18 April 2007

Virginia Tech Shootings: The Misogynist Angle

There's been a lot of talk about gun control in light of the VT shootings this week. That's highly understandable, and it's a necessary discussion to have. I do not want to address that because I am terrified of guns. As a girl, spending the night at a friend's house, I had a gun pointed at me by an intruder that forced his way into the bedroom while we were sleeping. That pretty much turned me off from guns, considering there was no way to defend myself. So I am not going to address that issue here. (Others are doing a very fine job.)

I do want to address how misogynist this act was and how our society rarely acknowledges the danger stalkers present to their victims. Lifetime movies and romance novels will describe stalking as a form of flattery, often with the woman either giving in to pressure or ending up maimed/dead before anyone pays attention. Unfortunately, this reflects real society as well.

Part of what triggered the VT shooter was rejection from a female love interest. I have no doubt that it played a major part in his rage, acting as a tipping point in a life filled with disappointment, confusion, and despair. But these feelings do not form in a vacuum. Obsessive thoughts/feelings are a product of enculturation, or, rather, what you obsess over is determined by your culture. Our patriarchy sends a rather clear message to men that they deserve the affection and attention of the women of their choosing. Just read any MRA or Nice Guy's blog post or comment. Now that I'm reading reports* that the other victim in the dorm (aka "Stack") may have been the love interest's SO, I can't help but think that a hefty sense of entitlement was at play.

I'm quite certain that other factors triggered this rampage. Could the shooter have "snapped" in the same way if the situation with the love interest had ended differently? I'm sure he could have. But we have just seen, not only through the rampage itself, but through the violent writing and stalking behavior of the shooter, just how much he valued female life. That would be not at all.

Another point I'd like to make is that the campus and Blacksburg police did not deem a "domestic shooting" urgent enough to lock down campus. That sends a very clear message to victims of domestic violence, or, females**, that when a partner physically harms them it isn't as serious as if a stranger had harmed them. Some have argued that in a domestic dispute, the perpetrator rarely targets anyone outside the relationship. That may be true. But if the police had locked down campus, they would have had a better chance of catching the shooter because he would have had a much harder time escaping. What all of this tells me is that the police simply were not that concerned about someone DYING because it was the result of a domestic situation. He only killed his love interest, and apparently that doesn't count as a real murder. Because we all know the pain of unrequited love, right? RIGHT?

Sisters, we have a long way to go.

* I'm very reluctant to believe much about the personal histories of the victims, especially the dorm victims, at this time. Our media are too quick to get the story on the wire to really check facts, thus creating a vicious rumor mill.

** Before you send me a nasty message arguing this point, YES, I realize that men can be victims of domestic violence. However, the overwhelming majority of victims are female, and I am working with generalizations here.

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