#YesAllWomen: Twitter's powerful reaction to the Santa Barbara Shootings

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Californian gunman's killing spree

Police have confirmed Elliot Rodger, the son of a Hollywood film director, Peter Rodger, was the gunman involved in a drive by shooting in Santa Barbara, after he stabbed and killed three people near his apartment.

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Over the weekend, six people were killed in a Californian neighbourhood near UC Santa Barbara. Their murderer was a man whose name I’ll elect not to use, because it doesn’t deserve to be remembered. But he was a young man who hated women and resented them for withholding their affections from him. To punish them for these transgressions, he determined to target the ‘hottest sorority house’ at UCSB and ‘slaughter’ every ‘spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut [he sees] inside there.’

In a video posted to YouTube, the shooter (who began his killing spree by stabbing his three roommates to death) lamented that, “For the last eight years of my life, since I hit puberty, I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men, never to me.”

There are few things uglier and more threatening to women than misogynist male entitlement. It reminds us that our right to exist with some semblance of freedom is viewed as a contractual arrangement; as long as we behave ourselves, we won’t be punished too severely for the simple crime of being a woman.

People gather at a park in Isla Vista for a candlelight vigil to honour the victims of the mass shooting.

People gather at a park in Isla Vista for a candlelight vigil to honour the victims of the mass shooting. Photo: AP

Under the hashtag #yesallwomen, a litany of complaints and outrages have swept across the Twittersphere. Within hours, the hashtag was trending internationally. Women raged against the violence that was to threaten them and keep them in line; men (for the most part) offered their solidarity and support, while urging others to read the rolling timeline of tweets regardless of how challenging and uncomfortable they might prove to be.

One of the most retweeted pictures under the #yesallwomen tag was a meme that’s been floating around for some time now. It perfectly illustrates the troubling cognitive dissonance that comes with according value to a woman based on her male connections.



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In addition to furious objections over subjugations of living in a culture which normalises violence towards women and charges them with being responsible for avoiding it came anger over the lack of respect shown for women’s autonomy. Women argued accurately and with fierce eloquence against the idea that a woman is ‘off limits’ if she ‘belongs’ to another man; that street harassment isn’t a ‘compliment’ but another manifestation of entitlement, one which seeks to remind women that their bodies and dignity belong to someone else; and that even their outrage and anger is stolen from them and portrayed as the misandric criminalisation of male sexuality and/or identity.

The outpouring of female anger was not, as some have called it, ‘armchair activism’ but a meaningful and spontaneous public response to the dreadful hate crime that happened in Santa Barbara. Despite the support offered by many men to #yesallwomen, it’s frustrating to see so many others insist that these senseless deaths had nothing to do with the perceived emasculation of being denied the alpha identity that the gunman felt women owed to him.

At its most benign, those hesitant to identify the misogyny present are focusing instead on the gunman’s fragile mental health - as if misogyny (particularly the homicidal kind) isn’t a clear and indisputable expression of acute mental illness exacerbated by the frequenting of MRA websites and pick up artist communities.

But frighteningly, there are others who appear to empathise with the fact that loneliness and female rejection ‘caused’ this young man to exact his cruel form of revenge. That if it weren’t for the ‘agony’ of female rejection and the refusal to ‘give’ sex to him, he might be a well-adjusted person.

This is what misogyny and male entitlement writ large looks like. The denial of its existence is what allows ongoing violence against women to flourish. Women experience a broad range of gender related violence every day, from incessant street harassment to sexual assaults to murder. It is the shadow we live under and the threat we live in fear of, and we endure it solely because we are women. It’s what leads to a young girl being stabbed to death by a schoolmate because she won’t go to prom with him. And it’s what allows a young man to believe so fervently that he is ‘owed’ female attention and adoration that when he is repeatedly denied it, he decides someone must be punished in order to reinstate his power as a dominant male.

If this isn’t a result of structural misogyny and male entitlement, what is it? A coincidence? Why is it that one woman murdered every week in Australia by her partner or ex-partner is not considered a manifestation of the ongoing, ritualised hate crime that specifically targets women? Why must we be further insulted by having our anger explained away as irrational and misplaced? We know what pure, unadulterated misogyny is because we have felt its wrath; yet we’re once again being told our instincts are wrong by people for whom such hatred can never be anything more than theoretical.

Margaret Atwood famously said that men’s greatest fear is that women will laugh at them, while women’s greatest fear is that men will kill them. Misogyny and male entitlement are sustained acts of aggression against women that everyone should be invested in opposing.

No, not all men kill or harm women.

But yes - all women have a right to be angry and afraid when they do.

