In the past week, we’ve been forced to confront some awful truths about life in 21st century America… including what’s existed right underneath our noses here in Nevada. As we dig deeper into the network of extremist hate, we must confront perhaps the most pernicious branch of this network: misogyny.

Misogyny = Bigotry

One of the hate groups who participated in the violence in Charlottesville were the Proud Boys. These “Western chauvinists” are part of the larger men’s rights movement and believe “young white men are being oppressed by feminists”.

Christopher Cantwell helped lead the charge for white supremacists in Charlottesville, and he is far from the only “alt-right celebrity” who got his start as a men’s rights activist. The men’s rights movement is increasingly being described as a “gateway drug for the alt-right”, as all these hate groups share a common ideology of white men being oppressed by the diverse communities who have historically been oppressed by white men.

The violence and the hate

In May 2014, Elliot Rodger killed six people in Isla Vista, California, then killed himself. Rodger had fallen deep into the “manosphere”, the dark corner of the internet where men’s rights activists rage against the women who refuse to submit to them. Men’s rights activists have even attempted to redefine rape, as they believe they’re entitled to sex with women regardless of whether women consent.
Elliot Rodger’s attack on Isla Vista came just over a year after an extended fight in Congress to reauthorize the previously uncontroversial Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). So-called “traditional conservative” organizations like Heritage Action and FreedomWorks used the language of the men’s rights movement in whipping conservative votes against VAWA in 2013, the kind of language Rodger would use a year later to justify his massacre in Isla Vista. Even now, Heritage continues to advocate for the elimination of VAWA grants that fund local programs to assist women escaping domestic violence.

How hate hits home

Less than three months after the Isla Vista attack, this type of hate reared its ugly head here at home. Christy Mack and Corey Thomas were nearly killed by Mack’s ex-boyfriend, MMA fighter War Machine (aka Jonathan Koppenhaver), at her home in Las Vegas. War Machine essentially signaled this attack in advance in social media, as he referred to Mack as his “property”.
War Machine was sentenced to life in prison this past June for his attack on Mack and Thomas. But all the way up to August 8, 2014, he continued to find work in MMA despite his long history of violence.

Misogyny on the streets, and in the Oval Office

Last week, Donald Trump continued to provide cover for the Charlottesville provocateurs and reserved much harsher judgment for his political critics than for the army of bigots who came to Virginia looking for trouble. Perhaps this should have come as a surprise to no one, considering Trump’s own treatment of women.
It’s much easier to think of Charlottesville as an “isolated incident” than to diagnose the larger societal problems behind this violence. And yes, this right here is a much larger problem than we’d prefer to admit.

Bringing this home: What are we doing about it?

Earlier this month, Shade Tree announced the suspension of its transitional housing program in Southern Nevada. This provided much needed longer-term shelter for homeless women, including women escaping domestic violence. Why couldn’t Shade Tree secure the funding needed to keep this program available for the women who need it?
What are we doing to provide support for women escaping domestic violence? What are we doing to assist women trapped in the violent world of human sex trafficking? What are we doing to disarm the abusers? Charlottesville didn’t happen in a vacuum, and the increasingly extreme hatred of women is a problem that we need to stop ignoring… now.
Photo by Ted Eytan, licensed under Creative Commons, and made available by Wikimedia.