Misogyny In 2014: Elliot Rodger And #YesAllWomen
ON May 23, in Isla Vista, California, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger stabbed, shot and killed six people, injuring 13 others, before turning the gun on himself. This is only one attack in what is a growing number of spree killings in America over the past twenty years. There have been 72 mass murders in the United States since 1982 and 71 of these were committed by men. What makes this incident all the more shocking is the fact that Rodgers clearly stated his feelings of misogyny, racism and a desire to kill women in his twenty YouTube videos, which he posted over the course of the last month.
Although it has yet to be confirmed, there has been speculation that Rodger was mentally unstable, both by the general public but also by his own parents. He was taking medication and seeing a psychiatrist about his condition. His plans for mass murder were well documented. As well as making all of those YouTube videos, he wrote a 141-page manifesto, detailing the origins of his hatred of women, his sexual frustration and his need for violent retribution. In one incident, he speaks about how two girls who didn’t smile back at him in Starbucks “deserved to be dumped in boiling water for the crime of not giving [him] attention and adoration.“
The manifesto is littered with misogynistic slurs such as “women are like the plague. They don’t deserve to have any rights“. He also suggests starving women to death in a concentration camp and expresses confusion and anger at the fact that African-American and Asian guys are able to seduce white girls, but he can’t.
Although horrifying, Rodgers writings were initially dismissed, as they were the inner thoughts of a severely mentally ill young man. However, if we allow this blatant hate crime to be written off as the actions of a ‘lunatic’ or a ‘psycho’, we are vastly ignoring the wider societal issues which Rodger’s actions have raised. Even by looking at the comments on his YouTube videos, it is shockingly evident that he is not the only man in the world who feels slighted by women who will not engage in sexual intercourse with him. It has become apparent that there are a large portion of men who believe that they are automatically entitled to a certain degree of attention from women, for no other reason than that we have female sexual organs.
In response to this, the hashtag #YesAllWomen began on Twitter. It was started by blogger Gilded Spine, as a play on the Not All Men meme which surfaced a few months ago. While Rodger’s mass murder of innocent people in California was atrocious and beyond comprehendible, the hashtag has served to demonstrate that all around the world, women are faced with the threat of misogyny on a regular basis. This is not an incident which can be solved solely by dealing with the (extensive) issues of mental health or gun control in the US. This is a universal problem that affects over 50% of the world’s population, and it should not exist in this day and age.
The tweets vary from stories of women’s tragic experiences of rape and domestic violence to commonplace sexual harassment encounters which occur in the workplace. In just a few days, there have been over 1.2 million tweets using this hashtag. Although this seems to have been a generally empowering movement, it is also incredibly terrifying to realise just how many incidents of everyday misogyny you can identify with.
Because "the friendzone" is not just an annoying meme; it is an expression of entitlement and threat of violence against women. #YesAllWomen
— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) May 24, 2014
Because I now wear shorts under dresses in crowded bars after being groped and even penetrated by unseen hands. #YesAllWomen
— Laura (@LauraLikesWine) May 25, 2014
#YesAllWomen because I am already seriously thinking about putting my daughter in self defense classes. She's 4.
— Melanie Carpenter (@melaniec212) May 25, 2014
Because I shouldn't have to wonder how posting my experiences to #YesAllWomen will affect my job. And it will.
— Amber Naslund (@AmberCadabra) May 25, 2014
Because every single woman I know has a story about a man feeling entitled to access to her body. Every. Single. One. #YesAllWomen
— Emily (@emilyhughes) May 24, 2014
#yesallwomen because "you're starting to sound like a feminist" should not be an insult
— autumn. (@woah_autumn) May 25, 2014
#yesallwomen because I live in a world where my 'no' signifies the beginning of a negotiation that shouldn't have to take place.
— Natasha Scripture (@natscript) May 25, 2014
I think the most frightening aspect of this for many women is that we all know a man like this, someone who we’ve rejected due to lack of interest, an ex who has been too possessive in the past or a co-worker who constantly tries to push the boundaries between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. The real fear is that there is a little bit of Elliot Rodger in so many men and this is something which society as a whole needs to address.
Photos c/o twitter.com, mirror.co.uk, youtube.com