About 25 men and women, some holding signs that read “My body is not public property,” gathered Friday in front of the Napa County Historic Courthouse to call for an end to violence against women and sexism.
The rally was inspired by the #YesAllWomen Twitter movement that took off after the May 23 rampage of Elliot Rodger near the campus of UC, Santa Barbara. Rodger, a 22-year-old student at Santa Barbara City College, stabbed three men in his apartment before going on a shooting spree through the Isla Vista neighborhood. The rampage ended when he apparently shot himself. The six victims, including two women shot in front of a sorority house, were all UCSB students.
The son of a movie director, Rodger left behind a YouTube video in which he said he would take revenge on humanity, including women who had rejected him.
The rally was also scheduled after women reported being harassed on campus at Napa Valley College, said an organizer, Katie Dellich.
Speakers on Friday referred to the events in Santa Barbara and the response. “I think it hit a nerve with a lot of people,” said Tracy Lamb, executive director of Napa Emergency Women’s Services.
“That young man in Santa Barbara was just an extreme version of what the average male thinks about women,” said another speaker, Napa Valley College Professor Eileene Tejada. “This is a systemic problem.”
Tejada, who called for men to become women’s allies and holding other males to task, decried the economic system “that reveres the dollar and objectifies and dehumanizes the female body.”
“What makes you think that you can create an entire music industry based on the objectification of women and violence against women and that our young men are not going to embrace that as what it means to be masculine,” Tejada said. “We really have to come to grips with what we have created.”
Before addressing the rally, Vice Mayor Juliana Inman, an architect, said she has been following the discussions on #YesAllWomen. “Women architects of the world have been talking about it,” she said before the rally began, noting that 32 percent of female architecture graduates do no practice the profession.
Before she graduated from North Carolina State University in Raleigh with a degree in architecture in 1974, she recalled going to work as a laborer. That was 1973. There were no other women.
“You can imagine the harassment, the abuse,” she said.
Lamb thanked the men who helped organize the rally, Matt Pope and Alex Shantz, saying men to be the women’s allies. “This isn’t just a women issue, but it’s an everybody’s issue,” she said.