CA is a blue state. So why is college so expensive?

A few days ago, I found myself watching a live video stream of the University of California Regents meeting. Assemblymembers gathered in solidarity with students and made commitments toward fighting for higher education. They agreed that tuition costs were excessive and promised to fight for students in the California Legislature.

Best part: all of them were Republicans.

Continue reading CA is a blue state. So why is college so expensive?

Dear Dems, the Electoral College is not why you lost

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Dear DNC,

It’s been a rough month. Trust me, I know; I’ve been avoiding social media, and quite frankly, I wish the whole county could go electronic free for a bit. Yes, a bunch of your staffers lost your jobs a few weeks back. But if you think the past few weeks have been the worst in your life, I urge you to check your privilege. Half of all Americans have no wealth. If Trump takes away their health insurance, they have no safety nets, no social capital, no escape plans to rely on. They are the ones with more to lose. But not the point.

I’ve been reading lately. I read Hillbilly Elegy, I’ve been reading articles from both sides of the aisle, and I’ve been reflecting on the past few weeks. I’ve been observing the twitter accounts of legislators: Democrats and Republicans alike, and here’s what I think:

But first, I want to share a little life lesson down from memory lane. Every time I would complain about failure as a kid, my mother and I would have a discussion. She would point out the areas in which I could have done better and prompt me to focus on improving the next round. If I insisted that the test was unfair or that the game was rigged, she would give me an hour lecture about how “if other people found a way, so can you.” Yes, the Electoral College is outdated, disproportionate, unfair, and frankly needs some reform. But here’s the deal: it’s not why you lost.  

Dems do not have the majority in the Senate, and you cannot attribute that to the EC or gerrymandering. Dems also are the minority in many state legislatures, and the GOP has control of most gubernatorial positions. Eliminating the Electoral College will most likely cause a difference in the executive branch of government, but it won’t hit the underlying issue: people are not voting for Democrats.

So why is this so? I’m going to cut to the chase: Dems are no longer the party of the working class.

The GOP has established its values quite thoroughly: family values, religious freedom, small government, more corporate liberties. In areas in which government operates poorly (which is a good amount of the USA), this is particularly appealing. The Democratic party, however, is in shambles. Wall Street money has infiltrated politicians, resulting in public rage and anti-establishment sentiment. Democrats have remained silent when to comes to issues affecting people-of-color, a significant part of their constituency. Where’s the outrage for #BlackLivesMatter and #NoDAPL? Of all my current federal legislators, only Kamala Harris has vocalized frustration by questioning our incarceration system. Evan McMullin, a conservative former presidential candidate, has called out Donald Trump more so than Senator Feinstein.

Even with a minority, the Dems have not mobilized their voters to the extent of the GOP. They need to echo our frustrations and propose solutions (ever wondered why Sanders gained so much popularity in the primaries?). They chose to use the filibuster only once since January 2015, and that was during June 2016, i.e. campaign season. Where was the filibuster when Planned Parenthood faced defunding? Where were you all when voter ID laws disenfranchised a significant portion of your constituency? Even the gun law they were advocating for during the summer was based on racial profiling; its actual impact would be minimal (hence why I semi-agree with Paul Ryan labelling the filibuster as a “publicity stunt”).

A quick look at my Twitter would tell you that I’m left-leaning, and I typically vote for Democrats. But I am not the whole country, and if the Dems want to gain majorities back, they need to start thinking about voter’s mindsets and needs.  

Don’t Boo, Act

img_9212Something happened on Tuesday night besides the Lakers losing. For the past few days I’ve been having crying spells and Twitter is still a storm. But despite everything, I live in California, I’m financially stable, I’m not Muslim or Hispanic, and I do have a good amount of privilege. To Donald J. Trump I say this: I am not going to go away. I am going to fight your racist and sexist ideals in every way I can.  

So to all privileged folks who feel the same way, how are we going to deal with a Trump presidency? Well, here are a few ways….

