Recently, the UC community has been a victim of an extreme form of gendered violence. Although our society deals with gendered violence and inequality every day, this tragedy has reminded us of the danger of misogyny in our own backyards. This type of violence and inequality presents itself in many ways. Greater analysis of ideas that we perpetuate as a culture needs to start NOW.
By Dania Herrera
On Friday, May 23rd Elliot Rodger killed six people, himself and injured eight people in Isla Vista, California. All six of the murder victims were UC Santa Barbara students. These murders have left many of us in shock; not only for the brutality involved, but also, because of the reasoning behind them. The reasoning… Twenty-two year old Rodger harbored resentment towards women who rejected him romantically.
How do we know this? Rodger left YouTube videos and online diaries detailing how and when he wanted to enact revenge. His diary, “My Twisted Word: The Story of Elliot Rodger” was one hundred and forty one pages long. In his diary, he described why he came to resent women. This tragic event has taught us that the way women and men are expected and taught to behave in our society is dangerous for all who live with these expectations.
Misogyny is a culture that perpetuates hatred towards women and in turn makes a destructive society for all people.
Gendered violence and inequality is happening in workplaces, on the internet, in the media, homes, schools, stores, and streets. It doesn’t discriminate based on gender. Men are victims of this culture of hatred too…
Something has to be said about the attention we pay to certain events over others. In order to combat and stop misogyny, we have to pay close attention to all instances of hate and harm. We have to think critically about the harm that is and can be done. Examples of harm can be “overt” like what happened in Isla Vista or more “covert.”
There are more covert examples of how our society contributes to a culture of misogyny. This includes teaching young boys to feel a sense of entitlement towards women or calling a woman a “slut” for wearing what she pleases. Although these examples may not seem harmful at first glance, we need to realize that these ideas come with a price. If we teach young boys that women are something to be owned and to be attained, they will not have respect for women later on in their lives.
As a society we should stop perpetuating the idea that romantic rejections should be seen as character flaws, especially for men. Dating has become an intimidating process because of the pressures instilled on everyone. Another “covert” example of misogyny is street harassment. It should not be seen as something that “happens.” Catcalling women on the street makes women feel unsafe, and is usually met with verbal abuse when the catcaller’s advances are not returned. When instances of harassment are reported, the victims are blamed for the makeup and clothes they wear and walking alone at night. As a society we contribute to a culture of victim blaming, when we should punish those who have committed the crime and think critically about what societal ideas have nurtured the crime.
If we continue using phrases like “not everyone is like that”, we undermine that misogyny is a societal problem. Change needs to happen across the board and it begins with everyone. If excuses keep being made, “covert” instances of misogyny will be swept under the rug as they have been all along. Yes, other factors like mental illness may have also played a part in what happened in Isla Vista but we have to realize that society stigmatizes mental illness too.
We create a culture that makes it difficult for people to open up about their mental illnesses and makes it hard to seek help. Our society also perpetuates the idea that men have to be masculine and hide their feelings. These are all examples of a destructive misogynistic society. Covert misogyny leads to overt misogyny. When we call this a “women’s issue,” we forget that this affects men just as much as it affects women; misogyny affects us all.