Essential Reading in Response to Isla Vista Shooting, #YesAllWomen and Everyday Sexism

College Community Shooting

The news out of UC Santa Barbara this week has been almost too much to bear. But out of tragedy, the Internet has risen like a collective phoenix in support and demand for the end of misogyny and sexism with the #YesAllWomen hashtag storming Twitter. The tragic Isla Vista shooting served as a wake up call to people everywhere that mentalities, like that of which Elliot Rodger possessed, are not extremely uncommon. It also served as a catalyst for a widespread declaration that everyday sexism, whether subtle or outright, is not acceptable.

There have already been so many articles on the motives, the backstory and the ultimate messages that this awful event has delivered to us all as a society lying complacent until tragedy strikes. Here are just a few in response to what’s happened:

Via The New Yorker: The Power of #YesAllWomen by Sasha Weiss

Rodger’s fantasies are so patently strange and so extreme that they’re easy to dismiss as simply crazy. But, reading his manifesto, you can make out, through the distortions of his raging mind, the outlines of mainstream American cultural values: Beauty and strength are rewarded. Women are prizes to be won, reflections of a man’s social capital. Wealth, a large house, and fame are the highest attainments. The lonely and the poor are invisible. Rodger was crazier and more violent than most people, but his beliefs are on a continuum with misogynistic, class-based ideas that are held by many.

And that is why #YesAllWomen is moving and needed. Elliot Rodger earned the fame and infamy he wished for through his act of violence, and now everyone can read about his grotesque ideas. #YesAllWomen offers a counter-testimony, demonstrating that Rodger’s hate of women grew out of attitudes that are all around us. Perhaps more subtly, it suggests that he was influenced by a predominant cultural ethos that rewards sexual aggression, power, and wealth, and that reinforces traditional alpha masculinity and submissive femininity.

Via Slate: The Pick-Up Artist Community’s Predictable, Horrible Response to a Mass Murder by Amanda Hess

Rodger’s language is familiar to anyone who’s spent time exploring the Pick-Up Artist or Men’s Rights Activist communities. Rodger was a “Nice Guy,” a man who feels he is entitled to sex based on positive personality traits known only to him.  (“I’ve wanted love, affection, adoration. You think I’m unworthy of it. That’s a crime that can never be forgiven,” he said). He aspired to be an “Alpha,” the most attractive, dominant man in his group, but felt he’s been wrongly dismissed as an inferior “Beta.” Pick-Up Artists, by the way, refer to women they would like to have sex with as their “targets.”

Rodger was also allegedly a member of, a website for men who feel they’ve been tricked by the Pick-Up Artist pyramid scheme, which takes men’s money and promises to teach them how to have sex with women. (And not just any woman, but one who scores at least a 7 on the PUA decimal rating scale of female attractiveness.) PUA Hate is a community devoted to criticizing the Pick-Up Artist movement and “the scams, deception, and misleading marketing techniques used by dating gurus and the seduction community to deceive men and profit from them.” It is not, however, interested in putting an end to the PUA community’s objectification of women; it simply complains that the tips and tricks don’t work.

Via The Daily Beast: Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds by Arthur Chu

Because, let’s be honest, this device is old. We have seen it over and over again. Steve Urkel. Screech. Skippy on Family Ties.Niles on Frasier.

We (male) nerds grow up force-fed this script. Lusting after women “out of our league” was what we did. And those unattainable hot girls would always inevitably reject us because they didn’t understand our intellectual interest in science fiction and comic books and would instead date asshole jocks. This was inevitable, and our only hope was to be unyieldingly persistent until we “earned” a chance with these women by “being there” for them until they saw the error of their ways. (The thought of just looking for women who shared our interests was a foreign one, since it took a while for the media to decide female geeks existed.The Big Bang Theory didn’t add Amy and Bernadette to its main cast until Season 4, in 2010.)

If you care to go that route, this is The Manifesto of Elliot Rodger via the New York Times: “Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old who the police said killed six people near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, expressed his frustration in an autobiography.”

And here’s an animated map of Twitter’s #YesAllWomen response and a small sampling of the thousands of #YesAllWomen tweets:

#YesAllWomen because ‘I have a boyfriend’ is more effective than ‘I’m not interested’—men respect other men more than my right to say no

Because I’ve already rehearsed “Take whatever you want, just don’t hurt me.” #YesAllWomen

#YesAllWomen because every time I try to say that I want gender equality I have to explain that I don’t hate men.

Men’s greatest fear is that women will laugh at them, while women’s greatest fear is that men will kill them. -Margaret Atwood #YesAllWomen

Because in about 30 states, rapists whose victims choose to keep the baby can get parental rights, like weekend visitation. WTF #YesAllWomen

#yesallwomen because apparently the clothes I wear is a more valid form of consent than the words I say

I repeat: the fact that there are male victims isn’t proof it’s not misogyny. It’s evidence that misogyny hurts men too. #YesAllWomen

Because if I know I will be out til after dark, I start planning my route home hours, even days, beforehand #yesallwomen

The cops who asked me “Well, what were you wearing?” when I reported an attack and attempted rape. #YesAllWomen

Because there is more outrage over whether women can do things (be funny, be president) than the things that are done to women #YesAllWomen

In college, a police officer told us to scream FIRE if we were in danger of being assaulted otherwise people won’t get involved #YesAllWomen

#YesAllWomen Because Robin Thicke is applauded while Miley Cyrus is censored and ridiculed.

Continued reading: Feministing has an extensive list of important feminist responses from various outlets.

Feel free to share your own #YesAllWomen messages as well as links to other articles you found important to conversation in the comments.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong



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