Recently a 22-year-old man killed his roommates, then shot and murdered a number of women, and wounded others, because he felt he’d been rejected sexually and was furious that he was still a virgin. He called it his “war on women.”
According to LA Times, in a video he made before the attacks (now removed from YouTube) he said: “”I’m 22 years old and still a virgin, never even kissed a girl. And through college, 2 1/2 years, more than that actually, I’m still a virgin. It has been very torturous,” he said. “The popular kids, you never accepted me and now you will all pay for it. Girls, all I ever wanted was to love you, be loved by you. I wanted a girlfriend. I wanted sex, love, affection, adoration.”
It’s like the Montreal Massacre. A man killing women for being women. For not giving them what he wanted. Another tear through our society, our souls. This horrifies me. It should horrify you, too. Men are not automatically owed sex or praise or anything else by women just because they are men. But our culture encourages and promotes the sexualization and objectification of women and girls–and the dominance and “superiority” of men. Still. To this day.
Most women have experienced some form of sexual assault in their lives–many from men they know. At least 1 in 3 girls have been sexually abused or raped, and I think that is a very conservative estimate, given how frightening and hard it is to talk about, and how often people don’t believe a child when they speak out.
Yes, boys are sexually abused, too. But what we’re talking about right now is the misogyny–the hatred of women–that is steeped into our society, so that most young women can’t walk down a street without being harassed, or fearing sexual assault. Where women are expected to put out. Where women are still blamed for rape, and where rapists are still let free and not punished for their crimes. Where girls and women are still considered second class.
If you’re on social media, especially Twitter, you may have seen #YesAllWomen trending. It’s in response to these recent murders, and also to the hatred and violence against women that is such a part of our culture. Gina Dening wrote about this beautifully: “Because every woman has a story about being a victim. Every woman has a story of a time when she needed to decide between fight and flight.” Read her post. It says SO much more–so perfectly.
I also really appreciated and loved Chuck Wendig’s post Not All Men, But Still Too Many Men on how men saying “not all men” are missing the point, and that our society is built on violence against women. We KNOW not all men are rapists or bullies or murderers or child molesters. But for so many women, we have to face or have had to face threats from men all our lives.
I did. I experienced daily and nightly rape by my father, other family members, and his friends. He used me in child porn and child prostitution to gain money and prestige among his friends and among the cult he and my mother were a part of. Rape, abuse, and torture were my normal growing up–for most of my life. I lived in fear and terror. And yet I always fought it.
I argued with my high school sociology teacher, telling her and the class that women were not ever to blame for rape, not even if they walked down a dark alley alone or wore skimpy clothes. I was verbally shot down by my teacher. I fought back against my abusers, always–but also tried to stay alive. I didn’t think I would survive and become an adult–but I’m glad I did. It’s gotten a lot better.
But I still am not comfortable in my body. I still am afraid out on the streets after dark. I still experience harassment as a woman and a lesbian. I am still affected in so many ways by the rape and abuse and objectification I experienced as a child and teen and even later.
So I am thrilled to see #YesAllWomen trending–thrilled to see women speaking out about the violence and harassment they experience, thrilled to see men and women listening, and many responding positively. I believe so strongly in the healing power of bringing painful things to light, of talking about them, and of working to create change. I believe we can make positive change together…even if it takes a very long time. And I still hope for a day when the hatred will end.
It’s what I work towards through my books. Through speaking out on social media. Through the way I live my life. And it’s what I hope you’ll work towards, too. Greater compassion. Equality. An end to the violence and hate. All of us being able to live without fear.
I know. It sounds like a dream far too big, impossible, to happen. But I still hope for it. I have to. I hope you will, too. And I hope you’ll also speak out.
Other YA authors are tweeting and writing about #YesAllWomen:
There are also many articles about #YesAllWomen in the media, including:
and many others.
And you can search for the latest #YesAllWomen hashtags on Twitter.