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Editorial Comment

Rodger's Killing Spree: Misogyny and Entitlement


(SNN) - I once worked as an Employee Assistance person at a State run institution for developmentally disabled individuals where an employee complained, with righteous indignation, "They won't let me abuse the clients!" (Well, yeah.)

Reading Elliot Rodger's self-justification for his killing spree reminded me of the above incident. In the case of the employee above, I doubt many would agree she had a right to abuse anyone, much less vulnerable clients. In the case of Rodger, misogynists have come out in full force to blame the targets of Rodger's hatred for not fulfilling his fantasies.

Rodger believed he was entitled to sexual relationships with women, and that if he didn't get them the fault was with women rather than with something he might be doing to put them off, or with his expectations of what women owed him. In his YouTube video, titled "Retribution" and posted the day before his rampage, he projects his self-hatred onto women who ignore his sexual overtures even when he hasn't yet made them. Also, he apparently equated being an "alpha male" with killing others, or at least with being able and willing to.

It would be easy to ascribe Rodger's actions to that of a single crazed and irrational being, and to miss the greater lesson here.

One look at the post-rampage trending Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen (see also "#YesAllWomen home" and "#YesAllWomen public") makes it obvious Rodger's suppositions about women and what they owe men are not so out of the ordinary as one might think. Would most men go to the extreme that Rodger did? No. Are most men dirt bags that hate women? No. Do most women encounter misogyny in their lifetimes? Yes, all women do—on almost a daily basis—even when they do not recognize it as such because of its normative form. Do most men remain silent in the face of this misogyny? Yes.

Take a look at Twitter hashtag #NotAllMen to see that many men rush to defend themselves rather than deal with the fact that enough men do hate us, and enough men stand silently by when other men hate us, that all women have to deal daily with the violent consequences of this hate.

It is this hate that allows a judge to blame a 14-year-old girl for her rape by an adult teacher, or a town and news media to blame a girl for her gang rape even when it was documented by the rapists themselves. Blaming the victim is so normative in our society that even a female judge blamed a young teen for her rape, despite the fact that her 18-year-old rapist verified her story and pled guilty to the rape.

Women live in a world that terrorizes us simply for being female. We are paid less, valued less, interrupted, insulted, discounted, and talked over. We are gawked at, whistled at, leered at, grabbed, pinched, groped, raped, beaten, enslaved, and murdered. We worry whether our makeup and attire will make us acceptable, or be the cause for blaming us if we're attacked. We walk with our keys or mace ready to use as a weapon because we know this time could be our turn to become a statistic simply by walking alone in public spaces. Some of us participate in blaming other women for their assaults because at some level, we hope we are somehow different from them—that we do things differently from them, or are protected by our class or status, and therefore may escape their fate.

Women are taught to walk through life as second-class citizens—always polite, always considerate, always deferring to men or paying the price when we don't because "that's what bitches deserve." We are always walking that thin line between being responsible for male egos but not so much so that we are cast as sluts "asking for it."

From the moment of puberty, and too often long before, females are made responsible for everything males do to us and to each other. (When has anyone blamed a father for the way his son turned out?)

What Rodger's did is simply one more case of misogyny and entitlement taken to the extreme. The question is has our society finally developed the will to say "Enough."

Maye Ralston writes stories, essays, and books. She writes opinion editorials and essays for The Sage and is a member of the Midwest Writers Workshop Planning Committee. She blogs at Writing Heartland.

More from Maye Ralston
DISCLAIMER: The above article is OPINION.The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the authors of The Sage Opinion and forum participants on this web site do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the The Sage News Network or the official policies of the The Sage News.



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