Gender Based Violence

Why We Need #YesAllWomen

I take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one, the true alpha male.
-Elliot Rodger’s Retribution

Just before the Isla Vista Killings on May 23, 2014, assailant Elliot Rodger posted a video on his YouTube channel that outlined his plans to punish the women who “have never been attracted to [him]”, which he dubs “an injustice [and] a crime”. With a Glock 34 pistol, two SIG Sauer P226 pistols, two machetes, a hammer and knife in tow, Rodger actualized his “War on Women” by stabbing three male students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and committing a series of drive-by shootings, killing two women and one man in the process.

Why did this “War on Women” break out? Rodger was frustrated that women didn’t want to date or have sex with him and desired to live up to his self-proclaimed “true alpha male” status, a status that apparently can only be achieved by having sex with or shooting women. His classification of romantic or sexual rejection as an “injustice” or “crime” deserving of retribution reflects a dangerously narrow notion of “masculinity”, which no doubt fostered a false sense of entitlement that translated into violence.

In the wake of these killings, calls for mental healthcare improvements have been renewed, yet, grossly overlooked is the reality that this senseless Santa Barbara massacre and its roots are also symptomatic of a wider cultural epidemic – normalized violence against women in a misogynistic social climate. Violence against women has reached pandemic proportions, and the universal nature of gender-based violence is underscored in the Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen, which has offered people of both genders across the world a forum for discussion about the impacts of misogyny and the ramifications of failing to recognize these discriminatory attitudes.

#YesAllWomen has provided a medium for impassioned tirades against gender-oriented violence, a norm that has for too long, been perpetuated. This prolongation is evidenced by, among other things, the fact that it is 2014 and we are still having a debate on Twitter about whether women should consent to unwanted sex with a stranger or dating partner, the fact that despite extensive education about sexual violence there is never any doubt whether a man means “no” when he says it, and the fact that rape survivors are stigmatized yet some rapists are lionized. From this, it’s easy to conclude that gender inequalities still abound everywhere, our society has failed to curb these inequalities, and that perverse cultural expectations must change for the better.

The 1,200,000+ tweets under #YesAllWomen are incontrovertible proofs that violence against women is not endemic to specific regions – it is a problem that occurs everywhere and must be stopped. Although only a minority of men can be called “rapists” or “perpetrators”, all women have to deal with workplace sexual harassment, “casual” rape jokes, or anxieties about getting shot, assaulted or beaten when they reject prospective dating partners.

That only a few men are rapists – which is the basis for #YesAllWomen’s criticism – cannot be used as an excuse to ignore or deny the fact that universally, women are subjected to gender-based violence. It also cannot be used as a bargaining chip to put the blame of violence on women. Violence against women and girls is never, ever a woman or girl’s fault. It is also never, ever something that women or girls should be ashamed of or receive negative judgment for. Instead of teaching women how to dress and be safe, society must teach men that violence against women in all its forms is an egregious violation of human rights and is never, under any circumstances, acceptable.

#YesAllWomen’s message is a call to action: to bring to the fore that violence against women is never justifiable, to declare that women never have to owe anyone access to their bodies, to put an end to longstanding discrimination that sees women vilified and attacked based on the clothes they wear, the makeup they apply or the sheer fact that they are women. Jimmy Carter’s words capture #YesAllWomen’s philosophy for change:

The abuse of women and girls is the most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on earth.

Are you ready to address and prevent these appalling human rights violations?

Let’s not allow flawed logic and silly excuses to stop us from having important conversations about gender-based violence. Let’s not silence the women who want to come forward and share their experiences with misogyny and assault. Let’s not perpetuate violence against women by turning blind eyes to behavior that dehumanizes women and makes them inevitable targets of rape and abuse. Instead, let’s ignite positive action to challenge and change the harmful laws and practices that condone sex-directed violence.

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Category: Gender Based Violence
Tagged with: #EndVAW    #TimeToAct    #YesAllWomen    gender based violence    Rights    VAW    violence    Violence against women
  • Such a well written post Megan! It really brought the issues relating to VAWG and why gender based violence should be an issue of the highest priority to combat. I really, really loved it!

    • Megan Foo

      Hi June – thank you so much for your supportive and encouraging comment! Addressing and stopping VAWG should indeed be one of society’s foremost objectives, and more conversations about gender-based violence should be encouraged.

  • the media fosters an image, some of those with weak minds believe every iota, they over re act, it’s far better to walk away, there is no war, it’s purely a spiritual effort to turn everyone into self seekers and not givers, fine post, amen

    • Megan Foo

      Hi and thanks for visiting Girls’ Globe! Mass media has the potential to perpetuate violence against women (thanks to a pervasive “sex sells” mentality), yet we can reverse this and leverage media to create positive change that not only raises awareness of gender-based violence, but also puts an end to it.

  • It really is a shame that these movements are based on so much false information. The media & activists have some how spun this crime into some kind of war on women ignoring some pretty blatant facts.

    Forget the fact he killed 4 men along with those 2 women. Forget the fact he was physically, mentally, and emotionally assaulted by his peers (both male and female). Lets also forget that he hated everyone and lets focus on his hang ups with women. Then to add insult to injury all these “sources” come out that make women out to be under constant attack. Thus demonizing all men as possible attackers.
    From Huffington Post to The Guardian. You have all these people in such an outrage that they have no clue what they are actually outraged about.

    It got to the point I went and did my research, went through the facts and wrote an article on my own conclusion of this War On Women and Rape Culture. In my opinion its mostly media hype.

    • Megan Foo

      Hi! Thanks for visiting Girls’ Globe and sharing your opinions in our comments section.
      While I do agree that Elliot Rodger “hated everyone”, misanthropy and misogyny are not mutually exclusive, and his manifesto clearly demonstrates his salient hatred for women, especially in lines like “Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with. That decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence”, and “Women are like a plague. They don’t deserve to have any rights” and “Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals, and they need to be treated as such” (p136 of The Manifesto of Elliot Rodger). Rodger was also a member of and frequent contributor on various women-hating forums. So the 2014 Isla Vista Killings were not just bred of mental illness or disorder, they stem from social views that tolerate violence against women.
      I also disagree with your idea that social media activism has treated the killings as a type of war against women. I, and other op-ed writers, used Rodger’s exact words when when we wrote that Rodger launched a “War against Women”. In his manifesto, Rodger wrote: “I will arm myself with deadly weapons and wage a war against all women and the men they are attracted to” (p101). In Rodger’s mind, it’s not just “some kind of war on women” – it IS a “war on women” that he actualized.
      I’d just like to clarify that when I write that women may be “under constant attacks”, I am not saying that all men are necessarily involved, or demonizing men for that matter. As my article states, only a minority of men can be branded “rapists”, but the problems of violence against women, and the jokes that lead up to it, are very universal ones.
      The more important issue at hand is that violence against women pervades every society, and that we must positively change this. What social media and hashtagging has achieved is raising awareness levels and initiating discussion on gender-based violence – a norm too often swept under the rug and ignored in conversations. Instead of ignoring the facts, we should acknowledge the magnitude of violence against women and be part of the solution.