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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘Nice guy’ syndrome gone deadly: Examining the UCSB shooting

On Friday night, a gunman killed seven people, including himself, when he opened fire on a small community near University of California, Santa Barbara. The gunman, believed to be 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, had posted a seven-minute video to YouTube the night before, detailing his plans and motives. 

In his video, Rodger, who is said to have a mental illness, said he was a virgin and that he was forced to live a lonely life because girls were never attracted to him. He said that he did not know why girls weren’t attracted to him because he was the “perfect guy” and the “supreme gentleman.” 

His motivation for the premeditated murders? “If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you.” 

Despite the familiar arguments for stricter gun laws and better mental healthcare resources, it still stands that misogyny and male entitlement are what made Rodger think in the first place that women owe him sex and should be punished for rejecting him.

The sad fact is: This is not the first time a man has killed because he felt entitled to a woman’s body.  In April, Maren Sanchez, a 16-year-old girl, was stabbed after she declined a classmate’s “promposal.” A 19-year-old girl was strangled by a relative in New Delhi a few weeks ago when she denied his marriage proposal. 

So I have a message to the men of this world: Stop buying into this misogynistic way of thinking women owe you something — it’s literally killing people.

If you just rolled your eyes and thought, “not all men” — stop right there. If that’s all you can say to this, then you’re part of the problem.

Sure, not all men think this way, but judging by the crowd reactions, many do. Comments on his video ranged from, “See girls this is what you get for treating nice guys like shit,” to “And I really feel bad for him, rejection is agony.”

Sure, it sucks to get rejected, but it sucks more to be killed for exercising your right to say “no.” We as a society need to stop encouraging this idea that the “friend zone” exists.

Rodger took the idea to the extreme. But it only takes a quick Internet search on forums for pick-up artists or men’s rights activists to show that some men think like him. 

So what does it say about our culture that we are so quick to pin this incident on mental illness or gun issues rather than misogyny?

Concepts like male entitlement and the patriarchy are hard to discuss, but it’s important that we realize these things lead to hate crimes and violence against women.

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So stop defending Rodger. Stop saying he was misunderstood or that he only did it because he was mentally ill. Stop saying that Rodger is just one guy and that most guys don’t think like that. My friend said it well when she suggested that men acknowledge that violence against women is real, and women constantly live in fear.

Women worry about walking alone at night because we’ve heard stories of girls getting kidnapped. We worry about wearing revealing clothing and drinking too much because we know people who have been assaulted. And now, we worry about how exactly to reject a man so that he does not kill her.

[Robyn Smith is a UF journalism junior. Her columns appear on Tuesdays. A version of this column ran on page 7 on 5/27/2014 under the headline "‘Nice-guy’ complex gone sour"]

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