 

156 comments

  • Ah yes let me take this opportunity to make this tragic event all about me. More men were killed than women but that's immaterial it's all about me and it's all about women. Simple, done no further analysis required.

    Commenter
    belle
    Date and time
    May 26, 2014, 7:42AM
    • I do agree, I think the article should be removed; it is highly offensive.

      Commenter
      Fourty5
      Date and time
      May 26, 2014, 10:11AM
    • "And all of you men for living a better life than me, all of you sexually active men. I hate you. I hate all of you. I can't wait to give you exactly what you deserve, annihilation."

      The male victims are *also* victims of the shooter's entitled misogyny. Their deaths do not discredit the analysis, they support it. However, I agree, it's a pity Clementine didn't mention their deaths - singling out victims doesn't do her argument any favours. Nevertheless, the violence was undeniably rooted in deep sense of entitlement and hatred for the women/girls who spurned him.

      Commenter
      Boobytrapped
      Location
      Blue Mountains
      Date and time
      May 26, 2014, 10:29AM
    • You're so on the money with this comment.

      Commenter
      Kate
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 26, 2014, 10:29AM
    • You are 100% correct. This horrible Violence is not about you Clementine. As much as I agree with equality for the female gender and everybody for that matter, I believe you are hindering the cause by trying to link any act as an act against women. This act is not against women, its an act by an EXTREMELY unwell person. I agree with the father who lost his SON in the tragedy, this is the fault of weak politicians and the gun lobby in America. I know how this boy felt as I felt exactly the same way, lucky for me we have gun laws in Australia which prevented me from accessing one. After years of therapy I now am much better, but my feelings didn't stem from a sense of entitlement to women, it stemmed from jealousy, rejection and a feeling of not being normal. I thought the answer to my problems would be solved if I had a girlfriend, I would then be seen as normal by everyone male and female, Unfortunately for women I was not homosexual and as such the brunt of my anger was towards women, but I was just as angry towards my friends whom would reject me so they could go out and meet women. If I was gay and rejected by men I would have felt the same anger, but it would have only been towards men. So don't make this a feminist thing, it is a humanity thing. Everyone, male and female need to look out for each other and try not to let someone feel like an outcast. Humanity in America also needs to do something about Gun control.

      Commenter
      Gino
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 26, 2014, 10:40AM
    • "More men were killed than women ...'

      PEOPLE were killed because this one man resented their success in relationships - both the men AND the women, because he, a man, could not attract those same women.

      This ISN'T all about women. It's about the men who feel a sense of entitlement so strongly that they'll murder anyone (female OR male) who has what he hasn't.

      Men are frequently the victims of misogyny. How often do we see reports of men killing other men through their view that the women the murdered man was with 'belonged to' the murderer.

      Commenter
      cuts both ways
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 26, 2014, 10:41AM
    • Agreed. I don't usually disagree with Ford's articles and I don't disagree with this one but they are almost always just incredibly logical responses. Yes this is awful. For an opinion piece nothing is really being added to the conversation and adding your own tweet to an article you yourself have written is mind bogglingly self serving. You have a whole article to make your point. This is not a criticism of people's outrage which is justified but if the Age is going to publish articles that are essentially saying violence is bad and people on the internet agree can we get a better writer?

      Commenter
      Billy C
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 26, 2014, 10:45AM
    • No the violence was rooted in a deep sense of isolation, loneliness, mental illness, societal and parental neglect (a BMW is no replacement for parental presence, involvement and boundaries).

      Hatred of women AND MEN who appear to have the happiness so desperately missing from his life is just a focus for the narcissism which is born out of pain not entitlement. It manifests itself as entitlement but comes from a deep sense of emptiness and non existence. Add to this psychosis, Asperger syndrome and guns and you may get a spiraling out of control leading to murder.

      But no, it's just misogyny, eye roll.

      Commenter
      Belle
      Date and time
      May 26, 2014, 10:47AM
    • In a sense it is all about women.

      1. He wanted a woman and couldn't get one.
      2. He was jealous of men who had women, but he blamed the women for liking them over him (according to his musings).

      Commenter
      Ross | Preston
      Date and time
      May 26, 2014, 10:54AM
    • Patriarchy, as a system, also oppresses and kills men.
      Women and men are victims of sexism and misogyny. Men are mainly the perpetrators.

      In Australia, the biggest cause of disability and death for women and girls under 45 is rape and domestic violence (ABS).

      Just think on that terrible statistic and respect their memories for a moment.

      Commenter
      Agent 99
      Date and time
      May 26, 2014, 10:58AM

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