Little more than a couple weeks ago, on May 23rd, a shooting took place in Isla Vista, California where an unhinged, arrogant, homicidal young man with severe delusions of grandeur murdered seven people (including himself) and injured thirteen others. The murderer, Elliot Rodgers, released a chilling video to YouTube and e-mailed a lengthy autobiographical manuscript to some acquaintances and family members. This document, entitled “My Twisted World”, has been dubbed Rodger’s “manifesto” this extensive volume has served as Rodger’s last cruel laugh at a world he felt had rejected him and made him an outcast.
The autobiography is a verbose compendium intimately recounts Rodgers life from his earliest memories to the violent culmination of his life with a truly sociopathic flair in its astounding attention to detail. It catalogues Rodger’s change from a seemingly shy and innocently awkward child to the teenager and young adult seduced by wrath and convinced to carry out his heinous act.
This event, dubbed in his manuscript as the “Day of Retribution” (aptly named in a sociopathic manner) was Rodger’s attempt at asserting himself as the God he thought of himself as by slaughtering the people he thought of as animals who he felt had been punishing him his entire life by flaunting their sex and perfect lives (again, emphasizing the sociopath within). The Day of Retribution was extensively planned and carried out with as little remorse as humanly possible. In Rodger’s twisted mind, such a course of action was the only “logical” outcome from the sequence of events to which he was subjected by the “cruel female sex” he felt had been consciously condemning him to a fate of silent ridicule, loneliness, and despair.
It does not take an expert to see the utterly psychotic delusions and criminally insane tendencies in Rodger’s ego which was inflated to the point where he saw himself as a remorseless God exacting retribution Old Testament-style. However, Rodger’s mental state is not up for contention and it neither merits a serious debate nor an interesting topic of discussion. What needs to be asked is how does this issue differs from the plethora of other shootings that this nation seems to have become accustomed to (74 have occurred since the shooting at New Town)?
The answer lays in how Elliot Rodger’s was led to this path of destruction of hatred, and misogyny. In our society it is easy to chart how far we as a society have come in our goals to create absolute equality and engender an environment where all people, men and women, are at the same threshold from which they are able to take advantage of and have at their disposal the same tools in order to succeed in their life’s goal― whatever that may be. It comes as no surprise nonetheless that there are still milestones which have yet to be surpassed and need addressing. The 2014 shooting at Isla Vista show the type of problems that still need to be overcome for women whom Rodger so despises as well as racial minorities who are also a subject of hatred in Rodger’s manifesto.
All of Rodger’s irrational hatred and rage towards women is all predicated on the fact that he personally felt victimized by the female gender as a whole for “rejecting [him] and starving him of love and sex”. Rodger’s victimization is truly fearful not just for the women he seems to hate so much but for the fact that his beliefs, in their simplest form, about the spurning of rejected young men at the hands of women could possibly take seed with other young men across the country who may feel similarly spurned and rejected.
Just from where does this personal sense of victimization stem? After all, every child who is rejected by women and remains a virgin until he is beyond the age where such a stigma becomes beyond what is vaguely considered as socially acceptable does not turn into a monster. It is Rodger’s own sexism that stems from social cues he picked up as a young boy that made establish the connection between no sex and women. His own claims of being a “beautiful, magnificent gentleman” and still being dismissed by women would have cemented his claim that it was women themselves who were at fault. “Why do they give their love and sex to other men, but not me, even though I deserve them more?” Rodger asked.
Many men will categorize their experience in frustrating situations wherein their advances are rejected by women as being “exiled” to the hypothetical Friend Zone. At the risk to alienating readers I, myself, would venture to say that such a realm does not exist, even in the hypothetical sense. When men feel they deserve a woman’s attention and affection, and they try to win it, and they fail they immediately attempt to nurse their bruised ego. Then it is only natural that a term like the Friend Zone should be created. A place women bring men they have denied, and where he can only exist as her platonic friend, nothing more. Such a sad, self-pitying fate to be left to, and even still sadder that these men have created this place themselves, and put themselves inside it.
What needs to be understood is that women are not immediately obliged to throw themselves at the “nice guy” simply because of the fact that he thinks he’s a nice guy. If the tables were turned and a man was propositioned by a woman he did not find attractive but who was extremely nice too him, he would not feel obligated to pursue her simply based on niceness alone.
In truth, sexual attraction is a very complicated subject, and just because a man thinks he would be perfect for a woman does not mean she is compelled to submit to his advances. Women are perfectly capable of choosing their own paramours as are men. The only problem is that men think that all women have to do is ask and they have no problem finding a lover, while men are forced to try and try hitting on women until one of them acquiesces. However, this also brings to light the way in which women are represented in this system. To put women in a place where they are a whore if they have sex, and a prude if they don’t is certain to cause friction between genders.
In today’s society where everybody has a friend on the Internet, this being both the Internet’s best and worst quality, and when men who have been jilted by women congregate on websites and forums where men of Rodger’s ilk discuss their self-imposed “Friend Zone-ings” and loneliness and the like. Websites like this confirmed Rodger’s belief that he was not alone and that all women acted in the same manner in which he felt he was being abused. Such confirmations only served to hasten his Day of Retribution. Sexism in this country is, now, more nuanced than ever. It is becoming harder and harder to deal with as sexism retreats to the nooks and crannies of society and in the seemingly inviolable social customs to which we have become acclimated. Social behaviors such as this cannot be rectified by law, or government action. To prevent further and more violent friction between the women and men people simply need to be educated on the problems that plague both sexes and more time needs to be devoted to studying these dilemas.