Trigger warning: gun violence, violence against women.
Another mass shooting occurred, this time, near the campus of University of California Santa Barbara, where I have presented two sexuality education workshops in the past. 6 people have been killed.
The day before the mass murders, the alleged killer posted a video to YouTube explaining his explicit plans for the attack, and his motivations. I made the mistake of watching it. And now I’m upset and disturbed.
In sum, he planned to enter the “hottest sorority house” on campus and would delight in “slaughtering” and “annihilating” every “spoiled, stuck-up blond slut” there. He went on a 6+ minute diatribe about how it has come to this because all these women don’t understand what a nice “gentleman” he is, and wouldn’t have sex with him, instead choosing to have sexual relationships with “brutes”. He laments that “everybody” gets to experience “sex and fun and pleasure” during college, and he didn’t. And now he’s a 22 year old virgin because no “girls” would have sex with him. He called this “unfair” and “a crime that can never be forgiven”. He described the “river of blood” which would be retribution against women for this “crime”.
"For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I have been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls have never been attracted to me. I will punish all of you for it", he said.
And now 6 people are dead- DEAD, life gone, and 7 more injured, because Elliot Rodger, allegedly, felt entitled to access women’s bodies and when he was denied, he felt entitled to murder them.
Already the news media is taking this tragic story in directions that are missing the biggest piece- misogyny and sexual entitlement.
Dear News Media,
Don’t gloss over that:
1. This was a hate crime. This was an act of violence committed against victims that were were, or were sympathetic to, a group of people (in this case, women) in which the motivation for the violence was simply that they were a part of that group. That’s a hate crime. A gender based hate crime.
2. Many men are socialized young to believe they are owed sex and attention from women. They are led to believe that if they are nice, or a gentleman, or do favors, or are a “nice guy”, that this entitles them to sex. The whole idea of “friendzoning” and the indignation around the fear of being an attentive and good friend to a woman and not being rewarded with vagina in return (as if the only thing worthwhile about companionship with another human being is whether or not you get laid as a result), is indicative of this dehumanizing socialization that can lead to extreme and horrifying outcomes like this.
These are messy, complex, and uncomfortable discussion points but PLEASE PLEASE don’t gloss over them. If you need a pundit, use me, or I can recommend other experts on this topic, but either way, don’t ignore this issue which is so central to the heartbreaking murder of these people.
Also have important conversations about mental health care and gun control, but don’t forget the crucial piece on gender based hate crime and sexual entitlement.