Chances are, if you’ve logged into a social media account the past week/are a human in 2014, you’ve come into contact with the hashtag #YesAllWomen (sparked by the tragic UCSB murders executed by American Psycho rip-off Elliot Rodgers).
Grown women and adolescents around the world have taken to twitter, contributing personal accounts of misogyny and victimization; this is because we understand how our society both influences and embraces sexual entitlement and female possession on behalf of men. The effect of our male-gaze-media is such that it leads to the action of violence (when, clearly, those absorptions coincide with psychosis). Rodgers explicitly declared that the reason for his massacre was because of his hatred for the female population: His narcissism and mental health aren’t exclusive.
Some men feel pissed off about this communication thread. I keep picturing the reactions of male co-stars on the “Deal Breaker” episode of 30 Rock. They were yelling at Liz Lemon for turning their ladies against them and addressing their bad behavior. When I expressed that I face harassment every day, an antagonistic troll tweeted at me “I vote bullshit.” Hey guy: You don’t get a vote on the validity of my life experiences.
Just today I was reading a dispute between comedians Chris D’Elia and Shelby Fero: He was filmed stating that by voicing our own personal history in congruence to the incident, we are trivializing the victims. He didn’t get why mentioning being ogled at in Forever 21 booty shorts has anything to do with the severity of this grim act of cowardice. I get where he is coming from, logically, but as a woman who has struggled with objectification, predatory tactics and total disregard for my humanity, I am compelled to explain in further detail how the two subjects intertwine.
As we’re in the thrust of dehumanization; existing within a digital regime; we have (for the most part) unlimited access to free pornography- where in the click of a button, any horny brute can watch Sasha Grey get ravaged by fifteen men in her first gang bang scene. I can hardly type anything into a search engine without pop-ups of young girls jiggling their asses or bending over. I’ve had to unfollow people on Tumblr because of graphic animated gifs on a loop when I was innocently looking for close-ups of platform sandals. Now imagine that these images are a teenage boy’s first introduction to eroticizing a woman. Now imagine that a power-starved sociopath with screwy wiring comes across this every day of his adolescence. It becomes the norm- and expected. It’s in our faces; it’s Terry Richardson; a repeatedly alleged sex offender who’s received enough popularity that he photographed our president.
A billion-dollar-grossing video game depicts one of the lead character’s daughters with “skank” tramp-stamped across her back, includes torturing prostitutes after sleeping with them, and orders missions of groping strippers/photographing a starlet’s “low hanging muff”. On the contrary, women aren’t allowed to post images that expose a nipple or pubic hair on instagram; so men can be in control of our bodies, but we cannot. Thanks for that!
Don Draper is the go-to example of prestigious manhood in our pop-culture: I cannot imagine how many guys watch Mad Men envying Don’s rampant playboy-ing and justifying their own actions in accordance. (For the record, I love the show and understand the effects of the times he lived in and his backstory).
I’m just as tired of talking about Chris Brown as you are of seeing his name in web fonts, but he literally beat the living shit out of one of our top stars and continued to go on to be nominated for a Grammy. What kind of message does that send? It says “it’s okay” and worthy of accolade.
I was getting pretty livid while reading the wails and woes of twenty-something boys in those anti-pickup-artist chat rooms; those of Rodger’s peers. All I wanted to say was, “Are you fucking serious? Do you know what I have endured from practically every anatomically evolved Neanderthal that has strutted my way since I was teenager? You think you have it hard with the opposite sex?”
This outdated version of Microsoft Word would crash if I were to list every offense directed at me over the years; it is literally impossible for an article, but I’ll shed some light. In my friendship circle, I was always the good girl. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was almost twenty, and looking back, I can see how my distrust of men and their overpowering sexualization of my friends and I from an early age kept me away from physical intimacy. I always felt like I was prey in the eye line of a panther. I found the first boy I kissed in a pool trying to finger my friend. Grown men were always asking me if my tits were fake, which left me rather body-conscious, and I remember one kid shaming me during math class for not being comfortable with giving my first boyfriend a blowjob at that point in our relationship (I was a freshman in high school).
The first time I got really drunk was the summer going into sophomore year (with my friend who was going into ninth); I was throwing up vodka for hours in the bathroom alone while a much older guy I made excuses for took advantage of my teen friend. A twenty-nine-year-old (who lied about his age) was arrested for marijuana in front of me when I was just seventeen: The cops were really concerned that if they hadn’t interjected, he would have hurt me.
