In May, the issue of misogyny rippled through the internet after the recent shooting at UCSB. A gunman, crippled with loneliness, killed six and injured thirteen people in Santa Barbara, California. In a series of videos, the gunman, Elliot Rodger, unleashed a tirade of self-deprecation and misogyny, wondering why women weren't attracted to him. This latest shooting has revealed the frighteningly hidden levels of misogyny buried in Americans. Rodger has gained sympathy points all over the country as if being rejection is enough justification to for him to start a “war on women.”

In Rodger’s last video, he spoke about his loneliness. “I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin…. It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime…. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.”

His words are so saturated with self-obsessed narcissism and insanity, but men everywhere found solace in Rodger’s misogynistic explications, which in turn started the Twitter hashtag, #NotAllMen. People would use the hashtag to separate themselves from Rodger’s action, saying that not all men are misogynistic psychopaths, so it’s wrong to assume all men are like that. It was a fair point, but it was ignoring a significant portion of the population that is misogynistic, that do blame women for their loneliness. Not only does it undercut the idea of feminism by creating this impression that feminists are dedicated to the annihilation of men, but it gives men an excuse to shy away from the glaring problems that people like Rodger pose to the fight for gender equality.

The hashtag, #YesAllWomen, took Twitter by storm. Women everywhere shared their experiences dealing with misogyny. They tweeted about the constant hyperawareness of their actions in order to protect themselves, such as having pepper spray in hand as you walk to your car in a parking deck. There were tweets criticizing the patriarchal dismissal of women saying no, such as having to say that you have a boyfriend in order to stop a man from hitting on you.

A significant aspect of Rodger’s ignorance that speaks wonders about his twisted mindset is his view of women as one whole being. “You girls,” he repeatedly says, as if all the girls in the world conspired to give him a lifetime of loneliness. Perceiving women as all the same people with the same thoughts and same personalities will impact the way you interact with them. Rodger’s perception of love as the be-all-end-all is that a woman’s only purpose in life is to be attached to a man. The objectification of women puts that part of the population on a pedestal and if they fail to reach it, misogyny worsens.

It’s true that not all men are like Rodger. No one with a functioning mind would think that a psychopath speaks for men all over the world. Not all men are alike. But at the same time, we need to start assuming the same for women.

Photo Credit: Anita Finlay

UniPro's The Vagina Monologues: Breaking the Maria Clara Image, Indeed

Moans, writhes, orgasms … it wasn't your typical UniPro event. On March 9, UniPro hosted The Vagina Monologues: Breaking the Maria Clara Image at Cap21 Studios. Based on interviews with real women, The Vagina Monologues is a play by Eve Ensler featuring hilarious, heartbreaking and uncomfortable confessions from different women about their, well, vaginas, relating to their personal stories of femininity and sexuality.

UniPro’s The Vagina Monologues production starred an all-Pilipina cast, with a special Pilipina twist added to parts of the script. In one monologue, for example, a “lola” ashamedly discussed her “down there.” Then at the end of the play, the cast stood side by side onstage, taking turns to share disturbing facts about victims of sexual violence:

"One in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. That’s more than one billion women living on the planet today."

"The NDHS revealed that one in five women aged 15-49 has experienced physical violence since age 15."

"One in ten Filipino women aged 15-49 has experienced sexual violence."

Following the play was a panel of representatives from various women’s rights organizations. These distinguished women included Ivy O. Suriyopas, Director of the Anti-Trafficking Initiative at AALDEF; Kristina K. Joyas, a member of AF3IRM (and UniPro’s Director of Staff Development); and Zarah K. Viñola, Vice-Chairperson for FiRE. They discussed ways their organizations are tackling issues that affect Pilipinas, as well as their own definitions of the term “feminist.”

Confronting topics ranging from rape and sexual violence to self-image and self-discovery, the night was emotional and thought-provoking. It was a seamless event and production, organized by Kirklyn Escondo, our Community Building Director, and directed by Precious Sipin and Leslie Espinosa. Music also added to the drama of the play, with Andre Ignacio Dimapilis on the didgeridoo and Andy Jean-Gilles on the djembe drums. Lastly, Stella Ma also spoke on behalf of the NYC Chapter of the National Pacific American Women’s Forum, informing the audience of the recent publication of their Health Resource Guide.

It’s rare seeing Pilipinas onstage, portraying characters with real depth to whom we can actually relate. It’s a stark difference from the roles Asian Americans are usually degraded to: the token Asian friend, unnamed nerd or exotic lover. Let’s not forget the title of our production, which references Maria Clara, the iconic character from Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere. This tragic heroine is known for her sweetness and obedience; she is a symbol (or perhaps a caricature) of the ideal Pilipina. Well, with all the talk of vaginas that Saturday night, the strong and talented women of UniPro’s production of The Vagina Monologues couldn't be any farther from Maria Clara.