It has been about two weeks since Elliot Rodger murdered six people (he also died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound) and injured thirteen others. This particular incident reignited the discussion of gun control and mental health and also opened up a new conversation regarding misogyny (hatred of women). It has been reported that the motivation for his attack was the rejection he faced by women and also his hatred of other races for dating white women. The twitter world was on fire the next couple of days following the attack with women sharing their experiences of misogyny using the hashtag #yesallwomen.
I realize that I am a bit behind on commenting on the #yesallwomen campaign, but I’m hoping this becomes a continuous conversation and not a passing trend. The point of the campaign is to create awareness that while #notallmen (another trending topic) are negative or sexist towards women, all women at some point or another have been subjected to negative and unwanted male attention. In my line of work I have met several women who have been subjected to horrible abuse by the men in their lives. While this campaign brings attention to such abuse, it has created awareness around the more subtle, cultural influences that impact women. Things such as catcalls, avoiding walking alone at night, and being educated on how to prevent sexual assault. Violence against women is 100% preventable, yet prevention seems to be preached to the victims.
Instead of teaching women how not to be sexually assaulted, society needs to be educating our boys that they are not entitled to a woman’s body. This starts in childhood. In western culture if a 5, 6, or 7 year old boy is mean to a girl, it is because he likes her. How are our boys supposed to know that behavior is not okay at 17 or 27?
In many ways, society’s view on women is an insult to men. We teach women to dress ‘appropriately’ as not to draw attention to themselves, we educate women on how not to be sexually assaulted. Last time I checked, grown men are competent, capable adults, who have control over their actions. However, society does a good job of excusing negative male behavior and it is time to change that.
If this article or the #yesallwomen campaign causes you to say “violence can happen against men too,” then you are missing the point. This is about the deep rooted cultural messages that have been passed from generation to generation. The cultural messages that cause my husband to worry when we travel abroad that he might get robbed in a sketchy area of town, and that cause me to worry that I might be sexually assaulted. Let’s keep the conversation going so we can get to a place where #allpeoplearerespected.