I’ve been avoiding this. I didn’t want to think about it, didn’t want to dwell on it, didn’t want to really acknowledge what had happened. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t heard about what happened at University of California Santa Barbara last week. If you haven’t, “Elliot Rodger didn’t have Autism, he had Anger” by Emily Willingham and “Stop Being Surprised, Damn It” by Donna Decker are good places to start, in my opinion.
I heard about the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Saturday night, and contributed a few tweets. I spent the rest of the holiday and most of this week avoiding the internet because those tweets were basically blood in the water. I couldn’t face all of the e-mails and comments that started pouring in– people attacking me, accusing me of horrible things, maligning my integrity, my honesty, belittling me, and harassing me for days. It’s only just now died down, but I’m still flinching when my phone tells me that someone tweeted at me or I’ve gotten an e-mail.
I tried to view these attacks as funny– after all, they really were just fulfilling Lewis’ Law. My point could not have been proven any better, really.
Except… that really doesn’t help.
It doesn’t help when I can still see Elliot Rodger’s face, can still hear his speech in my head, repeating on an endless loop, and it’s accompanied by the dozen other times I’ve heard that exact same speech (granted, without the “I’m going to kill all of you” part) shouted at me in restaurants, in my car, in a classroom, on a sidewalk, on dates. That speech has been directed at me, meant for me- and it’s been given to me as though I’d be sympathetic, as though I’d understand and be on his side.
That frightens me beyond words.
Because, up until now, I’ve been annoyed by ideas like the “Nice Guy” and the assumed existence of some “Friend Zone.” The notion that some men think that being a decent human being entitles them to sex with women has infuriated me at times. But, it never really scared me. Now, it does. It terrifies me. Because now I’m wondering– how many of the threats I’ve gotten have been idle? I’ve dismissed them, up until this point, because I’ve always assumed it’s just some guy being an asshole from the safety of his keyboard. But now . . . now I’m not so sure. That man who followed me around in his pickup truck for half an hour– if I hadn’t dialed the police and told him I was doing so, what would have happened? Would he have tried to hurt me? The men who followed me out of Wal-Mart and shouted things about my ass and watched me as I put my groceries into my trunk while my heart was trying to strangle me… if things had been just a little different, what would have happened? Would I be alive right now?
And what about a young man I grew up with that has delivered three different versions of Elliot Rodger’s screed to me over the years– who I’ve had to block multiple times because he keeps creating accounts to harass me? As far as I’m aware, he’s angry, and bitter, and people who know him describe him as “hurt” and still single and has “given up” on relationships. Will I wake up one day to a news story about him going on a rampage and shooting people, and then naming me in a 140-page manifesto as the woman to blame?
The world we live in is … it’s horrible. The thought of it has kept me in my bed, hiding under blankets and avoiding any form of reality for a week. I didn’t want to summon the strength to hit delete delete delete over and over and over again, while opening up each message and reading it and taking a screen shot and finding his IP address and blocking him from my blog and on twitter and from my e-mail and putting all of the information in a folder I keep on my desktop– and feeling as though if I don’t do these things I’ve failed in some way, when I shouldn’t have to be doing it at all and the fact that I do is what’s fucked up and not me not wanting to deal with it at all.
It all just gets so exhausting. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of grieving. I’m tired of that horrible lurch I get in my stomach when I read yet another headline about how a man has stabbed someone, or shot someone, because they didn’t get what they wanted from women. I’m tired of the blinding rage and fury that follows when I see comments that sympathize with a mass-murderer because yeah, rejection sucks, bro. I feel ya, dude.
I wanted to burn the internet down this week. Just burn it at all. Burn it with fire.
I wanted to sleep and never get out of bed and pretend that the only things in the world that exist are Klondike bars and Netflix.
I don’t want to talk about these things. I hate that every time I do, it feels like people come out of the woodwork for no other reason than to harass me and then eventually melt away. The endless barrage of “you’re a lying whore” and all the people on internet forums who are so filled with hatred that they rip me to shreds for no goddamn reason. I’ve stopped checking my stats hardly at all because I see the list of referrers and I know that the people who are coming here and reading my words aren’t here to understand, or to learn– they’re here to find ammunition to blast me with by taking everything I say out of context.
Then I read back over this post, and I realize that I’ve spent 900+ words whining about nothing. I get e-mails from anonymous assholes? People talk about me on message boards? That’s nothing. It barely matters at all in a world when girls can be kidnapped for trying to get an education. When simply being white protects me from the harassment and dehumanization that women of color face on a daily basis. When I’m in a healthy, loving relationship with a man who would be devastated if he ever did something to hurt me.
Thankfully, I’m surrounded be a community who support what I do, who believe in what I write, who hear my despair and wrap their arms around me and whisper “illegitimi non carborundum” and give me the hope to keep going.
So, if there’s one thing I would want to say to all of you, it’s this: don’t let the bastards grind you down.
#YesAllWoman will make a difference. All of us can make a difference. The world is a horrible place, yes, but I still believe that it doesn’t have to be this way– that it won’t always be this way. It can change. We can do better.
We won’t let them win.