Misogyny, entitlement and… nerds? Why is nerd culture to blame for Elliot Rodger’s actions?

revenge of the nerds

Revenge of the Nerds

A compelling article “Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds” written by Jeopardy-genius Arthur Chu published last week got a lot of attention, and rightfully so. I read it and was deeply moved by his arguments. The article published on The Daily Beast dived deep into nerd culture, how men feel entitled to sex and attention, and how the culture appropriates misogyny — the buzzword and motive behind Elliot Rodger’s dark events in Isla Vista on May 23, 2014.

tl;dr

your princess is in another castle

source: YouTube

In short, he points out a troubling scenario that is present in many scripts of movies and sitcoms centered around nerds — “awkward but lovable nerd has huge unreciprocated crush on hot non-nerdy popular girl.” From scenes in Big Bang Theory (like where Penny is asked to apologize to a “nerd” for turning him down) to the rape scene that’s cleverly disguised as a “bed trick” in Revenge of the Nerds, there are many instances of nerdy boys lusting after out-of-their-league women with a schematic that’s “supposedly” written for them.

Do all the right things we teach you in this movie, and you’ll land the hot girl. You’re entitled to it.

But, what happens when your Princess isn’t at the castle that you worked so hard to get to? What happens when there is no team of writers rooting for your character to land the girl? In the case of Elliot Rodger, you get revenge.

When our clever ruses and schemes to “get girls” fail, it’s not because the girls are too stupid or too bitchy or too shallow to play by those unwritten rules we’ve absorbed. — Arthur Chu

Right. Don’t blame the girl or society for not “getting” her. Nerds, and all men alike, need to stop putting themselves on this “sex journey,” that in order to fit into society and be happy, you need to have sex with a hot girl who was considered unattainable.  But this is all according to whom?

It’s the same as applying to a dream job at a big company. You may have all the credentials, but if you don’t click with the hiring manager, then it simply just doesn’t work out. That’s okay.

This is the kind of sex education we need. Sex shouldn’t be looked at as some right of passage, and being a virgin shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. Admittedly, in many pop culture references, both “nerd” and “virgin” are unfortunately often associated together.

 

But wait, hold on. Why are we only directing this at nerds?

I may not have a large collection of comic books. I may not play Assassin’s Creed days on end. But I can call myself a nerd. I also call myself a feminist. While I largely agree with Arthur on his viewpoints, I feel that there are a few holes that need to be addressed.

I have not found any evidence that Rodger was a nerd by any capacity. Who knows if he excelled in class? Does he love X-Men so much as to surround himself with figurines? Has he seen all seasons of Doctor Who? Did he even watch Revenge of the Nerds?

big bang theory penny

Perpetuating stereotypes

Who knows, and why does it matter? Why are we blaming nerd culture all of the sudden? How did we mix the two together?

Sure, there are misogynistic themes in certain parts of nerd culture, like Big Bang Theory, Sixteen Candles and in a variety of video games. But it certainly isn’t the central theme nowadays in many other current and popular (because despite the fact that it’s still on, BBT is NOT popular) nerd-centric stories — storylines like X-Men, Star Wars, Star Trek and Doctor Who hardly make a big deal about men lusting after women. In fact, I’d go as far to say that they’ve made important strides in diversity and gender equality. (But of course, every story line has their flaws, so feel free to comment and call me out on something.)

But themes of misogyny run rampant in many other areas of our society. There’s also the script of the top jock in high school dating the hot captain of the cheer squad. What happens when he doesn’t get her? (If you remember in the first season of Heroes, Claire was pushed, and then she died, by a guy when she rejected his advances.)

Many religions and cultures, like Mormonism or concubinage, allow men to have multiple wives, but rarely the other way around. What happens when a woman wants to be married to other men?

Even in general society, why is it that a girl must change the way she dresses in fear that boys would be “distracted,” when it should be that boys need to learn to instead stop treating girls like sex objects?

Even traditional views harm today’s progressive movements.

