The Milo Yiannopoulos Protest Was A Reaction To Toxic Masculinity
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Politics and Activism

The Milo Yiannopoulos Protest Was A Reaction To Toxic Masculinity

The Free Speech Movement will continue to represent Berkeley's values and spirit, despite the February 1st protest.

The Milo Yiannopoulos Protest Was A Reaction To Toxic Masculinity
Daily Dot

On February 1st, the scheduled appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos to deliver a speech at UC Berkeley led to a mass protest on Sproul Plaza. This (originally intended) peaceful protest turned violent, with windows being smashed, and a fire blazing outside of the Student Union. The hijacking of the Berkeley student protest by armed anarchists, who have no affiliation with the Berkeley student body, was devastating for the campus and its surrounding city streets. While I support collective gatherings and voicing of opinions, the violent acts of Wednesday night do not represent the spirit and social conscience of our student body. With that being said, I want to explore the reason behind the protest—Milo Yiannopoulos himself.

I will admit that I live in a liberal bubble. I never miss an episode of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," and I do not spend my time reading conservative newspapers. Although I am aware of the alt-right movement, I did not know much about Yiannopoulos before he was scheduled to speak at Berkeley. Since then, I have listened to some of Yiannopoulos's past speeches and was shocked by some of the sexist and bigoted words he said in them.

In the aftermath of the protest, it is important to remember why his presence on campus was met with resistance. Here is a synopsis of a few of Yiannopoulos's past appearances on college campuses, which will perhaps provide context for the events that happened on Wednesday night at Sproul Plaza.

1. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – December 13th, 2016

At the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Milo Yiannopoulos attacked a transgender woman in his speech. First, he mocks terms considered politically incorrect, such as “man up.” He then uses this phrase to introduce and harass Justine Kramer, a transgender UWM student.

Yiannopoulos says (at the 49:52 mark): “I’ll tell you one UW-Milwaukee student that does not need to man up. Have any of you come into contact with this person? This quote unquote nonbinary trans woman forced his way into the women’s locker rooms this year.”

Yiannopoulos refers to Justine with “he/his” pronouns and uses derogatory language to describe her, such as “tranny.” Yiannopoulos uses Justine’s gender identity as a platform for comedy. This form of speech, and the way he mocks someone who did nothing to him, exemplifies his sexism and bigotry.

The UC Berkeley community is revered for its inclusivity. The fact that Yiannopoulos, a man who spews anti-trans rhetoric, was invited to speak on campus is a valid reason for the protest.

2. University of Pittsburgh – March 1st, 2016

In regards to the wage gap between men and women, Yiannopoulos responded:

(31:05): “You can only really believe in the wage gap if you have maths at the level of the first grader or of a feminist…”

Yiannopoulos does not believe that there is a true wage gap between men and women. This answer exemplifies part of his anti-feminist rhetoric. While calling feminists stupid, he refers to the wage gap as a myth. While he has a right to his beliefs, his presentation of ideas is demeaning, sexist, and factually inaccurate. In the same vein of thought, Yiannopoulos was photographed holding a sign that read “Rape Culture And Harry Potter. Both Fantasy” at actress Amber Rose’s Slut Walk on October 3rd, 2015.

Yiannopoulos's denial of a rape culture in the United States is pretty ironic considering our own President passes a vivid description of sexual assault as “locker room talk”. Rape culture is real. The First Amendment allows Yiannopoulos to display the above poster exemplifying his alt-right belief system, just as it protects the rights of students to peacefully protest against those crude sentiments.

3. Clemson University – October 18th, 2016

(20:03) “Today’s young men have to be strong to resist feminist brainwashing, to resist left wing brainwashing, that we call college… You have to not scream when you’re lectured about the virtues of a vegan diet… having to sort of nod and smile when your dorm room cohabitant tells you their pronouns. There are only three genders. Male. Female. Retarded.”

The audience erupted in applause after this comment. This speech preaches an exclusionary agenda. The fact that the hateful speech that Yiannopoulos employs resonates with so many members of the audience is what worries me the most. It is sexist and ableist and goes against the key values of tolerance and inclusivity that many Berkeley students hold. This is clear hate speech, and I cannot tolerate it.

While these examples show Yiannopoulos's controversial and repugnant beliefs, I do not condone what happened at UC Berkeley on Wednesday night. Violence erupted when an anarchist group dressed in black hoodies and black masks, who are not associated with UC Berkeley, hijacked the protest. This same anarchist group rioted violently on Inauguration Day in Washington DC. Their message undermines the purpose and goals of peaceful demonstration.

The day after the protest was a sad day on campus—the sidewalk on Sproul Plaza was burnt and ashy, and Telegraph Avenue was left with smashed ATMs and spray paint on the walls. However, Berkeley students were quick to respond by organizing a clean-up of the affected areas. This represents the Berkeley spirit, not the violent acts of the night before.

As a student, I was devastated to see the protest organized by Berkeley students used as an excuse to engage in senseless violence that does not support the cause of free speech. Despite this event, I will always be proud to be a member of the UC Berkeley community and do what I can to set the facts straight about what happened Wednesday night.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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