News-Fueled Media Conversation
(warning: many of the links in this post go to articles that contain disturbing content about violence and murder.)
The mediaverse always reverberates with opinion after a major news cycle, and certainly in the wake of that peculiarly American spectacle, the mass-shooting. We of course have have the predictable “It’s not about guns!” verses “It’s all about guns!” debate, and I won’t get into that one, for now. But the media conversation around men, women and misogyny since the May 23rd shooting in Santa Barbara is notable for it’s intensity and momentum.
Social and online media played a role in the life of the shooter, Elliot Rodger, whose YouTube video (now taken down) claims that it’s
“an injustice, a crime” that women have never been attracted to me and that I am going to “punish you all for it” and “slaughter every single blonde slut I see.”
Rodger’s online hangout space reveals chilling conversations by men bitterly describing themselves as “involuntarily celibate” and aiming violent hate speech and threatening statements directed at females. There are hundreds of similar sites in the ‘manosphere’, “a cyber-universe fueled by distorted views of women and sex, in which lonely, isolated and disaffected young men, unable to live up to equally distorted notions of manhood, end up turning lack of self-worth into an anger directed at women.”
Not surprisingly a loud, clear feminist response developed to the Santa Barbara shooter’s evident violent misogyny. This surge of powerful communication is still mobilizing hashtags, tumblrs and blogs, all of which keep driving the press to keep the story moving.
Twitter: #Yes, ALL Women.
This Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen sprang from the inevitable debate about sexual violence that followed the recent shooting. A male protests: “All men don’t harass or threaten women!” to which a feminist Twitter user replied: “Fine, but ALL women have experienced sexual violence or the threat of sexual violence.”
This woman created the hashtag #YesAllWomen and asked women to respond and share stories. Within a week, she had to remove her name from the project and close her account, due to the volume of death and rape threats that she received.
Apparently the creator of #YesAllWomen had to close her account due to threats & harassment. take that in.
— bebird (@bebird) May 27, 2014
Tumblr: When Women Refuse
Media pro Deanna Zandt created a Tumblr page called When Women Refuse and invited everyone to post their stories of women threatened, injured or killed by sexual violence. Post after post describes real life stories of women subjected to violence after they rejected the sexual advances of men — when they refused to flirt with them, dance with them, go on a date with them, or have sex with them. Reading it is a stomach-churning experience. A woman attacked with acid. A pregnant teenager stabbed to death. A woman raped and beaten. Women smashed in the head with bowling balls and glass bottles.
World Media Coverage of Misogyny
India is in the news once again this week after the brutal gang rape and murder of two young girls. Women protesting the lack of official action against rape and violence against women were dispersed by hundreds of officers and water canons.
Although a highly publicized case in 2012 energized support for tougher laws, outside of major cities police often refuse to investigates complaints of crimes against women. Records show a rape is committed every 22 minutes in India, though it’s considered drastically underreported, but more people are speaking up against violent crimes targeting women, and public protests against police inaction are increasingly common.
In Pakistan the recent stoning death of 25-year old Farzana Parveen launched a worldwide wave of conversation about so-called ‘honor killings.’ Hashtag #Faranza made public “a crime that not long ago would barely have elicited a headline was now a source of conversation and consternation among those on social media both within and outside Pakistan. And discussion about the slaying turned up another grim fact: Iqbal told CNN he killed his first wife so he could be free to propose to Farzana.”
In Nigeria the campaign to return the girls kidnapped April 14 from Chibok school to their families has reached wide audiences with the help of the twitter campaign #BringBackOurGirls. Protestors rallying under that name in Abuja, Nigeria apparently rattled the Police High Command, who attempted to outlaw the protests June 2, but public pressure, no doubt including world-wide media attention, caused a quick turn-about and as of June 3 an official statement denying any protest ban was issued.
Making a Difference?
Clearly, blatant violence against women is more likely to be reported, shared via social media and gain the attention of activists and citizens who might take action. The conversation is disturbing, but is instigating awareness and motivating people, people who can change laws and prevent violence.