May 28, 2014 - 9:21pm
BY MELISSA SCHOLKE
Articles describing the horrific tragedy that occurred at Isla Vista, California this past Friday continue to appear on newsfeeds across the nation while the stream of hashtags feverishly trends across Twitter.
While I fully support the emboldened outcry of my fellow feminists, I hesitate before opening each journalistic piece offering coverage of the incident. Before each click of the mouse, I wonder: “Now, what is this article going to say about the shooter?” Therein lies a flaw of our news media. While piece after piece sensationalizes the event, the media has yet to delve into the overreaching problems that led up to this rampage. The name of the perpetrator is plastered across cyberspace, but more of a focus should be placed on raising awareness of the dangers objectification and misogyny pose to our society.
Now, I don’t mean to insinuate news outlets are being neglectful in their coverage. Rather, I’m extremely troubled by the amount of the news hole occupied by a single individual. Why are news outlets continuing to only give attention to a man who was seeking infamy when he committed these acts? The motivations behind the rampage are complex and no single issue — whether it be mental illness, misogyny or objectification — is the sole driving force behind the incident.
However, I’m bothered by the manner in which some articles fail to acknowledge how the tragedy at Isla Vista illustrates a glaring epidemic still running rampant in this patriarchal society of ours. While this recent incident demonstrates the dangers of misogyny to an extreme degree, society needs to learn objectification and misogyny are harmful to women on every level. Likewise, these problems are far too prevalent and sadly go unaddressed in our society.
Objectification is the reduction of a human being until they are treated merely as an object. These young women and men were more than just the “beautiful blonde girls in revealing shorts” or the “obnoxious brutes” described in those chilling and vengeful YouTube videos.
Yes, the man responsible for their deaths was deeply troubled and a vehement misogynist who erroneously believed women owed him whatever he desired. However, he’s a single case out of many. The stereotypes and images polluting our society allow individuals to believe reducing a human’s worth to nothing more than good hair or their physique is acceptable. When women and a number of men are viewed merely as objects, it’s far too easy for others to treat them as such. Misogyny develops as a result. These flawed beliefs lead to the unbelievably large amount of violence and harassment women face on a daily basis, and they help to explain why the United States possesses one of the highest rates of rape in the world.
Misogyny, objectification, harassment and violence against women aren’t merely the ranting of angry feminists. They’re widespread problems with dire consequences. While these issues shouldn’t detract from the coverage of recent events, these actions indicate these issues have gone unaddressed for far too long and need to be brought to light.
Melissa Scholke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.