Speaking of Women's Rights: Entitled to Women:When "No" Leads to Violence

Friday, October 24, 2014

Entitled to Women:
When "No" Leads to Violence

By Jennifer Knutson

I'm oscillating between rage and tears.

At 10:45 this morning, one of the students at my friends' kid's school shot fellow students, and then himself. According to the Seattle Times, another student, "Jarron Webb, 15, said the shooter was angry at a girl who would not date him, and that she was shot."

This has got to stop.

A friend reminded me of all of the other recent shootings/stabbings/ violence like this. "Jesus f*cking Christ," she says. "Was it always like this and we're only hearing about it more now? (The girl stabbed to death for not going to prom with someone, the woman whose throat was slashed for not talking to someone, the woman who was shot after a funeral for refusing to give her number to someone, etc, etc, etc)."

Let's not forget the abhorrent acts of Elliot Rodger earlier this year at Santa Barbara and the terrifying manifesto that detailed his hatred of, and feelings of entitlement to, women.

I don't know the answer to my friend's question. But I think we finally might be admitting to ourselves and our community that culturally we have a BIG PROBLEM with violence against women that goes along with the harrowing belief that men are entitled to whatever they want from women, whenever they want it.

Arthur Chu, in his brilliant piece, Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds (in response to the Santa Barbara shootings), sums up reality brilliantly:

We’re not guaranteed to get laid by the hot chick of our dreams as long as we work hard enough at it... And when our clever ruses and schemes to “get girls” fail, it’s not because the girls are too stupid or too bitchy or too shallow to play by those unwritten rules we’ve absorbed.

It’s because other people’s bodies and other people’s love are not something that can be taken nor even something that can be earned—they can be given freely, by choice, or not.

Meanwhile, violence like this is reinforcing women's fear that if they say "no," acts of violence—up to and including death of themselves and their friends—is a perfectly reasonable outcome.

In the last three hours, I thought what I was feeling was anger.

But that's not quite right.

I feel helpless.

Jennifer Knutson is the Development Officer at Legal Voice. She is committed to gender equity and fighting for physically and emotionally safe spaces in our homes and throughout our community for children, young people, and adults alike. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys urban micro-farming and travelling to Portland to indulge in food carts, restaurants, and coffee houses galore.