Sometimes, good things can come out of tragedies. For instance, the Amber Alert system, which sends notifications through television, radio and the Internet when a child is kidnapped, was created after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered.
In the wake of Friday’s shootings near the University of California, Santa Barbara, we’re seeing a renewed emphasis on addressing modern misogyny.
Women and men across the world have taken to Twitter to share stories about the everyday sexism women encounter with the hashtag #YesAllWomen. It’s a response to the common cry of “Not all men are like that” that has been used to shut down many comments about sexual assault, sexual harassment and other misogynistic matters.
Yes, not all men do bad things, but that isn’t enough to justify shutting down conversation about legitimate issues. After the man who killed six and injured 13 others at UCSB posted a video explaining that he was committing those crimes because women refused to sleep with him, we’d be remiss as a society in not addressing this flawed logic.
Many (but not all) men have expressed that it’s inherently unfair for women to be afraid of them, for women to reflexively cross the street if they’re walking behind them at night.
There’s no magic marker above your head pointing you out as a good guy, and it’s next to impossible to tell the people who won’t harm you from those who will. When nearly two-thirds of reported rapes were perpetrated by people the victim knew and more than 50 percent of them happen within a mile of the victim’s home, according to the national anti-sexual violence organization Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, it’s especially hard to tell the disguised wolves from the sheep.
Identifying yourself as a “nice guy” doesn’t cut it either. The shooter referred to himself as a “the supreme gentleman,” and he was anything but. He associated on public forums with other “nice guys” who couldn’t understand that not being a jerk doesn’t mean you’re entitled to love or sex.
Society isn’t like a grown-up version of Chuck E. Cheese, where you get a certain number of tickets for committing nice acts and then get to cash them in at the end of the night for a beautiful women. Half of the world’s population isn’t prizes for the other half, and this is one of the radical ideas the #YesAllWomen movement is trying to explain.
Hashtag activism can be futile, as #Kony2012 demonstrated. However, the #YesAllWomen movement will have succeeded if even just a few people are able to learn from the chilling stories women are sharing. By listening to each other’s experiences without rushing to defend ourselves or any social groups we belong to, we have a better chance of moving on as a society and avoiding future tragedies born of hate.
Want to join the conversation? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.