Reprinted from thenation.com
Elliot Rodger's Retribution
(image by YouTube) DMCA
If a mass killing perpetrated by a deeply disturbed misogynist does not make us look at how our society perpetuates and extends violence against women, I am not sure what will. Our culture has always looked the other way or even validated gendered violence, particularly against African-American women. Yet in an era of lightning-fast cultural transmission, this historic violence seems to be both mutating and becoming more dangerous before our eyes. It's a violence that seems to exist in its own cultural category, where it is not only excused but also treated as deeply humorous--and woe to anyone who says otherwise. It's a violence that has become so normalized, so all encompassing, that it feels like doing nothing becomes an act of complicity.
It does not take any sort of genius to draw a line in between the weekend's shooting, the torments faced by Marissa Alexander or other women who defend themselves and the fact that the quickest way to invite a barrage of social media hate is to say simply, "I don't think rape jokes are funny." These dots connect to create a gun pointed at the ability of women to possess the most elemental human right in what is supposed to be a free society: the right to be left alone.
As a sportswriter, I try to look at the ways in which violence against women is excused and glossed over in professional sports, sending messages to their young, male audiences that this is somehow just part of being like their game-time heroes. This weekend, the day before the shooting, saw yet another one of those moments that should make the National Football League burn with shame, and take account for the role they play in creating this culture.