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It’s become a common occurrence to be browsing the internet and come across something regarding feminism. There’s ‘Everyday Sexism’ which has gained a huge following on Twitter, blogs on Tumblr dedicated to feminist issues, and also various campaigns about why we still need feminism today. I’ve had people tell me in the past that feminism isn’t something which is relevant nowadays and that it isn’t necessary. I argued against them then and will continue to do so.
On May 23rd, Elliot Rodger took to the streets of Santa Barbara, California, killing six people and injuring a further 13. Before doing so, he uploaded a video to YouTube explaining why he felt that his actions were warranted. The reason behind it was that he felt he didn’t receive enough attention from women, as he had never been kissed and was still a virgin. He claimed not to understand why women were never attracted to him and always seemed to go for the same type of man, as he believed himself to be superior. This spurred the attack and, after stabbing his three roommates, he began shooting outside a sorority house where he had plotted to seek revenge against girls who had never shown an interest in him.
There is obviously more to the attack than Rodger’s hatred of women, as it is believed that he also possibly suffered from mental illness which is a serious subject and can’t be dismissed. However, his views of women represent very real issues. It’s been revealed that he participated in forums where men complain about their lack of success with women and spread misogynistic hate. There, he spoke of a world where he could be the only male with access to all women, as though they should be objects with which he could do as he pleased. The terrifying thing is that, rather than being shunned for this fantasy, he was applauded, and the thought that there are people who think in the same way as this murderer is truly distressing.
There have also been some horrific responses to the attack. In some cases, people have actually been siding with Rodger’s actions, believing him to have been wronged by the women he attacked. It’s also been said that if only women had dated him then no one would have died, as if it were their fault. I thought that we were getting past the time where women would be blamed for their own attack, but apparently society hasn’t managed to come that far. It seems sickening that we live in a world where some people believe women should be expected to sleep with a man if they want ensure their own safety.
In light of the attack, the hashtag #YesAllWomen was started which focused on the reality of violence against women and the inequality which still exists today. This is a fantastic way of raising the profile of feminist issues, not just in severe cases such as this, but in terms of the sexism women face in everyday life. In a time where women have the vote and often experience equal opportunities to men, it can be easy for people to gloss over the importance of feminism. However, until women are no longer treated as objects, we still need feminism. Until women are no longer blamed for others’ violence towards them, we still need feminism. And until there are no more attacks against women based on their right to say no, feminism will continue to be more important than ever.