  1. Donate: Everyone is tight on cash now, I get it. But right now, it’s more vital than ever that organizations mobilizing for reproductive rights/LGBTQ rights/racial equality are funded, especially since a Trump administration puts their federal funding status in jeopardy. Waive a Starbucks coffee for a week, budget some money if you can, and make a monthly commitment to donate. Here are a few links to start with:
  1. Speak: Don’t stay silent when witnessing racism and sexual harassment. Here’s an incident I experienced last February:

While tuning out on BART and reading a book, I saw through the side of my eye three people sitting in two seats. I turned and saw an older man squeezed into a seat with his hand around two girls. He was talking to them, smiling and ignoring their quiet pleas for him to leave them alone. I took off my earphones and shouted at him to move away from them. After a (thankfully!) nonviolent exchange, he got up and left them alone.

If you witness something, INTERVENE, DO NOT STAY SILENT UNLESS YOU FEEL THREATENED. Trump did not become president because of active racism, he rose because of indifference towards racism. This rule applies at the dining table with your family as well. It is incredibly difficult when it involves people you love, but hold your ground. Make it clear it’s not personal, but it is incredibly important. If you’re not in a position to speak up, at least do so afterwards. A few words of consolation (e.g. “I’m sorry that happened, know that you’re supported and wanted”) can really make a difference.

  1. Volunteer: Wherever. The homeless shelter, the anxiety text hotline, right now there are multiple organizations that are understaffed but can’t afford to hire on additional people. If you have the time, use it. Address social issues directly instead of lambasting them. A few examples:
  • Upset about educational disparities? Volunteer to tutor via organizations that support underrepresented populations
  • Passionate about reproductive rights? Volunteer for abortion hotlines
  • With ACA in jeopardy, mental health might be on the line. Volunteer for local crisis hotlines. If you prefer something more clinical, try volunteering at the local hospital; every person makes a difference there!
  1. Stay Informed: Again your mental health comes first. Tune out of the news if it’s too much. But do your best to stay up-to-date on what’s happening, not just on the federal level, but the state and local level as well. If you disagree with a new city ordinance, mobilize, make a public comment, speak up. Contact your local representatives (state government AND federal). We have social media to connect now, and we can use it to promote our causes.
  2. Avoid Finger Pointing: This is the hardest one. Even now, I feel anger, guilt, and fear. I have to remind myself that yelling at Trump supporters and cursing them as “deplorables” is not going to help the situation. Trump’s presidency isn’t a result of one factor; it’s a combination of the GOP, Democratic Party, and the media. Don’t yell at your friend for being a Republican; again, NOT GOING TO HELP. The New York Times put together a helpful reading list to explain this year’s election results, and I encourage you to read it. Also The Naked Truth: Trumpland was insightful. Which brings me to…..
  3. Forgive: Forgive yourself and forgive others. In the past few days, I’ve been berating myself for not phone banking or volunteering for the campaign. But in the end, none of that is going to help communities that are currently at risk. Anger is valid and understandable but allowing it to take over, rather than channeling it, will not help you or anyone.

Comment if you disagree or have some more to add!

Also a personal request to Mr. Trump: please don’t try to speak Hindi in another commercial, my ears still hurt from the last one.

To Hindu-American Voters

In response to Donald Trump’s recent stunt:

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Dear Hindu-American voters,

Our position in this election is interesting to say the least. We make up less than one-percent of the USA’s population, we are considered people of color, yet our population consists of diversity that is rarely acknowledged by mainstream media. However, a significant number of us immigrated to the United States with college degrees. So many, such as like my parents, were able to dodge the challenges of social mobility which so many immigrants face today. As a result, it is not entirely surprising to see Trump’s appeal to Indian-American voters, but a quicker look at his positions prove that his presidency would be nothing short of disastrous for our community.

(Ideally, I would present arguments concerning Trump’s sexism, xenophobia, racism, the list goes on, and you would go out and vote for Hillary Clinton. Yet, a) That will be another blog post and b) No one seems to care about this because, as too many of my peers have stated, “He won’t affect me after all!”)

