Sunday, May 25, 2014


In the wake of this week's Santa Barbara shooting, there's been a hashtag going around Twitter: #YesAllWomen

It seems the shooter was anti-woman due to lifelong rejection and this predicament garnered small amounts of sympathy across the internet with complete disregard to the fact that the women who were killed are the actual victims in this case.  It seems his vendetta didn't stop there and he had an entire manifesto of people and types of people who deserved to die. Admittedly, I have only read the cliff notes and news blurbs about the actual tragedy, but I did take a good, long look at the #YesAllWomen hashtag.  I even contributed my own tweet:

But I feel like I couldn't contain the entire sentiment, and why it struck me so harshly, in 140 characters and have it hold its own amid the tweets of domestic violence, assault, and severe discrimination.

Was I ultimately harmed? No.  Was I able to make my purchase?  Yes.  Was there any tangible end result to my story?  No.  But I walked into a hobby store and into the camera department to purchase something.  The antique fossil of a gentleman working there kindly informed me the device I wished to purchase wouldn't work.  When I pressed him farther, he said it would only work with the camera set to Manual, and, knowing nothing about me other than what he could see, assured me I couldn't use a camera like that.  Even when I insisted I could, he took the device away and said he was doing me a favor.  I insisted, and left with the device.  Many might say "no harm, no foul."  But I was humiliated, and I felt helpless and belittled, standing there, begging for the right to purchase something.

This is a significant indication of a pervasive culture belief that it's okay to deny women something "for their own good" and an enforcement of the belief girls just don't "do" certain things - in this instance, photography.  If you tell any number of truly tragic stories of violence against women or sexual assault, 99% of listeners will reply with horror and sympathy - and rightly so!  But when I tell this story, I'm usually told to get over it, or that it was no big deal.  But what scares me about it is the fact this sort of discrimination is so nonchalantly accepted as insignificant when, in reality, it comes from the same root problem - and underlying, persistent belief that women are inferior and less capable.  And best, this means Mighty Men must save poor, helpless women from themselves.  At worst, this means women are commodities for Mighty Men to use as they see fit, for pleasure or punishment, with no regard to their bodily autonomy or human rights.

While embarrassing me in a hobby store isn't going to impact my future in any meaningful way, that way of thinking, that habit of marginalizing someone and treating them as inferior based solely on their gender presentation, is a dangerous line of thinking which begets instances of violence, assault, and segregation.  There is outcry against the end result, but condonation for the mindset that allows these egregious human rights violations to continue to exist.

You can't put out a fire by blowing out the flames while the embers continue to smolder. The point or origin must be addressed, and it lies right there, in a hobby shop, at the camera counter.  In the office with no female managers.  In the White House.  On the football field.  Everywhere women are discounted based solely on one fact, with no regard to their total personage.  And the blind eye society turns is just fanning the flames.