Saying “NO” is Always an Option



I’ve been watching this story about shooter Elliott Rodger closely. What I find particularly interesting is that this young man’s neurosis and mental health issues have been documented online and are still there for the world to see. Go over to his YouTube channel and try watching some of his videos without cringing – it’s practically impossible especially when you have someone talking to the camera and saying out loud things like “I’m magnificent” or “I’m so beautiful, how can these sluts not love me, it’s not fair. I’m a supreme gentleman”.


How come no one saw this coming when it’s clear he suffered from alienation, depression and probably Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Much has already been written up online about his misogyny, his mental health issues, his involvement with “Men’s Rights Movement” forums, and how misogyny has been woven into the general culture, how some men feel entitled to the bodies of women at any time, any place, any how and the many, many insidious forms it can take.
What I would like to focus on is that I think there are many factors at fault here. Yes, the general cultural milieu we live in IS violent but to some extent I think many women have also internalized it and THAT needs to change.

There are many Elliot Rodgers out there and while I am in no way trying to downplay what happened in California, things like that are a fact of everyday life in other parts of the world. On a visit to my aunt and cousins place in Bangladesh during my teen years, I remember my cousins enthusiastically introduced me, their “Canadian cousin” to all their friends and one friend in particular I still remember very well. She was quite a beautiful girl if you were to look at her profile from her left side, but after seeing her entire face, you would have gasped. Half her face had been practically burned away by battery acid.

Ayesha Akter was attacked by a distant grandfather. Acid attacks were quite frequent in Bangladesh, usually due to rebuffed marriage proposals, affairs, or financial problems.

Not my cousin’s friend. Ayesha Akter was attacked by a distant grandfather. Acid attacks were quite frequent in Bangladesh, usually due to rebuffed marriage proposals, affairs, or financial problems.

The story was that a local boy wanted to marry her (Bangladesh at that time was very, very socially conservative, no pre-marital sex whatsoever, no dating, if you’re interested in someone to hook up with, you have to marry them, arranged marriages were the norm, which is why girls were often married off at a very young age) but she wasn’t interested. Since the rejection or rebuff was not something he could deal with in such a patriarchal culture, he and his friend conspired together, broke into her home in the middle of the night and threw the battery acid on her face while she slept. He figured if he couldn’t have her, no one else could either. It was quite an epidemic for a while and finally when the government of Bangladesh finally criminalized the act with severe penalties, did the practice finally abate somewhat.

Protesting against domestic violence in Turkey.

Protesting against domestic violence in Turkey.

People often ask me why I didn’t stay on in Turkey and marry there given that Turkey is known for attracting thousands of women every year because of the availability of very handsome and willing men. The reason is that something like 40% of women in Turkey face domestic abuse. I had enough Turkish female friends there who were social workers tell me as much, that I would have been used for my Canadian passport and citizenship and then discarded. There was no way I was going to get involved and take that risk.

Part of the problem if why violence against women continues is that there often isn't enough support to fund services like women's shelters and training programs.

Part of the problem of why violence against women continues is that there often isn’t enough support to fund services like women’s shelters and training programs.

Now, some of you might say that Bangladesh and Turkey are Muslim countries, that’s part and parcel of Islam. Look at those assholes in Boko Haram in Nigeria or Female Genital Mutilation in Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance. That’s just not true. I have a friend who worked as a police officer in Sydney, Australia and domestic abuse is quite prevalent there as well among the Anglo-Aussies. I have another friend here in Montreal who, for a time worked as a 9-1-1 operator and dispatcher and the calls for domestic abuse came in from all quarters and the Number 1 category of domestic abuse incidents actually came from a White male/Asian female partnerships. When I did my stint as a spiritual caregiver in Washington, DC, I saw many, many cases of brutal domestic abuse in the trauma bay among African-American women. Mind you, these are anecdotal examples but it shows how widespread the problem is.

I had a wonderful economics professor in college, originally from the western tribal areas of Pakistan, close to Peshawar. She did her MA and PhD at the London School of Economics, was a devout Muslim, mother and wife, she was also quite a feminist. I used to have long conversations in her office about why men, not just Muslim men, but many men abuse women. Her reply was that those men who brutalize and abuse women, deep down are scared, they’re scared of the day when women realize, that they don’t need these men as much as these men need the women. They’re afraid of being outed as needy, incompetent and therefore “weak”. It drives them crazy to see a woman who is free to make her own choices and doesn’t need or want anyone (i.e him) so the only way they can take back control of the situation is through violence to reinforce that message that the woman is “owned” and under control. Another part of the problem is that women in some cultures, are conditioned to treat their sons like some sort of prince, that the focus of attention within families is always the son, not the daughter (hence female infanticide in places like China and India) but if mothers were to shift or adjust their attitudes just a little, it would go a long way towards enforcing attitudes of gender equality and fostering respect towards girls.

Two Turkish boys dressed up in faux-royal finery for their circumcision ceremony.

Two Turkish boys dressed up in faux-royal finery for their circumcision ceremony.

Much of what I see in spiritual literature is about saying “Yes” to life and living our truth. While I don’t disagree with that, I also think part of saying “Yes” to life also means saying “NO” loudly and clearly and without any fear of blowback when the occasion calls for it. To otherwise muffle our voices ultimately holds us all back.

