McGinnis: Yes, All Women: A discussion of a social media movementWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Grendel and Jeff McGinnis
(In the aftermath of the shootings near the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus, and in light of the killer’s hate-filled manifesto, Pop Culture Editor Jeff McGinnis and Grendel, the mind behind the web series “WTFHistory,” discuss what the event and its aftermath say about our culture in general.)
JEFF: I have never met a woman who didn’t have a story. The stalker who felt he was entitled to their affection. The hate-filled diatribes when a pass was made and they turned it down. The inappropriate grabs from men who suffered no consequences. The times they were blamed for a man’s misconduct toward them. The assaults. The constant fear.
The stories which flooded Twitter in the hours after the Santa Barbara shooting on May 25 were all too painfully familiar. As was the response: “Not all men!” “You deserved it!” “Feminazi!” And on and on. So much defensiveness. So much anger. So little empathy. Why? Why do people refuse to see outside themselves for even a sliver of understanding?
GRENDEL: I was horrified when I heard about what happened. But I wish I could say I was more surprised. This wasn’t an isolated incident: this was a hate crime and it was one of many. Elliot Rodger, the shooter, had a 141-page-long manifesto where he outlined his thoughts on women. He did not believe that women were as mentally capable, or as in control of themselves as men. And his evidence of this was that women were turning him down. He did not believe that women should have the right to choose their own romantic or sexual partners, simply because when they chose, they did not choose him. And he wanted to punish them for it.
This was a hate crime because he was a violent misogynist. He wanted to terrify and push women into what he considered “their place.”
I’m amazed that he could have been so willing to assign the blame to women and so unwilling to consider for even a moment that maybe it was not their problem, but his. The lack of introspection is astounding. And this is very symptomatic of an attitude that is gaining an alarming amount of ground these days: the insistence that women have too much power and that men are at a disadvantage because of it. Not only is this untrue, it’s an increasingly harmful and dangerous worldview.
JEFF: The pity of it is that this kind of thought process is not confined to psychopaths like Rodger. We see this blind hatred and lack of personal culpability among men in everyday life on the internet. As noted, look at the responses to women posting under the #yesallwomen hashtag — the vitriol and hatred the killer spewed in his manifesto is, horrifically, not uncommon.
And yet, many would prefer not to engage in that aspect of this event. Easier to simply dismiss him as a psychopath, instead of actually dealing with the awful fact that his actions, as you noted, have roots in deeply held prejudices in society. Prejudices that misogynists simply seem to cling to tighter the more women struggle against them.
GRENDEL: And the #yesallwomen is turning into an amazing social media movement. It’s addressing the way that women’s shared stories of harassment have been treated. When women share stories of the harassment and misogyny they face in daily life, they are often interrupted by a man — in person or online — who insists “Yes but that’s not ALL men.” And no, that’s right, it isn’t all men. But it’s an awful lot of men. #yesallwomen was started to answer that. Maybe not all men are misogynists. But all women have faced misogyny, harassment or violence because of their gender. Usually for no other reason than existing while female.
By saying “Not all men,” people are yanking the discussion away from women, centering it back on men, when — in this instance — they simply aren’t the focus. Because even if it isn’t all men, isn’t it important that men who aren’t that way listen to the stories of men who are and help learn how to make it better? The Internet movement of Men’s Rights Activists don’t seem to think so.
JEFF: I can only hope in the days to come, the conversation that is going on right now continues and deepens into some sense of understanding for those who have a reflexively defensive attitude against the movement. That it opens their eyes to the fact that there is a disturbing difference in the human experience — that women are forced to play by a set of rules that is infinitely more complicated and dangerous than men do. The pity is, though, that lasting societal change doesn’t usually come in a sudden burst, but through painful struggle — a struggle that, if the “Men’s Rights” response is any indication, has only just begun.
GRENDEL: As we have these conversations in the following weeks and days, it’s vital to remember a few things. While this may have been a product of mental illness, it cannot be blamed solely on mental illness. Being mentally ill does not make one a violent killer, and neither does it make one unaccountable for ones actions. This was a man who openly hated women. He thought that women ought to cater to his whims. And the media with which he interacted encouraged this belief. Nobody ever told him that he might be the one in the wrong. And until people start saying so — that the world was not made for straight, white men alone — and listening when people raise their voices, nothing is going to change. But it can change, and it will. We just need to work towards something better. Something safer for everyone.
Tags: #notallmen, #yesallwomen, Elliot Rodger, empathy, Feminazi, Grendel, hate, hate crime, Jeff McGinnis, killer, killing, Men's Rights Activists, Pop Goes the Culture, prejudice, Twitter, University of California's Santa Barbara, white men, women, WTFhistory