In May 2014, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and wounded 14 others in a misogyny-fueled rampage in the town of Isla Vista, California, before committing suicide.
Shortly after the shooting, a film production company began making Del Playa, a horror/thriller film that appears to have been based on the incident. Producers are saying there’s no connection, but the Change.org petition disagrees.
Audio recordings of various school or university shooters. Note: Elliot Rodger isn’t necessarily a school/university shooter, as his attack was only on the campus, and three of his victims were stabbed to death, not shot. Still fits into the theme, in my opinion.
In chronological order: Kip Kinkel (1998) - Dylan Klebold (†1999) - Eric Harris (†1999) - Seung-hui Cho (†2007) - Pekka-Eric Auvinen (†2007) - TJ Lane (2012) - Adam Lanza (†2012) - Elliot Rodger (†2014) - Dylann Roof (2015)
The ideology behind these attacks - and there is ideology - is simple. Women owe men. Women, as a class, as a sex, owe men sex, love, attention, “adoration”, in Rodger’s words. We owe them respect and obedience, and our refusal to give it to them is to blame for their anger, their violence - stupid sluts get what they deserve. Most of all, there is an overpowering sense of rage and entitlement: the conviction that men have been denied a birthright of easy power.
Capitalism commodifies that rage, monetises it, disseminates it through handbooks and forums and crass mainstream pornography. It does not occur to these men that women might have experienced these very human things, too, because it does not occur to them that women are human, not really. Women are prizes to be caught and used or hags to be harassed or, occassionally, both.
I remember going to a dance club, and this male stranger decides he wants to start grinding on me from behind. I scooted away, but he persisted to follow. My male friend, who was present, decided to start dancing up behind the male stranger, just as the male stranger was doing to me–and what do you know? The male stranger had the audacity to become outraged at my male friend, so much so, he wanted to start a fist fight with him. That’s when I knew there was no understanding or empathy for the kind of sexual abuse women go through in these situations
And if you sit there and read this and think “Well, you should expect that when you go to the clubs,” YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.
Was misogyny the reason a 22-year-old man went on a killing spree? Hell yes. Were other factors at play here, too, such as mental health, a financially straitened mental health system and an American political system cowed by the NRA, leading to too much access to guns? Yes, yes and yes. And to say that doesn’t diminish the part played by any of these reasons. In fact, they underline the dangers in one another.
Hadley Freeman: Elliot Rodger was a misogynist – but is that all he was?
this is the Isla Vista that should be portrayed in the media right now, not the articles upon articles about the murderer
4000+ students and community members came out tonight: I have never felt as connected to the community as I did at the vigil; all the hugs from all the strangers, all the tears as we cried together, all the hope, as we hoped together..hoped that we’d all be okay, that the victims families would be okay, that our community…everyone was there for each other and it was magical
but you know…all everyone’s gonna talk about is how this guy is a mentally ill rich kid blah blah blah blah
To dismiss this as a case of a lone “madman” would be a mistake.
It not only stigmatizes the mentally ill – who are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it – but glosses over the role that misogyny and gun culture play (and just how foreseeable violence like this is) in a sexist society. After all, while it is unclear what role Rodger’s reportedly poor mental health played in the alleged crime, the role of misogyny is obvious…
The truth is that there is no such thing as a lone misogynist – they are created by our culture, and by communities that tells them that their hatred is both commonplace and justified.
So when we say that these things are unstoppable, what we are really saying is that we’re unwilling to do the work to stop them. Violence against women does not have to be inevitable, but it is almost always foreseeable: what matters is what we do about it.
We have allowed ourselves to believe, for a long time, that the misogynist subcultures flourishing on- and offline in the past half-decade, the vengeful sexism seeding in resentment in a time of rage and austerity, is best ignored. We have allowed ourselves to believe that those fetid currents aren’t really real, that they don’t matter, that they have no relation to “real-world” violence. But if the Isla Vista massacre is the first confirmed incident of an incident of gross and bloody violence directly linked to the culture of ‘Men’s Rights’ activism and Pickup Artist (PUA) ideology, an ideology that preys on lost, angry men, then it cannot be ignored or dismissed any more.
We like to think that violent misogyny - not sexism, but misogyny, woman-hatred as ideology and practice, weaponised contempt for one half of the human race - isn’t something that really happens in the so-called West. No matter how many wives and girlfriends are murdered by their husbands, no matter how many rapists are let off because of their “promising careers”, violence against women is something that happens elsewhere, somewhere foreign, or historical, or both. So anxious are we to retain this convenient delusion that any person, particularly any female person, who attempts to raise a counter argument can expect to be harassed and shouted down.
The Isla Vista shooter couldn’t have made it any clearer. Why do some people nonetheless doubt his laid-out, explicit motive of misogyny?
