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If You Still Think We Don’t Need Feminism, I Don’t Ever Want To Speak To You Again

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ucsb-shooting-memorial

When news broke of the misogyny-driven mass shooting at UC Santa Barbara last week, I closed my computer, left my house, and turned off my phone. Well first I flipped out after misreading UCSB as the UC that my sister attends, and then figured out it was a different school. Nobody I knew had died. It didn’t affect me. Shame on me.

In usual instances of disaster, I am glued to my computer. During the Malaysian Airlines event earlier this year, I googled “MH370” every hour for updates. I obsessed over different proposed theories. It wasn’t voyeurism–it was my way of making sense of it all. When tragic, unexplainable events happen that I can’t process, consuming every single detail available helps to make things clearer in my head. I can’t process the unexplainable, but I can file, categorize, and make sense of information. But this wasn’t a unexplainable event without answers. This had too many answers. There was a video to watch. I didn’t click.

In retrospect, it wasn’t flippancy that made me ignore my computer and disconnect once my sister’s safety was assured. I’m not prone to turning off my phone or abandoning my computer for long periods of time–in fact, I’m the kind of person who needs to be connected at all times. It wasn’t that I thought “this happened far away. This didn’t happen to me.” This was fatigue. This was not unexpected–the #YesAllWomen hashtag should make that more than clear. This was the natural progression of the reality of our deeply ingrained, mostly invisible cultural misogyny. None of this is new.

I kept replaying an awful conversation I’ve had too many times, when men who call themselves my friends and say they respect me tell me that feminism is no longer necessary. That feminists are wasting our time. That the world is better, now. We don’t need feminism.

After a few days, I sat down to read about Elliot Rodger, nauseating as it was. The critical analysis leaned towards the conclusion that misogyny kills and was completely on point. While some sickening sources tried every possible way to obscure the fact that Rodger killed out of hatred for women despite his own admission of that very fact (calling him mentally ill or the “Virgin Killer”), everyone capable of reason agreed. Rodger felt entitled to sexual attention from women and he didn’t get it. He hated women, and so he killed them. They deserved to die. They took something from him by not acquiescing. They took his birthright.

The culture of misogyny is etched so deeply that we don’t even see it anymore. That my “friends” tell me there’s no place for feminism in 2014. That we think of the PUA community as harmless, pathetic low lives living in basements (I have said this myself). We think of the MRA as one big joke and not what it really is–an exaggerated version of what our society teaches us about gender roles. We raise men to take, and raise women to be taken. We assign value and worth the moment a gender is specified on an ultrasound, through coded statements about our children’s futures, encouragement of certain activities and school subjects, and our collective “values system.” But when you cut through the coding and the polite ways we’ve cloaked it, the true meaning is that women are lesser. Being a woman is an assault against our better decency.

I remember learning about puberty in elementary school. We were allowed to write down questions anonymously and I wrote “how can we stop puberty?” I was terrified to grow up. I knew that the only thing worse than being a girl was to be a woman.

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