The world owes you nothing
Shortly after turning 21 years old, I moved to Washington, D.C. to study journalism and be an intern for an investigative news site. One night my friends and I went out for drinks downtown and met a group of young men. One of the men started talking to me and we chatted amicably for a while. He bought me a drink. As the evening grew late, I thanked him for the drink and said I was going to head out. He asked me if I wanted to go back to his place. I said, “No, thank you. I think I’m going to just head home.” He responded with, “But I bought you a drink.” I answered that I was grateful for the drink and had enjoyed talking but it was late and I was tired and I was going to go home. He reiterated, “I bought you a drink,” and grabbed my arm.
I quickly pulled away, gathered my things, found my friends and left but not before I heard him say loudly, “Ungrateful b*tch!”
Elliot Rodger reminds me of that young man. He reminds me of too many young men. Rodger went on a shooting spree last Friday night that ended in six people dead and 12 others wounded. Rodger took his own life after the attack. What Rodger did is terrifying but what is more terrifying is why he did it. We don’t have to wonder; Rodger left behind him plenty of information about why he committed the attacks.
In a 141-page manifesto that Rodger sent to his family and a few select friends, he details his intense rage at women, the men with whom women chose to pursue and have relationships and sex with, and his own lack of sexual and romantic experience.
Rodger writes, “Females truly have something mentally wrong with them. Their minds are flawed, and at this point in my life I was beginning to see it. The more I explored my college town of Isla Vista, the more ridiculousness I witnessed. All of the hot, beautiful girls walked around with obnoxious, tough jock-type men who partied all the time and acted crazy. They should be going for intelligent gentlemen such as myself. Women are sexually attracted to the wrong type of man. This is a major flaw in the very foundation of humanity. It is completely and utterly wrong, in every sense of the word. As the truths fully dawned on me, I became deeply disturbed by them. Deeply disturbed, offended, and traumatized.”
In Rodger’s manifesto, he details what it was like to reach sexual maturity and how he felt as a 22-year old male who remained a virgin. He describes how disgusted he felt seeing other couples. He cannot seem to understand why the women don’t flock to him, why they don’t idolize him, why they don’t want him. He wrote, “I wished I had the courage to go up to them and ask one on a date, but they would have seen me as a creep. Girls are so cruel.”
The most disturbing passage I found in Rodger’s manifesto read, “Women should not have the right to choose who to mate with. That choice should be made for them by civilized men of intelligence. If women had the freedom to choose which men to mate with, like they do today, they would breed with stupid, degenerate men, which would only produce stupid, degenerate offspring. This in turn would hinder the advancement of humanity. Not only hinder it, but devolve humanity completely. Women are like a plague that must be quarantined. When I came to this brilliant, perfect revelation, I felt like everything was now clear to me, in a bitter twisted way. I am one of the few people on this world who has the intelligence to see this. I am like a god, and my purpose to exact ultimate retribution on all the impurities I see in the world.”
After the attack was over and the dead counted, many people began focusing on the mental disorders that Rodger suffered from. Rodger had Aspberger's Syndrome which is often considered a high functioning form of autism. It is characterized by difficulty interacting socially, repeat behaviors, and clumsiness. It is not a disorder that is characterized by violent outbursts. But honestly, why does it matter? Why do we immediately retreat into this comforting idea that this guy is just crazy. Yeah, he is clearly crazy but does sticking him in a box of mentally disturbed make us feel better? Even after the release of Rodger’s horrifying manifesto, we still want to just say he was a deranged individual in need of better mental care. Maybe he did need better mental care but we also seem to be avoiding the obvious. Rodger’s is a misogynist. It is staring us in the face and we are afraid to say the word. Misogynist. He hated women. He is entitled. He feels he is superior. He felt he deserved love and sex from women just because he existed.
There is ideology behind this attack and it is a simple one: Women owe men. Women, as a gender, as a sex, as a class owe men sex, love, attention, and to use Rodger’s own words, “adoration”. We owe men respect and obedience and our refusal to give it is to blame for their anger, their violence, their rage. Women who deny men for whatever reason have denied them a birthright. This ideology does not treat women as human but rather something to be had. A prize to be caught and used.
Rodger’s believed in this ideology. And you know what, he isn’t the only man out there who does. After details of this shooting were released, Twitter went wild with a new hashtag trend called #YesAllWomen. The hashtag emphasized that all women have experienced some sort of sexism. Women each and every day, all over the world, deal with men believing they are entitled to their bodies or to their affection. #YesAllWomen also birthed a similar hashtag, #NotAllMen.
Here is why #NotAllMen is not helpful. First of all, women are aware that not all men are sexist, are misogynists, are rapists. We don’t need to be told. Second, #NotAllMen is defensive. It is a deflection. Instead of listening to what the women of #YesAllWomen are saying, #NotAllMen shuts them down and tells them to be quiet because their complaints, their concerns, are not universally applicable to all men, even if they are universally applicable to all women. Third, #NotAllMen sidetracks the conversion by discussing men who aren’t a problem. We don’t need to discuss men who aren’t a problem because they aren’t a problem. Those men who aren’t rapists, sexist, misogynistic can help add to the discussion, help educate, help change things. Instead of being defensive, perhaps listen to the women discuss the topic at hand.
Finally, and here is the most important part, when a woman is walking down the street, going on a blind date, waiting at the bus stop, she doesn’t know what kind of man you are. You could be the most wonderful, genuine man in the whole world. But there are a fraction of men who aren’t in that group and we can’t just tell by looking at you.
#NotAllMen isn’t helpful because while you know that you don’t fall into the group that women fear, women don’t know that by looking at you.
We live in an entitled culture. Everyone has heard of the dreaded “friend-zone”. It is a desolate place where nice, wonderful men are put by horrible, evil women who don’t want them in a sexual manner, forcing them to just be friends. Oh the humanity. Those who complain about the “friend-zone” are not happy to have the companionship and friendship of a woman. They deserve to have a sexual, romantic relationship with them just because they are “nice guys”. You know what, if you believe you deserve sex because you are a nice guy, you aren’t really a nice guy. We live in a culture that celebrates the narrative where a guy tries hard, overcomes challenges, concocting clever ruses, and gets the woman in the end like some sort of prize medal because he worked hard. And if he doesn’t get the woman, it is her fault because she is cold, unfeeling, evil.
Want to know a big secret? The world owes you nothing. You deserve nothing. You don’t deserve love. You don’t deserve sex. You certainly don’t deserve access to anyone’s body without their permission just because you exist.