Even as students are still dealing with the shock of hearing gunshots in front of a local convenience store and seeing the dead and wounded bodies in the street, many here are urging others to consider the implications of the attack. And they are also thinking about the catcalls, leers and the fears of sexual violence that have them traveling in packs and carrying pepper spray in their purses.
Of course, they say, a lewd look is not the same as a sexual assault. An unwanted comment is not the same as a gunshot. But many women interviewed on this sun-splashed campus and commenting online said they believed that some of the attitudes toward women expressed by the gunman, Elliot O. Rodger, in his perverse manifesto of rage and frustration reflect some views that are echoed in the mainstream culture.
It’s incredibly troubling and unsettling that it takes mass murder to bring serious national attention to the insidious culture that criticizes and seeks to limit women’s choices, that lashes out at feminism and political correctness, that debates when something is really rape, that claims men and manliness are under attack, that leads to and even embraces violence against women in any form.
But it’s far more troubling and far more unsettling that a very significant percentage of the populace wants to insist that this mass shooting isn’t a crystal clear example of a hate crime perpetrated by a disturbed individual whose only kinship seemed to be with a community of extremist bigots and misogynists who feel themselves entitled to dismiss and react violently to the choices made by women.