Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know about the horrible events of last friday. A misogynistic creep killed a bunch of people, because he believed that women owed him sex and affection, because in his own opinion, he was a terrific guy, an absolute prince. But they didn’t give him what he deserved, and so, he decided to punish them for their “crimes”, and went off on a killing spree.
Seven dead people and a dozen injured ones later, people started reacting. Many women, quite appropriately, pointed out the misogynistic venom of this guy, and how common it is among men. And predictably, tons of men got annoyed at that, and replied saying “Not all men are like that”, and therefore, not all men are responsible.
Yes, we are responsible. We live in this culture. We sit here, day after day, watching this shit, and doing nothing. Because we maintain that we aren’t guilty. Women on the internet are regularly threatened for the crime of speaking, and we sit by and watch, without doing or saying anything about it.
We are part of the problem, because, for the most part, we don’t care. We aren’t the targets of the abuse. We aren’t the ones who can’t walk down the street without getting harassed. We aren’t the ones who can’t speak without being threatened. And so we just don’t care.
When a man like this guy goes out and murders people because of his hatred of women, our main concern isn’t how common people like him are. It’s not how many women are threatened by people like him, or how many women are actually killed by people like him. It’s about how unfair it is that women talk about the kind of hatred they face from men, without making a specific exception for guys like us. What we worry about isn’t the threats they face – it’s how their reaction to being threatened with actual violence hurts our poor, precious feelings.
Yes, it’s all men who are responsible. Let’s face it: we live in a culture where we are the dominant group. If we got together, stood up, and said “We’re not going to tolerate this shit anymore” – if even a decent-sized minority of us were willing to stand up and say it – the hateful assholes would be driven underground. If we stood up and said “No”, and made sure that any shit-headed bigoted woman-hater actually paid some price in standing in our communities, the threats would end.
If we acknowledged that the violent hatred of women was not just a sickness; that a threat to women is a real threat to other human beings that was serious; that those threats are crimes. That the everyday threats against women are more serious that the threats of terrorism that we’ve used to justify war. If we did that, we’d have to admit that we need to do something about it.
But we don’t. We sit and watch, and downplay the threats. We say that they’re not really serious, that’s just how people act on the internet. We say that the threats don’t matter – those fragile women just need to “man up”, and grow thicker skins. And when women die – as they do every day – we just say it was a crazy person, there’s nothing we can do about it.
3000 people died in a terrorist attack 13 years ago. We were so horrified by it that we started two wars, and virtually rewrote our entire legal system, because it was such a horrible, terrifying threat! We needed to do something to protect ourselves from the terrorists!
The men who threaten women are terrorists too. They’re working from exactly the same motivations: the use of fear to control behavior. Men who threaten women are making threats to force women to behave the way they want them to.
We’re willing to make insane sacrifices to protect ourselves from the threats of terrorists. But we’re not willing to sacrifice anything to protect women from other men.
Until that’s not true anymore – until we stand up and say “Enough!”, and make the behavior truly unacceptable – then we are guilty. All of us.