Nice guys don’t murder

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Male entitlement comic

The Elliot Rodger shooting at Seattle Pacific University has stirred up a lot of controversy. There have been many polarizing views regarding the cause of his killing spree, though there are some similarities where people on opposite sides seem to nod their heads and agree. “Well he’s just crazy, right?” That’s where I have a problem.

First off, it’s lazy and dismissive to chalk it up to him being mentally ill. It’s offensive to me and many others who live with a mental illness. Only 11 percent of all murderers are people with mental illnesses, and most of that percentage is made up of people who also abuse substances, such as drugs and alcohol. Even if he were mentally ill, it’s not as if his mental illness would exist in a vacuum, free from cultural influences and societal pressures. 

The bigger problem is there are sane people calling Elliot Rodger a hero, claiming to agree with his actions and thoughts. 

There are underlying attitudes in our culture that encourage people like this. We need to have a discussion about our culture on a much larger scale, which has allowed for the type of thinking illustrated in Rodger’s writings and video diaries. That type of thinking that centers itself on misogyny and male entitlement. 

Many exclude misogyny as a motive by pointing out that only two of the six deceased victims were women, but in his 140-page manifesto, Rodger describes his vivid fantasies, which included putting women in concentration camps to starve to death and be taken away from other men, with the reasoning: “If I can’t have them, no one will.”

In his last video diary, titled “Retribution,” Rodger ended the video by saying, “You’ve forced me to suffer all my life, and now I’ll force you all to suffer… All you girls who rejected me and looked down upon me… [and] all of you sexually active men, I hate you. I hate all of you. I can’t wait to give you exactly what you deserve. Utter annihilation.” 

Rodger demands he should have a girlfriend as if it’s a human right to receive romantic attention. He may have killed men as well, but his attitude is clearly misogynistic.

Elliot isn’t alone in this type of thinking. There are many comments on his videos that agree with him and blame women as the cause of his murderous actions, saying things like, “Any of you girls could have prevented this,” “See, this is what you get for treating nice guys like crap” and “I don’t blame guns. I blame the blondes for this one.” 

One of the main reasons men feel entitled to think this way is because in everything from video games to films, we are fed these social scripts where the girl declines, then the boy completes tasks a, b and c and then the boy “wins” the girl as if she were a trophy. 

Writer Arthur Chu further explains this cultural phenomenon in his article, “Your Princess is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement and Nerds,” by writing “the overall problem is one of a culture where instead of seeing women as, you know, people, protagonists of their own stories just like we are of ours, men are taught that women are things to ‘earn,’ to ‘win.’ That if we try hard enough and persist long enough, we’ll get the girl in the end. Like life is a video game, and women, like money and status, are just part of the reward we get for doing well.”

Despite what media tells us about life, we need to recognize that romantic or sexual values do not and should not hold the highest fixation of all our relationships. We need to stop blaming women for being victims of objectification. We need to listen to their stories about how they’ve experienced fear as a result of violence and misogyny rather than feeling defensive toward men who’ve suffered romantic disappointment. Yes, we women understand that not all men are this way, but all women have experienced misogyny in some way, shape or form.

Elliot Rodger’s reaction was one that was rare, but his thoughts toward women are not. We need to understand the importance of respecting other people’s boundaries and dealing with rejection maturely. We need to understand the formula of ‘Hero saves the day and gets rewarded with princess,’ since so-called “nice guys” think they deserve dates as a reward for being decent, is not something that any of us are obligated to adhere to in our lives, nor are we entitled to it.