Punish Boys, Not Girls, For Misogyny
Updated: Mar 12
Uvalde shooter Salvador Ramos threatened teen girls but they didn't report him to the police. Why?
Image by Kerttu Northman from Pixabay
Several no surprises as the infuriating story of the Uvalde school massacre unfolds: Accused shooter Salvador Ramos fit the classic profile: Loner, violent, aggressive actions against others. Most of all, MISOGYNIST. What he doesn't share with most of his fellow NRA-sanctioned mass murderers is a domestic violence record, presumably because of his age and it's unlikely he ever had a girlfriend. I hope.
Ramos was active on teen social media platform Yubo, which billed itself as “a place where anyone can belong, feel safe and hang out.” Perhaps they should have added an asterisk for a footnote stating, Just kidding, we're pretty tolerant of harassment and bullying, especially of teenage girls. This wasn't his first offense. Ramos regularly threatened them with rape and murder, and some reported it to Yubo, who would temporarily ban him but then he'd return. Users who blocked him reported they could still see his threatening, misogynist comments in livestreams. One claimed Yubo did nothing when she reported him.
Which makes me wonder.
Why didn't they tell parents or the police?
No responsible adults seem to have been aware of Ramos's threatening presence online, and none appear to have known when he performed the traditional last ritual before committing mass murder: Proudly displaying online his new firearms purchases.
Yubo users reported they 'didn't take him seriously' and as for his misogyny, well, 'that's the way it is online'.
Sounds like the Sixties, when 'girl watching', catcalling, and workplace sexual harassment were 'just the way men are'.
Not only is there little shame in being a misogynist and threatening women, but it's a badge of honor in the 'manosphere'.
What might happen if Yubo was as serious as it claims about making the platform a safe place for kids? The CEO's fatuous letter in the wake of their user's vicious attack contains all the Zuckerberg-worthy mealy-mouthed platitudes and promises. "We take seriously our responsibility to make Yubo as safe as possible," (Uh-huh), "...we have been working to accelerate safety developments in our pipeline and further expand the scope of existing safeguards across our platform," (We're as serious as a Bugs Bunny cartoon about this), they've "deployed a new algorithm-based detection system, which we have been developing for over six months," (We've got the AI bots on this, okay? Can we please go back to the Amber and Johnny thing?)
What if Yubo took a hardcore stance against online violence threats and permanently banned miscreants? Maybe that's not good for business?
Why didn't the girls tell responsible adults? One Ontario girl said Ramos threatened to rape and kill her and her mother and shoot up her school. Perhaps the prospect of an American kid allowed across the border, presumably without his parents, seemed far-fetched. Others said they simply didn't take his threats seriously, despite school shootings by violent misogynist teenage boys having become a fact of American life, rather than notable violent outliers they were in Columbine days.
What other reason might teenage girls have for not telling responsible adults?
If I'd told my parents about Ramos I'd get punished. If I told the police, my parents would find out and I'd get punished.
They wouldn't call it 'punishment'. They'd say I did the right, responsible thing, but they'd tell me I could no longer be on Yubo, where I'd have a social life as well as rape threats. They'd call it 'protecting me'. They might even restrict my freedom 'just in case' Ramos came looking for me (easier to do when you stay within your own country).
Why didn't Christine Blasey didn't tell her parents about her near-rape attempt by teenage future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh? She wasn't supposed to be at a party with beer; she'd have gotten in trouble for sure if they'd found out. If she'd told them what happened they might have been supportive, but they would likely have reacted as my parents would have: They'd have restricted her social freedom 'for her protection'.
This reaction is actually worse than genuine punishment. When you're grounded, it's for a set period of time, and you know you deserve it, but when they're 'protecting' you it's for an unspecified period of time, often years. And you didn't do anything wrong. HE did.
I don't think I would have told my parents either.
This is how we all encourage, support, collaborate, empower, and cooperate with misogyny.
Why do we give boys free rein?
Little boys have more freedom than girls, starting with the sandbox. We excuse violent behavior by boys while telling girls to "Play nice." We're clearly not crushing budding misogyny in the Playskool set when little boys express dislike for girls. "How hard can that be if a stupid girl can do it?"
My brother was allowed more freedom than I when he was a teenager and when I pointed it out to my mother she said, "It's different for boys."
"What, because of rape?"
"Mostly. It's not fair, but it's for your protection."
My brother wasn't and isn't in any way a misogynist, but the message was clear: Misogyny is okay. Girls get punished because boys can't behave.
Boys especially can't control that troublesome little dangly thing.
