My 2 Cents: UCSB Massacre
Everyone is reading about it, posting about it, and many have an opinion about it. At first I felt that there is enough back and forth concerning Elliot Rodger’s mass killing at UCSB I didn’t need to comment. However, I have since come to understand that this act of violence is going to have much wider reaching effects than I originally thought. In deciding to do a post on this tragedy I thought it best first to do research on the subject. I’ve watched the videos, read the news reports, read other blogs, and visited #yesallwomen.
One thing that struck me when reading some of the tweets from #yesallwomen was the recurring comments about how it is easier to reject a mans advances by just saying, “I have a boyfriend or I’m married.” because as Amanda Hess wrote in her article, Why is it so Hard for Men to See Misogyny, “. . .aggressive men are more likely to defer to another man’s domain than to accept a woman’s autonomous rejection of him.” It got me to thinking about how much of my life has been overshadowed with the concept of needing “protection” because I am female.
My earliest memory is of my mother telling me not to go anywhere alone . . .ever. This became a mantra in my household. My mother a beautiful woman was single with 3 daughters. Yet I never saw her date or have male friends. My mom told me it was for the best because she didn’t know who she could trust. I didn’t understand what she meant until I was 12 years old and my doctor decided to give me a “breast exam”. I knew this was wrong and shot my hand up to stop him but he grabbed my arm and forced it back down. I never told my mother because I finally understood what she was so fearful about and I didn’t want to upset her. Luckily we moved soon after and I never saw that doctor again. I have since wondered how many other “breast exams” he gave and if he ever went farther than that.
I grew up to be quite independent. I loved nature and hiking, camping, ropes courses, rappelling etc. Things that required me to challenge myself but did not require me to defeat others in the process. But I never did any of this alone. Even after I grew into a woman I was bombarded with the ceaseless warnings of “Never do anything alone.” One night some friends and I were sitting around a campfire and they were talking and the question came up. “Would you rather be a woman or a man?” I instantly said “man” because I would love to just be alone without fear for once. Even in my own apartment I slept with a knife between my mattresses and became a very light sleeper. To be able to hike alone without fear. To be able to travel alone without fear. To be able to go into a bar, pool hall, to the movies, a restaurant, a concert, a party alone!! Without fear! How beautiful that would be? To be one with nature alone and undisturbed and NOT also be afraid. I wonder how many more places I could have gone, how many more things I could have experienced, how much more life I could have lived. . . if I were a man. Now I realize that “If I were a man” is incorrect. It should be, “If I were allowed to be unafraid.”
Addendum: I am in no way blaming the people who were trying to protect me. I blame the people they needed to protect me from.