TW: Murder, violence
It seems that the misogynistic Santa Barbara shootings evoked powerful, painful, visceral feelings in all of us. For me, still reeling from family issues which I’d really rather not talk about in any detail but to which misogyny is (in my opinion) inextricably linked, these feelings consisted mainly of frustration and hopelessness. A realisation that this stuff is very real, it’s everywhere, and it kills.
Although, of course, outside of the internet I haven’t really spoken about it. Because, well, not all men. It’s not even that I’m worried about not having an answer for that sort of response; the Tumblr post I’ve linked to above pretty much nails it. Choice quote:
Not all men.
But enough men that all women are now afraid of most men.
It’s gotten so bad that we have to be afraid of even telling you we are afraid.
It’s a fear that I still haven’t been able to articulate in a way I find satisfactory. The particular, unique fear of speaking out about patriarchy; a fear I’ve had to analyse recently. I can’t put my finger on it. I’m not expressly thinking “I can’t say anything in case he turns aggressive/violent”, although of course many do have that in the forefront of their minds. It’s more… implicit, subtle, ingrained. Learned gradually over time. Normalised. And if this weekend has taught me anything, it’s that this fear is a very common and very gendered experience. “Not all men” becomes irrelevant; the actual threat of violence doesn’t need to be present, because enough men are like that, along with our entire culture, for virtually all women to have good reason to be afraid. Because the very possibility of it, as well as stereotypes and double standards supporting the idea of women catering and submitting to men, has been drummed into us all our lives, often subconsciously.
We don’t talk about this fear enough, precisely because of this fear. Instead, we assume there’s something wrong with us. Anger, fear, guilt, shame, self-loathing.
And it applies to all of it, be it something as major as the events of last week, or the more seemingly minor everyday incidents. I say “seemingly” because I don’t find them to be minor at all. They add up. They’re based on the same attitudes, the same foundations, as those which make the headlines. There’s still the same unidentifiable, inescapable, entirely normal fear. We’re too used to it to notice anymore.
I spend far too much of my life terrified, and it seems I’m not alone.
I need to be braver.