The Shooting Near UCSB Has My Mind Spinning…

[CN: sexual assault, violence, ableism]

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I have so many thoughts going through my head right now about the shooting in California. They vary from anger and frustration at those who are throwing out “mental illness” and “Asperger” as either reasons or excuses for these crimes. (This piece, from two days ago no less, by John Elder Robison is perfect in its explanation of the unfounded link people attempt to make between autism and murder.) Using mental illness or autism as reasons that someone has committed murder, even just as speculation hours after such crimes, only further serves to stigmatize. Most people with mental illness or on the spectrum are not violent. Rather, they have an increased risk of being victims of violence. Those are the facts.

I’m upset about yet another mass shooting/crime. I can’t believe it’s become such commonplace, and each time I’m left with the same unanswered and unsettling questions. I’m sad more people are having to bury their loved ones for no sensible reason, disgusted at only more people having to be witness to such horrific events. I’m sorry for all involved and all personally effected by this. I’m sorry that we keep going month after month with more shootings and still guns are easily and legally obtained by many who should never own a firearm. I cannot fathom what will make our politicians decide that having their pockets lined by gun lobbyists is not enough to help them sleep at night when the people they represent are attending funerals, assuring their kids it’s safe to be at school, and hoping their daughters make it home safely at night.

I’m sick that all of these issues are swarming around together, all with an extra dose this time of misogyny. It was gut-wrenching to watch some of the shooter’s videos today. I felt a strange need to do so, curiosity always pecking away at me. I tried to figure it out, to figure him out. Could his family or anyone else see signs? Did they miss them? I read later that no, apparently someone did see the signs and called the police. The police found him to be cordial, and therefore nothing more was done. So, here we have it, in this case we have months of evidence of where this person’s mindset was. We have proof of his plans and premeditation. We have people who stepped in and tried to prevent anything bad from happening. And yet? Here we are, 7 lives gone. So now what?

I can’t help but go back to the guns. Too many people have them. I see no reason for anyone to have one. However, I do support our Constitution. If we had the same guns available as we did when the Second Amendment was written, I’m sure I’d be even pro-gun. Maybe. But, the guns we have today are faster and deadlier. How many more innocent lives need to be taken? If you have a gun, make sure it and its bullets are locked away safely. If you are considering purchasing a gun, get the proper training and really consider whether you want the responsibility that comes with firearm ownership. For me, the fact I have a history of depression and was suicidal at one time in my life means I will never own a gun. I will never live in a home where a gun is kept. This is for my own safety. We need stricter laws so that people who might kill others or themselves never get their hands on a gun.

We need better police training and policies, and a whole new mental healthcare system and approach. I don’t know what will ultimately be the case here, if a lack of mental health treatment is at all part of the equation. At this point, there are many possible reasons for why the shooter did what he did. If it is ever verified that he in fact did have a mental health issue(s) or was on the spectrum, keep in mind neither were the reason for what he did. If he was facing a disorder and wasn’t accessing proper care, that is still only a factor. It appears there is a long history of anti-social behavior and other warning signs that perhaps were missed by teachers and others in his life. We all need to be more aware of those around us, and speak out when things don’t feel or seem right.

We have created a culture where too many men hate women. We have the “nice guys,” MRA’s, and pick-up artists. I hear from them on social media weekly and unfortunately have faced many in real life. They all have been birthed out of our rape culture, which is an essential part of the patriarchy. Because of this, men like David Choe feel comfortable admitting to rape on a podcast, then laughing it off as edgy art. Because of this, men like Chris Brown and so many others become perpetrators themselves, stuck in the cycle of violence. Because of this, sexual assault and domestic violence victims are held responsible for the crimes against us.

Women have less value than men. We have no say. We are property. We are less than. We are harassed, abused, and assaulted every second and little has ever been done to stop this. We are told from childhood, how to prevent ourselves from being attacked–don’t walk alone at night, don’t dress a certain way, don’t be a slut… We are told from the youngest years to take a boy’s affections as a compliment–whether we welcome them or not. We are told not to stay if we are abused, yet offered zero to little resources to make leaving an abusive relationship a reality. Men and boys aren’t told not to rape us. Men and boys are not told to not comment about a girl or women’s appearance, to not demand she smile, or to listen to her when she says “no.” Men and boys aren’t taught to not make jokes about hitting a girl or beating their wife, they are absolved of abuse because they were stressed out or drunk or whatever other excuse someone can make.

My mind races to how men can hate women so much, to the point they want to hurt and kill us? I don’t know what to do with that. I’ve been at the hands of men so desperate for power over me that they would abuse me–sexually, mentally, physically. I’m not sure where to put those feelings and this realization that the problem is so much more prevalent. It’s not just me. It’s not just my friends. It’s not just my family. It’s so many of us women who have been treated like objects to be controlled and used. My head literally hurts to think of it. I read the #YesAllWomen hashtag briefly tonight and had to stop because it was all too real.

Misogyny hurts all of us. It hurts us every moment of every day. On a day like today, the effect of it is quite clear and hard to dismiss. All of this weighs heavily on me tonight.

I wish I hadn’t given up hope as far as gun legislation goes. I’d like to say maybe this time something will be done. But, honestly, after Newtown, I can’t imagine what it will take to get Washington to take an active stance to end gun violence. That is something I have a hard time reconciling when I go to bed at night. I want this world to be a better place for my daughters.

Other things swarm my mind tonight. Things like how if this crime was in a certain part of Chicago, it would be reported much differently (would anyone care?). How if the shooter had been black or Muslim, how would the news reports be depicting the story?

I think about the people who will walk away from today seeing mental illness or the autism spectrum as meaning someone will kill. I think of all the stigma and hurt those in both communities already deal with. I think of the hurdles of admitting one needs help and then actually getting that help. I think of the jokes and comments people might make now, and how that may delay or prevent someone from coming forward to get that help.

I get angry thinking of how awful society is. I’m so tired but I know I have to keep going on. I have to keep writing about it. I have to keep speaking out about it. I have to keep educating others. I have to keep going until all of these issues are tucked away in our history books.

But for now… I do need some sleep. Be well. Be kinder to others. Be good to one another. This place really freaking needs that.

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2 comments

  1. Well articulated. I feel like I’m swimming in a whirlpool of grief and rage related to so many of the points you’ve eloquently worked through above. Focusing on being kinder is also a good first step, which is where I’m trying to send my energy. After a nap.

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