Today is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against all of humanity… I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB and I will slaughter every single spoilt, stuck up, blonde slut I see inside there.”
It sounds like a line from a B grade Hollywood horror movie, and in many ways it played out like a horror movie, eerily close to Hollywood.
Those were the words of Elliot Rodger, the 22 year old self proclaimed virgin who went on a murdering spree on the 23rd of May, killing 6 people before turning the gun on himself. In a video he uploaded to YouTube just prior to his rampage in Isla Vista, California, Rodger’s rants about his total lack of social and sexual interaction with girls, “You girls have never been attracted to me, I don’t know why you’ve never been attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.”
Rodger’s misogynistic views are further expressed in his 137 page manifesto, and Professor Jeanette Hoorn, Director of Gender Studies at Melbourne University says that such attitudes are “quite widespread even if people don’t articulate them in public all that often.” Rodger’s extreme expression of resentment towards women and his sentiment that “if I can’t have you girls, I will destroy you”, has caused controversy around the globe, sparking an uprising of anti-misogynistic movements across social media.
Most notable is the #YesAllWomen campaign that exploded on Twitter the day after the shootings. Beginning as a response to the #notallmen argument of Male Rights Activists, the concept behind #YesAllWomen is that, although not all men display misogynistic behaviour or objectify women, all women will experience such behaviour at some point, at the hands of the men who do. Social media users can share their own experiences of male entitlement, misogyny and feeling unsafe, using the hash tag.
#YesAllWomen because plenty of women are awkward virgins at 22 too yet they rarely kill anyone over it
#YesAllWomen tweets continue to trend and have struck a chord with women everywhere. Stephanie Kilpatrick, a ‘Wom*ns Officer’ at the University of Melbourne Student Union can relate, “I thought of all the times that I’ve walked home at night and kept looking over my shoulder… every time I’ve gotten off a bus when it’s dark, and checked to see whether the other people who got off look like they’ll follow me.”
#YesAllWomen because men don’t text each other that they got home safe.
The campaign has cast a spotlight on the fact that prejudice against women still exists, however, our culture is not only failing women, but men too. From a young age, the boys of today are active users of social media platforms like Instagram, a place where regular people can achieve fame by the number of followers they accumulate.
One such person is a man by the name of Dan Bilzerian.
In his Instagram profile, the 34 year old professional poker player and venture capitalist from the US describes himself as an ‘Actor/Astronaut/Asshole’. He has 2.4 million followers on the social media site and most of his posts are of himself with half naked women, cars or guns. One such post features him on a boat accompanied by scantily clad women with the caption “Captain, I think I see a girl with good moral fibre, steer clear, those types are bad for the ships morale.”
His photos get hundreds of thousands of likes, and comments ranging from ‘This guy is the f#%king man!” to “Dude, this is the definition of a legendary lifestyle”. If he is the kind of person young guys look up to as role models then it’s easy to see what’s wrong with the world. The promotion of such a ‘lifestyle’ suggests women are objects to acquire and collect, and that to ‘be a man’ one must live that way. This can lead to feelings of entitlement and in turn, anger in the absence of such things, all of which Rodger’s expressed in his video “All you girls who rejected me…treated me like scum while you gave yourselves to other men. And all of you men, for living a better life than me, all of you sexually active men, I hate you.”
I’m not suggesting that social media or Dan Bilzerian had anything to do with Elliot Rodgers actions, however the influence of so called ‘role models’ like Bilzerian can be damaging to men, instilling unhealthy expectations and attitudes towards women.
Feminism remains a game changing movement, and Kilpatrick points out that it benefits not only women but also the male population, by breaking down gender stereotypes, “women fought for the right to work, and that allowed men to have emotions, to move away from that macho man stereotype and to spend time with their children.”
The Oxford Dictionary defines feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes”. Key word: EQUALITY. Yet, there is still a discourse within society when it comes to feminism. Kilpatrick says, “We see many famous women saying they aren’t feminists, but they believe in equal rights. Why, then, aren’t they feminists?” Professor Hoorn believes that feminism’s negative connotations “come from the continued misogyny against women” while Kilpatrick says the media is partly to blame fort its tendency to portray an “image of feminists as being crazed, angry, man hating women.”
#YesAllWomen serves to dismantle this stereotype, and make women realize that their desire for equality actually equates to feminism. The movement is a wake-up call to recognize that quite often the way society operates and the way that men interact with women is not ok, yet it has become so normalized in our culture that we forget. #YesAllWomen has given women a platform to share their personal experiences, providing not only an online space to discuss their rights, but also creating a real life environment in which the conversation can continue.