yet another blog post about the isla vista shooting

I guess this is how our nation copes with tragedies now. Hashtags. Twitter monologues. Blog posts.

I wasn’t going to write one, I guess, but then I read this Thought Catalog article and it made me so mad that I had to sit down and explain every reason that it is partially right but mostly horrifically wrong.

In the event that you don’t feel like reading a Thought Catalog article (more power to you), here’s a basic summary:

  • Men commit violence against women because they’re upset, probably.
  • They’re upset because they’re not allowed to express their feelings.
  • “The way we treat men is insensitive.”
  • Women manipulate men because women love sexism.
  • Masculinity is a confusing, restrictive, and generally unpleasant set of standards, whereas femininity is a walk in the park.
  • Plus, poor men are expected to pay for dinner.
  • Anyway, let’s all be more compassionate to each other.

The reason this article got to me, I guess, is that the writer (a woman) is very close to making a very good point. Elliot Rodger did not decide to shoot a bunch of people in a vacuum. And yes, our society’s limited views on masculinity had a lot to do with that decision. Women aren’t socialized into violence the way men are. We’re taught to talk about our feelings and ask for hugs, and perhaps as a consequence, women don’t go around shooting people nearly as often. It’s nice!

But operating within the confines of femininity is just as hard, if not harder, than following the straight and narrow path of manliness. Following the rules of femininity means keeping your head down and saying nothing when a stranger yells “NICE TITS” at you on the sidewalk, because yelling “FUCK OFF” would be rude – not to mention potentially dangerous.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that this writer makes a solid point about gender norms. They hurt men. They hurt women too, which she doesn’t really mention or even acknowledge, but they also hurt men. Fine.

But to carry on and say women are “insensitive” to men? That little boys have fewer opportunities than little girls? That women just don’t let men have a voice in this big matriarchal world of ours? It’s literally insane.

I am tired of being told to feel bad for men. They have a rough time, but women have a rougher time. They put up with some bullshit, but women put up with worse bullshit. They worry that without a hot blonde on their arm, no one will respect them as a man. And then a tiny fraction of them get so worked up about it that they shoot a bunch of people.

We, on the other hand, worry that the guy at the grocery store will feel us up when they’re showing us where the bathroom is. We worry about taking taxis alone. Apparently now we have to worry about getting shot because some lunatic somewhere believes we’ve spurned him just by existing and not having sex with him. And this writer believes that we should also worry a little bit more about the menfolk’s feelings?

I’m sorry, but I have literally run out of fucks to give. I spent all my fucks trying not to get attacked on the way home from the bus stop. I spent all my fucks trying to convince myself that when the middle aged man came on to me in the Starbucks line when I was fourteen, I should have been flattered. If that middle aged man didn’t have enough opportunities to play with Barbie dolls and talk about his feelings, I’m sorry, but that is not my fucking problem. (All kinds of people have shitty coping mechanisms. That doesn’t make it okay to harass girls who aren’t old enough to get their learners permit. Take up gambling or something. I don’t care.)

Do we need to reevaluate the gender models we’re feeding to the next generation? Of course. But if you expect me to feel extra sorry for the male half of that equation, you’re smoking something.

Photo credit: Psycholabs / Foter /Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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