So instead, consider what Trump’s policies mean for you:

First off, the infamous Muslim ban. I’m not going to try to present how ethically messed up this proposal is because that merits its own article. But, fun fact, this ban will affect you regardless of your religious affiliation. India has the third highest Muslim population in the world, and last time I checked, religious affiliation is not legally collected by the federal government. So in addition to the TSA checks, any travel between here and India will most likely be more scrutinized, resulting in traveling inconveniences such as background checks for all travelers. Do I see #ThanksTrump trending? Depends on your vote.

Trump has also expressed disdain for #BlackLivesMatter, to which I say, read this letterBlacks and Latinos paved the way for civil rights in this nation. It is why I was not sent to another school with the word “colored” on my backpack. It is why my parents were able to obtain higher education here through student visas. As mentioned:

But here’s the secret our community was never taught: our presence in the U.S. is linked to the work of Black activists. Up until the 1960s, racist immigration laws allowed only 100 immigrants from countries like India into the U.S. per year. But during the Civil Rights Movement, Black Americans used protests and civil disobedience to help remove some of the most racist laws in the U.S. not only for themselves but for all minority communities.

Consider what a Trump presidency means for education and college debt. Currently private colleges receive more tax breaks than public ones. In addition to running a fraudulent university, Trump has yet to address the underfunding of universities, resulting in increasing tuition prices that millennials currently face.

Better yet, consider what a Trump presidency means for the next generation. I was lucky to be raised in an ethnically-diverse and affluent neighborhood that praised diversity rather than tearing it down. Yet, some of my peers in college were not. They were told from a young age to “go back to their country.” A vote for Trump is no longer a cry for lower taxes, it is an endorsement, a form of vocal support of these messages. A recurring complaint is that the status-quo isn’t working, to which I agree. But last time I checked, there are three branches to Federal Government, not one. And all of them depend on this election.

So think. Think whether Donald Trump aligns with your values, the values that brought us here. And register to vote.

Dear Governor Brown: AB 2017

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Dear Governor Brown,

Earlier today, you vetoed AB 2017, a bill focused on increasing funding for college mental health services. The bill received bipartisan support from both the Assembly and Senate, along with backing from mental health advocates.

Your reasoning behind this decision was based on the numbers. I know of your recent decisions for striking down bills, most of which under the assumption that we can’t spare the money for it. I am not going to argue with this because I lack both insight on the state budget and the skills to draw such a conclusion.

However, this seems to be a recurring theme. Politicians talk, make speeches, shed tears, but when it comes to actual action, we see nothing from our legislators. Consider this twenty-four page document, which I will gladly summarize for you:

  • One in four students have a diagnosable illness
  • 40% do not seek help
  • 80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities
  • 50% have been so anxious, they struggled in school
  • Many students have cited stigma and lack of resources for not seeking help.
  • Half of all college students cited their campus as not being supportive with regards to mental health.

 

Mental health is not a bad day once in awhile or the moment when we need to clutch a stress ball. Mental health is an umbrella term; it is intertwined with and as important as physical health. The spectrum is endless and only a portion of it was represented in my project for college students & mental health. In California, we are seeing suicides as early as in high school. We witness issues such as substance abuse, eating disorders, yet we continue to shrug.

It is unacceptable that most children with mental illnesses remain untreated. It is ridiculous that the wait times for a counseling appointment in the UC system can last for three months.  Governor Brown, California’s economy might be globally ranked, but suicides are on the rise. This issue needs to be addressed on a fiscal level. We need both prevention and clinical interventions, but money does not grow in trees. Perhaps it’s time the state walks the walk and considers long-term investment in college mental health.

 

Solidarity in the South Asian Community

This post is far from comprehensive and is a fraction of my thoughts on the issue. I hope to write about these topics more often in the future.

The 2016 election, while gifting me with headaches due to Drumpf’s barking, has sparked significant discussions regarding allyship in multiple communities. After the Orlando shootings, the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castle, and the increased mainstream media coverage of hate speech, more questions have been raised: what do we do if we witness such a situation? Do we call the police or whip out our smartphones?

