I have been following the news on the recent shooting in Isla Vista, CA, and I. AM. PISSED. I’m pissed at a culture that teaches men that women owe them something, that as long as they’re “nice guys”, they are entitled to a woman’s sexual affections, and any woman who dare not give it to them is a bitch. I’m pissed at the culture that doesn’t respect a woman’s right to say no.
Elliot Rodger may have been “crazy” in the sense that anyone who is evil enough to open fire on a group of people can be considered “crazy”. But unfortunately, his mentality, while perhaps more extreme than most, is not all that uncommon. It’s a part of our culture. In fact, some people are now actually blaming the women who turned him down for making him the poor lonely virgin that he was. I find this to be absolutely outrageous.
First of all, just because you are a “nice guy” doesn’t mean a woman is necessarily interested in you, nor should she be. I remember times in my life when a “nice guy” was pursuing me, and guilt trips were laid on me from all directions for not being attracted to him, for not wanting to go out with him, for not responding positively to his relentless advances. Never mind that not taking “no” for an answer reveals a not-so-nice quality to that supposed “nice guy”. Let’s say, theoretically, that he is a nice guy. So the hell what? Does that mean I should want to date him? That I should feel guilty for turning him down? Don’t I have the right to not be attracted to him? Don’t I have the right to say no?
That’s a huge problem in our society. Women may technically have the right to say no, but all too often, men don’t like it or respect it. Women are pressured, cajoled, worn down, forced. They’re considered bitches or frigid if they don’t comply with men’s wishes.
When I was a young teenager, I didn’t have a strong sense of self. I was in several situations that my intuition was screaming at me were dangerous, wrong. But instead of listening to my intuition, I listened to the man–the Almighty Man. Because, after all, men know better, especially adult men. If they say I should want to be with them, then something must be wrong with me that I don’t want it. Something must be wrong with this silly female voice in my gut that’s screaming at me to stop, to run away. I’ll just push that voice aside and listen to The Man. This mentality led me straight into danger, to trauma, and to years of emotional issues.
Here’s a thought: Maybe those women who rejected Rodger had a gut feeling that something was off with him. Maybe they sensed the darkness in his soul. Should they have swallowed their own feelings and put out just to spare themselves retribution?
I never want my daughters to push their own voices aside to listen to a man (or to anybody else, for that matter). Never. I want my daughters to be strong, confident, to have a voice, to shout it out loud. And I want them to be heard.
Let’s teach our daughters to have a voice. And let’s teach our sons to respect that voice. Until we do, our culture will continue to produce males like Elliot Rodger who feel entitled to use women’s bodies as they want, and angered and embittered when they don’t get their way.