They are writhing and dying and burning.
They are not here to be pretty.
I am trying to learn from them. "
from my book, which can be purchased here:
from my book, which can be purchased here:
By Dominique Ehmig
By now, most Americans exposed to the media are aware of the Isla Vista massacre that occurred last Friday, May 23. For those who haven’t yet heard, in the early hours of the evening, a shooter* opened fire outside the Alpha Phi sorority house on campus at University of California, Santa Barbara. He then continued to drive recklessly around the area, shooting at civilians in other locations. The events eventually led to a police chase that culminated in the shooter’s body being found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Altogether, the killer shot two people at the sorority house and one at a nearby deli after he had stabbed his three roommates to death inside their apartment.
While it goes without saying that this is a heartbreaking and tragic event, there is a particular element of this rampage that distinguishes it from other mass shootings — the motives, detailed in disturbing detail in a 137-page manifesto, as well as a video posted to YouTube. In these two manifestos, the shooter explains his outrage that he had lived his life rejected by females and laments being a virgin at the age of 22. Furthermore, he goes on to explain his desire to exact revenge on every female of the world, as well as the men they chose over him. He describes himself as the “supreme gentleman” and other men as brutes; he seemingly cannot wrap his head around the concept of being told no by a woman. This factor is what makes this rampage especially important. It is the male self-entitlement and lack of understanding regarding bodily autonomy that led the shooter to enact his terrible revenge.
While watching the shooter’s manifesto, one cannot help but notice the similarities between his supposed logic and that of male rights activists (MRA). Any champion of the feminist movement has encountered an MRA; while previously an annoyance and almost a running joke of the feminist community, the superiority and misogyny of MRAs has led to the deaths of 7 people — in this case alone. Essentially, the ideals that male rights activists support are not actual improvements to problems men face due to the patriarchy; rather, they are fueled by hatred for the women who put them in the “friendzone” or, in simpler terms, have no interest in them romantically. This lamentation of loneliness is nothing more than rotting in the attitude that all women owe them sex. This attitude, however, is not solely espoused by MRAs. Rather, it is horrifyingly rampant amongst most men (MRAs are just more overt in their chauvinistic ideals). Males raised in our patriarchal society have been coached into a sense of entitlement so supreme that rejection leads to disastrous results.
According to the logic of many cisgender males, all women owe them their time, their love, and their bodies. Rejection of any form is not permitted, and should it occur, violence and outrage is an appropriate answer. This flawed logic removes any sense of ownership women have over their own bodies and lives, reducing us to machines that serve little purpose other than sex. Furthermore, in some cases, such as that of the shooter, the male makes no forward advances or sign of interest; women are, by this logic, expected to be throwing themselves at every male they encounter. This whole concept seems ridiculous, yet it is one in which we currently live. The shooter is a manifestation of this war waged on women, and the consequences of his mindset demonstrate patriarchy’s harms to both men and women, as he gunned down any who stood in his path — regardless of their gender.
Even in light of this tragedy, there are still those quick to deny any misogynistic elements relating to the crime, regardless of the blaringly obvious evidence. The shooter was disturbed and mentally ill. There are a plethora of banal attempts to excuse his actions. Yet very few seem to acknowledge the facts — that he was a misogynist, the product of a patriarchy that raised him to be so.
Females should be able to say no to a date and not fear for their lives. We should be able to decide who receives our affection — and who does not. We should not be called “bitches” or “sluts” when male egos are damaged because we have no interest in them. There should be no coercion that affects our decision to have sex with a male, and most of all, we should be able to exist in a society that does not regard us as a disposable means of reproduction. It is the lack of these necessities that illustrate why the term “friendzone” must be eradicated, why male entitlement must come to an end, and why the true purpose of feminism — to create a safe society for all genders — must be understood.
*The Siren Magazine refuses to identify the shooter by name; he deserves no fame and recognition. Such things motivated his crimes and are exactly what he craved. Our deepest apologies and condolences go out to the families and friends of those killed or injured in these horrific attacks.
In light of the Emerald’s anti-sexual violence PSA released on May 12, we at the Siren Magazine, the only feminist publication on campus, feel the need to share our thoughts regarding the video and its implications.
Siren editor Sophie Albanis wrote this letter to the editor of the Daily Emerald in response to the anti-sexual violence PSA they released on Monday.
By Anna Bird
In our Fall 2013 issue of the Siren, we printed a story that discussed rape culture and its implications for our society. Last week, we got a very potent reminder of how rape culture affects each and every one of us. If you’ve been following the recent stories involving three Oregon basketball players and their alleged rape of a UO student, you probably know most of the reported facts. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about—because facts can be disputed endlessly, and in this case they have been— over and over again until most everyone is questioning the legitimacy of the survivor’s story.
But if you are the survivor and you’re reading this, it is important for you to know that we believe you and none of this is your fault. That goes for any survivor of sexual assault on our campus and around the world. We stand by you.
The fallout of this particular case has produced a widespread display of a victim-blaming, patriarchal rape culture stinking of institutionalized privilege. On April 14, the District Attorney’s office declined to pursue these charges due to “lack of evidence” and “conflicting statements.” And because of this “lack of evidence,” many people have brought up the “innocent until proven guilty” argument in order to stonewall any support for the survivor.