From an Indian-American perspective, this is interesting. I do not have white privilege, yet I am part of a racial group that receives positive stereotypes ranging from “hard-working” to “smart”. Thanks to casteism and resulting social mobility that benefited my parents, I do not need to worry about my financial capacity on a daily basis. The South Asian community is divided when it comes to politics: we see individuals actively fundraising for Drumpf and others participating in #BlackLivesMatter activism. The issue of race results in mixed reactions, ranging from appreciation of the discussion to anger for even suggesting it.

A specific aspect of allyship I wish to discuss is our relationship with the Muslim community. In some languages, the word “Hindu” is synonymous with “Indian”. I’ve witnessed the blatant hatred and bitterness from Hindus towards Muslims; several times in India, I’ve been told about how Islam is a “violent religion” from family friends to taxi-drivers. In the United States post 9/11 era, we’ve witnessed forms of discrimination Muslims still face on a daily basis. Some of us have even experienced it at TSA security checks. Sikhs have experienced increased rates of hate crimes due to anti-Muslim sentiment. From what I’ve witnessed, the Hindu community has expressed outrage at these behaviors, but most reactions I have heard basically consist of: “But I’m not Muslim, so I shouldn’t be pulled aside.”

But this is not the reaction we should be expressing.

In February 2015, three Muslims approximately my age were shot down for their religion. Every single Muslim I have engaged with on this issue has faced some form of discrimination, whether that be being called a “terrorist” on the bus or receiving a threatening comment while walking on the sidewalk. And yet, instead of showing solidarity and support, we choose to distance ourselves and close our eyes to institutionalized racism.

Our history is filled with bitterness and is often used by Hindus as justification for their bigotry. But as of right now, Hindus dominate Parliament, universities, and state governments. Insisting a temple was torn down four hundred years ago is no proper justification for the slaughter of 2000 people.

Yes, the Indian-American community faces discrimination too. We have to perform higher than our white counterparts to get into college, a lower-than-3.7 GPA  could cost us a job offer, and we are fetishized in mainstream media. But insisting that Muslims bear their discrimination in silence is unacceptable.

So how can you be a better ally? Be active. Dispel stereotypes when they’re mentioned. Joking that someone is part of ISIS because they wear a hijab isn’t funny–it leads to hate crimes. Be vocal, because we cannot dispel hatred if we choose to remain silent.

The Future Ben Carsons

Rewind to two years ago: Summer 2014. “So, what did you think about the Supreme Court ruling this morning?” I ask in my biochemistry discussion. I’ve spent the past hour raging to my friend, a recent poli-sci graduate, via text.

Pin drop silence. People are confused: what was the ruling? I explain the Hobby Lobby decision. Most don’t seem to care: for now, the structure of the nucleotides will do. Everyone goes back to talking about the World Cup as I try not to throw a desk across the room.

This isn’t anything new. I’ve broached political topics to my biological-science-major friends, only for them to transform into deer in headlights. Yet, the fury on my end doesn’t fade away. When hearing the Hobby Lobby ruling, I am angry that someone would equate Plan B to an abortion pill. After spending hours in classes that outlined chemical pathways of the reproductive system, I can barely stand that such scientific inaccuracy was swallowed by judges, even in the highest court of the land. But here I am, in a room with the future doctors of the United States, and Brazil’s soccer team is a greater concern to everyone than reproductive healthcare.

Now I’m in quite a different scene: I’m living with thirty other UC Berkeley students and interning at the Mental Health Association. Sacramento was an intellectual shift for me. For starters, everyone at the Capitol Mall reads the news. Sure they might not understand the difference between alpha-helix and beta-sheet secondary protein structures, but they definitely don’t ditch the polls in June and November. Everyone in my cohort has an opinion on topics ranging from education to environmental legislation.  Within my organization, people are watching key legislation that merely changes a few words in Medi-Cal yet can have a fiscal impact of millions of dollars. Once a month, organizations ranging from hospital associations to advocacy groups sit down and discuss policy recommendations, including amendments to existing bills. Discussion remains energizing and fast-moving, especially when field-overlap occurs: how does mental health tie into K-12 education? Where can we do better within psychiatric care in the criminal justice system? How do we address the coefficient of homelessness in mental illness?

