Beneath the Surface

Reactions from people in Isla Vista to the UCSB shooting

Bringing Revolution and Stop Patriarchy into the Mix

June 3, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers

Isla Vista


Isla Vista  Isla Vista

Photos: Special to Revolution

Isla Vista is a small college town of apartment buildings and restaurants next to the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). It’s a short walk from the apartment building where Elliot Rodger lived, and killed his roommates, to the IV Deli, where hundreds of flowers, signs, and chalked messages memorialize Christopher Michael-Martinez and others who were killed, to the sorority house where two young women were shot. In the wake of these shootings, as well as Rodger's manifesto declaring his motives of profound hatred for and resentment of women who had not sexually and emotionally serviced him, misogyny and the war on women have become the topic of over 2 million tweets on #YesAllWomen.

In Isla Vista, people are thinking deeply about this. There’s talk of healing—psychologists handing out candy and religious folks with dogs for students to pet are walking on Isla Vista’s few streets. But beneath the surface students are wrangling with the causes of the recent shootings and what can be done about it. In recent visitstaking out Revolution and Sunsara’s statement on the murders, we found people eager to talk. Most had read Elliot Rodgers’ manifesto, and some of the tweets on #YesAllWomen, and were thinking deeply about this, though they don’t necessarily seem to be having conversations about misogyny or the war on women with each other.

“I’m outraged that nothing’s been said about misogyny,” one young woman (who hadn’t seen #YesAllWomen) told us. “I’m going to email the head of the university. He said there will be more street lights. That’s just a band aid. I’m so angry! He (Elliot Rodger) had Aspergers, but that’s irrelevant. He didn’t come up with his ideas on his own.” Another woman who had organized a small march a few days after the killings told us that other people wanted to mourn, but she wanted to take to the streets to oppose this.

We talked with some young men about male entitlement. “Where does the sense of white male entitlement come from? They make you feel like you should be a man or you’re weak,” one told us. “You should have women giving you sex, and you should have ‘game,’ be able to talk to women and get them to give you sex.” The young man who said this felt that, “We have to reformat the whole society” and wrote, “Women are half of humanity” on a whiteboard we had brought.

A young Black woman from Oakland said that when she came to Isla Vista from Oakland, she expected to feel safer, but instead she felt just as much at risk.

A young man standing in front of the memorial said the murders flowed from patriarchy, which he thinks oppresses everyone, women and men. “The need for men to dominate women sexually is a big part of it. I learned about it in college here, I’ve taken two feminist studies courses already. And it’s true, everyone is held to a standard and those who don’t are shunned and ridiculed and especially for men, they need to prove themselves to be men, they need to do something to reinvigorate themselves, and sadly here’s how this one did it…. It’s a contradiction, an evident contradiction, it’s not even subtle.” Asked how to change this, he said: “Basically when occurrences like this come about to call it out and to educate people that this is how the patriarchy is oppressing everyone.”

Hearing that End Pornography and Patriarchy is calling on people to shake off the ways that society puts on us and fight for a whole different kind of culture, he said: “Men feel entitled to have sex and women aren't supposed to have sex at all. Men are supposed to have all the sex and women can't have sex, so how is that supposed to happen? If one is supposed to completely negate the other. It's a contradiction. It's an evident contradiction, it's not even subtle.”

What do you think about abortion rights?

“It's important that women have access, if they want to have it, that they should have it. My own personal thought is, I don't encourage it, but women should at least have the option to engage in it if they want to. It's not my body. I can't tell them what to do.”

What do you think can be done here to change this?

"We can’t automatically change people’s minds but the main thing is through education, demonstration, that this happens, sadly this did happen here, so people are more open about it, more perceptive to it now. The main thing we really can do at the moment is just educate people. Let them know that this happens. And it’s not right. Patriarchy affects everyone and demeans everyone.”

He wrote “End Patriarchy” on the whiteboard.

We struggled with people to take up the call from Stop Patriarchy to become part of the fight right now to defeat the war on women, to change the thinking in society by taking this on, and to forge a new culture in the process.

Another young woman said: “I’m a feminist, that’s believing in rights for everyone. I definitely think there is a war against women. I definitely think we’re still fighting for equality, I think we’re still discriminated against in the workplace, I think that we’re still discriminated against all over, I think that there’s definitely more rape, on women. Its dangerous for women to go out alone; it’s not dangerous for men to walk alone, I never go out anywhere by myself, especially here, it’s dangerous, but it’s a great community in certain aspects, on the other hand, it’s dangerous.”

