Sincere thoughts of a woman regarding the shooting in Santa Barbara

My good friend, a woman, gave the news about the Santa Barbara shooting. I could not help but to feel even more nauseous than I already did as I read the description of the crime. A man driven by hatred, hatred towards women. That isn’t the first crime exposed by media that involves the same motive, but it’s certainly an extremely shocking one. There are many characteristics that make this crime stand out, and I believe that we can all agree that the manifesto written by the killer is particular terrifying.

“All I ever wanted was to fit in and live a happy life amongst humanity, but I was cast out and rejected, forced to endure an existence of loneliness and insignificance, all because the females of the human species were incapable of seeing the value in me.” 

Women are taught from early on that they should please the men in their lives, starting by their parents, knowing they need to honor and respect their authority, obeying, remaining chaste. Women are taught to lower their voices, that they are more sensitive, that they need protection, and that their source of protection and love comes from the men in their lives. Women learn from early on that saying no and being accretive are inappropriate behaviors, that kindness should be inherent for a woman, that behaving properly is more than necessary – it is an obligation. Women learn that being feminine and being submissive are exactly the same. A little girl taking on a leadership position is criticized and made fun of, not to mention called bossy. As they grow up, these women are often called “bitches”.  Most importantly, we are not taught to trust other women in our lives. Men first, pleasing men first, OBEYING, earning their approval. 

Men are taught, every day by the men in their lives and by media to see women as INFERIOR. They are WEAKER, they are emotional which somehow is considered a sign of weakness, those who are focus on their appearance are superficial, the ones who never do are considered worthless. Women should not be stupid, but they should not be smarter than you either. Women who are physically strong are seeing and unfeminine and unattractive. Media flaunts criticism regarding celebrities’ appearance, we are bombarded by messages of how women should look, behave, take care of their body, speak, think and even remove their body hair. Men are taught that women are the protectors, that women are the attentive ones, the care takers and those who should be attentive to details. Men are supposed to work hard, earn the bread, enjoy their freedom, use reason and never their emotions and of course, be granted sexual favors by women who are there looking attractive for his own viewing pleasure. Men are also taught that their worth comes from how many women they can seduce. Their masculinity measured by how many sexual partners they manage to have. And what man wants to be “friendzoned” nowadays? There is nothing more demeaning than being a mere friend to a woman. It is mortifying.

Everything in our sexual education (formal or not) revolves around the male parts. Everything in our teenage years revolves around reading magazines, watching movies and reading books that teach us women that we need to learn what pleases men from the way we look, to the way to kiss and the way we perform oral sex to pleasure their bodies.

Why am I saying all this? Many people claim that this is not a crime of hate and that the killer was mentally ill and therefore, feminism has nothing to do with this, but is that really true? TO WHAT POINT IS THE PATRIARCHAL SOCIETY GUILTY OF WHAT HAPPENED TO THOSE VICTIMS? To what point is the media responsible to what happened?

If there are men out there who are not considered mentally ill but are out there beating their wives, abusing their girls, harassing women, catcalling, sexually assaulting, objectifying and humiliating, then why is this one man allowed to hide on the excuse of mental illness? No one believes he was a stable person, that much is correct, but his hatred has been impacted by society’s view on women, supported by society’s hatred towards women.

As I sit on my computer and skim through social networks I see posts from people I follow and know making fun of women, I see men writing about the “hoes” that cannot be trusted and how they should behave. I see a young man, younger than myself, writing that a woman should stay home and behave herself if she wants to be treated as a human being. This young man, I am sure,  would deem what happened in Santa Barbara as “horrible” and “sad” and yet this man and many other I know blatantly advertise their despise regarding women who don’t stay true to their standards.

I fear for myself every day and for the women I spend time with. I fear for the little girls that come to the store and the little boys that are censured when they like stuffed animals, pink or anything deemed as girly. Being feminine is considered so offensive that the idea of seeing a little boy doing or liking anything that is not strictly masculine is offensive to most people who I see and meet daily. Most of these people however, don’t seem to think as they immediately reject or criticize those little boys. Some of them don’t think that liking something “girly” is bad, but they know other people will judge their children. “It’s better if we stick with the boys’ stuff.”

It is our responsibility to make sure we won’t raise men to become women haters. It is our RESPONSIBILITY to end the GENDER ROLES that are so deeply rooted in our lives. It is our responsibility to look at what is happening around us and take notice that THERE NEEDS TO BE A BIG CHANGE IN HOW WOMEN ARE PORTRAYED AND REPRESENTED.

We need to look at what happened in Santa Barbara with clear eyes. No more “Blurred Lines”, no more victim blaming, no more women hatred and no more objectification of women. It is time for us all to take a step forward and avoid more Elliot Rodger to arise.

Update: A couple of friends (ladies) and I were walking out of the train downtown just an hour ago. A man cat calls us. I tell him to cut it out. He insists several times even if we tell him to stop and get away from us. He starts yelling at us and saying how much of a nice guy he is and how women should want him, that we should not reject him. He goes on with obscenities, humiliation, until we escape and I find a cop (who didn’t really give a shit about us but at least the man stopped harassing us).

I guess my post was not too far off then.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Join the Conversation