National Post Barbara Kay: Elliot Rodger’s gender-blind rampage

National Post - Tuesday May 27th, 2014

David McNew/Getty Images
How is a California killing spree that had mostly male victims proof of a misogynistic culture?

When Marc Lepine killed 14 women at the École Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989, his calculated separation of the sexes before beginning the massacre of the women — all complete strangers to him — was its most chilling aspect, and the reason why it stands out as a uniquely tragic event.

And not just in Canada. If you know of any other female-only planned massacres, even in the most patriarchal cultures, please let me know. Certainly we know of cases of collective rape, female sex trafficking and mass female enslavement of the kind that is going on in Nigeria. But gendered massacres always target men, as in the 1995 Srebrenica bloodbath, where 7,000 boys and men were slaughtered.

Last weekend, a 22-year old Californian, Elliot Rodger, allegedly killed six people in a terror-filled spree. According to reports, he first stabbed to death three young men on the Santa Barbara City College campus – two of whom were fellow students — and then made his way to nearby Isla Vista, where he fired a gun for 10 minutes, killing three more people and seriously wounding seven others before killing himself.

Two of the killed and one of the wounded were female. Without any further evidence as to Rodger’s state of mind at the time, the tragedy would have been understood as just that — a tragedy — and the alleged killer assumed to have been deranged. But there were clues to his state of mind: videos of himself threatening “retribution” for his virginal sexual frustration and social loneliness, with punishment to be meted out to girls who were not attracted to him. “It’s an injustice, a crime,” he says. There were also writings entitled “My Twisted World,” in which Rodger envisaged murdering his roommates and invading a sorority that symbolized the beautiful but cruel women who preferred “obnoxious slobs” to him.

A Twitter stream welled up immediately, focusing largely on the alleged killer’s fantasies, categorizing the massacre as an act of hatred against women, exactly as if Rodger were a latter-day Marc Lepine. From that assumption, it was an easy leap to the premise that Elliot Rodger was simply an extreme example of pervasive misogyny.

Under the hashtag #YesAllWomen, for example, women vented every grievance they have ever had about men: “Because this thread reminded me that the sexism I have come to view as ‘normal’ in life should not be accepted anymore”; “women deserve all the rights of men & are NOT here to serve men. Gender equality is the only option”; “because guys can wear naked girls on their shirts but girls can’t wear their own bodies in public”; and, notably, “To all you Americans wondering why Canadians are so traumatized by what happened this weekend, look up December 6, 1989.”

It’s a strange thing. If a black man or a gay man or a Muslim were implicated in this very same scenario, and a video and writings had been found afterward ranting about whites, heterosexuals or Jews — even though the killer had taken out a mixed bag of victims — what would be the very first hashtag we’d see? It would be #Don’tBlameAll[insert minority here]. We’re all manic on the crime of negative stereotyping when it comes to every single identity group other than heterosexual males. It doesn’t matter whether the heterosexual males in question are completely crazy: If they’re crazy and misogynistic, then … well, they’re not really crazy, they’re just an extreme version of what it means to be a man.

Marc Lepine, the son of an abusive father from a patriarchal culture, hated women, but he represented no cause, no movement, no principle, nothing but his own deeply disturbed self. And yet, the ensuing White Ribbon campaign and the prevailing moral panic about domestic violence as a pervasive cultural scourge genetically linked to inherent male tendencies was fomented by feminism-inspired links between Lepine’s crime and the alleged potential of any male to become a Lepine. One can almost see feminists’ mental wheels grinding into gear — see the last tweet I mentioned above — with plans to spin the mixed-gender Rodger tragedy into similar political gain.

Once we’re considering gender-tragic dates to commemorate, mark Feb. 25, 2014 in your calendar. That was the day Boko Haram attacked a boarding school and killed about 50 children aged 11-18, some gunned down when they attempted to flee, some with their throats slit, and others burned alive in locked buildings. No cause for alarm, though. They were only boys.