The recent shootings in Isla Vista have been attributed to a young man who was frustrated with his loneliness. As the shooter was a wealthy, white American, the media was quick to defend Elliot Rodger as a troubled young man suffering from mental health problems. Immediately people jumped to his defence. Poor kid was just lonely, girls obviously weren’t nice to him, so he had to drive in his BMW alone with no pretty girl in the passenger seat. Some people even went so far as to blame blondes for the shooting.
The thing that bothers me the most about this is that had Elliot Rodger been a young, Muslim guy from somewhere in the Middle East, or even somewhere in America, people wouldn’t question his mental health. In this situation, we’d be given the impression that Islam is just a violent religion that encourages violence from those who follow it. Not to mention, these other people probably don’t have access to the counsellors, psychologists and medications that Rodger received as a result of his privileged upbringing. We call it terrorism when it’s based on one ideology, so why not another?
Two points to make about this. Firstly, let’s go with the obvious: the media is reluctant to call someone a terrorist if they’re white. We saw it with Breivik and we’re seeing it now. Whenever a white person goes on a shooting spree, they’re ‘disturbed’, suffering from mental health issues, regardless if they post a 140-page manifesto spewing blind hatred towards a certain group of people or not.
Secondly, the fact that this could be considered “extremist misogyny” seems laughable to some people. As if this isn’t actually an ideology that someone could ascribe to, as if misogyny isn’t even a thing. Come on guys, equality has totally happened, get with the program. The views expressed by Rodger in his manifesto aren’t uncommon views. Many men feel that women owe them something. As a woman myself, I can’t even count the amount of times this has happened to me. Whether it’s a guy friend who feels he has some right to fuck me because he’s been such a good friend to me, or the guy who feels it’s appropriate to grab me in a bar just because I am walking past him. I hear people saying that those who are making apologies for Rodger’s actions aren’t the majority view, but how often do you hear people saying rape or sexual assault is the fault of the victim because they were “asking for it” or that domestic violence is the fault of the victim for “making them angry” or “putting up with it”. People making apologies for Rodger’s actions, people blaming women for turning men down, saying that it’s their fault that this is happened are doing just that on a larger scale.
Just because misogyny is ingrained in our society does not make the views Rodger expressed in his manifesto any less of a hate speech. There are communities of people in online forums that spew similar rhetoric to that demonstrated in his manifesto. This community is undoubtedly one of hate and violence, so if we’re so quick to throw an entire group of mostly peaceful people who ascribe to a certain religion (Islam) into a category, why are we so hesitant to put these extreme misogynistic people into bed with Rodger?
This attack was ideologically motivated and targeted at a certain demographic. It was premeditated with the overall aim to send a message to women, ‘your day of retribution is here.’ I challenge those who don’t think this is terrorism to change the words spoken by Rodger and replace the word “women” with “Jews”. Targeted at a different group of people, I don’t think there would be no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was an act of terrorism, or in the very least, a hate crime.
Photo via NBC