When Santa Barbara police arrived at Elliot Rodger’s apartment last month—after Rodger’s mother alerted authorities to her son’s YouTube videos, where he expressed his resentment of women who don’t have sex with him, aired his jealousy of the men they do choose, and stated his intentions to remedy this “injustice” through a display of his own “magnificence and power”—they left with the impression that he was a “perfectly polite, kind and wonderful human.” Then Rodger killed six people and himself on Friday night, leaving a manifesto that spelled out his virulent hatred for women in more explicit terms, and Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown deemed him a “madman.” How was it missed? This is something that will be asked quite a bit in the coming days, months and years. Perhaps the question should be "Why was it missed?".. As some of you are now aware, I am personally going through a personal crisis. I was attacked in my own home by a man known to me and my family. Twice.. In fact, he is the father of my nephews. Long story short, several weeks ago, he attempted to sexually molest me while our children were in the next room after supposedly suffering a severe mental breakdown and a couple of weeks ago, he broke into my property while I was having a nap on my couch in my family room while sick with the flu.. and he raped me. One minute I was feverishly asleep and the next, a man was on top of me, biting into my breasts as he penetrated me and then he started to punch me when I tried to scream and fight him off. I eventually succeeded and ran for help. He was eventually found and arrested, charged, but has subsequently been released due to mental illness while his lawyers do their best to get him off. While his ex wife, my former sister-in-law, are convinced mental mental illness may very well be a factor in all of this, some things were not normal well before he fell ill. But I read something today which struck a chord. Another rude awakening played out on social media this weekend as news of Rodger’s attack spread around the world. When women took to Twitter to share their own everyday experiences with men who had reduced them to sexual conquests and threatened them with violence for failing to comply—filing their anecdotes under the hashtag #YesAllWomen—some men joined in to express surprise at these revelations, which amassed more quickly than observers could digest. How can some men manage to appear polite, kind, even “wonderful” in public while perpetuating sexism under the radar of other men’s notice? And how could this dynamic be so obvious to so many women, yet completely foreign to the men in their lives? Some #YesAllWomen contributors suggested that men simply aren’t paying attention to misogyny. Others claimed that they deliberately ignore it. There could also be a performative aspect to this public outpouring of male shock—a man who expresses his own lack of awareness of sexism implicitly absolves himself of his own contributions to it. But there are other, more insidious hurdles that prevent male bystanders from helping to fight violence against women. Among men, misogyny hides in plain sight, and not just because most men are oblivious to the problem or callous toward its impact. Men who objectify and threaten women often strategically obscure their actions from other men, taking care to harass women when other men aren’t around. For quite a few years, I had told my husband that his sister's husband made me feel uncomfortable. He would stare at me. Drop by for bizarre visits when I was alone at home. Comment on my clothes, my hair, keep seating himself next to me at family gatherings. Make lewd and rude jokes and comments while staring at me, my breasts, my legs when I was wearing a skirt. In short, I always used to tell my ex husband that I thought he was creepy. And my husband never saw it. He never noticed any of it. Hindsight is an amazing tool. My husband never saw it because it never happened that much in front of him and if it did, it was voiced and acted in a way that made it appear oh so innocent. And no matter how many times I would tell him that I did not feel comfortable, he would always dismiss it and say that he was just joking or perhaps my job was making me antsy. So much so that I had started to believe that was actually the case. Clearly, I was not wrong. One of the most astounding things I have noticed since Elliot Rodger went on his killing spree and his horrific manifesto was the reaction to women explaining their experiences. Over the weekend, as the discussion across Twitter turned to these horrible events, a lot of men started tweeting this, saying “not all men are like that.” It’s not an unexpected response. However, it’s also not a helpful one. Why is it not helpful to say “not all men are like that”? For lots of reasons. For one, women know this. They already know not every man is a rapist, or a murderer, or violent. They don’t need you to tell them. Second, it’s defensive. When people are defensive, they aren’t listening to the other person; they’re busy thinking of ways to defend themselves. I watched this happen on Twitter, over and again. Third, the people saying it aren’t furthering the conversation, they’re sidetracking it. The discussion isn’t about the men who aren’t a problem. (Though, I’ll note, it can be. I’ll get back to that.) Instead of being defensive and distracting from the topic at hand, try staying quiet for a while and actually listening to what the thousands upon thousands of women discussing this are saying. Fourth—and this is important, so listen carefully—when a woman is walking down the street, or on a blind date, or, yes, in an elevator alone, she doesn’t know which group you’re in. You might be the potential best guy ever in the history of history, but there’s no way for her to know that. A fraction of men out there are most definitely not in that group. Which are you? Inside your head you know, but outside your head it’s impossible to. This is the reality women deal with all the time. Before what I’m saying starts edging into mansplaining, let me note that also over the weekend, the hashtag #YesAllWomen started. It was a place for women to counter the #NotAllMen distraction, and to state clearly and concisely what they actually and for real have to deal with. All the time. This is the reality for women. Unfortunately men saw the #YesAllWomen as being an attack on their sex. And the reaction was at times, hateful, sexist and yes, deeply misogynistic. And it is this misogyny which many never see, yet always act surprise when it manifests itself in ways that few want to even think about. To put this into some perspective, one only has to look at the current gun debate in the US and its disgusting foray into the vitriolic hatred towards women. Texas has recently seen a surge in protests by gun owners, who turn up at family frequented shopping malls, restaurants, and other stores with all of their big guns on display, in protest against their inability to openly carry handguns in Texas. While they can openly carry loaded long guns, handguns cannot be openly carried. A group by the name of Open Carry Texas is leading the charge. However groups that are against their form of protests are seeing a rise in threatening behaviour, intimidation, and overtly sexualised responses to their carrying big guns around everywhere while marching in