Curfews for men
British peer Baroness Jenny Jones scandalized Englishmen last year when she floated the idea of a 'curfew for men' after the rape and murder of Sarah Everard, a young woman walking home at night. The inevitable "Why should we all get punished?" hysterics erupted from men who clearly had never thought about how females are born into a permanent curfew of one sort or another, as it's up to us to protect ourselves from male violence.
A writer for he-man British online magazine Spiked threw a strident, overly emotional tizzy over the notion that Jones's proposal, half-ironic and possibly half-serious, might be implemented. "This seems like a joke," he blustered. "After all, who would honestly propose such a mad, authoritarian idea?" Um, one member of the half of Britain who's tired of men having zero concept of what it's like living with the ubiquitous threat of authoritarian male violence, and not knowing who the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' are?
I've publicly supported the need to educate women on how to stand up for themselves and avoid male violence by making better choices; but we need to go farther holding men accountable than we have before. Maybe now they'll listen to us.
Educational campaigns for men have gone as far as they'll ever go, and if we're serious about fighting misogyny - and by 'we' I mean we women - then we've got to introduce some real consequences to misogynist behavior.
As American cities explode nationwide with mass shootings, property destruction and violence against others, almost all of it committed by free-range, uncontrolled men, let's imagine a community imposing a 9pm curfew for them, defined as anyone with a penis, or violent men will work around this by suddenly 'identifying' as women as some incarcerated sex offenders appear to be doing now and as one non-incarcerated multiple offender is accused of doing.
For this to work, there can be no exceptions.
Yes, this punishes a lot of men who aren't violent, nor does it address daytime crime like home invasions or smash-n-grabbing, but curfews would be the first shot across the bow of curtailing male crimes committed against women under cover of darkness, and perhaps drive home the point to a few more that it's not fair that all women must self-curtail to avoid male violence.
We didn't do anything wrong, either.
As for female criminals, the police will have a lot more time to answer these calls.
Just imagine how much easier everyone will sleep at night, except women living with abusers. Talking about curfews now, since they won't realistically happen anytime soon, gives them some time to think about the choices they've made and whether they want to deal with a potential Lockdown Part Deux, after they just survived Part Un. It might impel a few to make some tough decisions about whether to stay, and to make plans if they're not.
How about a trial six-month male curfew, then staggered back slowly from oldest (least likely to commit violent crimes) to the youngest (the most volatile male age group, 18-35)? Then, anyone who messes up goes back to his own curfew.
Men prone to bad behavior might well control themselves better when there are real consequences.
What can women do?
In 1972, feminist protesters on Wall Street staged an 'ogle-in' to educate men on what it felt like to be the object of unwanted public sexual attention.
"Look at the legs on that one! Sorry, you're beautiful too!"
Street harassment was 'acceptable' back then, and while it occurs today, there are more often consequences, as offenders learn from women who challenge them. I see men turning their faces as they approach myself or other women on the street. I know why. They don't want to be accused of ogling, or 'the male gaze' as we call it today.
Women are a lot less tolerant of sexual harassment in 2022, and less inclined to write it off as 'that's just how it is'. Except maybe online, and it's time to drive change there, too.
We can't afford to think this way anymore. Men can do far worse than make nasty sexual comments on the street. Now they threaten rape and death anonymously. Online.
Or in plain sight, like Salvador Ramos, when girls aren't willing to tell the authorities.
We can all start by reporting more online misogyny, even when social media doesn't do anything about it. We can pressure them to do more and call them out when they don't. Twitter offers the option to report a tweet for several reasons, and they send updates later inform you what actions they took. They don't tell the tweeter who made the complaint.
It's unclear whether Elon Musk will buy Twitter, so there may be less of a threat of the Trump gang returning and making the platform as safe for misogyny and misinformation as it was, and still is to some degree. We need to encourage our teenage girls to report more, especially anonymously. But most importantly, we can't punish them with 'protection'. I'm not fond of victimhood-centered feminism, but I'll support them here when they say the focus needs to be more on male behavior.
They're right. It's time to hold men accountable, and that means all men, including the ones who who are less innocent than they think. If that seems unfair, it is. Women understand this, because we've been held accountable for their offenses against us for thousands of years.
Curfews sound crazy, and many will argue 'unworkable', but we simply haven't normalized the idea. The public laughed at feminists complaining about ogling, 'girl watching' and sexual harassment fifty years ago.
Let's just hope it doesn't take fifty years for women to push misogyny off social media. And we can start by encouraging our teen girls, and not punishing them for 'doing the right thing'.
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