By: Billieanne Maurizi
When news of Elliot Rodger’s killing spree broke in May, along with his string of YouTube videos and his war on women manifesto, I felt like I was going to vomit. I called a friend of mine and asked her if I was overreacting. “No, you’re not overreacting. I’m scared too”, she said.
Not long before Elliot Rodgers went on his killing spree, a high school girl in Connecticut was stabbed to death because she declined an invitation to prom from a male student. He brought the knife to school with the intention of stabbing her if she rejected him.
My friend and I both live in Virginia, far away from where these incidents occured. So why were we so scared? Why did it shake me and every other woman I know when we heard about what happened in Connecticut and Isla Vista?
The answer is because we all know men who think like Elliot Rodgers did. Because we had all seen men flip out about “not being able to get laid”. Because we had all seen men complain about how women are all “bitches and sluts” who can’t appreciate a “nice guy”. Because we had all seen men complain about being “friend zoned” when a girl turned them down after they were “nice to them” for a while. God forbid we just wanted to be friends. These events shook us to our core because they were all too real to us, because we knew that this could realistically happen to us. The idea of a man attacking us or killing us over rejection is something that we actually have to worry about as women.
So why are men doing this? Why are they reacting so violently to women who reject them? In short, violent masculinity.
Violent masculinity is the expectation of how men in our society are supposed to act. They are expected to repress their emotions, to be “tough” and “rugged”. Violent masculinity teaches men to gain respect by solving their problems with aggression, violence and intimidation. It teaches them that their value is based on how many women they can sleep with and how aggressive they are. As a result, men treat women as objects to be had and used for their own personal sexual pleasure. When women deny this to them, they become violent.
The consequences of violent masculinity can be seen all over; from the normalization of violence against women in the media, to the harassment and assault of women at conventions, to the horrific abuse and brutal murders that happen when men feel like they cannot control the women in their lives.
So what’s the solution? How do we stop these acts of violence from happening to women? The answer is actually simpler than you may think.
We as a society must stop viewing women as sex objects to be had. Stop objectifying them in the media, stop cat calling them in the streets, stop treating women like pieces of meat, or trophies to be won. Women are complex human beings with feelings, emotions, lives and ambitions of their own. Basically we need to treat women with the respect and dignity they deserve, instead of like sex objects.
We need to eliminate the expectations that violent masculinity places on men. Destroy the idea that men are supposed to be emotionless, violent and promiscuous. Stop calling them “girls” and “pussies” for crying or showing emotion. Stop encouraging violence as a way to show how “tough” or “manly” they are. Stop encouraging men to sleep around just to prove their “manhood”. Stop telling them that their worth is based on how many women they sleep with or how much sex they have.
We need to stop treating femininity as inherently negative, and masculinity as positive. Destroy the idea that men have fulfill the ideals of violent masculinity in order to be a “real man”. You can help do this by not treating women like sex objects, and expecting men to fulfill the unrealistic ideals that violent masculinity puts on them. You can help by simply talking about violent masculinity because there are a lot of people who don’t know what it is. Call out people you know when the do things that perpetuate violent masculinity. Essentially, if abolish gender expectations, and simply allow people to be who they are as humans, we could drastically reduce violence against women.