SPEAKING OF GENDERED VIOLENCE

*Trigger warning* - sexism, gendered violence, sexual assault

Do you know four or more women? Though you may not know about it, the chances are that one of those women has experienced sexual assault in her lifetime.

Sexual assault- ANY unwanted attention or contact without consent including touching, grabbing, kissing, sex of any kind, and sexual attention or contact with a child whether consensual or not. - SASCWR, Sexual Assault Information Package

Following last week’s events in Santa Barbara, a surge of #YesAllWomen tweets have hit the internet. For those who haven’t yet seen this, #YesAllWomen is a response to the shootings by Elliot Roger on Friday, which killed six people and injured another thirteen before turning suicidal. #YesAllWomen responds with thoughtful language in order to address the reality that no, not all men are misogynist yet all women have to deal with misogyny in their everyday lives.

An example of a tweet:

Multiple sources have been discussing these events in the context of a culture of toxic masculinity. If you think this means that men are toxic, think again. Toxic masculinity describes the social construction of masculinity ( a gender role) as violent, aggressive, unemotional, etc. This construction of masculinity is toxic because it can lead to gender-based violence, sexual assault, and viewing women as objects or property. This is the culture we live in, and though many young men break from the mold, it’s important to recognize that our culture perpetuates this construct making it increasingly difficult for both women and men to express masculinity in other ways.

Viewing women as objects or property may seem like a ridiculous notion, but how many times have you said or heard someone say things like “She’s mine”, “He always gets the girl”, “Take her home”, etc.? Having a sense of entitlement to women’s bodies when combined with a culture of toxic masculinity can, in the most extreme cases, lead to lethal expressions of emotion and frustration. Whether Elliot Roger did or did not struggle with mental illness should not be the focus of discussions about this violent event. Considering the ways toxic masculinity in our culture shaped his actions is a far more productive starting point.

At LSPIRG, we feel that opening up a safe space where people can dialogue about their experiences with violence, sexism and gender norms is key to helping stop gendered violence in our community. Recognizing each other as intelligent, consenting individuals who are equally capable of both giving and receiving love, respect, and affection is what we’re all about. This is why we contributed to the discussion-- because #yesallwimmin (and all men!) have a safer space in the LSPIRG office.

*wimmin - an alternative spelling of women used to queer the language, challenge gender norms, and encourage inclusivity.