I really really, really wanted to write about something funny this week. I mean, I read comics for fun and I presume that you do, too. A little escapist fantasy, a few minutes of relaxation, it’s all good, right?
And then this happened.
Now, I’m on record as saying that this is not an event with an easy explanation, nor a quick fix. And I’m not going to offer either one here.
However, I would like to talk about the little sliver of this issue that has been my obsession all year. And that is the way our society, and particularly our little corner of it in the nerd-pop culture, treats misogyny like something that boys get to do.
Apparently, the shooter in Santa Barbara was upset because he couldn’t get laid. It’s unclear how much he actually tried (as in, getting to know women, talking to them, etc.), but he was angry. Thanks to the Internet, he found an online community with which to share his frustrations. Spoiler Alert: Don’t read that link if you have a sensitive stomach.
Yes, they share the same sense of entitlement (and the same violent rape fantasies) as the men I’ve written about here, and here, just as the two most recent examples. Violent rape fantasies are ridiculously common.
I’m not the only one to notice. A recent post by Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu got a lot of links over the past week.
At this point, a lot of my male readers might be getting a tad defensive. “We’re not like that,” they say, and I hope it’s true. “It’s not our fault. And anyway, Rodgers killed a bunch of men, too.”
The murder of those men is every bit as tragic and senseless as the murder of the women. However, if you read what Rodgers (and his pals) actually say, it’s clear that women are the objects of their rage.
Not even women, not really. Just vaginas (and mouths) (and assholes) (and whatever other body parts fascinate any random guy). The rest of the woman is just the delivery system. Some dress up their hatred of women with religious or philosophical justifications, but the fact remains that they see women as a different — and lesser — species than men.
“Still,” my straw men mutter. “I’m not like that. It’s not all men.”
Some men beg to differ. You see, it’s not enough simply to avoid doing something horrible. You should also do everything you can to prevent other people from doing something horrible. You shouldn’t sit still while the man next to you makes a rude comment to a woman, nor let threats on the comments thread you’re reading go unanswered.
As Andrew O’Hehir said on Salon, “What troubles me is the extent to which many men seek to ignore or deflect all conversation about the specific nature of Elliot Rodger’s pathology, along with the evident fact that many women see that pathology as a ubiquitous social and cultural problem.”
Look, I’m not a perfect person, far from it, so I’m not holding myself up as an ideal. I want to have sex with people who have no interest in having sex with me, if they even know I exist. That’s really frustrating. Sometimes, I imagine revenge fantasies where these men learn how much they’ve missed. However, my fantasies don’t involve death and destruction. My fantasies are more likely to involve the look on George Clooney’s face when he sees me with Benedict Cumberbatch.
I’d like to see the comics community take a stand against bad behavior. I’d like to see an end to situations like this, which remain far too common. I’d like to see comic conventions feature panels for all genders about the cause and effect of these hatreds, and how we can combat them. Or at least some required etiquette classes.
And less whining. Oh, please, less whining.