The confluence of the death of Maya Angelou, a strong woman with a strong voice, just the kind of woman we need now, and the Elliot Rodger rampage brought on by his hatred of women (yes, as well as his mental illness), has prompted me to take an afternoon and write this out to you, my male friends. Because this tragedy could give us opportunities to talk about so many important things, like reasonable gun control, the state of mental health care in this country, and/or the disgusting epidemic of celebrating infamy in our culture (the Kardashianization of America, if you will), I encourage you to think about those things, and discuss them amongst yourselves. However, let me be clear: I’m going to use this space to talk about the way women are treated in this culture. Before you go all “Not ALL men” on me, or make fun of the social media phenomenon of #YESAllWomen, just go read some of these “manosphere ideas” * and tell me whether you’d feel comfortable being thought of and discussed this way. I’m thought of this way, as is my daughter, and my mother, and all the women I know, by men just like those quoted in that last linked article, and those sites that Rodger frequented. Now tell me you don’t know any men who think of women that way. If you say you don’t, you’re either very lucky or very lying. I’ve known some men who think like Elliot Rodger thought. Plenty, in fact. Now let me tell you a story.
The first time I visited New York City, I was 22 years old. I went with some friends from law school. We were at a bar early one evening before dinner. One of my friends and I went to the restroom, and walking back through the crowded bar to rejoin our friends, someone behind me grabbed my hair, and jerked me back hard, at the same time, demanding loudly, “Where the f**k have you been?” Continue reading “If You Are My Friend, And You Are a Man, You’ll Read This”