Parents, You Have To Speak To Your Sons About Elliot Rodger And Misogyny

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Shooting Rampage In Santa Barbara Leaves Seven DeadIt’s another sort of Memorial Day today, where in addition to remembering the brave service men and women who have died protecting our freedoms and defending our nation, our thoughts are overcome with the horrific reality that on Saturday a heavily armed, mentally disturbed 22-year-old went on a killing spree in a California college town. Elliot Rodger fatally stabbed three of his roommates, shot two women to death in front of a sorority house, shot a man to death inside a deli, exchanged gunfire twice with police and injured 13 people as he drove around, his thoughts consumed with the hatred he felt towards women. Women who rejected him or ignored him since, in his own words, he “hit puberty.”

There are a lot of different aspects to this case, a history of mental illness, anger over his parents’ divorce, but at the very center of this, included in a seven minute YouTube video and a manifesto totaling 137 pages – is the belief that Rodger held, that :

“All of those beautiful girls I’ve desired so much in my life, but can never have because they despise and loathe me, I will destroy.”

On saturday, Jessica Valenti wrote in the Guardian that:

According to his family, Rodger was seeking psychiatric treatment. But to dismiss this as a case of a lone “madman” would be a mistake.

It not only stigmatizes the mentally ill – who are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it – but glosses over the role that misogyny and gun culture play (and just how foreseeable violence like this is) in a sexist society. After all, while it is unclear what role Rodger’s reportedly poor mental health played in the alleged crime, the role of misogyny is obvious.

In Rodger’s own manifesto, it begins:

Humanity… all of my suffering on this world has been at the hands of humanity, particularly women. 

He mentions frequenting websites like , where men could share their woes over not being able to pick up women and engage in misogynistic attacks on women. He rants about how women are evil and sadistic, and they need to realize the gravity of their crimes by not giving him the attention he felt he deserved.

And as horrifying and disturbing as everything we have learned about Elliot Rodger, it is sadly some of the same beliefs that so many men and boys hold because yes, we do live in a society that nurtures a cultural hatred of women and girls. Spend even a moment reading through the everydaysexism tweets, talk to any woman you know and ask her if she has ever been made to feel less than or objectified because of her gender. Pay attention to the fact that one in five women will be raped. This is our normal. These are all facts that many parents refuse to address with their own sons. This is what gets ignored or laughed at with a casual boys will be boys when we overhear our teens calling girls sluts or referring to one of their classmates as a bitch.
I’m hoping a good part of Memorial Day will be spent with parents, especially fathers, discussing the horrible events of Saturday with their own kids, especially their sons. We cannot keep ignoring this. We cannot keep pretending that misogyny isn’t a huge problem in this world, when we have cases like this, when we have boys who feel entitled to rape their friends, when young girls become the targets of bullies for speaking out against how they are treated, when a website like Return Of Kings is saying none of this would have happened if feminists weren’t complicit for creating a cultural environment that allowed this massacre to occur. And calling of ROK is sort of low-hanging fruit, so consider that this article, which basically says the same thing, was published in the highly respected Time Magazine.
If you are blaming misogyny for this you aren’t alone, and you are not wrong. Any man who is disputing this fact is wrong. It’s as simple as that. We owe it to our children, our sons and especially our daughters, to talk to them about misogyny and the horror that Elliot Rodger has brought to this world. We cannot keep ignoring this.
(Image: getty)