On Friday, May 23, a tragic shooting took place in Isla Vista, California, as 22-year-old Elliot Rodger murdered six and injured 13. Rodger began his so-called “retribution” by fatally stabbing three male University of California, Santa Barbara students to death in his Santa Barbara apartment. They were later identified as Cheng Yuan Hong, George Chen and Weihan Wang. Three of the men were roommates. He then went to the Alpha Phi sorority house at UCSB, where he shot and killed two girls outside of the house — Veronika Elizabeth Weiss and Katherine Breann Cooper. He later shot Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez to death outside of a deli market. All six killed were UCSB students. Many others were injured as he fired shots out of his car window while driving.
Prior to the slaughter, Elliot had recorded and uploaded a YouTube video and written a 137-page manifesto, outlining his slaughter plan and explaining his reasoning. According to the video and manifesto, Elliot wanted “retribution” because he was sick of what he perceived as brutal and twisted humanity, in particular women who rejected him and caused his loneliness. He described college as a time “when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure,” yet he was still a virgin who “had to rot in loneliness.” Elliot condemned the girls and blamed them, as well as other popular kids, for his tragic life. He specifically pointed out his crush in middle school as his initial motivation for the rampage. He said the girl had started his hatred for all girls and made him believe girls were “mean, cruel and heartless creatures that took pleasure from [his] suffering.” He was bitter about humanity because he thought of himself as “the supreme gentleman” and the “perfect guy,” yet he was sick of “spoiled, stuck-up blond [sluts]” viewing him as “inferior” and throwing themselves at “obnoxious brutes.” He planned to punish humanity, as he believed “the males [deserved] to be punished for living a better and more pleasurable life than [him], and the females [deserved] to be punished for giving that pleasurable life to those males instead of [him].”
Now, we are told that Elliot had a severe mental illness, had been in therapy since childhood, and probably should have received greater care and attention for his illness during his time at Santa Barbara. But his mental illness alone cannot explain his actions; in fact, no single explanation can. Since his rampage, there have been many arguments made regarding misogynistic society, gender discrimination, gun control, mental illness and other issues. What I would like to focus on here is how Elliot’s rationale for his killing spree not only revolves around men being entitled to women, but also included plenty of complaints about girls not wanting him even though he was better than other men. This mentality reminds me of the “nice guys finish last” concept that frustrates many. In our society, especially now that monogamy is no longer necessarily the norm on college campuses, we often hear people complain about how girls go for jerks and “friendzone” guys that are perhaps more gentlemanly. The idea that girls should choose guys that attempt to be nicer could easily be one of Elliot’s driving thoughts. As I mentioned earlier, he called himself “perfect” and “the supreme gentleman,” and hence wanted to show popular girls and guys that he was in truth “the superior one.”
The problem with this “nice guys being friendzoned” theory, which Rodger may very well have held based on his writing, is that even though he wanted to treat girls well and with respect, that does not entitle him to girls who are not interested. Men may think that by being a “gentleman,” they are not practicing discrimination against women, but that behavior does not obligate any woman to choose them. If they assume that it does, and criticize the women around them for not being with their “gentlemanly” selves, that’s sexist and wrong on their part. By assuming that good behavior entitles them to the women they claim to respect, they are in fact discriminating against those very women. This is not to say that all guys who are nice to girls have this double-standard mentaility, and it is definitely not to say that every guy who thinks nice guys should get the girls necessarily pose great danger to our community. This tragic incident, however, should urge us to reconsider the gender roles, stereotypes and negative social paradigms that are disappointingly still prevalent on many college campuses.
Charlotte Chang is a junior majoring in business administration and communication.