Monday, 26 May 2014

Thoughts on the Elliot Rodger shooting

So I’m sure by now that if you’re reading this you will have heard of the mass murder committed by Elliot Rodgers on Friday night in Isla Vista, killing a total of 6 people, including himself, and hospitalising others. I was unsure whether to publish this as this could be considered controversial, not everyone will agree with my views, but I have a lot of thoughts on this news so here we are. 

First of all, in case you aren’t fully informed on this, Elliot posted a video titled "Day of Retribution", where he described, quite graphically, what he wanted to do to humans around him, namely ’slaughtering them like animals’. He also proceeded to post a detailed 127 page long manifesto on his plans of a killing spree. The original video has been taken down but 'The Retribution’ video can be watched here.

There is obviously an issue of gun laws surrounding this. All guns that Elliot had with him were purchased by him and registered under his name. Though, personally I think that one shouldn’t be free to buy a gun in the US and there should be restrictive laws, the case still stands that would this have been prevented this mass murder? I don’t believe so. From watching Elliot’s videos and skimming the manifesto, I think that he would have used any means to “slay” people, utilising whatever means were available to him, regardless of whether they were guns or not. So though other shootings may have been prevented had there been stricter laws on the purchases of weapons in the States, I don’t think this is key problem here. 

There has also been a lot of discussion about mental health sources following this event. Elliot suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and was receiving treatment for this. However I’m not even sure that his suffering of a mental issue can be the sole blame. And I don’t think this should simply and solely be a mental health discussion. It is unclear what role his mental illness played in this attack. I don’t think this should be the main point of discussion as I think it glosses over the real problem. 

I think the biggest issue here is the clear undeniable misogyny. Though his poor mental health is clear, we do not know to what extent it affected this incident but the role of misogyny in this can not be ignored. Elliot’s sole reason for the attack was because his hate against women for not sleeping with him, not finding him attractive, not dating him. This was all revealed in his ‘Retribution’ video. His plan for murder was rooted in his misogyny. In his video he talks about “slaughtering sluts” and wants to “punish” women. This mass murder stems from Elliot’s belief of entitlement of women’s bodies. Men who have the view that they ‘own’ women and have a disregard to their feelings are pervasive. Women are not a possession, men don’t own us, we are fully entitled to the right to turn you down and should not be harassed because of it. We don’t need to explain ourselves. We don’t owe you anything. I understand that Elliot suffered from a mental health problem, I am not saying he didn’t or that this would have happened had he not, I’m simply saying that discussions should not be centred around this when the clear problem of this is misogyny. This type of attack has happened before and without a doubt will happen again.

I believe that this mass murder goes beyond gun laws and mental health issues. The misogyny in this is worryingly violent and this should be the main point of discussion. But I haven’t seen any mention of this in any news articles I’ve read. My view is that, yes, he suffered from a mental illness, but this is not the common denominator. Not everyone who suffers from an illness like this kills women, and not everyone who kills women suffers from this. The common denominator here is the hatred of women, the disregard of women as equals, the feeling of entitlement towards women. This is the problem, and I personally believe that this is the problem that needs to be addressed, perhaps even above gun laws and mental heath issues. This poisonous ideology is never confronted. It is always the perhaps easier issues that can be addressed. Changing society’s attitudes is a much more complex and timely exercise, but one that is of utmost importance. 

What are your opinions on this?
Hannah x

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