The one thing I typically will choose to do on the rare occasion that I’m able to sit down and relax is to watch a documentary. While some people may go to the gym, read a book, or hang with friends, I typically choose to stay in, nestle up on my couch, and learn. While on my last bout of relaxation, I chose to watch the HBO documentary Questioning Darwin. Although it offers very little new insight into the evolution vs. creationism debate, it does offer an interesting new way to look at the recent social media hashtag war feminists, allies, and supporters found themselves in over the #YesAllWomen movement that took the world by storm.
Now, before I discuss #YesAllWomen, I have to admit that I did not enter into the safe space women created for themselves to tell tales of the horrible things they have and have had to face on a daily basis. I firmly believe that men should not have entered into the digital space that women created to “voice” their opinions on a subject that women, specifically two women (writer Annie Cardi (@anniecardi) and one other, who has since made her profile private to protect herself and her identity) created. Although I did see men chiming in as allies from time to time, the #YesAllWomen space proved more than ever that some men really can’t just shut up and let women have a space all to themselves.
The #YesAllWomen movement has become a tome of lived experiences where women were and are able to share the pain that they have, currently, or fear they will one day, experience. The troubling aspect of the hashtag activism that took place wasn’t that women were openly talking about these horrible experiences but rather that the men, who openly engaged, accused, harassed, and ridiculed women (and some men), felt they had to do so in order to defend themselves from stories that had nothing to do with them personally, but rather indirectly put their divinely sanctioned manhood under duress.
This leads us back to the main question – what does all of #YesAllWomen dialogue have to do with the HBO documentary Questioning Darwin? Simply, 1 Timothy 2:13, that states: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve” and Genesis 2:18: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper [read: woman] suitable for him’” have led many men and women to become victims of a God complex that appears to have divinely ordained men to rule over women. While many of us have written about and refuted these biblical passages and norms, the sad and oftentimes painful aspect of the debate is that many communities and people, both young and old, believe these passages to be the literal word and wishes of God.
While the arguments in Questioning Darwin between creationists and evolutionists did not diverge from the same ones we have heard over time, the one argument that rose above the rest was that the men, who touted and blew their horns for the sake of creationism’s significance, often stated that they (read: men) could never have evolved from a primate because they were not only to rule over them, as dictated in Genesis 1:28, but also because they, as men, were made in the image of God and therefore bestowed with certain divine rights and privileges that primates and those created as helpers (read:women) did not have. This ultimately lead men to feel as if they were the oath keepers of some divine truth, both within and outside of scripture, that places them atop of the proverbial totem pole of life.
22-year-old Elliot Rodger, the author of “My Twisted World,” a 141-page manifesto that he created prior to going out on a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California near the University of California Santa Barbara killing seven people and a major proponent for why the #YesAllWomen debate started, stated: “I would have an enormous tower built just for myself, where I can oversee the entire concentration camp and gleefully watch [women] all die…If I can’t have them, no one will…Women represent everything that is unfair in this world, and in order to make this world a fair place, women must be eradicated.” Rodger and his MRA (Men’s Rights Activist) ilk all prove the point that men like him think and feel that women are not only objects that they can control but also can do away with at any given moment because they, like God, can do whatever they want. They are the leaders of the world and therefore everyone else should just fall in line.
The success of the #YesAllWomen movement isn’t that it openly allowed women the spaces to talk about their painful lived experiences and fears but that it helped them to prove the point that their safe spaces are oftentimes eradicated by the likes of Elliot Roger, Paul Elam, Anders Breivik, and many other individuals who feel it is their place to tell women what to do and inflict verbal, mental, and physical violence upon them if they don’t listen. #YesAllWomen proved that although not all men commit horrible crimes against women, the men that often get the headlines and create the most controversy are the ones that need to be watched out for.
If you can or have the ability to stomach their various manifestos or read their tweets and blog posts, the one thing that will ring true above all else is that these men feel threatened by strong and empowered women and girls, who they truly believe to be both beneath them and ruining the world that they are to rule over with their feminist agendas. Although a lot of these MRA and religious men like to think they are Gods, they in reality, after watching Questioning Darwin or reading tweets like the one below, are sometimes nothing more than a bunch of baboon’s asses contained in 140 characters. Although they like to admit that they did not descend from apes, they oftentimes can be found acting like a bunch of babbling baboons.
John Erickson is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History at Claremont Graduate University. He holds a MA in Women’s Studies in Religion; an MA in Applied Women’s Studies; and a BA in Women’s Literature and Women’s Studies. The LGBTQ and women’s rights movements, masculinity studies, gender theory, and the utilization of technology in forming communities and creating new teaching methodologies influence his research interests. His work is inspired by the intersectionality of feminism, queer identity, LGBTQ history, and religious and sexual cultural rhetoric. He is a Non-Fiction Reviewer for Lambda Literary, the leader in LGBT reviews, author interviews, opinions and news since 1989 and the Co-Chair of the Queer Studies in Religion section of the American Academy of Religion’s Western Region, the only regional section of the American Academy of Religion that is dedicated to the exploration of queer studies in religion and other relevant fields in the nation. When he is not working on his dissertation, he can be found at West Hollywood City Hall where he works on policies and special events relating to women, gender, sexuality, and human rights issues that are sponsored or co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood. He is the author of the blog From Wisconsin, with Love and can be followed on Twitter @JErickson85
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