Last night I watched Twitter explode with the #YesAllWomen hashtag. It took me a moment to figure out what was going on and a little googling brought me to this story:
Basically a guy, Elliot Rodgers, went on a shooting spree because he felt rejected by women who didn’t want to have sex with him and wanted to punish them. This left 6 people dead and others wounded and in hospital.
WHAT THE FUCK!?
The horror of the story has me sick to my stomach and as I unpack my feelings there are so many layers of revulsion, anger and disbelief.
This reoccurring theme in the USA of people feeling rejected and then taking a gun and going on a shooting spree is unbelievable. How does society degenerate to this point? How do children, young adults, feel such a hopeless anger that it would drive them to take another person’s life? You can blame it on poor gun control, the pervasive sense of entitlement of the Gen-Yers, break down of family structure, violent videos games, and a host of other influences. What if people are just shitty, and will do shitty things to other people because there is very little to deter them?
As a feminist I get into a raging frenzy. It is very difficult for me to be coherent and logical about the issues at play here.
I am sickened by the pervasive misogyny in our society which, through constant reinforcement by men and women in a multitude of acts of overt and micro-aggression, comes to a tragic head in one sad example. How many times in my life have I perpetuated patriarchal dominance and misogyny in my own behaviour? I remember so many incidence of stupid things like repeating a joke that condones violence against women, or not speaking out against someone who encourages misogyny as a throw away comment during conversation. We all have an inborn acceptance of patriarchy and misogyny from existing in a society in which it is so easily accepted, but where do we draw the line and say no more? How far does our silence go in making us complicit in perpetuating this universal acceptance of violence towards women?
I live in a violent country. South Africa is a melting pot of colonialism, privilege, poverty, racism, tribalism, and desperation. Everyday there are stories of acts of violence against women that would put this internationally trending story of Elliot Rodgers to shame. I can’t shake the idea that misogyny is becoming more accepted, condoned and even encouraged.
Following the discussion on Twitter, #YesAllWomen is an education on the universal experience of women. What saddens me though is the sheer number of men wading in on the hashtag with reactions varying from “shut up bitch” to threats of rape and violence.
The amazing responses to men justifying rape culture have made me smile, and at times have even been quite funny but the fact that this hashtag even exists is an indictment on society. It puts a spotlight on my own misogyny, my apathy towards patriarchy and my comfortable privileged life.
By the end of the week the hashtag will be a distant memory and the world will move on to another hot topic like if Kim Kardashian is showing a baby bump (didn’t she just get married?) or replacing a word in a movie title with the word poop.
Congratulations people… we’re failing spectacularly at the simple act of showing an ounce of humanity.