Very short post as I know there are others out there who can make these points much more eloquently than I can, but this has had me in a rage all day so felt I should write it out.
Obviously the big story right now is the shooting in Isla Vista, and the responses have been all too predictable.
Let’s clear something up right away, I have mental health problems, I’m a gamer, I quite like horror movies, and I’m also a goth.
Pretty much every time there is a shooting by a young person I know that at least one of those subjects will be touted by the media as the reason behind the killing. If we’re really lucky it’s all three. SO far with the Isla Vista killing I’ve seen his mental health and his gaming mentioned as reasons for what he did. I haven’t heard yet about what music he liked, but I suspect that’ll come soon. And some sections of the media have latched on to the fact his father works in the movies. So far so clichéd.
Here’s where the difference comes in, this time he left a clear statement (a manifesto even!) of why he did it. His motivation, what set him off, what he wanted to achieve. Unsurprisingly he hasn’t said he wanted to reenact a violent video game, and he hasn’t said music made him angry. What he has said, repeatedly, is that he hates women and wants to kill them. Not just kill them, he wants to starve them to death, put them in concentration camps and so on and so forth.
And yet still the same old clichés are being trotted out by a lazy press. Except I think calling them lazy is a cop out. I don’t think they are lazy, yes these are the easy stereotypes to run with, in fact it’s almost as though they have a set template for shootings by young men. “He was a loner with depression/autism/other invisible illness [delete as necessary] who played violent video games, watched violent movies and listened to goth/rock/metal [delete as necessary] music” All they do is fill in name, age, number of victims and time/location of incident and roll it out. Easy peasy.
But surely it’d be even easier to just point out the very reasons he outlines himself (in a conveniently easy to ctrl-c crtl-v format)?
Easier maybe, but here’s the thing, mental illness is still seen as something “other”. Normal people don’t have mental illness, especially not serious mental illness, it’s unknown and scary. The stuff of horror movies even.
Gaming is also seen as something “other”, small children are expected to play computer games, but not adults. Adults should have grown out of them. Adults who still game are unknown and scary.
Goth/rock/metal is seen the same way. So are violent movies.
Obviously none of these things are really unusual, but they are still presented as such, and so are still great scapegoats.
But thinking of women as little more than sex objects? That’s so everyday. The papers do it. Adverts do it. TV does it. Music does it. Books do it. People do it. What’s unusual or scary about that?
They might not phrase it that way of course, but it pervades so much of every day life, even for small children. Girls are taught from a very young age that they should aspire to be pretty, and sweet, and generous, and friendly. They are taught not to be rude or loud, even when the situation deserves it. Especially if it’s because they are treated badly by a boy, “boys will be boys” after all. Would be a bit silly of a girl to blame a boy for just being a boy, better she stays quiet, smiles sweetly and doesn’t actually try to change his behaviour. He’s just doing what comes naturally, his right trumps hers.
They should aspire to be princesses, after all, which little girl doesn’t want a Prince Charming to rescue her? That’s the whole point to a princess, she’s incomplete until her prince comes.
Then they get a bit older and now they need to make themselves look pretty for the boys, they need to buy all the beauty products so they look good for the boys. They need to be sexy, but not slutty. Not too easy but not frigid either. Good at pleasing their men, but not too experienced. The magazines are full of sex tips, mostly on how to please the man, obviously she’s still incomplete until her prince comes.
In so much media she is defined by the men in her life, used as a plot device to further a man’s character development. She’s a convenient way of advertising goods. Her looks are her most important asset, once she;s old and they start to fade she’s no use.
She is nothing without he.
She is a walking collection of body parts. Her breasts are important because men like them. Her buttocks are important for the same reason. And her legs. Her genitals are obviously important to men, if she gets any messages in the media about female masturbation it’s usually being sold as a good thing for a man to watch to get him in the mood. Heaven forbid she do it because she enjoys it! Her womb is important because that’s all part of sex. And if she doesn’t want to get pregnant? Why would she not want to? Doesn’t she know that her body’s main purpose is sex? And pregnancy is a natural conclusion to it.
She is a pretty little thing, there to serve the men in her life. Just look at the different way older single women are treated compared to men, a bachelor is a good thing. He’s a party animal free to sleep with who he chooses, if he’s single it’s because he chooses to be free. A spinster though? She’s dried up, unwanted, is she having sex? Only if the men feel like doing her a favour.
All women are taught by society that a man choosing them is a compliment, whether he pursues her romantically, or just yells at her in the street. “It’s a compliment luv, lighten up!”
Being rude back is not on, she should always be grateful and gracious. After all, it could be worse, she could be ignored entirely.
So what if a self titled “nice guy” approaches a woman and she turns him down? Maybe she’s dressed up nice and looking good, she should be flattered he noticed, he complimented her now what does he get back? What if she hasn’t made an effort and looks a bit “frumpy”? Well then she should be grateful for the attention, he didn’t have to compliment her, but he’s a good guy, shouldn’t she repay him his kindness?
What if a few women do it? How are they all missing what a “nice guy” he is? Some of them even have the cheek to pass over the “nice guy” and choose another, possibly even a less nice guy. What’s wrong with them? What utter bitches, don’t they know they’d have been better off with the “nice guy”? I bet they even friendzoned him! Doesn’t he deserve something more? Isn’t he entitled to something more? You just couldn’t blame a guy for feeling a bit mad could you? I mean, he was just so nice and this is how they repay him.. it’s enough to make you really angry isn’t it? Don’t they know that in the movies the “nice guy” always wins the girl (like a trophy), where’s his prize? She, sorry it, was obviously stolen from him. He might even lose his temper, after all “boys will be boys”.
Obviously though, it’s the video games that did it.
Not a culture where women are bitches for “friendzoning” men.
Not a culture where women should aspire to be princesses and wait for their prince to choose them.
Not a culture where women are expected to be flattered by any and all male attention.
Not a culture where women are expected to fear spinsterhood and be grateful for rescue.
Not a culture where violence is excused as “boys will be boys”.
Not a culture where being a “nice guy” is held up as a reason for women to open their legs to a man.
Must be the games. Not the misogyny.
Let’s call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism by Laurie Penny
The Scold’s Bridle II by Joanne Harris
Elliot Rodger and illusions of nuance by Glosswitch
Mental health, misogyny and not all men by Effie Perine
Elliot Rodger And Men Who Hate Women by The Belle Jar
The Pick-Up Artist Community’s Predictable, Horrible Response to a Mass Murder by Amanda Hess
Joining the dots: From fairy tales to Elliot Rodger by Glosswitch
We need to talk about systemic male violence not the “work of a madman” by Louise Pennington
Womens Responses to the Mass Shooting at UCSB compiled by Room Of Our Own