I recently came across a small flyer in Java Jones titled: “Girls you are gorgeous: Welcome to Isla Vista.” The words that followed were warm and sincere. It admonished the female population of I.V. to “please safeguard your sexuality” this coming school year and reminded them that “real love is not cheap, free or easily accessible.” In our wild and indulgent town where debauchery and casual sexual encounters are commonplace, I felt the flyer made statements that were refreshing, insightful and highly necessary. However, my opinion took a turn as I read on.
The author, apparently a UCSB graduate who goes by nothing but an email address referring to the book of Exodus (firstname.lastname@example.org) began incorporating the exhaustive idea that men are at the heart of this problem. “No matter who the guy is, from the best to the worst, no one is out on DP looking for the only thing worth fully giving yourself to: permanent commitment.” Here’s the kicker: “As a princess, you don’t belong on the streets at night wandering, dressed for strangers.”
I just about drenched the paper with the iced-coffee I spat up. Let us be frank, let us be civil, but above all, let us be realistic. I do not deny the acts of unwarranted sexual aggression that occur against women and obviously agree that all that can be done to stop these acts should be. I also acknowledge that women still remain victims in our dwindling “patriarchal” society. From the dawn of time there have always been sleazebags and creepers. Back in the Neolithic era, cave-creepers tried freaking up on cave-babes around the fire, while roasting a wooly mammoth on the skewer. Today, their creeper descendents wander Del Playa Drive and State Street giving that goofy-ass stare, and on some occasions, unfortunately, take things too far.
However, the implicit notion that the men of Isla Vista are perpetrators of lust and evil and that the girls are helpless “princesses” is false and is, in every sense of the word, regardless of popular opinion, sexist. The title of a princess, Ms. Manna, just as that of a prince, is not inherent; rather, it is earned. I will not acknowledge the status of princess to a scantly-clad female whose dowry is falling out for all to see, just as I will not call a prince the man who slaps said princess’ ass and goes in for the kill. To all princesses: Do not be alarmed when a would-be prince comes up to you at a party on DP and starts sensually dancing with you, trying to make a move. After all, it was only moments ago that you and your girlfriends were in a four-person grinding dance-train.
Now, before all you ladies go ape-shit, hear me out. I am in no way excusing the behavior of all men because you were “asking for it.” I am on your side. I am simply asking to extend quailandmanna’s well-intended message of love to all concerned. Let’s stand behind a universal message of sexual caution and moral obligation that doesn’t point fingers. This is not a collective issue posing gender despotism and subordination. On the contrary, it is an individual issue that each and every person must face within his or her self. The acts of others in one’s own gender only gives a shortcut to thinking, one that offers empty excuses for our even emptier actions. Acting according to how society wants us to act has nothing to do with who we really are. If we decide for ourselves what we are and how we wish to be presented, we will be much happier with the results.
In closing, I’d like to recall a statement made by the great 19th century Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky, that could help us all if adhered to: “If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.” And I leave you potential princes and princesses of UCSB with this very challenge: Respect yourselves in any and all instances. In doing so, you will have the crown of respect from others bestowed upon you and will come to find that fun and happiness in college doesn’t have to result in a walk of shame and a trip to Student Health.