#YesAllWomen Should Feel Safe
In response to Friday’s murderous rage by a self-proclaimed misogynist that resulted in the death of six University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) students, the #YesAllWomen hashtag has been trending on Twitter and gaining steam with more than a million tweets over the Memorial Day weekend.
Borrowed from the hashtag #NotAllMen, which has been used as a bad-faith defense and derailment against feminist concerns and issues, the hashtag #YesAllWomen has been a call to arms, a way to show support, and a way to bring attention to a woman’s right to feel safe. Perhaps more importantly, it has been a way for women to share experiences of abuse, intimidation, and humiliation, big and small, at the hands of not only men, but a society that allows and perpetuates the behavior, attitudes and environment that make all women unsafe.
Friday’s senseless tragedy is the result of a crazed 22-year-old man’s deep anger against women because he felt rejected by them. This disturbed man spewed his hatred of women in numerous YouTube videos, online forums, and a 140-page manifesto where he outlined his plans to get revenge by attacking a UC Santa Barbara sorority. “You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it.”
After stabbing his three male roommates, all UCSB students, he went to the sorority for his planned attack, but he was unable to gain entry, so he shot two female students who happened to be walking across the street. Seemingly unsatisfied, he went to a convenience store and began shooting where he killed another male UCSB student and wounded seven others, before taking his own life.
Clearly, this 22-year-old was mentally disturbed, yet, somehow he managed to legally acquire all the guns and weapons he had in his possession that night. Surprisingly, nearly a month before the attack, seven officers knocked on his door to check on him in response to his mother’s concerns over some videos he had posted online. The seven officers never checked his room where they would have found his cache of weapons and writings that outlined his plans. They asked him a few questions outside his apartment and he was able to persuade them that he was not suicidal and all was fine.
There are so many different issues and questions that arise from this one tragedy. Why had this mentally ill young man, whose father was a Hollywood director, never been brought in for treatment? And if he had received treatment, where were the records that should have come up during a background check to keep him from legally acquiring his guns and ammunition? Should the police have done more during their welfare check than ask a few questions? What more could his family have done to get him the treatment he needed?
Sadly, in a society where women are objectified, they make for easy scapegoats in the deranged mind of a 22-year old who is unhappy with his life. Sadly in a society where mental illness is a taboo subject, a deranged young man may never get the treatment he needs, perhaps because of the stigma it carries. And, sadly, in a society where gun rights have a more powerful lobby than human rights or women’s rights, deranged men can legally buy a gun, even if it is to kill women who reject them.
However, we do have the power to share, to educate, and to highlight these problems through social media and that can be the beginning of real change. The Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen brings our voices together and I add my voice to say that #YesAllWomen should have the right to say “no” without fear of repercussion, without fear of rape, abuse, or murder. Unfortunately, #NotAllMen know, understand, or accept that simple notion. Let’s change that.
Martie Hevia (c) All Rights Reserved