The Things #YesAllWomen Know

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about deranged killer Elliot Rodger going on a shooting spree in the quiet, upscale college town of Santa Barbara because, in his own words, he was a virgin and women wouldn’t sleep with him. Even though he clearly had some serious issues, some people are taking to the internet to pity him for his inability to get women. Women, however, are bringing the misogyny behind this statement to light, noting that it’s not ok for men to think they have any “right” to women… and this sentiment is getting worse, not better.

The challenge of being a woman living in 2014 is that feminism seems too past tense, yet it’s clear that women are not treated the same as men in our society. For example, how many men know what it’s like to walk down the street and have a creepy guy in a truck lean out the window and whistle at you or say something to make you extremely uncomfortable? Reading some of these articles and blog posts popping up after this attack, I feel fortunate that I was never the type of girl that got a lot of male attention (despite being upset about it at the time) — it’s terrifying to hear of girls turning down date proposals to prom only to be stabbed over it.

We look down on third world countries that abduct their women or stone them for wearing clothing that shows any flesh, and try to think of ourselves as so different from these backwards societies, but the reality is there’s still fission between the thousands of different ideas of what women should be. We look down upon strippers and pornography stars yet worship Paris Hilton and Kim Kardasian who are famous largely due to making their own sex tapes and leaking them out onto the Internet. We expect women to wear makeup to work and be feminine yet if they’re too feminine we don’t trust them to make sound business decisions. We want to be empowered yet clothing brands like Nasty Gal are the wardrobe builder du jour for young females seeking to be sexy and stylish. Being a young woman in modern day American is awfully confusing.

Then there are all the men who feel like they have some sort of right to women. Not all of them are going to going on murder sprees with an excuse of their ongoing rejection, yet I know women who have been raped and I know women who have been harassed and I know women who have felt scared of men. I luckily have not had any serious related scenarios happen to me, but I have been at a dance club when a guy came up to “dance” with me and wouldn’t stop trying even though I clearly wasn’t interested. I know the strange, creepy feeling of being objectified and wanting to just be able to dance or wear what I want to without men assuming this means something it doesn’t.

Misogyny is deeply embedded in our culture, and on the extreme ends of it we get people like Rodger who didn’t know how to handle not fitting in to his upper class, everyone’s perfect life. What can we do to change society so that men stop thinking they have a right to women? Maybe it’s impossible to change this. But I sure hope if I have a daughter I can raise her to safely stand up for herself; and if I have a son, I’ll raise him to be respectful of women, and never to feel like they owe him anything.

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