This week another horrific mass shooting was carried out by yet another disturbed, angry young white male. We at PARC were quick to point out the glaring omission in the mainstream media coverage of this tragedy, that no one seemed to be calling this what it was: an attack of terror-driven extremism.
It is commonly held that one of the biggest entitlements of privilege is not having to be aware of that privilege, and in the case of whiteness and maleness, this means invisibility. When perpetrators of mass shootings have been people of color, or of non-Christian identities, media outlets are quick to champion a conversation that identifies and conflates their non-whiteness and non-Christian-ness as likely roots of their violent outbursts. This discourse is eagerly picked up and regurgitated in colloquial conversation, and before you know it, vitriolic backlash against the aforementioned ethnic, religious, or raced group takes hold, reinforcing ideas misguided perceptions about which groups are likely to be violent and dangerous. And yet, when we look at just who is likely to be committing acts of domestic terrorism, resoundingly it's one group: White males. So, see how that invisibility works? When your whiteness and maleness is seen as the norm, those characteristics conveniently disappear from the public's assessment of why or how someone could commit such an atrocity.
Thankfully, many writers, bloggers, and journalists have picked up long-existing conversations about how White male privilege hurts and kills, this time with a much needed focus on how misogyny plays so nicely into the cocktail of delusions that spur these men to feel entitled to kill. Elliot Rodger was well-steeped in cultural frames of women as objects of sexual desire for men, and as the gatekeepers to his sexual self. When he felt he could not attain what was rightly his, he was clear who was to blame for that.
Margaret Atwood is attributed with a quote that can be summed up as such : "Men fear women will laugh at them. Women fear men will kill them". With this tragedy coming so soon on the heels of a similar one in Connecticut where a young woman was killed when she turned down a prom request from a male classmate, we can't overlook the incredible danger we put women in when we promote and reinforce cultural ideas of women as gatekeepers to sex who simultaneously must be mere channels or providers of sexual gratification to males.
Not surprisingly, as more and more spaces are calling attention to the role of misogyny and sexism in this tragedy, the Men's Rights Activists and the 'Not All Men' set are contributing absolutely base and vile kickback, veiled as unfair misandry. It's hard to even be able to fathom how Elliot Rodger and others like him can see this world as one where women have all the power and men are powerless, when our history and culture are rife with examples of men killing women, and not the other way around. What's clear is this: Misandry irritates, misogyny kills.
Jessica Valenti once again provides excellent commentary and analysis of how patriarchy, misogyny, and a culture that devalues and objectifies women explain how this tragedy could happen.
#YesAllWomen is the amazing Twitter trend of women challenging the dismissal that this shooting is somehow isolated from cultural teachings and experiences around sex and gender and violence.
A man steps up and outlines 5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained To Hate Women.
Have You Noticed That White Dudes Keep Mass Murdering People?
The Pickup Artist (PUA) community reacts to the tragedy, and no one is better for it.
Aggrieved White Male Entitlement Syndrome, broken down for you here.
Seth Rogan is not a victim, but he does prove his target's point.