Part of the obstinate disbelief seems to be a need to protect the privileges of sexism: associating misogyny with a mass murder would mean having to recognize just how dangerous misogyny really is and - if you’re partaking - giving it up. Some men want to believe that they can continue to call women “sluts” and make rape jokes without being part of a broader cultural impact. But they can’t: sexism, from everyday harassment to inequality enshrined in policy, pollutes our society as a whole and limits our ability to create real justice for women.
Because of the nature of my work, I am privy to more insights into the often harrowing experience of being a woman than most. Women who have never told anyone about being raped might choose to tell me because they trust that I will not blame them for it, that I will listen and that I will assure them that they were not at fault.
Most importantly, they trust that I will believe them.
Over the past few years, I have amassed an incredible amount of emotional baggage that other women have chosen to share with me because it lessens the extraordinary weight that they have to carry for themselves. I have heard horrific tales of violence, some of which are startling in their actual mundanity. My friends have confided stories of abuse inflicted by ordinary men, men who they know, men who they have often trusted. I am filled with the stories of women and their private pain.
So when someone turns around and tries to downplay the actions and words of a man who, unlike most of the other men who privately, secretly and perhaps even unconsciously hate women (and they exist in far greater numbers than many people, especially men are prepared to admit) is open about his deep hatred and suspicion of women, his frustration at their rejection and their refusal to give him what he wants and goes on a killing spree to seek revenge for it - when someone tries to dismiss that as incidental or irrelevant or ‘not really the problem’, I not only grow frustrated by their unwillingness to make the obvious connection between intent and action; I also grow afraid.
I am afraid of you, the man who refuses to listen to the experiences of women, instead arguing that 'not all men’ are like that. Maybe they aren’t. But YOU are. You are being 'like that’ right now. You are denying women the right to own their own experiences, to identify how their femaleness is used as a judgement and punishment against them. You are insisting that your right to not be suspected of potential violence - when women are simultaneously told by men to protect themselves and then berated when they choose to protect themselves from those same men - is as great as a woman’s right not to be the victim of actual physical or sexual violence. You are pretending that the frustration of being treated with caution is equal to the frustration of having to be cautious in order to avoid being beaten or raped or even just reminded of your weakness.
You are demonstrating that even when the facts are laid out bare about a killer’s view of women, his hatred for them and his toxic entitlement to their attentions, that you don’t consider these attitudes serious or dangerous enough for them to have led to murder. That there must have been other factors or another explanation, mental illness or delusion or some other kind of vague reason that allows you to be content staring at the world through a lens smudged in vaseline. Because you will not concede that the virulent, bone deep hatred of women cannot be serious or threatening enough to cause a man to kill, even though women are killed every week in the world by men who hate them and who punish them for believing in their own freedom.
So you don’t think it’s fair for women to treat all men with suspicion despite the fact that history, statistics and oral testimonies tell us that this is precisely what we should do and what men have forced us to do. You don’t think it’s fair that women, in breaking the floodgates and sharing all of that damage and pain and abuse, are making you feel guilty by association. You don’t think it’s fair that women cross the street without thinking at night to avoid you walking behind them or next to them or approaching them, because that makes you feel bad. You don’t think it’s fair that, in the millions and millions of voices finding strength around the world right now to share stories of harassment, violence and abuse that are familiar to so many of us and shocking to so many others, that women haven’t made it their priority to praise the 'not all men’ who 'aren’t like that’.
I can tell you right now that, if this is how you feel, you have only managed to convince me that you’re someone who can’t be trusted and who needs to be held at arm’s length.
The first—and last—word on Elliot Rodger, as written eloquently by Ezra Klein:
There’s a reason the media rarely reports on suicides. Sociologists long ago discovered that suicide is contagious — and media coverage helps its spread. There are guidelines endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Office of the Surgeon General, and others warning against “inadvertently romanticizing suicide or idealizing those who take their own lives by portraying suicide as a heroic or romantic act.” They also caution media outlets against credulously relaying the testimony of the deceased. “The cause of an individual suicide is invariably more complicated than a recent painful event such as the break-up of a relationship or the loss of a job,” they write.
But the national media reports ceaselessly on mass murders. Cameras are often there to cover the actual shooting, and they don’t leave until weeks or months after the final press conference. Magazines profile the killers, lingering on their fashion affectations or their love of death metal or their disturbed art or the maddening realization that they didn’t seem like killers at all. These are all natural attempts to understand a tragedy. But the end up glorifying the murderer — and possibly creating copycats.
Sociologists believe that mass murder is contagious, too. “The tornado of media coverage that swirls around each such mass killing," wrote Zeynep Tufekci at The Atlantic, "and the acute interest in the identity and characteristics of the shooter — as well as the detailed and sensationalist reporting of the killer’s steps just before and during the shootings — may be creating a vicious cycle of copycat effects similar to those found in teen and other suicides." They also may be fulfilling the shooter’s hopes and dreams.