The appalling tragedy of Elliot Rodger, the troubled young man who went on a shooting spree claiming the lives of seven random young people near the University of California is already being claimed by the vocal media feminists who want to claim that it’s further proof of the patriarchy, which wishes to reppress, harm, sexually violate and subjugate women. This is why women must be allowed to do whatever they like without consequence because as the dreadful case of this young man demonstrates, all men secretly hate women and want to take out their anger on them. The patriarchy must be fought because this one young man apparently hated all women and wanted to exact his revenge on them.
The reason for this rationale is that prior to carrying out this act of senseless slaughter, Elliot Rodger had apparently uploaded a video to YouTube in which he talked of his anger and frustration about still being a virgin at the age of 22, no girl had ever even kissed him and every single girl he was attracted to spurned his advances.
With the victims and killer barely cold, it’s rather distasteful to be claiming their deaths to advance any type of ideology, but it’s probably worth putting out a few thoughts to counter the feminist narrative that will permeate the papers and bandwidths over the next few days.
Elliot Rodger’s behaviour was clearly that of a psychotic and mentally disturbed individual. It certainly isn’t proof that all men hate women and wish to sexually dominate them. One of his statements alluded to the fact that he wanted to harm specifically blonde women, whom he referred to using an especially derogatory term. Is that indicative that blonde women have a harder time than other women? Do we need to combat blonde prejudice – look at the jokes pertaining to blonde women as being intellectually inferior! If I was attempting to claim this act as proof that something needs to be done about attitudes to blonde women, I would rightly be laughed off the planet. The guy had issues and according some press reports, high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome meaning that he had difficulty forming relationships.
If there is anything to be claimed from what has happened, it’s the issue of mental illness and young people, in particular diagnosing potential problems and intervening earlier. I’d also venture that the USA seem to have something of a problem in terms of gun controls. Why on earth did this young man who was known to the police department have access to lethal weapons capable of causing mass devastation?
Watching Elliot’s video is a surreal and rather chilling experience. This man was so detached from reality, the phrase ‘dead behind the eyes’ comes to mind. His face is soulless and expressionless, perhaps a symptom of his Asperger’s but he looked more like he was delivering a carefully rehearsed acting performance, albeit one that was wooden, cliched and hammy. You’d expect to see this sort of vignette in teen comedy horror film, not real life.
To blame the patriarchy is a glib response, one which misses the point. Elliot Rodgers’ sense of horror that he was a freak for still being a virgin at the age of 22, is one that is echoed by the press reports. Can you blame him, growing up in a culture that is preoccupied with priming young people for a life of sexual activity at an ever earlier age, not only via the usual media channels of films, magazines, advertising, pop music but also by a sex education system which wants to tell 12 and 13 year olds that sex is a safe, fun enjoyable activity that should be entered into as soon as you feel ready.
In my parents’ day, 50 years ago, being a virgin at the age of 22 was perfectly respectable and nothing to be ashamed of, neither was virginity at any age. Why should people be thought of weird, stigmatised and seen as missing out on something, simply because of their choice not to get physically intimate with others? Sexual contact is not the be all and end all of relationships. Relationships are no less fulfilling on account of lacking a sexual element.
Rodgers’ attitude to sex seemed to be that it was his right, that he was missing out, that he should been able to experience lots of sex with attractive women, in the same way that he could go to bar and try out the different liquors on offer. His resentment stemmed from the fact that all of his peers were having sex, he seemed to have the message that everybody should be enjoying sex, it was his right or entitlement and that girls were having sexual relationships with lots of other people, but not with him. The root of his problem is that he could see girls all around him having sex, only not with him, despite his best efforts to behave like a gentleman. His drawing depicting the sexual revolution and what he wanted to do to enact his own revolution is not only chilling in that it lays bare his distorted vision, but like all self- deception intermingled is an element of truth. The effects of the sexual revolution don’t seem to have done much for either sex.
To attribute what happened in California to a hatred or loathing of women dangerously misses the point. Far more pertinent is the sexualisation of society leading to the idea of a right to sex, objectification of the other by both sexes and that conceit that young people should be at it night and day with each other like rabbits.
If we concede that sex is some kind of right or entitlement, (which certain UK health authorities do by permitting allowances to be spent on services provided by sex workers) then it could lead to severe repercussions by those who are mentally ill and face rejection. Sexually motivated crimes will always occur but society needs to be careful not to validate the sentiments of Elliot Rodger. His victims deserve better than having his crimes written off to being as a result of hatred of women. Had he been getting the sex he craved no-one would have had a problem with his attitude. The problem isn’t patriarchy, it’s seeing sex as a recreational activity which everyone has the right to access. Combined with psychosis and access to handguns, it was a tragedy waiting to happen.