Needless to say, my first real love, whom I lost my virginity to after five years of knowing him, stopped talking to me soon after we hit that level of intimacy. I do not have any healthy examples of men who stuck around for the long haul or valued my character for more than a decade. My most serious relationship ended when said boyfriend cornered me in a drunken, verbally abusive tirade, calling me a charity case because I am diagnosed with depression.
Since arriving in Los Angeles two months ago, and after a long dry spell of solitude, I made the decision to try out dating. During this span of time, I was pressured into undressing on camera by an older, married man as he felt me up, was told by someone I asked to have dinner with that they are “only interested in violent, no-strings sex”, had lunch with a fellow who had to leave the café’ we were in because he was so physically aroused sitting in front of me that he had to run out with a brief case over his groin; he literally couldn’t control himself. An artist who was pursuing me for several months scolded me for not sending him the naughty photos he desired (mockingly, I sent pictures of Grandma Winslow from Family Matters and my orange cat in a plastic bag): He kept ordering me to come over his house at 2am as if I were his property. I tried making a coffee date with an actor I thought was hilarious, and learned he is “too busy sleeping with too many girls” to add any more to the queue. A friend I’ve known for seven years told me he’s much more comfortable sleeping with strangers than being with someone he cares about as I stared at the restraints on his bed frame. I invited an old friend out for a stroll, and he sent back a photo of me wearing a tight dress in response and said “let’s do something in the evening sometime”. While compiling this article, I was getting out of my elevator and starting to unlock my front door when a smelly drunk French man who had been flirting with on the ride up ambushed me and asked “Can I grab you?” while he wrapped his arms around my waist, caressing me all over and pressing himself up against me. Where is this coming from? I’m just trying to make a Trader Joe’s potpie and watch Munsters reruns with a gentleman, but apparently such daydreams are unorthodox these days.
Within this same period of time, one of my good friends was date-raped after she had passed out covered in her own puke, and a week later, was assaulted in the back seat of a car by a successful man she and I both have many mutual friends with; he is is in a long-term relationship and scornfully threatened her. This was after having an uber driver fired for begging her to perform oral sex on her. In another case, a stalker was spotted in a friend’s yard with a knife and the authorities were alerted. Currently, I know more women who have been molested, assaulted or raped than those who have not.
So, yeah, online sadists; super fun and easy to be a woman! Not at all scary or distressing! Isn’t it a paradise? We’re all just poolside lounging with our country club boyfriends and diamond tennis bracelets, right? And don’t even get me started on how we are expected to look thanks to product marketing. This stupid box of Multi-Grain Cheerios is leering at me saying “More grains- less you!” as I type this. If you don’t believe there are other men like Elliott Rodger, just look at this article on a day spent in the Pick Up Artist’s Chatroom.
One twitter user called a young lady I follow “an AIDS infested whore” saying “he pissed these feminist off, they must had something crawl up their hairy cunts” in response to her #YesAllWomen commentary. When I jumped to her defense, he goes, “Oh great. Here comes another whore.” Healthy.
Umm. What I wonder is, when did all of this entitlement become ordinary? Is it the fault of Tinder swiping and Craigslist casual encounters? OK Cupid? Should I blame music videos? Maxim magazine?
My grandma thinks it’s too easy now; that there’s no reason for men to settle down because they can get what they want at any time without having to take responsibility. I certainly don’t idealize the Victorian era and being stuffed into a corset, or a Stepford Wife recreation (that Nicole Kidman one was bad enough), but surely there must be an attainable balance between liberation and monogamist companionship!
I identify with feminism. I call myself a feminist. Seemingly, many people have a warped idea of what that entails; they think it means that I hate men. And you know something? I should hate men. I have every reason to. But I don’t. I am more kind and caring and compassionate than most people, and my heart is overflowing with love. I go out of my way. I perform thoughtful gestures for those I care about. I empathize. I see each man’s essence, even when they don’t deserve it. I still put myself out there when I have gotten nothing but grief in return. I forgive. I want to believe. So when we write #YESALLWOMEN: we want to believe; so show us better.
Dylan Farrow’s incredibly personal story of molestation by a public figure caused such a backlash that it still keeps me up at night due to utter disbelief.
I cannot think of examples, especially in situational comedy, that don’t reinforce sexism.
That said, we as humans were designed to be impressionable. Where do you think all of this data gets stored? Do you think it passes by like a fart in the wind? Our collective intelligence is both a coping mechanism and a way for us to reason, to make informed decisions (unlike cattle) hence, the gravity of our information technology. We are constantly given the go-ahead signal when regarding the de-personification of women; that flag is waved. We are taught that women are props first, and (second-class) citizens next.