Entitlement lurks behind sexist corruption and cruelty everywhere, from corporate offices to the Oval Office. The attitude that women are indebted to men perpetuates problems ranging from skewed power dynamics to physical threats.
A student named Shana Fisher was one of the 10 killed in the Santa Fe High School shooting on May 18. According to Fisher’s mother Sadie Rodriguez, the suspect had been making advances toward Fisher for four months and grew increasingly aggressive despite her turning him down repeatedly. A week after Fisher stood up to him in class, the suspect opened fire on students he didn’t like and, according to Rodriguez, Fisher was the first one.
While this shooting may be an extreme reaction to rejection, violence toward women for such reasons is a prevalent problem. The dangerous—and sometimes deadly—rage of rejection is a very real issue for women everywhere every day. Misogynistic entitlement is causing mass violence, and it needs to stop.
Violence toward women for such reasons is a prevalent problem. The dangerous—and sometimes deadly—rage of rejection is a very real issue for women everywhere every day. Misogynistic entitlement is causing mass violence, and it needs to stop.
Entitled hostility can take various forms, from domestic violence to sexual harassment to blackmail. On May 22, a licensed Los Angeles lawyer was arrested for allegedly threatening to revoke a woman’s visa unless she had sex with him. Male entitlement also plays a role in the sexual harassment that occurs in workplace environments worldwide, publicized or not. A study by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimated 75 percent of workplace harassment cases go unreported. Intertwined with warped power structures is the delusion that women are somehow sexually indebted to men.
Abuse of power, whether by brandishing a professional position or a physical threat, often involves abuse of women. Take President Donald Trump’s pussy-grabbing statements as just one example.
There is no logic or justification to this entitlement, and its cause is difficult to pinpoint. Do predatory men feel inherently entitled due to some primal instinct, or does the issue stem from an inherited problematic societal structure? While it is unacceptable either way, I choose to believe in the latter because it leaves more room for change. But this change needs to happen now. If we don’t work to shift toxic mindsets and power dynamics soon, they will continue to harm women.
If you have no experience as a woman, reflect on your own behaviors. Even if you think you are harmlessly flirting, know that women might feel uncomfortable due to the real risks we face. Acknowledge the fact that you do not understand what women go through every day in situations you may not think twice about, such as walking down the street, taking public transportation or trying to have a good time while out with friends.
You may also subconsciously internalize entitled attitudes whether or not you are in a committed relationship. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, nearly one in 10 women in the U.S. have been raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime. Your girlfriend or fiance or wife does not owe you sex or marriage or children. Help contribute to a safe and comfortable environment for women by respecting us as individuals and respecting our boundaries. It’s that simple.
The modern world is well overdue in grasping the concept that a woman’s purpose is not to serve as a mere vessel for penises and babies. Women are not required to fill cookie-cutter roles of obliging mothers or wives. As powerful as the female body may be, our power goes far beyond it. And as obvious as these statements are to some people, our society needs to directly and concretely reflect this understanding that women are individuals with as much inherent power as men.
We do not owe you our time or attention. We do not owe you a smile or a conversation. We do not owe you our phone numbers. We do not owe you a date, a second date or our bodies in any capacity. And when refusing to give you whatever it is you demand from us, we do not owe you an explanation.