bodies in the first place.

Racism: Yup. It was white on white crime and racism is still an issue to be discussed. Why? Because the media calls him a 'boy', when a 16 year old black kid is called a man. Because they call him a lone, deranged gunman instead of a thug, gangster, or terrorist. If this were the theoretical Muslim I mentioned before, you can be damn sure they'd call him a terrorist. Kill a bunch of women because they're women, and poor baby was sick. And not to even mention that women of colour are killed in far greater numbers than white women? Ya know, we could use this opportunity to bring some light to that!

eta: I wrote this before the #YesAllWhiteWomen tag popped up. Toot Toot! (That's my own horn, I'm tooting!) Good. I'm glad some coverage to the issues that women of colour face are being discussed. I do however wish they'd named the tag #YesAllWomenOfColour because it's about them and their issues. Just like #YesAllWomen was about all women's issues. Making it about the shitty treatment (and it is!) that white women have piled on them is about as useful as a #YesAllMen tag. That said, the vast majority of the tweets did not attack white women (except for one very angry woman whom I blocked almost immediately because I didn't want to do something stupid like reply to her). Most of them were absolutely excellent examples of the kind of privilege that white women have over women of colour. I read as many as I could, and tried to contribute in the same way that I appreciated from men in the #YesAllWomen tag. /eta

As always, I look for some good to come out of tragedy, and the good I've seen so far is the discussion on #YesAllWomen. Women are sharing their stories so other women don't feel so alone. And some men are getting it. Some aren't, of course. Like the guy who was going on to me about how women need to be more forceful about how they say no, because sometimes people aren't good at reading social cues. So I told him to stop telling women how to say no. In those words. And he continued to tell me and explain. So I got as forceful as I could. He did not get it. He continued on and on, all the while claiming to be an ally. *sigh*

Allies are great. Allies who like to tell us how to be better, not so much. Allies who think their experience is the same as ours, not so much. Some differences:

Men can't walk wherever they want at night without fear of bodily harm.
Women can't walk anywhere without fear of bodily harm.

Men can't break up with women without fear that she might diss him to all his friends.
Women can't break up with men without fear that he might kill her.

Men can't blog under their real names without fear of insult or losing their job if they say something against company policy.
Women can't blog under their real names without fear of credible rape threats (as opposed to the "normal" ones that we can sort of safely ignore. Threats like "I'm going to fuck you until you cry, Luna" aren't as threatening as "I'm going to come to your home at X-Y Street and fuck you until you cry, Real Name.")

Men can't make YouTube videos without fear of being called stupid.
Women can't make YouTube videos without fear of rape threats, critiques of what she looks like, and comments about her fuckability.

If a man lets a repair guy into the house, the worst fear is that he might be robbed. And most don't even consider that.
If a woman lets a repair guy in to the house, the worst fear is that she might be raped or murdered.

A man can drink at a bar, get in a cab drunk, and go home without fear of waking up beaten and naked.
A woman? Not so much.

This happens. All of it and much more. If you're an ally, or you aspire to be one, go spend a few hours reading #YesAllWomen on Twitter. Don't respond to any of them. And never, ever start a sentence with, "Not all men..." or "But women should..."