Ever since the shooting rampage at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) on May 23, 2014, I have not been able to log on to social media without being confronted with the issue of misogyny. The shooter, as by now we are all aware, was motivated by his anger over women not finding him attractive. His multiple blog posts and YouTube videos revealed that he was lonely and, by the end, furious that women would not sleep with him. In his ramblings over why women should find him desirable, he described himself with words like “magnificent,” clearly indicating a sense of inherent superiority that he felt was inexplicably going unnoticed. The problem, however … the real problem … was that this man sexually objectified women, and felt entitled to them. His misogyny manifested as sexual objectification, and what drove him further was that other men were able to acquire those objects while he was not. With a final decision to “make them pay,” he went on a furious rampage; killing 6 and wounding 13 before also taking his own life.
Misogyny simply defined is a ‘hatred of women,’ but it’s so much more than that. Misogyny is the view that women are inferior, that their place is ‘in the kitchen,’ that they should not hold positions of authority (ie: Police officers), and that they are obligated to be subservient to men due to their place as the “weaker sex.” Misogyny comes from patriarchal teachings that place roles and value judgments on gender. Misogyny is the deplorable result of misinformation and misunderstanding, and it has caused a very complex and historically endless string of problems … but I believe that the issue of misogyny, today, is actually quite simple.
Issues related to this problem are more than any of us can possibly know, since the underlying ideals of male dominance are woven into the fabric of our cultural discourse. These issues are complex, but as we discuss them, people are dying at the hands of disenfranchised men who feel that they have been denied what they are owed. The discussion that we ought to be having right now is not about what misogyny has done, but about what we can do to rid ourselves of it; and that is NOT a complex problem.
The issue of misogyny, today, is really very easy, and it all boils down to just one word … education. Issues like rape culture, honour killing, domestic abuse, lack of pay equity, workplace and public sexual harassment, even the beer induced ramblings about nagging wives and female drivers in so-called “man caves” across the country, can all be done away with through education. We’re not going to convince the average misogynistic idiot that he’s got it wrong, but we can do our best to counteract what he’s teaching his children with a real-world education in school. We can make sure that kids are confronted with the reality that women and men are not so different. We can make sure they are taught that women are human beings, and not objects or possessions to be fought over and controlled. We can teach young boys that what a woman is wearing is relevant to her right to self-expression only, and not an invitation to violate her. We can teach all children that their value is not determined by their sex or gender, that they are human first, and that it’s okay to have preferences and desires that are outside of what society says is “normal.” This won’t change everybody, and it won’t remove the problem entirely … but it will make a dramatic difference. In the areas where this kind of education IS being done, it’s already making a dramatic difference.
Now, if you’re already thinking #Notallmen, just calm down. Nobody said “all men,” and discussions about misogyny don’t even imply “all men.” The problem is “some men.” “Some men” abuse,” “some men” rape, “some men” stand by and do nothing, “some men” think it’s funny, and “some men” don’t think there is even a problem to discuss. As long as the problem of misogyny exists because of “some men,” we must educate ALL MEN. This is not a difficult concept.
The problems misogyny has caused are complex … but the problem of misogyny is simple. The world changes as we change. We change as our understandings change. Our understandings change as we learn. We call this education. We can’t fix the world overnight, but we can remove misogyny from our future.