In the immediate aftermath of last week’s horrific shooting at UCSB, much was made about the shooter’s misogynistic and anti-feminist views. If you haven’t heard/read them, I promise you’re not missing much. By regurgitating his perverted views, we’re just lending his views a microphone. He clearly wanted to get his thoughts in front of a national audience, so let’s do his victims a favor by ignoring the demented ramblings of a homicidal lunatic.
One consequence of the shootings was the response from the feminist community. Many people claim that the shooter’s views were the product of our misogynistic society and culture. I’m of the opinion that an incident like this is more a failing of how our country deals with mental health issues, but if we can use this tragedy as an excuse to talk about improving women’s quality of life, I think that’s a good thing.
As news of the shooting spread, women around the world took to Twitter to express their outrage. Using the hashtag #YesAllWomen, these women offered a clear and disturbing message: while not all men are violent towards women, all women live with the threat of violence on a daily basis. What I read wasn’t really shocking in terms of the anecdotes they relayed, but it was impossible to ignore the fact that every woman seems to have at least one frightening experience.
As a blog primarily geared towards men, I think we have some obligation to address this situation and offer some thoughts. While I’d like to think that the majority of our readers aren’t the type of people who would ever threaten or endanger a woman, I have a feeling that most of us aren’t exactly doing anything to make things better. This isn’t about women’s rights, gender politics, or feminism. It’s about human decency. While there are some feminist issues that definitely have “two sides to the coin,” I’m having trouble finding a logical explanation for someone who would be anti-safety. We all have female family members, and if we could help create a world in which the women in our lives felt more comfortable, why the fuck would we not do that?
If you’re a male reader, I want you to do a little introspection. I know it’s hard, but do it. Have you ever been in a situation in which you made a girl feel uncomfortable, threatened, or unsafe? If the answer is yes, think about why you did that and what you need to do to ensure you never do that again. If the answer is no, have you ever witnessed it or been in a position where you could’ve done something to stop it? If you answered yes to that, but recall doing nothing, I beg you to stop being such a coward.
I’m not just yelling at you; I’m yelling at myself too. Last week, I was walking down to the subway, and right before I got to the stairs, I witnessed the cliche scene of a construction worker harassing two young, attractive girls walking nearby. At first I chuckled to myself, but once I got down to the subway, I saw the girls’ frightened faces. To the girls, there was nothing funny about an imposing stranger yelling inappropriate comments at them. They were totally freaked out, but as it was happening, I just watched and laughed. What would’ve happened had I intervened? Would I have been able to change the perverted views of some disgusting 40-something-year-old construction worker? Eh, probably not. But if nothing else, it’s important to show women that they don’t have to face creeps like this guy alone. I’m always shocked when I hear stories of a guy exposing himself/getting grabby with a stranger on the subway. What blows my mind isn’t that there are creepy men out there who would do such insane shit, it’s that a subway full of people would stand by and do nothing about it.
It doesn’t have to be something as risky as confronting a stranger. One of the more disturbing realizations from searching the YesAllWomen hashtag was how many anecdotes involved people they loved and trusted, such as boyfriends, family members, friends. If you see one of your friends in an abusive relationship, it’s always your business to stand up on behalf of a girl’s mental or physical well-being. That doesn’t make you a bitch, it makes you a human being. And if your friend can’t see that, I’ll go a step further and say that you need to get some less sociopathic friends.
When I started reading some of the feminist responses that have popped up over the past couple days, my initial reaction was to find reasons to reject them. I soon realized it’s because I felt threatened. By dismissing their arguments, I don’t have to feel guilty about doing nothing to remedy the situation. I quickly came to terms with the fact that there is literally zero reason to try and turn this into a debate. There’s no counter-argument to “let’s make women feel safe on the planet Earth.”
We can argue back and forth forever about the claim that some of the content on BroBible isn’t doing everything it can to make the world a more hospitable place for women, but if there’s one thing everyone who works here agrees on, it’s that every woman should have the right to go about her daily life without fearing for her safety. I know that that seems like kinda a “no shit, so do all of us” statement, and one that shouldn’t need a national tragedy to be said out loud, but we’re a website that celebrates bro culture, and obviously, the experience of women in this country isn’t something that we talk about as much as we probably should. Reading some of the male comments and responses on Twitter over the weekend made it clear that while this is something that may seem obvious to most of us, there’s a portion of the male population who don’t share those beliefs. Those guys are what I’d like to call “fucking dicks.” They’re not funny; they’re not smart; they’re bitter, malicious, miserable assholes, and the type of guys who give the rest of us a bad name. While most of these people, I can say with pride, are not the type of people I have in my life, if any of you happen to know a fucking dick, please don’t hesitate to point out what a fucking dick he is.
I know that in the grand scheme of things, a blog post that articulates some pretty obvious generalities about how to treat women won’t do much to change the landscape around the world, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t at least acknowledge the unfortunate circumstances under which so many women live. It’s obviously heartbreaking that innocent people had to die for us to have this discussion, but if it ends up creating a dialogue and making people think twice about the way they treat women in the future, maybe the victims of the shooting won’t have died completely in vain.