Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Truly Terrifying Thing About Elliott Rodger Is That He's Not the First

Elliot Rodger's despicable murdering rampage in Isla Vista highlights with a terrifying absolution the prevalent misogyny that runs so rampant in our current society.

Perhaps the most chilling aspect of Rodger's final video confession wasn't that he saw his entitlement to women as a justification for murder, but the fact that he's not alone. The language and sentiment featured in Rodger's video rant sounds like something straight out of an MRA blog, but really it can be found just about anywhere on the Internet when a man is angry that a woman isn't making her body available to him 24/7.

Even more terrifying is the fact that Rodgers isn't the first man to take his misogyny to violent extremes. In 1989, a man in Canada killed more than a dozen people at a school, targeting female students because he felt feminism "ruined" his life. In 2009, a man in Pittsburgh shot up a fitness class and killed three women before killing himself; just like Rodger, he left similar online rants expressing resentment towards women.

Male entitlement carries a body count, and while talking about issues like gun control and mental illness are important, discussing how to constructively address misogyny in our society should be treated with equal amounts of attention. This is why the trending hashtag #YesAllWomen is so important. The hashtag is bringing to light the copious amounts of violence and harassment towards women that our society normalizes.

It's because toxic ideas of masculinity are so normalized that large portions of news media seem to have a difficulty address the misogyny behind the Isla Vista shooting. It's easier to talk about mental illness and gun control, because those seem like problems with a tangible solution. It's more difficult to attack ideas that are toxic and harmful and allow for people like Rodger to thrive. Changing mentalities and social standards are harder, but it's not impossible. Taking control of the dialogue in forms of trends like #YesAllWomen, men listening to women and calling out misogyny whenever they see it, and attacking and subverting tropes in media where the girl is treated like a "prize" for the plucky nerdy boy to "win" at the end of an adventure, are all steps in the right direction.

Eilliot Rodger wasn't the first, and unless we start to look at the real underlying reason behind his violent rage and do something about it, he won't be the last.

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