The downside to all of this? Only one other person in my political-nerd cohort had taken biochemistry.

It is inconceivable to me that individuals can rationalize entering healthcare without knowing the dynamics of the field; it’s the equivalent of taking a flight without packing. I still struggle to articulate my frustration without using expletives. Political apathy is what adds to the problem: it’s why lawmakers can write off tuition hikes, it’s why my high school demographics have flipped, and it could be how Donald Drumpf gets elected in November. Everyone got a taster of this when Benjamin Carson was running: he separated Siamese twins, got into one of the top medical schools, became an accomplished neurosurgeon, yet still managed to confuse Hamas and hummus. He received the mainstream media spotlight (and the mean tweets), but he’s definitely not the first doctor to fumble–and at this rate, he won’t be the last.

AMCAS tried to flip this around by adding Psychology and Sociology to the MCAT. Yet, we the pre-meds have found our way to best this by memorizing all the sociological terms and occasionally picking C as a last resort on multiple choice. Anyone can pick which political labels to identify with, but the bottom line is this: our government wasn’t structured to accommodate civic disengagement. There is a significant difference between not being able to afford time off on November 8 versus binging Game of Thrones instead of sending in a mail-in ballot.

If the recent legislative decisions regarding the Zika virus wasn’t a sign that pre-meds need to speak out, then the ongoing anti-vaccination movement should be. Voter disenfranchisement hasn’t disappeared–it’s only changed its shape; your vote is representing more than you might think. A biology class isn’t a requirement for filing for candidacy, but it is a necessary prerequisite for addressing healthcare. And that is where we come in.

 

Orlando: A Quick Reflection

In the light of the tragic shooting in Orlando, I’ve seen dozens of articles ranging from Sandy Hook comparisons to growing Islamaphobia in the United States. This incident has sparked national discussions of homophobia and racism, discussions which would not occurred prior to the shooting.

Yet I also see a pattern of individuals accusing advocates of “pushing their own political agenda” in the middle of a tragedy and “politicizing” death (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ben-carson-blasts-obama-politicizing-oregon-shooting-article-1.2387093). The mainstream media seems to define discussions regarding racism and sexism as “politically incorrect”, but somehow discussion of a firearm is exploiting someone’s death.

In my view this is a mischaracterization, and I’ll try to explain from a public health lens. If a malaria outbreak occurs, and people urge the legislature to fund vaccines, how does this become a political agenda? If traffic lights stop functioning at an intersection and a child is killed as a result, how does insisting the lights get repaired be of political interest rather than a desire for no one else to die? Since when did caring for the wellbeing of individuals become political?

Or better yet, since when did prevention, which has been proven repeatedly as cost-effective and exemplary, become a political agenda when the subject shifted to gun violence?

One of the leading criticisms aimed at the left is the PC culture and how political views become a matter of good and evil. While I can agree with this argument to an extent, it cannot be applied when lives are at stake. Even Ronald Reagan, hailed by Republicans as an exemplary leader of the free world made a similar argument in an op-ed for the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/29/opinion/why-i-m-for-the-brady-bill.html). The bottom line is this though: we can talk and agree that we need to have civil conversation, respect each other’s views, and spend hours debating the Second Amendment and what steps need to be taken. But that’s not going to stop someone from buying a gun and shooting people.

Isla Vista: Do Something Edition


This isn’t my usual thing–I save my political rants for Facebook. Unfortunately, having seen too many ignorant comments about this today, I figured this ramble deserved (and needed) a much larger audience. Many of these arguments are floating all over the Internet, and I had reservations about repeating them; that being said, I felt it was necessary given that this issue is often avoided.  Expect many images in this post–usually when confronted about issues regarding gender inequality, people expect evidence. Well, here’s as much evidence I could find.


