28 May, 2014
In the wake of the Ilsa Vista killings, that Mark wrote about on Monday, various reactions have percolated into public view. There have been the standard, scripted statements from supporters of gun control and advocates of so-called gun rights. But there was also a statement from Richard Martinez, whose son was killed during the shooting spree. In response to politicians, who had been calling to offer their condolences, he said: “I don’t care about your sympathy. I don’t give a shit that you feel sorry for me."
Then there was the #YesAllWomen mass social media conversation on Twitter. See, the Isla Vista shooter ranted about needing to kill because women wouldn't have sex with him. So women of every stripe poured onto Twitter to share their stories about harassment they experience from men, discrimination they experience in a world tailored for men, and the general experience that all women—yes, all women—are treated badly by men and by society just for being women.
Then you have your reactions to the reactions, which is generally where you can glimpse society quickly binding itself into a concrete edifice erected to memorialize a dying culture in which civilization is actually valued. Rather than quietly reading and considering the witness women had to share through the #YesAllWomen hashtag, many men jumped to defend themselves through a #NotAllMen hashtag. Just the kind of asinine response you'd expect from a bunch of little babies with too much privilege, a keyboard, and a connection to the Internet.
But then, there's a subtler reaction. It goes like this:
"I'm a man, and I acknowledge there are a lot of bad guys in the world. I'm not one of those men, but I want to be in solidarity with women who have to deal with bad men. Women must surround themselves with the good men of the world."
Hey, guys? Hi. Just real quick. That ain't the answer. In fact, you've uttered the very root of the problem. I think this is pretty obvious, but here goes. What women don't need is the reification of a culture in which they must seek out and maintain the protection of men. Your job is not to be some kind of good and valorous knight, ready to leap into action to protect a weak woman at a moment's notice. Did you read the posts trending under #YesAllWomen? Women are fucking strong. And just like Richard Martinez, women don't care that you feel sorry for them.
Men, if you're so great, your work, now, is not to "protect women," but to join in the transformation of society for the benefit of everyone less privileged than you.