 

More than just misogyny

There’s another problem in this case that extends beyond misogyny: the inefficiencies of law enforcement.

elliot rodger

source: facebook.com

A person who knew Rodger, and even Rodger’s own mother, tipped off officials of Rodger’s strange behavior, which led to a welfare check almost a month before the shooting. Rodger posted videos online (which later became known as his manifesto) that were grossly misogynistic, racist and foretold a scene of mad violence– but officials not only wrote him off as a troubled boy, they didn’t even watch the videos in the first place.

Also, no one even thought to check to see if Rodger was in possession of guns, which he was. No one knew. Even though it’s recorded in law enforcement databases.

Then, he fatally stabbed three men, shot at four people outside a sorority house, shot another male student, and hit four people with his car — all before taking away his own life with a gun.

You can say that he shot only a percentage of his victims, so he could have easily went in with just a knife and probably inflict the same damage. However, if law enforcement knew he was in possession of handguns and ammunition before the shooting, coupled with video evidence of his psychotic foretelling, you could expect that drastic measures would be taken to stop Rodger in his tracks.

 

So what’s really wrong with Elliot Rodger?

While good policemen are needed to help protect the public, it doesn’t stop people from having thoughts of violence. If you haven’t seen Rodger’s manifesto, don’t go read it, but this is one of the statements that stood out to me most:

After I picked up the handgun, I … felt a new sense of power. Who’s the alpha male now, bitches? I thought to myself, regarding all of the girls who’ve looked down on me in the past.

 

source: Carlos Delgado for New York Daily News. Father of victim Christopher-Michaels Martinez breaks down calling for end to gun violence.

source: Carlos Delgado for New York Daily News. Father of victim Christopher-Michaels Martinez breaks down calling for end to gun violence.

Nerd culture cannot be blamed for this simple reason: we all have seen the script. Everyone. Almost all men have felt inferior at one point in their lives to another guy, and have hated it. We all have watched Revenge of the Nerds, we all have been rejected to some capacity.

But, why is Rodger different? Why did he resort to violence while some of us sucked it up and went on with our lives?

A discussion around mental health and high expectations we place on kids in today’s society would warrant another article, but it’s another possibility being discussed by many. Though, in all fairness, it’s often a topic brought up as a scapegoat for many guns rights activists.

And then there’s gun control, which I definitely won’t get into here.

I came across a comment on an article that I feel not only reflects what I think is the real issue, but is also good blanket statement for many of the vices in our society:

The cure for misogyny resides in the hands of fathers. Teach your sons to live and behave respectfully and with compassion to all. Model for your sons. Set an personal example as an antidote to the culture of entitlement. Take the first step regardless of your own personal history and experience. Make the change. — Gary W from CT

 

I leave you with this: let’s stop blaming popular media (especially those created decades ago), and let’s get to the real core of it all. Removing guns from people’s hands may cause less deaths. Removing misogynistic storylines from movies may cause less abuse. Improving mental health care may lead to a more stable society. But ultimately, it’s the value we have for each other as human beings that needs to be preached.

There will always be women who like to be viewed as sexual objects. There will always be men who are a little too disgusting for their own good. What we need to know is what consent means, and the difference between an invitation and objectification.

While everyone is online battling it out against the invisible Goliath of our culture, I’m looking to my own friends and family members to make a positive difference in our lives.

Because I know what it’s like to be sad.

The loneliest people are the kindest. The saddest people smile the brightest. The most damaged people are the wisest. All because they do not wish to see anyone else suffer the way they do. — Anonymous

 

tl;dr

Nerd culture isn’t the only thing to blame for Elliot Rodger’s misogynistic views and the killing spree that fateful day. It’s our own irresponsibility to ourselves and each other. Don’t bash people for perpetuating harmful stereotypes, instead let’s spread compassion for all mankind and push for a utopian society where individuality is celebrated.

Wait, isn’t that what X-Men is trying to do?

 

So, who’s really to blame for Elliot Rodger’s actions? Comment below, because I’d love to hear your opinions.

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Rocky Vy
Rocky Vy 101 posts

<a href="http://www.artofonline.com">Digital marketing consultant</a> by trade, a freelance writer by passion. Also, anything that involves innovative tech, fashion, entrepreneurialism, Pantone 021C and pandas are cool, too. Follow him <a href="http://www.twitter.com/rockyvy">@rockyvy</a>.