Sunday, May 25, 2014
Women's Rights are Human Rights
"I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime, because... I don't know what you don't see in me. I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman. I will punish all of you for it. On the day of retribution I'm going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB. And I will slaughter every spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there."
That is just a small portion of the disgusting diatribe the Isla Vista shooter posted just days ago to YouTube before it was taken down. CNN still has a copy of the video and transcript in the link above.
After most mass killings, there is a scramble to find evidence of the motive, written or otherwise. There is also a mad dash to compartmentalize the tragedy by labeling the killer a terrorist, madman etc., so as to assure ourselves their madness or motive is incredibly rare.
What is rare in this story is how forthcoming the killer was about his motive and that his hatred toward women is actually and tragically not something rare in our world.
I am saddened that like most fathers, I occasionally lived in fear when my daughter went to college and thought those fears were becoming a reality as it was locked down when someone placed eight fake bombs around her Linfield campus in November 2009.
I was horrified in August of 2002 having to speed up the education of that same daughter at just the age of 11 when two girls around her age were murdered and buried less than a mile up the road from our house. The infamous location of the previous home of Ward Weaver is one that we still drive past every day.
I am physically disgusted to witness the increase of news stories about violence against women in places like India, such as the 2012 brutal gang rape and murder of a 23 year old woman on a bus by six men, including the driver. In a country where martial rape is legal and rape cases have doubled between 1990 and 2008, women are having to take to the streets in protest marches to condemn something as obvious as gang rape being wrong.
I am embarrassed by the fact that I know so many friends and relatives who personally have been physically attacked and abused for simply being women.
I am also ashamed at the unabashed mockery of the First Lady Michelle Obama, driven by her heartbroken compassion from having two of her own daughters, when she posted a picture holding a paper with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls. In a world where just one month ago 276 girls could be kidnapped in Nigeria and sold like mere objects into slavery, that horror is somehow astoundingly ignored and replaced by our petty political attacks against a First Lady because she happens to not be of our own voting party.
Another hashtag, the most popular one currently trending on Twitter is #YesAllWomen. It is a viral, visceral and organic reaction to the Santa Barbara shooter who disgustingly said the college girls deserved to die because they refused to have sex with him.
Whether it can even be proven at this point if he was extremely insane or just mildly delusional, I will refrain from writing here what I really think about him because I simply cannot do it without the most profane expletives possible.
As a man, I live with the worry for my own daughter in such a country where this most recent shooter and his motives could somehow be sympathized with or even remotely justified.
But I am also aware enough to admit that I could never fully understand the degrees of fear or caution that most women experience daily of being abused and sadly, horrifically in many cases come to see those fears become reality.
The thousands of #YesAllWomen posts trending as I write this all serve to highlight the gulf that yet remains between the sexes in 2014 and a partial chance for us men to see things through their eyes. Take a few minutes to read many of them and then read some more.
In the flood of information and news coverage we endure daily, it is natural to fight back against these mass shootings with calls for awareness on gun rights or control, as well as mental illness and treatment.
But I think all of us should be able to take a minute or more from our regularly scheduled soundbites and bullshit debates to agree that it is never acceptable to hit a woman or debase them as mere objects instead of human beings with equal rights in utterly every respect.
You do not have to be a feminist to condemn misogyny and the objectification of women. Or if that is in fact the base tenet of feminism, along with the promotion of their being treated with equal respect and rights, then regardless of conservative or liberal ideology, maybe we should all proudly bear that moniker.
If we cannot stop to agree together on promoting things as basic and obvious as those truths here in first world America, then how can we even begin to imagine we have a right to speak to the tragedies and injustices of third world countries like India and Nigeria?