In the wake of the mass murder in the Santa Barbara community, I find myself thankful that I was raised to be firm when saying ‘no’ all the while being taught to be thick skinned afterwards. When I found out what happened, I could’ve sworn I felt my blood freeze at the disturbing revelation that Elliot Rodger’s main contempt is for two groups: women and the men they chose. It’s a horrifying thought that makes me stop and wonder about the world that we live in today. Granted, Elliot Rodger was undergoing therapy, but it was also his contempt for the women who rejected him that really got me thinking.
In comparison to what life was like in a time even as recent as the 50s, women made a lot of progress in terms of their own equal rights. We obtained the right to vote, and better yet, we came to the conclusion that we are equal to men in any and every aspect. And relating to the topic at hand, we also learned to have more pride in ourselves, and that we’re not on this earth to be used as brood mares, housewives, or to be subjected to social norms that were traditionally patriarchal. In Western nations, this mindset became a way of life, yet there is still a subtle undertone in all aspects of society that tells women that they should always be subject to traditional social norms.
One way? For all you ladies out there, have you ever had the experience of being a bitch for rejecting someone or a bitch for going out with someone you don’t really like but was pressured to go out with them? Yep, that is exactly one way of being pressured to continue on with these social norms with an archaic undertone. This experience sucks, doesn’t it? Because no matter your reasoning, you would be a bitch either way. In my own personal opinion, rejection is usually the way to go if you’re not interested, because it can be considered the lesser of the two evils (rejection or misdirection) in the long run (for me, personally, I would be bolting in the opposite direction after delivering what I hope would be a rejection that wouldn’t do too much emotional damage).
However, it’s what happens to the person doing the rejecting that would ignite the drama. Typically, when a man is rejects a woman, they generally don’t receive the same backlash from others if a woman rejects a man. I realize that this doesn’t happen all the time, but the fact remains that it does happen. If a great deal of emotional damage is done, the woman would be blamed for it, being told “Why didn’t you just say ‘yes’?”, or “You could’ve stopped this from happening if you said yes in the first place”. In the extreme case of the Santa Barbara massacre, I am also very sure that the same things are being said about the women that Elliot Rodger was interested in.
It’s the blame that women will receive if they say ‘no’ that scares us into allowing ourselves to succumb to the pressures of social norms. Things like how we’re supposed to have a man in our lives, even though we’re trying to build up our own way of doing things. If a women is brave enough to say ‘no’, then they will be antagonized to some extent. If she succumbs to pressures, she will be antagonized for leading someone on. Granted, I know that a lot of women are thick skinned and can handle themselves just fine after rejecting someone, but the fact remains that there is still that underlying pressure, and that’s what bothers me.
In a society where equality is emphasized every where, it’s bothersome that there is still a notion that I believe to be morally ok for things like the medieval era which emphasizes the contrary. Tragedies like the Santa Barbara Massacre and even the kidnapped Nigerian girls reminds me that these ancient beliefs are still very well alive today.
Like the belief in gender equality, the belief in patriarchal dominance still very much exists, but in a much more subtle manner.