Ever since our April 23 debate "Why Don't I Just Kill You All?", it has been on my mind to write an opinion piece about violence against women. It just happens that the issue exploded across the
news with the #YesAllWomen twitter campaign in the wake of the shootings in California. Prior to our debate, in the comment section, one of the attendees joked that we'll "have to find a non
violent way to kill any of the women" and added that "sources close to the government have told me that once violence against women has been stamped out the campaign is going to be expanded to
eliminate violence against children and men as well." This point was brought up during the debate, with the repeated argument being that a man is three times as likely to be a murder victim than
a woman, with the conclusion that a campaign to end violence against women is both sexist and offensive to a non-violent man.
While the discussion swirled around the violent tendencies of men versus women, a very informative debate considering the central topic of what might cause a person to be violent or not, the most important response to Lee was very quickly and clearly made by another attendee. To paraphrase her, she stated that the point is that woman are very often hurt because they are women and that is what the campaign to end violence against women is about. She pointed out that there is a real mindset out there that it is okay to beat, rape or dispense other forms of harm on a woman and that is a mindset that needs to be challenged and changed. Just like racist attitudes that are passed on from family and community institutions, our general society has found value in working to eradicate views that lessen the equal personhood of any person. There is, in fact, a very strong campaign to end violence against children, as well as many other marginalized groups. Violence is of course wrong, we understand that because we believe in doing to others as we would have done to us. However, way too many people make other people less than them because of their gender, race, lifestyle, ect. and therefore, justify violence against them, because those individuals aren't really full persons like them.
Women happen to be the largest group of people who are victims of violence because of who they are. It would be great of anyone taking the time to read this to pause for a moment and think about what that means for a woman. I'm guessing that most of the women who took that pause thought about the times they have encountered serious pain and felt helpless, or the many times they have made themselves submissive and passive to avoid confrontation and getting themselves into a situation where they might get into trouble. Really pause and think how much differently women have to act than men and the very unique training they have to survive and hopefully thrive in our culture. That is the pause and expression of thought that is the #YesAllWomen twitter campaign.
Yesterday, another member of Hungry Minds, posted on his facebook page an interesting editorial on the twitter campaign by Barbara Kay of the National Post. After quoting the shooter's rant against women, Kay says that if his hate would have been focused on another minority or typical victim group that the focus would have been on that group just as quick. She argues: "We're all manic on the crime of negative stereotyping when it comes to every single identity group other than heterosexual males." She adds to her point that the killer was "the son of an abusive father from a patriarchal culture, hated women, but he represented no cause, no movement, no principle, nothing but his own deeply disturbed self." She says that "the ensuing White Ribbon campaign and the prevailing moral panic about domestic violence as a pervasive cultural scourge genetically linked inherent male tendencies was fermented by feminism-inspired links between [the killer's] crime and the alleged potential of any male to become a [killer]." Aside from shaking my head over her obvious attempt to cite feminism as a negative source for any thought, by putting the focus on the perpetrator rather than the victim, I think she has missed the entire point. #YesAllWomen shows the reality women have to live with. The majority of men do not think that harming women is okay, but way too many do. And all the men who don't should be flaming feminists until they have done all they can to eradicate the reality women have to live with. To look at this and wonder why women have such a special campaign when men don't have the same shows the blindness that comes from privilege, from not having to live the reality and not stopping to think what it must be like. This should be truly offensive to a non-violent man.