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Tabatha Southey (on calling hatred hatred)

Ms. Southey is a fine Canadian writer. The Santa Barbara killings couldn’t have shocked her, but what she noticed in all the public commentary was that many issues suddenly needed to be talked about right now. Mental illness was there, of course. Guns. Race. She wasn’t complaining about our culture’s developing capacity to talk about realities that were once hush-hush. She was pointing out that misogyny wasn’t among them. What do people talk about when they talk about “honour killings” of supposedly shameful women, such as recent events in Pakistan (or Ottawa)? Insane ideology might get a mention, and Muslim extremism in general. We’re less likely to mention a rampant condescension towards what some men persist in regarding (sometimes consciously) as an “inferior” species, and a hatred of that stubborn species when women and girls presume to act as if they were capable of deciding and acting like human beings — that is to say, men — are expected to do. The road to realizing the equality between men and women is thorny, bloody dangerous — not only for women, but most brutally and frequently for them.

Southey’s strong, grimly witty article is here, and well worth a read. I quote only a bit of her true and pointed conclusion. She’s talking about the now world-famous “virgin killer”, whose manifesto is full of vile revenge fantasies against women. It’s crazy, no doubt, but fuelled by a much-distilled, 200-proof batch of misogyny. It wasn’t simply a case of a “man” killing people because women wouldn’t have sex with him:

“Women didn’t have sex with him because they sensed he wanted to kill them. Women are often ninjas of placation and extrication – because that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ thing isn’t supported by statistics….Yet an alleged murderer can detail his aspiration to watch all women starve to death in a concentration camp and any suggestion that misogyny contributed to his crimes will be slapped down like a fat summer fly….

“Women were again sternly reminded…that ‘not all men’. If we were talking about rhino poaching, we wouldn’t be expected to begin the conversation by saying we know that not all men poach rhinos….No one would be chastized for not sending out a disclaimer, ‘I’m very grateful to all the amazing people in my life who’ve never slaughtered a rhino,’ or declaring that most of the men they know are practically goddamned rhino veterinarians. We’d just talk about what the hell we were going to do because rhinos are in danger.”

Tabatha Southey writes for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper.

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