Elliot Rodger, #YesAllWomen and living with sexism
The day after I heard about the Elliot Rodger shooting spree, I ran into a bad person from my past. I rounded a corner as I went through my daily routine and saw a man I worked for several years ago who proved to be a toxic, dangerous individual. I immediately went into a cold sweat. I lost my ability to focus. I fought against a wave of panic. I’d never been put in immediate physical danger by this person, but he encouraged a sexist, abusive work culture that left me a nervous mess. I immediately felt threatened in his proximity. I couldn’t help but think of Elliot Rodger, a man who was easily able to pass the scrutiny of law enforcement officials, passersby and acquaintances as a normal, unthreatening person.
Since I heard about the Rodger shooting through the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter, I’ve been reading many other women’s shared stories of a constant sense of threat and unease, the miasma of come-ons and harassment and a million little microaggressions that weigh on women every day. I couldn’t help but feel this encounter with this old ghost was a well-timed example. Here is a man who still has a relative degree of power, who is still able to persuade people to listen to him, who has used his money and white male privilege to escape any repercussions for his numerous predatory behaviors. Yet it was my day that was thrown off. I was the one who was left with a racing mind and sweaty armpits.