Friday, August 7, 2009

Gender-Motivated Mass Shooting

From WIMN's Voices:

A health club in Collier County, PA this week was the site of yet another horrific mass shooting by yet another disaffected man armed with ammo and a deep hatred of women. The shooter specifically targeted women, reportedly firing 52 shots, killing three women and injuring nine more before committing suicide.

Today, the Associated Press’s Genaro C. Armas reports that the alleged shooter, George Sodini, maintained a website detailing his desire –and plans — to kill women. The calculated nature of the crime, and the gunman’s stated intention to target only women, is eerily similar to the Montreal Massacre of 1989, in which a man opened fire on students after screaming, “You’re women, you’re going to be engineers. You’re all a bunch of feminists. I hate feminists.”

Perhaps it takes this level of hit-us-over-the-head bluntness for media to notice that a mass murder is also a hate crime, when the victims of that crime are solely women. In contrast to many other shootings in which similar motivations have gone unreported over the past two decades, the AP (and several other news outlets picking up Armas’s story) have chosen to discuss the extremely relevant role of misogyny as the root cause of the bloody tragedy in Collier County. . .

So, finally, a gender-based hate crime is being reported (at least by the AP, at least for now) within the context of the killer’s actual anti-woman agenda. It’s an important step forward in media understanding of and coverage of this sort of crime. But if the press’s previous track record is any indicator, Sodini’s misogyny could potentially fall out of the frame of follow-up reporting.

Since such context has been woefully missing from most corporate media coverage of mass shootings over the last two decades, WIMN’s Voices would like to offer some helpful history from the WayBack machine:

From Jonesboro to Virginia Tech - sexism is fatal, but media miss the story***This includes a discussion of the sexist underpinnings of the murders at Virginia Tech in 2007, and a full reprint of “Jonesboro: Sexism Kills Girls,” May, 1998, Sojourner: The
Women’s Forum

"From Jonesboro to Virginia Tech" is an absolute must-read.

Amanda from Pandagon also outlines how gender-motivated crimes don't happen in a vacuum.

George Sodini was angry at the entire world of “desirable” women for not up and volunteering to have sex with him, and every day anonymous men around the country and world beat, rape, and even kill women because said women were also considered insufficiently compliant, often to unstated demands that women were supposed to just anticipate and fill without complaint. Today, women will be raped or beaten or maybe even killed for choosing to do differently than a man desired of them---everything from screwing up the household chores to being deemed a tease to thinking they had a right to go to this party/walk down this alley to leaving a man who wants them to stay. But most people won’t see Sodini’s crime as different by degree, but by kind, because unlike most men who commit this kind of hate crime against women, Sodini didn’t know his victims.

We’re going to write him off as crazy. But the thing is that “crazy” doesn’t mean completely detached from the world, at least most of the time. Sodini wasn’t one of those people who is so wrapped up in their delusions that they can’t hold a job and need to be kept in an institution. In fact, what’s disturbing about his diary entries is that they sound pretty much like the same ranting you get from every misogynist who thinks he’s a Nice Guy®, and who hates women for their perceived malicious unwillingness to have sex with him.

Anna at Jezebel also makes the connection to mainstream misogyny.

His conviction that all the "desirable single women" in the country are collectively rejecting him, even though he is not "too weird" seems at first like the antithesis of the bluster of pickup artists and "game" aficionados, but a glanceat repugnablog Roissy in DC reveals a connection. In a post about the shooting, Roissy writes,

When men kill women, the underlying reason is almost always an unfulfilled psychosexual need. This goes for spree shooters, rapists, and serial killers. I'm not surprised Sodini hasn't had sex in nearly 20 years. As I've written before, to men celibacy is walking death, and anything is justified in avoiding that miserable fate.

Roissy's contention that "anything is justified" to help men avoid celibacy is terrifying, but more subtly disturbing is his assumption that Sodini's rampage was directly caused by women refusing to sleep with him. Like Sodini himself, Roissy assumes that Sodini shot up a gym because women rejected him, not that women rejected him because he was the kind of guy who would one day shoot up a gym.

If your day isn't already ruined, go read the rest of that post and it will be.

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