Saturday, May 24, 2014
In my various circles of friends, there are a few guys who get me, don't run away at the speech I give people at a certain point, and surprisingly not all of them are 24. And even for these few, things are complicated. Women's liberation is real, and it's something I not only preach but practice. Case in point, I decided to go out with some of my girls last night and this morning, afternoon, whathaveyou, am greeted with a message asking about my activities over the past two weekends.
As a writer and public figure, I get my fair share of trolls and misogynistic messages ranging from laughable or worthy of making an example of to reportable. Messages I get outside of my public life get dealt with in a very different manner. And while I was dealing with this one, I was reading about the terrible tragedy in Santa Barbara that took place at the same time I was out with my friends the night before.
I decided I needed time away from reality, so I called up my BFF and asked if she wanted to go shopping. Silly me for trying to escape reality. Everywhere you look at the mall, there are so many conversation starters and things to mock. But the most disturbing thing we noticed was how many guys were not only checking us out, but checking us out in very disgusting ways. At one point, my friend even looked at one of them and said, "Come at me, bro." And of course, when these types of guys have the rare experience of actually being called out on their ridiculous objectifying behavior, they react with the most extreme immaturity and reinforcement of their embedded misogyny. In this particular case, the reaction was air humping.
So I get home and continue to read about the tragedy in Santa Barbara on social media. Yes, we have a gunsense problem in this country. Yes, we have a mental health treatment problem in this country. But at the heart of this tragedy lies the huge problem we have with women's rights and equality in this country. The heart of this tragedy is the inability of a great number of men to treat women with respect and decency.
This shooter, this vile pig who killed six human beings, was angry at women for not giving him the attention he felt he deserved. The fact he was still a virgin was the fault of women. The fact he was lonely was the fault of women. And right now on the interwebs, there are more than a few individuals expressing sympathy for this shooter.
I always say, you have to find yourself in the issues. In many ways, the issues that shape my reality are the same issues that contributed to the deaths of six people in Santa Barabara. Those guys ogling my friend and I at the mall today probably had no clue who I was but they still saw me as a prop, in the same way so many guys who do know who I am see me. That guy who made the grave mistake of thinking I owed him an explanation of my whereabouts or choice of company might not go on a shooting spree tomorrow, but he has some of the same attitudes of the animal who did.
So, yes. Yes. All women. ALL WOMEN. And I feel very strongly that what needs to happen right now is for all women to join our voices and speak out about our personal experiences.
As I also always say, even in the darkest times there is light. I've been watching men on the interwebs speak out about this tragedy and the attitudes that contributed to it too. When men do decide to treat women as equals and with respect, as real human beings instead of props, life goals, or trophies, they let go of the need to fulfill their own desires and open themselves up to real relationships. When men stand up for women's rights and equality without expectations, they open themselves up to a more promising existence for all of humanity. When men do this for writers, they open themselves up to this:
Hundreds all the same
Sat and waited, wading through
Then they came
The words that once again said everything
I needed nothing
Everything is overrated
Intense days leading to nights of monotony
Broken up by moments of reality
Looking up for shooting stars that don't appear
Then finding them suddenly produced for my amusement
Confidences in a world full of headlines
Celebrations of the things no one celebrates
In a world created to hide
A world made beautiful by darkness
The endangered species that is sincerity
The scarcity of friendship
The worthlessness of worship
The divine found in the undeniable
The liberty of dirty little secrets
There are no fairy tales. The only endings are the ones we create, happy or not. Our individual realities are collective.