So Elliott Rodgers writes a hate-filled manifesto blaming women for his own failures. 141 pages against women and the lack of sex in his life. His writing would have been comical if not so tragic: “I was giving the female gender one last chance to provide me with the pleasures I deserved from them.” Then he killed six people before turning the gun on himself.
In response, #YesAllWomen exploded on Twitter.
Millions told stories of sexual violence, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and sexual fears. The stories are real – painful, brutally honest, and powerful pictures of life for too many women in today’s world. I can empathize and try to understand how they feel, but I’ll never truly know what it feels like to walk in a woman’s shoes. Not when it comes to something like this. But I am reading the Twitter feeds because I have daughters and sons, and I’m taking steps to end sexism as well as the attitudes/actions against women for those same reasons. I want them to live in a world where equal is truly equal – free from harassment and violence.
I worry about my daughters – I worry more about the actions of men against them than I worry about them being caught in something like a gang shooting or bitten by a shark (A little perspective – last year in the US there were roughly 1,100 accidental shootings and 16 shark attacks versus 237,000+ documented victims of sexual assault). I worry that a man will harass or harm them, no matter how strong and intelligent they are - that they have to live their lives looking over their shoulders, holding car keys like weapons when they walk through a parking lot, or being harassed when they turn down unwanted attention from a guy. I worry that rape is no longer a strong enough word to convey the physical and emotional impact sexual violence creates. I worry that too many people don't get that.
Sadly, some men were quick to point out that “it’s not all men”, but that takes the focus away from the problem. The bottom line is that men who are not the problem need to do something about the men who are. If you have women in your life who you care about - if you have children (daughters and sons) - if you give a shit at all about ending hatred, violence, sexism, and misogyny against women, do something. Forget excuses. It starts with respect. It starts with action.
Be that change.