Can we please talk about this little fucking narcissistic, misogynistic twerp of a murderer who 100% REPRESENTS THE WORLD WE LIVE IN AND THE VALUES OF SOCIETY?????!!!!!!!
Right. So I just wanna make one thing patently clear. I used the word “little” in the title purposefully because I want to acknowledge that this guy was but a small, insignificant speck on the Earth’s surface and I do not want to validate or give energy to his efforts any more than is necessary. But I do think it is necessary that we talk about the awful, tragic event that took place because it is a terrifyingly accurate representation of some of the most common ills our society is facing. When I refer to ‘society’ here, I mean our global society – the one that hails Jay Z and Beyonce as King and Queen, the one that eats McDonalds, and drinks Coca Cola. If you think because you live in Africa and your dad isn’t a big Hollywood hotshot that this doesn’t apply to you, think again sweetheart.
So let’s get stuck in. I am gonna go straight for the jugular. We’ve all seen the video. The vacant, dead eyes. The whiney, spoilt-brat complaining. The entitlement. The destruction. I could most certainly right an essay on Narcissism using Elliot Rodger as a fitting case study. I could talk about how parents contribute to this dynamic, how the combination of neglect and indulgence goes a long way to spoiling a child. I do think this is relevant. It is the family’s job to bring up the child to feel loved, cared for, and accepted. It is also the family’s job to impart morals and values. But the family is only an agent of the greater society (especially in Hollywood, where billions of dollars are spent each year manufacturing reality). So yes, I think we can blame the family. And it is with a heavy heart that I imagine the kinds of neglect/loneliness and shame this boy felt during the crucial years (between 0 and 5) when self-development took place. Because narcissism is the direct consequences of a breakdown of that process. Psychopathy too.
There is most certainly a growing culture of narcissism – of children being brought up to value the outer appearance over anything else, of people making decisions based on social status, possessions, and other morays of consumerism. But today is not about narcissism. It’s about the other social ill. The big-fucking-sea-monster-of-societal-shame lurking beneath the surface yet inadvertently causing waves that crash over everything in our world. I’m talking about patriarchy, misogyny, gender politics, sexual objectification and all the other ‘fabulous’ social constructions we are all slaves to that privilege men’s rights and needs over women’s and have us all believing in this myth that women’s very existence can only be validated by being beautiful and attractive for men, to be objects of their desire and sexual fantasies.
If you think this doesn’t apply to you, Ostrich, take your head out of the sand. Each and every one of us is affected by this and whether we consciously try and counteract it or not, we have to admit that society is set up this way and continues to be set up this way despite a few ted talks about The Sexy Lie we tell ourselves.
If you still don’t believe me, let me give you a few examples.
Example A: I was having dinner with a group of truly fabulous, inspiring, creative and objectively successful female friends last week. During this incredibly insightful evening we started talking about body image issues and the greater sexist culture. Each and every one of us – despite being beautiful, intelligent and successful- had stories to tell about how we hated this or that part of our body, how we worried about whether a guy would like this or that about us or had judged or shamed ourselves for some element of our body or personality because it might have meant that we were less attractive to the opposite sex. We looked each other in the eyes and knew how totally screwed up this is but when you’re in the throws of a break-up or if that guy hasn’t called you back after your one and only date, these are the things that creep up on you and haunt your day-dreams, whether you consciously know they’re bullshit or not.
Example 2: I recently spoke to a young man who informed me that he doesn’t consider it cheating if he has sex with girls that aren’t his girlfriend. He says it’s only cheating if he would fall in love with said girls and that this won’t happen through sex because it’s just a physical act. When asked if his girlfriend can do the same thing, he said absolutely not. His reasons indicated that he felt men and women were fundamentally different because men need to be pleasured and women don’t, and anyway he doesn’t have relationships with these women they are just used for sex. He also went on to slutshame any woman who acts like a man in this way because a woman having multiple partners for the sake of physical pleasure is “not normal”.
I would like to give a few more examples (for there are plenty) but I have run out of time. Please feel free to share your own examples.
To sum up, I would like the denial to stop. If you are a woman and get dressed in the morning for the sake of looking attractive, this applies to you. If you are a man who has ever said, “Wow, that chick is hot!” or “She’s a bit heavy though”, this applies to you. If you get twitchy when someone refers to the “misogynistic culture” because it brings back memories of Charlize Theron calling out rapists in the 90s, then you my friend need a wake up call. This issue is as big as racism. We are not going to shut up until we have changed our daily social interactions. If this is too much for you, sorry.
So I urge you all, right now, today – take this sea monster on. Its biggest trick is that is that it remains submerged, beneath the surface of our consciousness and therefore our social discourse. So all that I urge you to do right now is TALK. Talk about this asshole and his murdering spree, but only if you also talk about gender and how it affects your world. Talk to your friends, your partners, your family members, your parents, your children. Right now, we just need to have this conversation.