QUICK RECAP: Seven individuals, including three UCSB students, were killed on Friday, May 23 near a sorority house in Isla Vista (near UC Santa Barbara) and thirteen were injured.  Police suspect the gunman who opened fire was 22-year old Elliot Rodger, a student at Santa Barbara City College.  Rodger’s body was found in his BMW; whether it was a suicide or not is still unclear.


Okay, so everyone’s caught up. Rodger explained his motivations behind this in a six-minute video posted on Youtube titled “Elliot Rodger’s retribution”.  He also elaborates on some of the points made during the video in a 141-page document titled “My Twisted World” available on Scribd.


Let’s break this down one at a time.


THE VIDEO:

Transcript available here:


The video is essentially Rodger stating that he never had sexual experience, and the blame for that falls upon women because they “weren’t attracted to [him]”.  He describes himself as the “perfect guy” and vows to “punish all of [them] for it”. Rodger proceeds to explain his murder plans targeting “popular kids” and “girls who rejected [him]”, specifically “every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut”, saying they “forced me to suffer all my life.”


Before breaking this apart, let’s hear from the comments on the video shall we?








All of these comments reflect the source of the problem in the first place: hyper-masculinity and resulting misogyny.


Sex would not have stopped Rodger from killing a girl for saying no. Sex would not have saved lives last night. But teaching men about consent? Teaching men about respecting women and not objectifying them? Probably.


While laws regarding women’s rights might have shifted in the past century, ideas regarding masculinity certainly haven’t. Men are often credited based on hyper-masculine standards, i.e. that a man can’t be weak and display emotion “like a girl”, that he should display strength by “getting a girl”, having sex with her, and controlling her. When rejection occurs, terms like “friend-zoned” are tossed around with the woman blamed.

Rodger also expressed similar emotions in his document “My Twisted World”.  In addition to hyper-masculine ideals, he described his longing for sex, specifically with a girl who was “blonde” and “skinny”.

Yet never did he describe approaching a girl and getting rejected. Nor did he describe being denied happiness because of something a girl did.  Rather he felt he was entitled to love and sex because he was “white”; he recalls feeling angry that a black man was able to “get” a blonde girl, whereas he was not (also presents the issue of racism).

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Additionally, many of the qualities he described in a girl he wanted were purely physical, not personality-based:
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Throughout the narration, he was driven by the idea that he was undeserving of rejection.
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(Rodger, “My Twisted World”)

When witnessing another couple or feeling alone, Rodger often reacted with violence, once even pouring coffee down on a man’s head because he had a blonde girlfriend and later to girls who didn’t “deign to smile back [at him]”.      


Here are some of the terms mentioned and implied by Rodger’s videos & manifesto and why they’re toxic–even without malicious intent.

HARMFUL TERMS:


FRIENDZONE:

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Definition: ”What you attain after you fail to impress a woman you’re attracted to. Usually initiated by the woman saying, ‘You’re such a good friend.’”

Why it’s harmful: Yes, rejection sucks. It feels awful, it can ruin friendships, it can make situations ten-times more awkward.  But what this essentially does is blames the female for rejecting a guy’s advances. Even more interesting, why can guys reject girls under the basis that “she’s a crazy b!tch” but why can’t girls reject guys with “he’s just a friend” reasoning? Why does a girl have to be gentle when rejecting a guy–and still get criticism for it?

SLUT-SHAMING:

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Definition:  “An unfortunate phenomenon in which people degrade or mock a woman because she enjoys having sex, has sex a lot, or may even just be rumored to participate in sexual activity… However, since most people would rather women be MORE sexually active than less, slut shaming is counterproductive to the aims of most men and quite a few ladies.”


Why it’s harmful: Labelling a woman as a slut and drawing the conclusion that she “wants it” based on what she’s wearing essentially rationalizes harming her and having sex with her (even against her will), because it’s no big deal…she’s a slut after all?! 