Categories: Ch-ch-ch-changes, Politico, Pop culture, Raise your EQ, This is why the planet is screwed up | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Post navigation

8 thoughts on “Saying “NO” is Always an Option

  1. kezalu

    Rodger’s reasons for killing don’t make sense, if this was about being rejected by women and the payback for that, how come half his victims were male? To be honest, they shouldn’t give these killers any publicity at all, because that’s what they’re after, attention. Now some other idiot will probably try to better the score. Crazy world. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few happy reports in the media about good things for a change. It’s not fair that only nut jobs make the front pages.

    Thanks for another informative post.

  2. Genus

    The mainstream “blues” aka news has failed to reveal who this guy really was. Rodger was the son of a “Hunger Games” producer which I find very ironic.

    This culture breeds this type of misogynistic, murderous, narcissistic behavior in what is commonly known as “entertainment”.

    What I find more disturbing are the many law enforcement programs portraying female victimization on hour by hour basis. Let me say this: If I were a young, college age, skinny, blond, “beautiful”, popular white woman, I’d be very paranoid. These programs frequently portray this group as victims making them seemingly more expendable. A young male intern once told me that girls go to college to educated, boys go to partake of the girls!

    Here in the US there is an entire cable network called ID Channel which recants violent murderous acts often against women. This is not entertainment — its tragedy!

    As far as race/religion is concerned NONE are immune. I once asked my Grandma (Born in 1932) why Black men back in the day had such young wives. She said a young wife was probably not his first; that wives were “property” and a man could do what he wished with his property; that as a Black woman he could beat you to death, tell folks you went to “visit” relatives and no one – law enforcement included — would question HIM!

    She said many school teachers were never courted for marriage because the men saw her as a threat –educated and employed. Oh, gosh. . .I could write a book airing the dirty laundry of southern post-slavery Blacks. . . that’s been stinking up the house but here is not the place!

    This latest act was this guy’s 1 minute of fame, very unfortunate . . . very!

    • I had heard his father was some kind of Hollywood insider – the problem is that misogyny sells, that’s why it’s so prevalent in film, songs, porn, books, everywhere. Did you ever read or watch “American Psycho”? When I first watched Rodger’s videos, I was constantly reminded of Patrick Bateman.

      I think another aspect of the problem is that women are conditioned practically from Day 1 to play nice, to smooth over ruffled feathers, to be accommodating. That’s why the mouthy, smarty-pants, bad-assed girl with an attitude constantly either comes to an ugly end or has a less-than-desirable outcome in media and the sweet, complacent girl is the one who walks off with everything. The lesson is clear, “Stay in your place or else suffer the consequences”. I personally look forward to the day when strength and honesty will be more celebrated instead of saccharine sweetness and complacency.

      • kezalu

        It’s interesting that one nut job can generate all this publicity and attention, when the daily occurrence of violence to women and children hardly hits a note, other than we kind of know it’s there, but we don’t bother with it because it’s a bit “hum-drum.” There’s a saying amongst some police: “just another domestic.”

        Those incidents you pointed out about atrocities such as throwing acid into a woman’s face, they’re so common but there seems little to no outrage in the media circus. And yet someone who happens to be someone else’s son and who made such lengthy and startlingly disturbing videos before his killing spree, is splashed all over the media, making sure that HIS message gets across, about how HE felt about life and the injustices that HE perceived for himself, almost like “well, he had his reasons.” It seems to depend on the production, not the reality of what is happening all over the world.

      • Genus

        You said it Sister! And yes, Patrick Bateman for sure!

        I remember seeing re-runs of June Cleaver and often wondered what was her deal wearing that tight fitting shape wear & pearls in her own home at 6 pm as she breathlessly waited for Mr. Man to arrive. Well her deal was helping with the conditioning.

        Sweet Polly Pure Bread appears to get it all but its never revealed what endured to get it.

  3. This is the real issue here I think, it’s this anti-female bias the culture seems to have, it’s so pervasive and so commonplace that people just seem to accept it and go along with it.

  4. Genus

    A co-worker once showed up at my door towing 2 kids, a black eye, and ripped clothing. Talk about shocked, she and I weren’t “cool” or “uncool”. I barely knew her but hated that her mate would put his hand on her.

    She got my address from the office list which (stupidly) contains EVERYONEs home info & came to my house because I live the next town over. I let her in, then called hubby who threw a fit — saying I shouldn’t have opened the door because she had no business bringing her drama to our place. Never mentioning what was done to her. (Classic anti-female bias)

    I remember thinking, if I had a pack of cigarettes I’d smoke them all — and I don’t even smoke.
    Once hubby arrived home we talked, gave her some cash & sent her on her way.

    I was very angry, angry that someone would beat a woman, that the kids had suffered, that she bought possible danger to my home, that my hubby appeared to brush it off as someone else problem, at my office’s dumb azz policy of publishing personal info — at a whole lot of shyt.

    In the end, she returned to work a month later, but wouldn’t speak or have anything to do with ME, then she quit. Imagine that? Still, I’d let her in again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: