What We Should Really Be Talking About

Someone you barely know asks you out on the date. You are flattered, but you really aren’t interested in them. So what do you do? After all, if you say “no” they may not handle it well. They could stab you in the hallway, go on a mass shooting spree out of Grand Theft Auto V, or make your life a living hell just because you refused that stupid date. As ridiculous as this may sound, it is and has become a reality for a lot of people, especially women.  

Over the past few years there has been an emphasis on being a strong independent male whom also sees others as equals, not belittling others for the gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion. However, for every few fantastically modern gentlemen, there is an ass who thinks women should be thankful he exists and be opening their legs on command for him. And it is men like this that make it difficult to be a female in the modern world. 

Last Friday in Isla Vista, California, Elliot Rodger, 22, attempted to break into and kill several women in a sorority house on the campus of Santa Barbara City College and then fired arms of ammunition at random people in the streets and in a nearby deli before turning the gun on himself. He killed six people. All because no girl at college would sleep with him and he hated the world for it. He also left behind a 140 page manifesto-diary-confessional thing that explained he felt the way he did and did what he did was because he was a “lonely virgin”– he was angry that women wouldn’t have sex with him and infuriated by men whom were having sex. He felt he had something more to offer than these other men and that if women did not see that, then they deserved to be punished until they did. 

While this situation itself is quite insane, it really is some of the reactions that people have to this that are making it worse. Some men out there are arguing that Rodger’s argument against women was actually accurate and that women should be punished for not accepting all men into their beds. Almost as if women have no choice in regards to their bodies and relationships and that we should be overly enthusiastic the moment the first guy asks us to jump in bed with him. Thousands of people– both men and women– face people like this every day. They manifest through both extreme actions– murder, assault, rape– and more culturally accepted ones– stalking, harassment, “cat calling.” Both some of my female friends and myself have experienced these. I had a guy stalk me for two years because I said I wouldn’t kiss him; I had another guy inappropriately grab me in the library at school to prove he wasn’t homosexual (he later did come out as that) and the teacher tell the administrator that I had “initiated it” by wearing a low cut shirt; I had a guy in high school verbally harass me because I refused to sleep with him and he couldn’t understand why; and my senior year I was told by several male friends that I should have been “flattered” and “over-reacted” to when two classmates secretly filmed me in the hallways and made a video saying how their ultimate fantasy was to rape me. And what did all of these situations add up to in my life? A fear to say no to a guy on a date. I went into a panic attack the first time a guy asked me out in my first semester of college– I worried if I said no he too would harm me and cause more damage to my psyche (it later turned out that he was ok with it and I ended up dating my current boyfriend of a year-and-a-half about a month later, but I got to know him before accepting his offer). 

The media has been blaming it on both his lack of sexual contact– as if a lack of sex will drive you to shoot random people on the street– and his mental disorder. But the disorder was being treated and his family was aware of it (a phenomena in a situation like this). When, in reality, this isn’t the conversation this event should be spurring. Rather, we should be talking about where this all really developed. So where does this overly, entitled masculinity that Rodger’s had develop from? Many people are thinking it comes from society and our acceptance of the powerful male stereotype we place on young boys. Whether it is in “nice story babe now go make me a sandwich” mentality or even in the song lyrics of Aloe Blacc’s hit “I’m the Man”, young men are told to repress their emotions and act with brute force (or even violence) when not given what they want. And while there is an argument that not all men are like that– and that is most definitely true– the fact of the matter is that there are too many men whom think like this. Hell, Elliot Rodger alone was one too many of this type of guy. 

So what should we do about this? We need to change our ways of thinking. We need to stop pushing stereotypes and forced gender expectations. We need to stop allowing adult men to believe they are entitled to women at whim and that if the woman rejects them it is something wrong with the woman and should be changed. We need to stop forcing women into a constant fear of what could happen. And I hate that this is so ingrained into our subconsciouses and culture. I shouldn’t be getting up in the morning and thinking: “Well, my boyfriend isn’t here today so is it safe for me to wear a skirt or shorts today? What would be the hardest for a rapist to get off of me and spare me some time to fight?” My parents shouldn’t have had to give me a bottle of pepper spray for “protection” my first week of college my freshman year. Instead of teaching women not to get raped, let’s just say to everyone “don’t rape.” Why not let guys be able to show emotion and even vulnerability? And why not broaden our horizons when it comes to whom and what qualities make “a man”? 

What do you think of this issue? What do you think of the overall larger issue at play as well?