Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Soap Box I Stand On

Let me preface this by saying that if you know me, you know that I work very hard to live in a very naive bubble in life. One where hate doesn't exist on such a violent scale and where all people are treated equal regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, skin color, or socioeconomic background. See? Pretty damn naive. Especially given the topic of conversation lately.

If you've been living under a rock (or in a naive bubble), you might not have heard about the Isla Vista attacks, where a very disturbed young man who espoused his hatred not just for women, but for everyone living a better life than him, went on a killing spree, taking the lives of six people and wounding 13 others. As a result of his misogynistic rants about women, the conversation #YesAllWomen began on Twitter and across social media, outlining the daily struggle women have against gender inequality.

First, I'd like to say that I do think that this conversation needs to be had. Women deal with sexism every day. Just like homosexuals deal with homophobia. Just like people of pretty much any skin color deal with racism. Just like poor people and rich people alike deal with socioeconomic prejudices. It's all disheartening and sickening to see these daily struggles laid out. It's enraging. Something needs to be done.

But is this tragedy really the platform on which to do it? I feel like this horrible occurrence--one where men and women alike were targeted by hate and killed--is being overshadowed by this hashtag. And moreover, I feel like it is the wrong hashtag to associate with this event. This didn't happen because our society encourages gender inequality. This happened because our society encourages hate. See someone driving a nicer car than you? Mommy and Daddy must have bought it for them. See a person using foodstamps in the grocery store? They must be lazy pieces of shit that do nothing to contribute to society. See a black kid in a hoody walking in your neighborhood? Better shoot them before they shoot you.

Our society today, especially with the internet allowing us to be so heavily involved in one another's lives and the lives of people we don't even know like celebrities, encourages that jealous spark of hatred. That sense of entitlement. You might not want other people to have access to things like free healthcare, foodstamps, and financial aid for college, but if you get laid off and can't find a job no matter how hard you try? Well, you must be the exception to the rule. You are different and better.

But that's the thing we need to address--this idea that one person can be better than another. That one person deserves more than the other for whatever reason--gender, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, skin color, religion, political views, sexual orientation, etc. The list goes on and on. Until we ALL start looking at one another as human beings deserving of the same thing, then these problems will continue.

I'm not trying to diminish what people (yes, people--it's very encouraging to see men speaking up with this hashtag too) are saying with #YesAllWomen. These are real problems that real women face every day. But instead of focusing on the symptoms, I'd like to see us start a real conversation about the disease: Hate. Because that's what it all boils down to. Whether someone is sexist, racist, homophobic, what have you, the root cause is hate. These are all problems that add up to a larger whole, and until we address that in our society, it is never going to change.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to step off of my soap box and back into my naive bubble.


  1. I do agree with what you're saying. All of these different struggles - gay rights, feminism, etc. - are all the resort of the same thing. For me personally, the intent of sharing to the hashtag wasn't to single out men (because, as many times as I've felt threatened by men, there are many, many more men in my life - family, friends, roommates, coworkers, bus drivers - who I know have my back) but to point out that, yes, these things happen. Every day. And they're not isolated. I think most of the people using the hashtag to point these things out realize that it's not just limited to women, but they did want others to realize that when half of your population feels victimized on an alarmingly regular basis...well, that's sort of a problem. (And, really, it's WAY WAY WAY more than half when you take into account the LGBT community, people of other races, people of other religions, and so on.)

    As far as the timing goes...yeah. It's not a good time. But my opinion is, when is it ever going to be a good time? The very nature of something like hate is that it's inconvenient. So, realistically, there's never going to be a good time to talk about sexism. There's never going to be a good time to talk about anti-Semitism. There's never going to be a good time to talk about racism. Because until we face the fact that these things are real and prevalent, it's never going to be a good time to talk about them, period.

    1. "Because until we face the fact that these things are real and prevalent, it's never going to be a good time to talk about them, period."
      I agree, and I think that's what really gets to me so much. We need to make the topic of what our personal prejudices and hates put people through every day, and what it all breeds, a topic. We need to face this off if we ever have a chance of society getting better for any of the people that get victimized on a daily basis or live in fear of being victimized. #YesAllWomen is a start to that by showcasing a very uncomfortable and ugly side of society, but I guess I am ready for more.