On Friday, May 23, six people died and thirteen were injured.
To me it seems as if the story is hardly as much about the victims, or how University of Santa Barbara or we as a society move on from here. The story seems mostly to be interested in the culprit.
Society seems very familiar with the culprit, as tends to be the case in these sorts of situations. For me, I will not be using the culprit’s name and I will be using the gender-neutral singular ‘they’ pronoun.
What is known about the culprit? They had been seeing a therapist, but let us not think that people with a mental illness have a propensity for violence. I for one, who have been diagnosed with dysthymia, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and later on severe depression (not to mention the 1 in 4 adults in America who have mental ‘disorders’ and the 20.9 million adults with mood ‘disorders’) am frankly tired of murderous behavior being blamed on or excused by mental illness.
According to Psychiatry.org 20% of college students are diagnosed or treated for mental health conditions yearly.
CollegeParent.Org states that students between the ages of 18 and 24 report 526,000 violent crimes each year and that of those 128,000 involve a weapon or serious injury to the victim.
This suggests to us not only that what occurred at USCB was not unique, but that whatever measures have been taken against violence on college campuses are vulnerable to being questioned.
It did not take long for guns rights activist to get ahead of this story, defending their second amendment right to bear arms.
Joe the Plumber is quoted as having said, “But: As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”
Mr. the Plumber might be interested to know that, despite his grab for media attention, restrictions on gaining gun permits has been loosened in a majority of states. And while 16 states have tightened up their mental health requirements, it is said that the culprit of the UCSB shooting had an, “arsenal of handguns and ammunition,” according to The Atlantic. That, despite the fact that the majority of states have opted for stricter background checks in the past year.
A discussion about guns rights and clips sizes is for someone else to have. It appears that the deeper problem, as extremely apparent in the culprit’s final video, is one of misogynistic entitlement.
The culprit talks about revenge in their video, speaking as if some victim in a great feminist ploy, lamenting the fact that they are still a virgin. In fact, it seems interesting to me how that’s a point at all. I suppose that there exists a certain amount of cultural shame around being male-identified and being a virgin any age beginning with the high school years, which is toxic in and of itself, but then it seems that the problem festers when boys are raised to believe that they are entitled to have themselves freed of their virgin status by a woman. The whole problem could go away if the cultural concept of ‘virginity’ were to disappear. If having sex for the first time was not some big to-do, it is only because of religious sects that society has any idea to wait until marriage to have sex, and while one should always practice safe and consensual sex, they may not feel so pressured to do it in middle or high school, if they aren’t trying to shirk off that pesky virginity thing. More over, if we do away with the concept, as a society, college students won’t feel a need to murder on behalf of their aging virginity. The bottom line is that society shouldn’t teach boys that they deserve women’s bodies as the key to unlock the unnecessarily weighty shackles of ‘virginity’.
The culprit goes on to talk about punishing women for having never been interested in them or being with them. Showing seemingly no interest in developing themselves as a person, or finding ways to enjoy their life whether they are in a relationship or engaging in sexual intercourse, the culprit seems not even actually to want to ‘be attractive’ to women, as much as they feel owed women’s bodies. They seem to ignore completely the fact that women do not owe them attraction, much less sex or their bodies.
The culprit, in talk of their ‘retribution’ refers to their future victims not as actual living people, but as animals. This act of dehumanizing is important to note, not only does the culprit seem interested in objectifying women’s bodies, but they want to dehumanize other people’s bodies, referring to them as animals and then subsequently murdering or otherwise injuring them.
The culprit says at one point, “You have shown me no mercy, so I shall show you none.” Which is interesting to consider. Is the culprit suggesting that the mercy they are due is the mercy of being dated or otherwise fornicated with?
What is due now are discussions on misogyny and against misogyny. As a society we can no longer sit back and idly believe that men do not feel entitled to women and, more importantly, women’s bodies. It must be understood that the UCSB culprit was not an anomaly, but a part of a cultural blemish.
Sites such as Return of Kings make attempts at perpetuating ‘male dominance’ with beliefs such as, “Men and women are genetically different, both physically and mentally. Sex roles evolved in all mammals. Humans are not exempt.”
(This speaks volumes about the lack of science education, no one tell the RoK moderators about this.)
And, along with the contention above, Return of Kings attempts to intellectualize their misogyny by saying things such as, “Women are sluts if they sleep around, but men are not. This fact is due to the biological differences between men and women.”
Even still, it is not a stretch of the imagination to believe that parents the country over would be in open protest at the idea of teaching anti-misogyny, basic decency, and an idea of equality (even on the most basic level that men are not entitled to women), but in colleges and universities the world over it should be common place, from open house, to orientation, to seminars and lectures, that community rules and guidelines be taught, explained and enforced. Criminals will find a way to get a weapon if they want one, but misogyny is a learned ideal.
This tragedy is not about the culprit, it is about hopeful societal changes. It is about a hopeful respect of women and their bodies, and it is in memoriam to the victims. Six young people died because of the rage and sense of entitlement of one.
We can do better than this.