And THAT is how rape happens. The worst part is, this form of hate occurs within girls as well (for a tangible example of this see Jenna Marbles Things I Don’t Understand About Girls Part 2: Slut Edition and Laci Green’s response)
 
NICE GUY SYNDROME:
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Definition: “A annoying mental condition in which a heterosexual man concocts oversimplified ideas why women aren’t flocking to him in droves. Typically this male will whine and complain about how women never want to date them because he is “too nice” or that he is average in appearance. “


Why it’s harmful: Similar to “friendzoning”, the idea that when rejection occurs, the girl is to blame. Furthermore, this perpetuates an ideal of hypermasculinity—that a guy must be controlling and a “bad boy” in order to get a girl.  Being in a relationship is in no way, a merit system.


All right. So this guy might’ve did some awful things and had some sexist thoughts before he went on a killing spree. Surely he was messed up in his head!!!


Well…

MENTAL ILLNESS: 


With every mass shooting, mental illness is a topic of discussion.  



And to some extent, in the case of violence, it is inevitable–why else would humans want to kill each other so badly?  But from all the evidence presented so far, this isn’t another Columbine, Virginia Tech, or Sandy Hook. This isn’t a case of a student suffering from depression. This is a hate crime. This is an act of violence targeted at women. All of Rodger’s quotations and videos echo Nice Guy Syndrome and resemble the rationalization behind harming women for rejecting men.


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(Rodger, “My Twisted World”)


No shooting is black and white–and I don’t pretend to a psychiatrist. However, to dismiss Isla Vista as purely the result of a mental illness a) belittles mental health discussion and b) alleviates much of the blame from the perpetrator. A violent act does not equate to a mental illness; According to the Institute of Medicine (2006):


Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small, and further, the magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population.”


The myth of mental illness and violence as a package deal only heightens the myth that mentally ill people are violent–thus stigmatizing mental health. There are individuals with Asperger’s and depression who did not kill six people.  Regardless of whether Rodger suffered from a mental illness, based on his video and manifesto one thing is clear; the Isla Vista shooting was a result of internalized misogyny and an attitude regarding entitlement.


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(Rodger, “My Twisted World”)
It’s also interesting why individuals are doubting Rodger’s state of mind when one in four women report experiencing physical violence from a male partner during her life.  The idea of male dominance and punishing women is commonly accepted, among individuals and social systems–why else do 97% of rapists never spend a day in jail?


But the worst part is, it took a shooting at a public university for a discussion regarding misogyny to be taken seriously. It took one shooting and not 230,000+ sexual assaults that occur annually for sexism to be called out—and not even by mainstream media. CNN included opinions that Rodger was “mentally disturbed” while NBC included comments from law enforcement stating that the shooting was the work of a “madman”.  Even though major news outlets haven’t framed the shooting as a misogynistic-fueled incident, social media networks have been active in calling out violence against women, with the hashtag #YesAllWomen trending for hours in the United States. Yet, even with that, sexist tweets still resulted:


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For those who consider this post “anti-men”, think of this:


Every 90 seconds a girl in the USA is sexually assaulted, one out of five girls have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime, eighty-three percent of TEENAGE GIRLS experience sexual harassment in public schools, and one-third of female murder victims (ages 12 and above) are killed by an intimate partner.


Defending women is not hating on men, the same way fighting for food stamps is not hating on the rich.


But Rodger’s viewpoint is in no way unique. We see this attitude everywhere. This is why eighty-percent of girls face street harassment.  This is why the first question a rape victim is asked is “what were you wearing?”.  This is why two-thirds of rape survivors KNOW their rapist–and why the widely-held idea of acquaintance rape being a leading cause is so misleading.


But what can you do? As a man, as a woman, as any gender, you can speak out. Point out sexist comments when you hear them (as Emma Stone so tactfully did). Call out your friend who rates a girl as she walks by. Tell your female friends to stop calling a girl a slut because of her Halloween costume.  Remind a stranger who’s harassing a woman on the street that what he’s doing is not okay.


And keep on pushing for change. Because despite what anyone says–whether it be mainstream media or figures of authority–we’re not there yet.