Telling stories

Once It Starts, It’s Not Going to Stop

Posted by southwrite on May 27, 2014


The incidents and circumstances that prompt big, important national conversations can often seem jarringly inappropriate.


After Elliot Rodger went on a shooting rampage in California in “retribution” against women who’d rejected him, came an outpouring of pent up anger from women. It came from those who have endured the slights and the abuse of male privilege. Driven on social media by the hashtag #YesAllWomen, it quickly became about all the times that women felt threatened by men, weren’t believed when they said they were raped or had to endure sexual harassment in silence in order to keep a job or get along in a relationship. Here’s a good explanation of what it’s all about from from writer Amanda Magee.


Men who feel threatened by an impassioned debate over patriarchy and male privilege are quick to point out that Rodger was a lonely, isolated and probably mentally ill little man.


And, he killed men too.


It’s like the debates over gun control that flare up after each mass shooting. Second Amendment absolutists like to point out that these laws and regulations probably wouldn’t have prevented the horrible school shooting. Yes, that’s probably true because while gun deaths are common, mass shootings are rare and unpredictable.


The catalyst for debate becomes a way of ending the conversation through distraction.


Another stopper is the demand — and not just from social media trolls – that women first declare that “all men are not like that.” That’s true, but the day is long past when we need to first protect our fragile egos through acknowledgement of what is obvious. To borrow a sexist phrase, men need to man-up and realize that this too is part of the problem.


It would be wonderful if the incidents that generate our most thoughtful and powerful debates – the kind that can alter the way we think and live – all flowed from perfect and easily recognized incidents. But they don’t and they never will.


If we want change, we have to take it where we can find it.

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