Although Elliot Rodger’s “revenge against humanity” has been discussed for weeks now, a recent article in Time has kept the memory fresh in my mind. The first sentence of Kate Pickert’s “A Murderous Spree” sums up her two-column briefing on the UCSB shooting: “It appeared that all involved had done what they were supposed to do.”
They did everything they were supposed to? There was nothing more they could have done? Was this all inevitable then? Were those deaths and injuries inevitable? After reflecting on our current culture and Rodger’s motives, it seems that every answer to the above questions is “yes.”
In the same issue of Time, when Shailene Woodley is asked if she considers herself a feminist, she answers, “No, because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘Raise women to power, take men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance.”
This sentiment isn’t particularly uncommon. We’ve come to terms with the ways in which racism and sexism permeate our lifestyles — I say this because I feel more “lukewarm acceptance” of racism and sexism than outward support. When we misunderstand these movements for equality, we call them pointless for the sake of having something to say.
This is why there has been so little change; A society where killing sprees are labeled ‘inevitable’ are dangerously complacent. After reading both Rodger’s final video transcript and 137-page outline on his “Day of Retribution,” I felt disgusted because of the content, but more so, because of how little it surprised me.
I remember reading these lines: “How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves. I deserve it more … . If this is actually true, if this ugly black filth was able to have sex with a blonde white girl at the age of thirteen while I’ve had to suffer virginity all my life, then this just proves how ridiculous the female gender is. They would give themselves to this filthy scum, but they reject ME? The injustice!”
To be honest, I was not surprised by the white privilege, racism or misogyny in his words. Of course Rodger is extreme, but I’ve seen the same kind of sentiments far too many times to be shocked anymore. The idea of the “friend-zone,” of Mark Cuban’s opinion on black men in hoodies and white men with tattoos, and the retweets of @YesYoureRacist have numbed me.
Elliot Rodger is not an outlier. He portrays what our culture allows and propagates.
How much longer will we have to suffer until there is true change? It seems that is the question on everyone’s lazy lips; we ask but we do not act.
But change isn’t as difficult as it seems. The journey toward a society in which shooting sprees are not so unnervingly common starts with us. It’s our responsibility to be more open to equal rights movements, to give them a chance to prove their necessity and legitimacy. Don’t write off feminism as women trying to assert themselves over men, or white privilege as a way to tell white people they suck. Such closed-mindedness is what got us here in the first place.