Yesterday brought news of another terrible mass killing tragedy in the US. Another incident in an all too frequent series of mass murders, this was different and especially appalling in being a targeted and premeditated slaughter of women for being women.
Much could and should be written about what this means and what it says about society, but Chuck Wendig has posted a particularly insightful piece on his blog. It’s well worth a read for the sharpness of the perspective and the depth of empathy:
Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. This is his blog. He talks a lot about writing. And food. And the madness of toddlers. He uses lots of naughty language. NSFW. Probably NSFL. Be advised.
‘Not All Men, But Still Too Many Men
A young man felt spurned by women and shot people because of it. He drove up and fired a weapon out of a BMW and committed murder, leaving behind a video and a manifesto about his rage against women. He felt rejected by them. He was reportedly a follower of MRA (Men’s Rights Activism), which is a group of men who are upset because they feel they have an unequal set of rights in a few key areas, which is a lot like a rich guy who is mad at a homeless guy because the homeless guy is standing in his favorite patch of sunlight. (The term “men’s rights” is roughly analogous to the phrase “white power,” and equally creepy.) Yes, we can talk about gun rights and mental health issues because neither are properly addressed in this country. But we also need to talk about the entitlement of men and the objectification of women.
Most of the men who read this blog are, I hope and assume, not entitled piss-bags who think that they are owed affection by women, as if that’s the role of women in this life, to be willing and charitable receptacles for our urges. To be punching bags and accessories. To reiterate and sound the horn just the same: women don’t owe you anything. Whether you’re an alpha male or a wanna-be alpha, some faux bro-dude bad-ass or some repressed alley-dwelling CHUD, it matters little. I don’t care who you are; your maleness does not entitle you to anything.
You may have been told otherwise.
Culture wants us to think that. That being a guy comes with a rider like we’re Van Halen demanding a fucking bowl full of green M&Ms or some shit, but I’m here to tell you, that isn’t true. It’s a myth. You’re entitled to nothing, and yet, ironically, you’re born with this pesky thing called privilege. And sure, someone out there is already mad I’ve invoked that word, that being a dude is hard on its own and privilege is an illusion and blah blah blah something about divorced men and prostate cancer, but just remember that the men go on dates thinking they won’t get laid, and women go on dates thinking they might get raped, punched, maybe killed. Remember that as a man you can say all kinds of shit and add “lol” at the end of it and nobody gives a shit, but as a woman anything you say might be interpreted as antagonistic and end up with rape threats or death threats. Remember that any seemingly safe space — train station, bookstore, social media, city park — is an opportunity for a man to catch a train or read a book, but is also an opportunity for a woman to be the subject of threat or sexual violence.
Remember that men get paid more, get to do more, get to be more.
I understand that as a man your initial response to women talking about misogyny, sexism, rape culture and sexual violence is to wave your hands in the air like a drowning man and cry, “Not all men! Not all men!” as if to signal yourself as someone who is not an entitled, presumptive fuck-whistle, but please believe me that interjecting yourself in that way confirms that you are. Because forcing yourself into safe spaces and unwelcome conversations makes you exactly that.
Instead of telling women that it’s not all men, show them.
Show them by listening and supporting.
Show them by cleaning the dogshit out of your ears and listening to their stories — and recognize that while no, it’s not “all men,” it’s still “way too many men.” Consider actually reading the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter not to look for places to interject and defend your fellow men, but as a place to gain insight and understanding into the experiences women have. That hashtag should serve as confirmation that women very often experience the spectrum of sexism and rape culture from an all-too-early age. Recognize that just because “not all men” are gun-toting, women-hating assholes fails to diminish the fact that sexism and rape culture remain firmly entrenched and institutional within our culture.
Because if your response to the shooting is to defend men (or worse, condemn women) instead of speaking out against this type of violence and attitude, then you best check yourself.
This isn’t the time to talk about nice guys. Or friend zoning. Or men’s rights. Or rejection.
This isn’t the time to ride up as standard-bearers for the realm of menfolk.
You have privilege, so use it. You’re not a white knight, but if other men try to objectify women or talk down to them — step up or walk away. If you have a son, teach him about consent and drive home the point that the 100% of the fault in a rape case is on the rapist, not the victim. Help other men — you, your children, your friends — reach a place of empathy.
This isn’t about you. Don’t derail. Don’t pull that mansplaining bullshit.
Shut your mouth and don’t speak over them.
Open your ears and listen.
Open your eyes and see.
Thus endeth the lesson, gents.’