Elliot Rodger, 22, killed seven people - including himself - this past Friday, during a drive-by shooting (in addition to killing his roommates while they were in their apartment). It all took place in Isla Vista, Calif.; a nearby neighborhood of UC Santa Barbara. Most victims were students of the university.
Now, in the wake of this tragedy, it is important to ask why this happened.
While many attribute the shooting to conservative gun laws and mental health issues, it is important to look at this story in a different way. Yes, these things probably do play a part in the manifestation of the shooting; however, many people go to therapists, and those people usually don’t go out and kill their classmates. And yes, shootings are frequent in the United States due to gun regulations (or lack thereof), but they are all motivated by something.
Rodger’s motivation seems pretty clear to me: militant misogyny. Rodger resented women. He felt bullied by them, and he hated the fact that he was 22 years old and a virgin. In a YouTube video that has since been taken down, he says the following, “I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it.” He vowed to take revenge on women for their distaste towards him by “slaughter[ing] every single spoilt, stuck-up, blonde s***.”
This particular type of misogyny stems from the belief that women owe something to men. Many young men that grow up “nerdy” or “unpopular” hear time and again things like “girls will love you when you get older” or “your life is going to be so much better than the boys with all the girls when you become rich and successful.” To further this point, “if you were once young, nerdy and male, it is not unlikely that your future sense of self-worth was funded with a non-consensual IOU from the world’s women.” This insinuates that women are literally just pieces of men’s lives that serve to indicate who is the most “successful” and thoroughly robs women of their agency.
Worst of all, the men that perpetuate this type of misogyny do not see themselves as bad people. In fact, “many of them were bullied as kids for being geeks and believe that makes them incapable of bullying or oppressive behavior.”
Rodger, saw himself bullied by the girl he had a crush on. This drastically changed his world view, resulting in him deciding that he could no longer trust women. Rodger was so entitled that he believed that anyone who rejected his advances was bullying him. More on this belief system can be found his in his graphic and volatile 141 page manifesto, which details his life and violent thoughts about women.
It is necessary that people use Rodger’s misogynistic incentives to commit such heinous activities as a vehicle for challenging misogyny that might not be so blatant in our everyday lives. Women experience violence every day, and we desperately need to do something about it.
Photos via ABC News, loveinshallah.com.