Trigger warming: extreme violence against women, discussion of murder, suicide, online bullying
As a sexologist, I’ve been writing and educating about sexual double standards for years; the age-old damned if you do, damned if you don’t predicament women face about their sexuality. If you have sex, you won’t be respected, but if you don’t have sex, you still won’t be respected. It’s an impossible paradox. This week, that paradox became deadly. This week women have died for saying yes to sex. And women have died for saying no.
First, earlier this week the story of Alyssa Funke broke. She said yes to sex. And she agreed to film it for other people to enjoy while masturbating, and was paid to do so. When her friends and the internet found out about her porn video, she was harassed so vehemently she committed suicide with a shotgun. She was slut-shamed to death. She’s dead because she said yes to sex, and people (mostly men) tormented her about this fact. They tormented her about her decision the have sex until the point that she believed being dead was a better scenario that dealing with the torment.
BUT THAT WASN’T ENOUGH FOR THEM!
Even though she’s dead, men continue to tweet at her remarks that simultaneously shame her for saying yes to sex, relish her death, and delight in masturbating to her video. The tone I read over and over again was “She filmed herself having sex, so she deserved to die. I enjoyed watching her have sex, but she still deserved to die.”
If some men believe the death penalty should be the punishment women, and women alone, receive for saying yes to sex, they must believe that sex is the worst of crimes, and we should therefore say no to sex. But saying no to sex resulted in women’s deaths this week too. The double standard isn’t just damned if you do, damned if you don’t anymore. It’s dead if you do, dead if you don’t.
A man killed 6 people and wounded 7 others at the University of California Santa Barbara two days ago, shooting into a sorority house, as promised, as "retribution" that since puberty women have denied him the sex and attention that he thought he deserved for being a “gentleman”. Women said no to sex, and now women are dead.
BUT THAT WASN’T ENOUGH FOR THEM!
Men began posting to twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that, well, these women got what they deserved. The tone I read over and over again was “This is what bitches get for denying the guy some pussy. He was a rich, good looking guy, and stuck up selfish prude sluts wouldn’t put out. Let this be a lesson to you ladies, the next time you refuse a man a blow job.”
It is open season on women. If he was black and he drove down the street killing people from his car window, he would have been labelled a “thug”. If he was middle eastern and struck fear into an entire town by murdering strangers as they walked down the street, he would have been labelled a “terrorist”. But he was an affluent, young, white man on a mission to murder women, so he’s just a depressed guy who understandably snapped after being rejected by women for too long.
So what can we do to stop this? We can refuse to participate in policing other people’s sexuality. We can call it out when we see others doing it. We can petition the media to address the misogyny and sexual double standard when discussing these murders. We can talk about it- blog about it, post status updates about it, write school papers about it, talk to friends about it. When it happens online, we can report it.
But we have so much work to do. When I reported to twitter that people were still sending horrific messages to Alyssa Funke, calling her a “whore” and rejoicing in her suicide, twitter informed me that they will not investigate my complaint. Only the person being subjected to the harassment directly can file a report, they told me. Well, Alyssa can’t do that twitter. She’s dead.