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“She rejected him”: Why is there an implication women are somehow to blame for mass shootings?

With the formation of groups like “incels”, it’s time to treat misogyny as the dangerous and deadly ideology it is.

By Kate Wagner
After the Parkland shooting, there was a sliver of optimism—a quiet, tentative hope that maybe this time, American lawmakers would see sense and enforce gun control.
We saw politicians actually listen to victims on television and heard survivors reject "thoughts and prayers" and instead demand policy change. While the Parkland victims mourned their friends, they also studied mass shootings in their country, researching statistics and facts to convince their government young lives are more important than donations from the NRA.
Massive crowds rallied to demand change louder than ever before—the electric atmosphere crackled with positivity. Maybe this really would be the last school shooting.
Then, just three months later, another teenage boy strolled into his school with a sawed-off shot gun and a pistol—this time in Texas—and murdered 10 people, allegedly taunting them as he went.
Donning a shirt emblazoned 'Born to Kill', suspected gunman Dimitrios Pagourtzis was reportedly heard cheering "woo hoo!" as he shot up classrooms.
Survivor Isabelle Van Ness told her mother he ridiculed students as they hid from him.
"The gunman then comes back into their room and they hear him saying … are you dead? Then more shots are fired," Deedra Van Ness wrote on social media. "By this time, cell phones all over the classroom are ringing and he's taunting the kids in the closet asking them … 'Do you think it's for you? Do you want to come answer it?' Then he proceeds to fire more bullets into the closet and tries to get in."
As officials and media scrambled to determine a motive for the football player's killing spree, one of the victim's parents sent the Los Angeles Times a message.
Murdered student, Shana Fisher, allegedly "had 4 months of problems from this boy," her mother wrote. "He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no."
Sadie Rodriguez added Pagourtzis had grown more and more aggressive with his pursuit of Shana until she finally stood up to him and "embarrassed him" in class.
"A week later he opens fire on everyone he didn't like," she wrote. "Shana being the first one." Ms Rodriguez didn't say how she knew her daughter was the first victim.
Somehow, it was only Ms Rodriguez' assertion her daughter had "embarrassed" Pagourtzis that made headlines, not the months of harassment. The wording seemed to, if not absolve the shooter, at least give him a motive—to rationalise his behaviour.
This trend of male shooters thinking women owe them attention, a relationship or even sex is disconcerting and begs the question, is male entitlement partly to blame?

The rise of incels

Last month, a Canadian man deliberately ploughed a van into a crowd of pedestrians and killed ten people, most of whom were women. The 25-year-old, Alek Minassian, is reportedly a part of a misogynistic movement known as "incels", short for involuntary celibate.
Incels are by and large angry, sexually frustrated men who blame women for their lack of sex life. The group has since evolved, at its most extreme, to a male supremacist group who believe women should be treated purely as sexual objects with few rights.
Jordan Peterson, a YouTube philosopher, blames violent attacks perpetrated by these young, single men on the fact they're not in a relationship and says the responsibility lies with society to make sure those men are married.
"He was angry at God because women were rejecting him," Peterson told The New York Times when asked about the Toronto killer. "The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That's actually why monogamy emerges."
He thinks without enforced monogamy women will only flock to men of high-status, something ultimately unfulfilling for both genders.
Incels appear to have taken victim blaming and morphed it into a sick motivation for their attacks.

Previous shooters have also blamed their killing sprees on women

Before Elliot Rodger killed six people near the campus of University of California and took his own life in 2014, he recorded a disturbing video he titled "Retribution".
In it, he claimed, "You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime because I don't know what you don't see in me.
"I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman. I will punish all of you for it."
Once again, we saw a mass murderer shirk all responsibility for a heinous attack. In an instance where they were nothing but victims, women were accused of bringing it on themselves. To Rodger, rejecting his advances was worthy of a death sentence, and people are implying Pagourtzis was the same.
WATCH: Rodgers' chilling final video blaming the fact he was still a virgin on his murder spree.
Soon after news broke of the Valentine's Day massacre, it emerged shooter Nikolas Cruz had previously been in trouble for fighting with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. Despite officials saying there had been "no warning signs", Cruz had reportedly been abusive with his former flame, a fellow classmate volunteering: "He stalked her and threatened her. He was like, 'I'm going to kill you,' and he would say awful things to her and harass her to the point I would walk her to the bus just to make sure she was OK."
Leader of a white nationalist hate group, Jordan Jereb, claimed Cruz was a part of their organisation and, "There's a very real sense of feminism being a cancer. That could've played into what he did."
But Cruz' demonstrated hostility towards women didn't matter to some.
"Those talking about how we shouldn't have ostracised him, you didn't know this kid! Okay?! We did!" Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez shot back at people blaming victims for the shooting.

But what about mental health?

Some American senators have a penchant for blaming solely mental illness in the wake of gun crime, but there's a glaring problem with that assertion.
Every country has mental health problems—Australia's own mental health care comes under fire regularly—yet only kids in America have an omnipresent fear of being murdered in their classroom.
"This isn't just a mental health issue. He wouldn't have harmed that many students with a knife!" Emma shouted to a crowd in the wake of Parkland's shooting.
The glaring trait shared by mass shooters is that they're male—in fact, female mass killers are "so rare that it just hasn't been studied," James Garbarino, a psychologist at Loyola University Chicago, told Harper's Bazaar.
We need to start recognising misogyny for what it is—a destructive ideology that's killing women. When young men are being radicalised online, by groups like the incels, and then using violence as a means to create terror amongst masses of people in the name of this ideology, it's terrorism.
We'll leave you with this haunting quote from a Santa Fe survivor that could so easily be applied to gender violence across the world.
Paige Curry was asked by a reporter if there was a part of her that thought: "This isn't real, this is — this would not happen in my school?"
The young girl shook her head: "No, there wasn't."
"Why so?" the reporter asked.
"It's been happening everywhere," she said. "I felt—I've always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too."

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