With most of the nation's attention on mental health issues and gun control issues relating to the shooting, it is easy to overlook the publicly stated motivations of Elliot Rodger.
In the video titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution," which the 22-year-old lone gunman posted to the Web shortly before he tragically killed six people, including two women, near the University of California, Santa Barbara, Rodger begins with:
For the last eight years of my life, since I hit puberty, I've been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires, all because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men, never to me.
He continues by vowing to go to the "hottest sorority house" on campus and "slaughter every spoiled, stuck-up blonde sl**" he sees because of his frustration with women rebuffing his sexual advances. His crime was not a blind one but a targeted one, aimed primarily at the women he felt rejected him, but also at the men he saw as competitors for women's sexual attentions. Either way, this was a misogyny-based hate crime. This was violence against women.
Elliot Rodger was seeking revenge on women for not returning his sexual affections, wanting to deliver punishment for rejecting him. This is an example of the pervasive misogynist attitude whereby women are expected to give their bodies over to men. The message is clear: Submit to men's sexual desires or face the consequences. This is patriarchy, this is male entitlement, and this is why we still need feminism as a force in society. Men are often trained by social forces to believe that they are entitled to sex and affection from a woman if only they are nice or kind to her; the idea is that if they are gentlemanly enough, they are owed sexual attention.
As a college female, and as a woman, I will not accept a society where men feel that they are entitled to sex. I will not tolerate a society in which if a woman says "no" to a sexual advance, she has to fear the potential of severe retribution. My body is my own, and I will work to change the perception that it is not. I refuse to stay silent in a society where saying "no" as a woman can cost me my own life.
In this time of grief and solidarity, it is important for us as a society to reflect upon the causes of tragedies like this -- and ultimately come together to fight for something better for our future generations. We should come together to foster a culture that no longer perpetuates and allows for violence against women but fights against it by advocating for consent and continuing the fight for women's rights.
It is true that not all men participate in violence against women, but it is also true that #YesAllWomen are affected by sexual entitlement.
Join the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #YesAllWomen.
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