In response to, one out of 5 women in college today is raped or sexually assaulted, she said: “The problem is, I think it has a lot to do with the choices that these women make, the drugs that they choose to do or the people that they associate themselves with. Like me, I try to stay away from people that I think are negative, and I try to stay away from the drugs, aside from marijuana—I love marijuana … but I think that when women choose to go out, in house parties, with thousands of people and hundreds of people, and you know, you’re just completely plastered, drunk, and on drugs, and you’re kind of throwing yourself into a really bad situation.”

 One of us responded, “But I don’t care if the woman was passed out, whatever, you don’t have a right to rape somebody.”

“Oh my god! No, I completely agree. I like to see both sides of it, because I don’t think that either side is, you know, I don’t wanna say right or wrong, I have views that if you put yourself in this position, and you are plastered, no that doesn’t give a right for a man to rape you, it doesn’t give a right for a man to take advantage of you. My friend was just drugged the other day—she woke up in the morning, had NO idea what happened. She’s a really responsible person and makes the right choices, so going with what you said, you know, she is a great person but got drugged, and you know, thank god she wasn’t raped or anything. But she went into the hospital and they talked to her, said you have cocaine, ecstasy, all this crazy stuff in her blood, and she’s never done any of that, never.”

We asked her, “What about the influence of pornography on how people think and the images of women?”

“I think it’s ingrained in our culture and we have this certain image that we have for women ingrained in culture from the age of infancy to adulthood. I think we are—from an age of infancy just have these ideas of what women are or should be ingrained in our head. I do fight to get equality, and you know, a lot of men think that we aren’t equal, because they are men, and I try to tell them, you know, my boyfriend for example, says that we were born to have certain roles, and I disagree, I just disagree, I think that women can be more nurturing, and more domesticated, but I don’t believe that we should have these specific roles…”

She asked what she could do and signed up to be in touch with End Pornography and Patriarchy.

A group of three young women walking by the memorial said they hadn’t thought about the war on women before this happened. “We go to school at City College,” one said. “We don’t live in Isla Vista. We try to stay away from here. Bad vibes here. Many things have been happening recently, like the riots, many people die here from like alcohol poisoning, or drug abuse… Many rapes occur here. Like date rape. People take advantage of other people. Women don’t walk by themselves here. I wouldn’t feel comfortable walking here alone. I just don’t like walking alone, like in Santa Barbara in general. There’s just a lot of men that … like, they can look completely normal but you don’t know….”

Another said she had gone on YouTube “and people were commenting like, why didn’t you women just do something for him? It’s the women’s fault for not giving him attention and not giving him what he wanted. I was so upset about that, because it’s not our fault.”

A young woman attracted by our signs asked what we were about. Weold we were here to call on people to be out on the streets, to talk to others, to build more resistance, and to say it doesn’t have to be like this; that this comes from a whole system, and we need a revolution to put an end to it.

She said, “Definitely.” And told us some of what she thinks needs to be changed. “There’s just so many people—in my own personal experiences, there’s just a lot of, especially males, out there that just think that they can take whatever they want from women. Especially here with the party culture…. I’ve been at gatherings before where men are just ready to have whatever I can get from you. And it’s like, whoa, you don’t know who I am, like any other girl here, like any woman, I can’t take it anymore. And it’s so bad because I’ve been mugged before in I.V., and gone to the police actually, and they actually told me, here in Isla Vista, 'What were you wearing that night? Were you asking for it?' Like, what were you doing to ask for this?I wasn’t asking for anything! I was just walking down the street, after taking care of a friend, and just trying to go back to my own home -- It makes me so fucking pissed off. I know myself and other friends, that have been put in that position, it’s like, Oh, were you asking for it?”

We asked what she thinks it’s going to take to stop it. “A lot of it is, just more women standing up for themselves is part of it. Because I just know, speaking to one thing in particular, a lot of females will just let it happen, and not say anything about it, and I think that’s wrong. I just feel like, personally, I tell my guy friends what’s up, let them know. Do you think I had an amazing time tonight because I get to have free drinks at parties and guys are all over me? No! You don’t know how that actually makes us feel. I think that’s one part of it. And part of it has got to be with the mass commercialization of partying, and the glorification of drugs. And just like from the campus—it just has to be put into a different way. It seems like a lot of the perspectives that people have, they don’t really understand. I’m just like walking around and looking and thinking, oh, my gosh, so much needs to be changed. There’s just so much.”

She got the paper and took some flyers to see about putting them in the store where she works.

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