Here’s the thing about that argument and our justice system—it’s not as perfect and sterile as people think it is. Thousands of cases every year—mostly those pertaining to violence against women—get dropped due to lack of concrete, physical evidence. But when someone is raped, assaulted, or domestically abused, there isn’t always concrete, physical evidence. And without that hard evidence, it’s near impossible for our justice system to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
So why would we leave the question of guilt in cases of sexual violence up to a justice system that has a long history of not prosecuting these cases? Instead, our law enforcement system operates on a method of dragging survivors’ sexual histories through the mud and re-traumatizing them with every retelling of their stories before ultimately dropping the case due to “lack of evidence.” Who wants to go through all that in the pursuit of “justice” when justice sometimes means nothing more than a slap on the wrist or a couple years in prison?
Others’ reactions to this case have been to question everything the victim did on that night, what others thought of her interactions with the three men, how much she had to drink, how many men she slept with before or after the rape, and so on. Textbook victim-blaming. Here’s my response to all that bullshit—anyone should be able to drink, go to a party, talk to guys, flirt with them, whatever, and not get raped or forced to do ANYTHING against their will. Anyone should be able to go to someone’s house and stay in their bed and wear their pajamas and not get raped. Anyone should be able to consent to certain sexual acts and draw the line where they please without being raped.
If the focus wasn’t on the claims of the survivor or the claims of an eyewitness, the focus was on how the basketball team would be affected. I sat in Roma’s Café and listened to two bros say, verbatim:
“Man, Oregon basketball just took a turn for the worst.”
“Yeah, dude, I really hope this doesn’t hurt our recruits.”
Others mentioned something about it “being hard to be a Duck fan right now.” I’d like to argue that it’s infinitely harder to be a survivor of rape right now—and any day—especially if your case is as public, scrutinized and delegitimized as this one.
Concerned students and faculty members on our campus have looked to administration to see how this could have happened and been kept from the public for so long; how could Brandon Austin, who had been accused of sexual assault at his previous school, have been recruited for our basketball team? And what are the administration and athletic program going to do in the future to prevent cases like this from happening?
The answers we received from UO administration and athletic department officials were nothing more than a load of institutional bullshit. They say they’ll be more committed to transparency, yet they didn’t disclose to the public the location of head coach Dana Altman’s press conference. They put a gag order on the coaching staff, presumably until they can gain control of the situation and put the best PR spin on it. Athletic Director Rob Mullens and other coaching staff were reportedly kept in the dark about who was involved in the “incident” and the fact that it was not, in fact, an “incident” but a rape investigation. The administration started conducting their own investigative process after the charges were brought to their attention, but kept it under wraps because the Eugene Police Department asked them not to do anything that would disrupt their investigation.
The incredibly disappointing aspect of this whole case is how much attention it has received simply because it involved athletes. We receive email alerts almost every week regarding different case of sexual assault reported on or near campus, but none of those instances are followed up with press conferences or rallies.
The fact of the matter is, this is something that happens all the time. Survivors come forward to report the crime against them or to press charges against their perpetrators. Many cases are dismissed, like this one, on the basis of insufficient evidence. A very small number receive public attention and, when they do, these stories are disputed, picked apart, questioned and judged. Survivors become the victims of further shame and humiliation while having to prove that they were indeed the victims of a violent, egregious crime. The institutional impulse to doubt a victim’s story explains why so many of them decline to report or press charges.
And, yet, so many people—on this campus and everywhere else—are still grounded in the archaic belief that it is less common for a rape accusation to be true than false. But why would somebody make that up? Why would they put themselves through the shame of reliving their experience, sometimes on a very public scale? Why are we so quick to discount survivors’ stories? Is it really so much easier to believe that people are not capable of rape?
We perpetuate rape culture when we don’t support survivors. We perpetuate rape culture when we allow rapists to walk free because they didn’t leave behind concrete, physical evidence. We perpetuate rape culture when our law enforcement system works to protect the privacy of perpetrators, making sexual violence an extremely difficult crime to prove. We perpetuate rape culture with strings of hateful, victim-blaming comments on every journalistic report of public cases like these. We perpetuate rape culture when we don’t hold our institutions accountable.
Let’s turn these hate-fueled criticisms into supportive dialogues that frame ideas—and solutions—for the future.
Spend 7 minutes of your life watching this show on gendered marketing
This is brilliant. I specifically buy razors and shaving cream marketed to men because it’s at least 30% cheaper in the US, and yet the quality is way better.
Tomorrow (Monday, May 12th), the UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence, the Women’s Center staff, Safe Ride employees, and all other students and professors who are opposed to the UO’s treatment of this sexual violence case will return to Johnson Hall for our third day of protests. These are our specific demands.
"Tina walks the fine and confusing adolescent line between asserting one’s sexual agency and letting your hormones take control—a sexual life stage I’ve never before seen depicted quite like this on network TV. Tina isn’t desperate, or looking for the love of a man to complete her. She’s just horny. She’s also plenty of other things: smart, funny, geeky. She’s a rare, well-rounded character."