Last month, 22 year old Elliot Rodgers murdered six people, before taking his own life in a mass killing just outside of the University of California campus. The shooting sparked a global discussion, which swept various social media sites following the release of several tapes and diaries, belonging to the killer.
Elliot Rodgers blamed the murders on his poor luck with girls and the fact he was still a virgin. He said in one of his videos titles ‘Retribution’, “I will slaughter every spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see inside there. All those girls I’ve desired so much, they would have all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them while they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes. I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you.”
Thirteen people were injured in the attack, when Rodgers stabbed to death three of his roommates, before shooting dead two young women and a 20 year old man before killing himself. Rodgers, who is the son of one of the producers of The Hunger Games franchise, lived a lavish and opulent lifestyle whilst suffering with mental problems that his family were aware of.
…they would have all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man…
Following the release of his YouTube clips and diary entries where he tried to justify his plans, a huge discussion was sparked about the attitudes towards women that some people carry around. At this point it is important to reiterate again, Elliot Rodgers was suffering from mental illnesses. Although the derogatory, offensive comments he made about women were appalling and his overwhelming sense of entitlement that women should have sex with him were shocking – he was mentally ill.
Unfortunately however, some members of the Internet community were on his side. Male and female. Comments began to appear on social networks such as “I feel bad for him, rejection is agony’, and ‘Play hard to get and then cry sexual harassment when we play along’. Multiple users also backed up Rodgers, venting their frustration around women ‘friendzoning’ men and how it was understandable that someone would be driven to commit a crime like this.
…his overwhelming sense of entitlement that women should have sex with him was shocking…
This is when the Twittersphere exploded and the #YesAllWomen hashtag was born. Since the killings, multiple issues around sexual assault and gender roles have been raised. The hashtag sparked a conversation with comments such as ‘#YesAllWomen b/c not returning someone’s feelings, or as society calls it putting them in the “friend zone”, should not make me feel guilty.’ and ‘#YesAllWomen because we’re taught to fear if we don’t do everything “right” we asked for it if we get raped.’
Before you think this article is taking a downward, man hating route, think again. Personally, I’m proud to be a feminist. I’m a feminist because I believe in equal rights, I believe a woman should be able to wear and do what she wants without ‘asking for it’ and I believe that women should occupy an equal amount of power in government and in management positions without being perceived as bossy or controlling. However, many, if not most men feel the same way. That’s right, guys can be feminists too, even if they don’t know it.
…I’m proud to be a feminist…
Although the mass murder in the States was shocking and needless, opening up more questions about gun control and the treatment of those with mental illnesses, it has sparked a much needed debate within our society on a global level about gender. There remains, and probably always will be, a huge divide between men and women and the attitudes that many people share. The idea that we should fit into our gender role is outdated and redundant – times have changed. It’s time to accept that we’re equal, that women have the right to be safe regardless of what we chose to wear or where we want to walk late at night and that we shouldn’t have to squeeze ourselves into the tight, one size fits all gender stereotype. Who says that being a nurse is a woman’s job, or being a plumber requires you to be a man?
Maybe we should use this horrific incident to further the conversation, maybe it’s time to stop wolf whistling at women in the street or bashing men as an entire gender for the actions of the minority.