large armed groups. Women who protest against the open carry protesters in Texas have found themselves the target of exceptional misogyny, threats of violence, threats of having their names and addresses made public, of being stalked and harassed, , threats of rape and death. Jennifer Longdon, a victim of gun violence, has had men show up at her house, has had her address posted on gun forums and on anti-women sites, has had a man show up at her house at night with a fake gun to intimidate her. One group against the gun extremists, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, have also had similar experiences. The men who stage these protests against laws that prevent them from openly carrying a handgun are now going after women. This was made quite clear when they posted a video of their target practice: Open Carry Texas takes pains to convey a clean, friendly image in the press. Last November, the group made national news after some 40 members armed with assault rifles showed up outside an Arlington, Texas, restaurant where four women from Moms Demand Action were having lunch. The group released a statement saying it was being misunderstood: "In reality, the peaceful gun owners were posing for a photo." After a rally outside Austin City Hall this April, Grisham told the Texas Tribune, "We're not out there to bait police officers or to scare the community. We wave, we smile, we hand out fliers. If we see someone who seems really nervous, we’ll talk to them." What the group hasn't publicized are some of its members' more degrading antics. In March, a group of them held a "mad minute" at a firing range, pulverizing a female mannequin with a hail of bullets. They positioned the figure with her hands raised in surrender, naked from the waist up. Afterward, they posed with the bullet-riddled mannequin, her arms blown off and her pants down at her ankles. "Mad minute" is a military expression referring to a burst of rapid fire, and Open Carry Texas members have often referred to Moms Demand Action as "mad moms." Four of the men who shot up the mannequin were present at the Arlington restaurant, including one listed by Open Carry Texas as a board member and the group's Director of Operations. Grisham said he was not part of the group at the gun range, but when the mannequin video was posted on Facebook, he commented: "Warms the cockles of my heart." Recently he called women from Moms Demand Action "ignorant, retarded people," and last fall he referred to them as "thugs with jugs." "My purpose with language like that was to draw attention to the hypocrisy," Grisham says, noting that opponents have used similar invective. "A lot of times when I make these statements, I'm making them in jest, based on language that's being used against us. I've since decided that it's petty, it's childish, I'm not going to play those childish games anymore, so you wont catch me using 'thugs with jugs'. I've moved on." They show up in groups of a few dozens, all carrying very large guns, and simply flood into eateries at lunch hour where families, women especially, are eating out with their kids. If these women protest or complain, they are threatened and harassed. Their tactics are now so bad that the NRA has asked them to stop and with good reason. For the NRA, this has become a nightmare for political reasons. However the NRA never addressed the fact that the open carry protesters are targeting and harassing women and men for that matter. Instead, they are asking them to stop because it makes gun owners look weird. They are not seeing the outright misogyny of their protests. No words were written against their threats of rape, sexual assault, stalking and harassment of women. The misogyny remains unseen and unnoticed. When Elliot Rodger went on his killing spree, it opened a lot of eyes. For some, not for the right reason. Rodger belonged to several men's rights sites which focus on the denigration of women. There is a culture that focuses on hating women. As Phil Plait explains, this culture exists and instead of men trying to do something about it, the response is to go on the defensive and say 'not all men are like that'. The murderer was active on men’s rights fora, where women are highly objectified, to say the very least. They are seen as nonhuman by many such groups, and at the very least lesser than men—sometimes nothing more than targets or things to acquire. What these men write puts them, to me, in the same category as White Power movements, or any other horribly bigoted group that “others” anyone else. While it may not be possible to blame the men’s rights groups for what happened, from the reports we’ve seen they certainly provided an atmosphere of support. [HR][/HR] We need to change the way we talk to boys in our culture as well as change the way we treat women. And one final word on this. As a man, having written this post I expect there will be comments insulting me, comments questioning my manhood (whatever twisted definition those people have of such a thing, if it even exists), and so on. But you know what there won’t be? People threatening to stalk me and rape me and kill me for having the audacity to say that women are people, and that we should be listening to them instead of telling them how to feel. Yet that is precisely what every woman on the Internet would face if she were to write this. Just as the police failed to notice the blatant misogyny of Rodger, just as the NRA failed to address the open misogyny of some of its members and gun rights activists.. The culture of misogyny continues because people just don't see it. Perhaps it is something they are used to? Perhaps they just don't know where to look? The more it is ignored and disregarded and laughed at when a woman comments on it, the more it will continue. Only now, the language has taken on a sinister tone. Will people start paying attention? Will people stand up to threats of rape and abuse and sexual harassment? Or will they just claim that 'he seems like a normal and polite man to me', despite his mother's concern and what she clearly saw was a danger? Or will people continue to defend themselves and keep reminding us that not all men are like this? Or will it just be ignored, like it has been with the NRA? Misogyny hurts. It hurts women physically, mentally and emotionally. So why do people still not see it? And why do so many keep doing it? For example, I have seen some people go off at me and about me, for example, in ways that are deeply misogynistic. When confronted with this, I was told that they were angry and just letting off steam.. This apparently excused the misogyny.. Since when was it acceptable to let off steam by directly making gender based sexualised attacks about and against others? After I was raped, my former sister in law accused me of ruining the lives of her sons. Apparently I should not have called the police and I should have tried to handle it within 'the family'.. That I over-reacted to it. That I was being silly.. That I should have known better than to fall asleep with the back sliding door leading out to my deck unlocked while the backyard was overly secure (front yard is fenced with security gates, side gates are also high security gates).. That it was just sex.. And now I ask myself, what kind of message does this send to the boys in our family? And how can she not see what was plain to see? How can she defend it?