Thank you, Elliot Rodger

2014-06-03 06:16

After reading Laura Shortage’s summary of the Elliot Rodger manifesto I breathed a sigh of relief: It’s so good to be a woman.

#YesAllWomen was a fantastic online experience for many women and myself. It removed the feeling of isolation many of us have about what we go through and it broke free the padlocks we’ve been taught to keep on our experiences, lest we ourselves start to sound sexist. It made me wish that men would do the same thing, and that is why I enjoyed reading the Rodger manifesto.

Despite the demented undertone, Elliot’s writing was gripping and sincere. I found it touching he would pour out, in such fine detail, his experiences growing up. There are many women who produce coming-of-age stories where they investigate first kisses or that pip in your breast when you’re 12, but there are so few male recollections of this. It was not just the account of puberty that I found touching, it was also his emotional journey. Albeit allegedly rooted in psychosis, he allows the reader into his intimate journey of self-esteem and internalization. It opened my eyes to what I always believed was true about the way society grooms men and gave me insight that nourished my belief that society is truly failing men.

Let’s pretend Rodger was not a murderous lunatic and revisit his manifesto. Once the element of violence and mental disturbance is removed, this is a perfectly acceptable account of what men go through growing up. He was simply trying to give society what it demands.

The New Guy, Revolution Studios (2002) Gotta Catch’em all! Just as Elliot did, I saw my brother and his friends go from trading Pokemon cards to racing to not be the last in the group to have had his first kiss. I almost cringed every time I read a quote of Elliot that alluded to “acquiring” or “having” women. I stopped at “almost” because I remembered boys in grade 7 and 8 bragging about kissing more than one girl at a party. Elliot identified money and “getting girls” as status symbols and he was right on the money. If Elliot was unfounded on this, then why are gorgeous women necessary for advertising for cars, alcohol, colognes and the like? The notion of acquiring women along with luxury items is injected into the minds of boys from an early age. This also leads to women adopting the pedestal mentality. Despite fact that Elliott rarely approached women, if he did he would have suffered multiple rejections based on the notion that women are to be earned – as expensive cars and colognes are. Why do we give men a formula, instead of teaching them about chemistry and courtship, piña coladas and getting caught in the rain? Why do we hinder their ability to build a fruitful relationship with the notion that they cannot be loved without status?

Jocks and Cheerleaders

I related deeply to Elliot’s feeling of inadequacy for being short, not white and not athletic. I also excuse him for believing that women are drawn to men who are more in touch with their inner-Neanderthal. Let’s play a game: Think of 5 coming-of-age American romantic comedies where the gawky protagonist does not face competition for a beautiful young woman’s affections from a more athletic, popular and good-looking young man who may not be an A-student. I’ll give you a moment.

I am not as concerned about where that theme originated, as I am concerned that it is still alive and in use. I concede that we do not learn everything from movies per se, but popular culture does seep into our daily lives by teaching us words and phrases and providing fables from which to draw philosophy. What are we trying to teach men with this narrative? Are we advising them to be bad boys to “get” women or are we giving them an excuse as to why they can’t seem to “get” women? Why are we teaching men who frequently experience rejection that women have inherently bad taste in men and that both the jock and the nerd are blameless?

Man, I feel like a woman

A few strangers and myself had a laugh about the differences between male and female hygiene one morning as we commuted to work. I joked that if we raised men the way we raised women, dating would be a lot less stressful. After the words escaped it was no longer funny; it was a revelation.

Imagine we taught men that they have to work twice as hard as women do in order to be respected in society. Imagine a man’s reputation ruined by being uninhibited with his affections. Imagine we gossiped about boys losing their virginities. On the contrary, imagine we taught women that they would be respected and adored if they exhibited sexual dominance and material wealth.

Personally, that would be grueling both physically and emotionally. I would rather savour full and honest life experiences and enjoy not being looked down on for it because I’m a woman and “women are just emotional.” I would rather live in a world where it’s ok for me to stimulate my mind with meaningful escapades. Thank you Elliot Rodger for reminding me that double standards do not actually serve men. Although we are faced every day with gender-based cruelty, I would rather not join the rat race that is the world of men.

Society has failed women by having poor expectations of us yes, but society has failed men in creating impossible aspirations for them. Society has failed to teach men the way it constantly polices women. Privilege comes at a price.

Check out my personal blog:

Follow me on Twitter: @SadieWiggles

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