My son Tim is here visiting from Norway where he is in grad school. He came with his lovely Norwegian girlfriend Karin. Karin told me about Sami – the reindeer herders – and now I am obsessed with it! (And no, I haven’t seen Frozen yet.)Read More »
I visited Isla Vista this week. My brother-in-law (aka “little brother”) lives in Isa Vista and is also attending UCSB, where six students were recently killed due to the rage of a frustrated young man who had mental health problems and was angry at women. We panicked all night because we couldn’t reach our little brother. The killings happened just a couple blocks from his home. We called, texted, facebooked, Skyped, emailed. All night. No word. We were terrified. As it turned out, he and a friend had stayed home to watched movies. He heard the gunshots, but he was fine.
(Click each photo to see it larger)
I am also enrolled in a university that is based in Santa Barbara.
I also know what it’s like to be at the receiving end of misogyny and slut-shaming, from personal interactions with misogynists without a conscience, to my former religion, my work, to social media, and even from reputable corporations like Discovery Networks, Investigation Discovery, History Channel and others. (A couple years ago I shared a story from my past of surviving trauma that was orchestrated by a criminal mastermind, but they turned it into one of those “stupid woman caused it herself and deserved what she got” stories. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but the media is accountable to no one.) The media is absolutely part of the problem, and this is why I am now pursuing my PhD in Media Psychology at a university in Santa Barbara.
Needless to say, I felt a connection with this tragedy and this town, and I wish I could find a way to use media make the world a safer place for women. For everyone.
So a few days ago, my husband and I went to visit Isla Vista. Little brother showed Tolga and I the memorials. We both had a lump in our throats.
This is where it all started. This was the home of 22-year old Elliot Rodger, the UCSB student who expressed his rage against the women who rejected him by slaughtering people, then taking his own life.
Messages were still there. Through heart-felt words, flowers, chalk writings and candles, people expressed their love for those who lost their lives here.
You’re in our hearts forever.
No one was in a hurry to take all the special remembrances away. Someone put a box of chalk there for people to express their feelings. No one stole it.
What they did do, however, was move items from the memorial sites into the UCSB library to create a CD of digital images of the memories, messages and notes. Someone politely left a letter explaining it all on a page covered by a sheet protector, weighted down by two candles.
This is the street outside of the apartment building where Elliot Rodger lived.
The street on Isla Vista where Rodger plowed through people and sprayed businesses with bullets.
Above – the sidewalk outside the IV Deli Mart where Rodger left more casualties
A happy face balloon with a graduation hat. Perhaps it was a message for one of the students about to graduate?
Outside IV Deli Mart. Beautiful signs of life, and of lives so loved.
Messages about gun control still reign prominent.
So much anguish, so much to say.
The recovery message is profound. “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that” MLK
The names of the deceased are held in place by a Teddy Bear
- a poignant reminder of innocence amidst the pain and sorrow.
A love note or message of caring is tucked into the bear’s shirt. I wanted to read it,
but somehow I felt unworthy.
The community mourned Katherine Cooper, Christopher Martinez, Veronika Weiss, Weihan Wang, George Chen, and Cheng Yuan Hong, and celebrated the incredible lives they lived. Read about them HERE.
Emily Lindin, the founder of the UnSlut Project, wrote “In Killer’s World, Victims are Blamed.” It got picked up by CNN, and this young lady is my new hero. She wrote that Rodgers “is the product of a culture that condones and in many cases endorses the belief that if you are a ‘nice guy’ — or a ‘supreme gentleman’ as Rodger described himself — you are somehow entitled to sex with women.”
“After the killings, the extent of misogyny in this community was revealed in the creation of a Facebook page called ‘Elliot Rodger Is an American Hero,’ with the advice for everyone to ‘share your thoughts and pay your respects to Elliot Rodger here. Also, view this final message from our beloved hero,’ which links to his videotaped rant, with commenters expressing solidarity with his desire for revenge against women. The page has since been taken down.” Emily Lindin
On a piece of cardboard supported by a bike stand, someone wrote,
“Those we love don’t go away,
They walk beside us every day
Unseen, unheard, but always near,
Still loved, still missed and very dear.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
The community is rallying for the victims’ families and the survivors. This donation box is in the IV Deli Mart, where Christopher Michaels-Martinez lost his life.
The community, still reeling in disbelief, tries to carry on.
There’s a message to learn that we all hope does not fade away after the flowers are gone. We have an opportunity to honor the victims, the survivors and the families by making all this make a difference.
Will it be about gun control, mental health, respecting women, victim blaming or something else? Emily Lindin thinks the conversation needs to be about misogyny.
“But as we move forward and try to make sense of what happened, it’s our responsibility to start productive, respectful conversations about the misogyny behind Rodger’s actions,” she wrote.
As I walked back to the car, I saw a homeless man and another man being comforted by a college co-ed. I got the impression the man was a witness the night it happened.
They were perfect strangers, but she stopped walking her dog to comfort him in his time of need. He cried and she listened.
Whoever she is, she is a saint.
Maybe she cried and he listened too.
Maybe that is how we can make beautiful meaning come from this tragedy. Maybe that’s how we can change the world:
Listening when people cry, and then hugging instead of hating.
Just like the fathers of Elliot Rodger, the killer, and his victim, Chris Martinez.
Hugging instead of hating. Loving instead of blaming.
Photo taken from http://bit.ly/1mxMhYT
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