Content warning-this post discusses violence, gun violence, violence against women, misogyny, ableism.
I’ve spent the morning reading with horror about thehorrific murders in Santa Barbra, California, and about Elliott Roger, the man responsible. According this Daily Kos article, Rodger was influenced by the Men’s Rights movement. In his chilling video manifesto, he stated:
“On the day of retribution I will enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB, and I will slaughter every single spoiled stuck up blonde slut I see inside there. All those girls that I’ve desired so much, they would have all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them. While they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes. I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one. The true Alpha Male.“
There you have it, in the man’s own words. Violent misogyny. Rape culture. male entitlement.
In the aftermath of the murders, the usual script was trotted out. “He was a madman”, “a lone psycho”, an outlier. Why is it that people are so averse to calling violent misogyny for what it is, they won’t name what is in front of their own eyes? Why are they prepared to throw the vast majority of people with mental illnesses who don’t murder under the bus to deny this?
Of course, as commentators raised the issue of male violence and misogyny, the predictable response was “Hey, we’re not *all* like that!” How incredible it is, that we can’t even have a conversation of hatred of women and male entitlement without it becoming, once again, all about the men. Yes, men, we know you’re not *all* like that, however, don’t be waiting for a pat on the back for not being a violent abuser of women.
Not all men.
Yes, of course, we *know* that not all men are violent misogynists, but the reality is, a significant proportion of men are. Let’s look at Ireland, as a microcosm. A study carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) found that a quarter of Irish women have been victims of violence.
The survey suggested 26 per cent of Irish women (394,325 women in 2012) had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or non-partner since the age of 15.
Almost one in three Irish women (31 per cent or 470,157 women) had experienced some form of psychological violence by a partner.
A total of 15 per cent of Irish women (227,495) had experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner and 8 per cent had experienced sexual violence by a partner or non-partner.
Not all men.
“Yes”, I hear you say, “but those men are violent monsters, I’d *never* lift a finger against a woman”. Well, good, have a cookie, you’re not a reprehensible human. These abusive men do not exist in a vacuum. Violence against women is not limited to a raised fist. Do you make sexually objectifying comments about women on the street? Do you feel so entitled to police our bodies and behaviour that you growl at women you don’t know in a pub or nightclub, telling them to smile? Do you earnestly believe that the friendzone exists? Do you think PUA sites are sound relationship advice? Do you think that women owe you sex? Do you think that some women are asking for it?
Not all men.
“Ah now, you’re really being unfair here, it can’t be that bad?” I urge all people to spend some time viewing the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter. Countless testimonies from women of violence, assault, harassment, catcalling, victim-blaming, shaming. Stories were shared of “rape schedules”, the strategies that women rehearse when walking home in the dark, keys gripped between the knuckles. When we are laying our lives and experiences bare, and your first response is to scrunch up your face and whine “that’s not me,” that tells me that you feel so assured of your status, and so steeped in privilege that the testimonies of thousands, if not millions of women, adds up to less than your feelings.
Not all men.
Misogyny is not just a few violent outliers. Misogyny is structural, deeply ingrained into the very fabric of our society. Misogyny is in our courts and judicial system, where a violent man can walk free if he can wave enough notes in front of a judge’s face and if he’s from a respectable family. Misogyny is inherent in victim-blaming. Misogyny is in the disproportionate targeting of women and their children in the government’s austerity programme. Misogyny is visible in rape crisis centres in the midwest of Ireland having to shut down because they just haven’t the funds.
Men; when women are sharing their lived experiences of violence and sexual abuse and harassment, your first impulse should *not* be to fire back a wounded “Hey, we’re not all like that!” Believe it or not, everything is not about you. Just because you’re not like these men you’ve decided are monsters, that doesn’t mean that your work here is done. Examine your attitudes and behaviour. Have the courage to call out friends. Listen to women; sometimes the best way you can contribute when marginalised groups are speaking out about their lives is to take a step back, listen, reflect.
You’re not like *those* men? Show, don’t tell.