When it comes to rape culture and its relationship to domestic violence, we unfortunately have a lot to talk about in 2014.
From August’s biased news reports regarding adult entertainment superstar Christy Mack’s brutal assault at the hands of her MMA fighter ex-boyfriend Jonathan ‘War Machine’ Koppenhaver; to the erasure of black womens’ role in the Ferguson, Missouri protests; to earlier this year when 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed two female students at his university in Isla Vista.
Fueled by an online community of Men’s Rights Activists, or ‘MRAs’ who maintain the notion that his victims deserved to be attacked because of Rodger’s continued status as a virgin.As a young woman around Elliot Rodger’s age, I have no doubt that I am also within the age bracket of a number of these MRAs, who exist predominantly within password-protected communities on the Internet. It is terrifying to think that as a society, our median age of ignorance is gradually lowering itself to centre around men in their twenties.
Men whose parents were likely around for second-wave-feminism. Men who have the entire world at their fingertips underneath a Google search bar. Instead these men have chosen not ignorance, but active aggression and hatred towards women.
Many members of older generations will pass this online war against women off as unimportant. This however is in no small part due to a lack of understanding when it comes to just how much of our lives are now lived vicariously through computer screens.Rodger’s manifesto My Twisted World, a 141-page rant he posted online, detailed his misogynistic nature and homicidal desires towards women. It then becomes apparent just how quickly this dangerous mindset can jump from a laptop screen right down to the barrel of a smoking gun.
Men’s Rights Activism is a misnomer. The vast majority of MRAs are wholly aware of the privileges men hold within our society. Their efforts and emotions are largely focussed not on raising their own position, but on lowering those of women. Using women, even those in their own lives, as scapegoats for their personal failures and emotional trauma.
At the end of the day, what this comes down to is personal unhappiness. Elliot Rodger couldn’t come to terms with his identity as a young man who had never kissed a woman. Instead of trying to change himself, he lashed out against women – in no small part because the MRA community provided him with an outlet to do so.
The women Elliot Rodger shot dead had never personally rejected his sexual advances, but to him that wasn’t the point. An unfathomably large group of his peers had been encouraging the idea that women operated as a hive mind of sexual torment since his teenage years. Whether they thought he would ever go as far as he did is often brought into question, but it shouldn’t be. Similarly, the fact that he killed men as well does nothing to ameliorate his hatred of women. Ideas do not exist within the vacuum of the Internet, and neither does violence against women.
Like it or not, this online ‘activism’ is becoming more and more prevalent, with various subcultures latching onto Men’s Rights to further their personal agendas. Last month, MMA fighter Jonathan ‘War Machine’ Koppenhaver tried his absolute hardest to beat his ex-girlfriend Christy Mack to death, becoming the catalyst for a media shitstorm centring around the notion that the former adult star brought the attack upon herself by becoming involved with a man with a violent history.
This isn’t about men’s rights, this is about removing women’s bodily autonomy and the freedom to make our own choices; it’s about creating a culture where, when abused women do speak up, their stories are shrouded in doubt and suspicion.
I was raised in the 90s, and was expressly taught that my body was my own, that no-one was to touch it without my permission and I should scream and shout if anyone hurt me. As we continue to move backwards regarding our treatment of domestic abuse survivors, I wonder, what will the parents of my generation tell their little girls?