With the recent shooting that happened at USCB this past week, many people are outraged and are offering their own opinions as to the cause of the violence. Elliott Rodger was only 22 when he decided to take the lives of 6 innocent victims as well as his own. If things had gone as he had originally planned, an entire sorority house full of women would have been killed, as well as as whoever else passed by at the time of the shooting. So why would someone so young do something so horrible? This is the question that we are often left with these days. With 72 school shootings occurring since Sandy Hook alone (Dec. 14th 2012), we are often left helpless in the aftermath, wondering what could have been done to prevent such heinous crimes, only to remain stagnant as we await the next massacre. I’ve read a lot about Elliott Rodger and the shooting in my own attempt to figure out where we’re going wrong. I’ve read why we need to talk about Elliott, why we don’t need to talk about him. How he was a manifestation of women-hatred, and why his autism is no reason to kill. These articles fail to realize that Elliott is not alone in his decision to turn the gun to others before himself. We’ve been viewing Elliott Rodger as an isolated event, as if with each shooting specific things could have been done to stop each one. We live in a society where in the past 24 years there have been 387 school shootings. If the people causing these crimes had instead contracted MERS, we would have called it an epidemic.
Elliott Rodger was a lonely guy, a 22-year-old virgin who had never even kissed a girl. After years of rejection he took it upon himself to ‘slaughter’ all of the girls that had chosen men over himself. Elliott had been a member of online hate group, PUAhate.com (the site is no longer around), where men could join chat rooms and fester in their shared hatred of women. So is this the reason he chose to kill? Twitter exploded the next day with tweets about how any girl could have prevented this by just giving the guy a chance, which prompted the #yesallwomen response where women shared their stories of sexual assault and fear of violence. As a college-age woman I can totally agree with those that say we live under the constant threat of male violence. Just last month in a town not very far from my hometown in Connecticut, a young boy stabbed and killed a girl who rejected his prom invitation. I believe that it’s easy to look at these events and believe that the cause of these crimes is a culture that teaches men that women are supposed to be submissive and that somehow, you deserve their love and affection. However, I really think the problem runs deeper than that.
I came across an article written by blogger James Michael Sama titled, “Why we need to talk about Elliott Rodger“. In it, he explains that we need to talk about the shooter because we need to stop the people that sympathize with him. He lists a few tweets that suggest it was the women who rejected him’s fault that he committed such a heinous crime. While I believe that victim blaming is even more heinous than the crime actually committed, one statement that struck me as odd was,
“This discussion needs to be had because no sympathy for a boy like this should be given. An American boy from a wealthy family going to an expensive school, driving a BMW, is still not entitled to any woman. We have all been rejected. We have all had feelings for someone who didn’t have them for us in return – yet we do not develop an irrevocable violent hatred towards others simply because they are not attracted to us.”
This is where our problem lies. This is where the conversation goes wrong. As if his wealth added to his sense of entitlement with women. We’re blaming the wrong things. We blame the victims, we blame the parents, we blame society and culture and autism and depression and the NRA, yet all of these things are done in hindsight. Elliott Rodger posted a video the same day as the shooting. His mother saw the video and went out with her husband to find him when they heard of the shooting. Were there really no signs before this? In his 140 page manifesto, Rodger catalogs his entire life, including the years of depression that lead up to this event. Why is no one seeing the signs before the events occur.
So what do we do? Fuck if I know. I am in no way qualified to make a substantial analysis of this event and come up with some sort of solution, but I do believe the conversation needs to be changed. We need to change the way we view mental illness. People that are depressed or have psychosis aren’t monsters, events lead them to become monsters. We need to change the way men view women and the way women view themselves. We need to change the way sexual assault is handled on college campuses. We need to keep guns away from people that won’t use them responsibly. We need to look upon our fellow humans with empathy and understand when they need help, not mock them for it. We need to stop victim blaming.
So just watch the way you speak. Think of who you’re blaming for the situations and if they are really at fault. Because maybe it was that a crazy person that snapped, or maybe it was our countries terrible way of treating mental illness.