Rebecca Solnit on the Santa Barbara Massacre and Viral #YesAllWomen Response to Misogynist Violence
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Santa Barbara is grieving after a 22-year-old man killed six college students just after posting a misogynistic video online vowing to take his revenge on women for sexually rejecting him. The massacre prompted an unprecedented reaction online with tens of thousands of women joining together to tell their stories of sexual violence, harassment and intimidation. By Sunday, the hashtag #YesAllWomen had gone viral. In speaking out, women were placing the shooting inside a broader context of misogynist violence that often goes ignored.
In a video clip, author and activist Rebecca Solnit tells Democracy Now! that what happened in Santa Barbara was not an isolated incident but part of an epidemic, citing Rodger's manifesto. "I think that we need to broaden the focus from this one guy," she says, "who’s no longer alive, and his misery and rage, and to look at the broad picture of how well he fits into a culture of entitlement, how well he fits into a culture of rage, how well he fits into a culture that considers women tools and playthings and property. And then we need to start addressing that."
The following is video of an interview with Solnit, with an accompanying transcript:
AARON MATÉ: We turn now to the massacre in Santa Barbara, California, where a gunman killed six other people and wounded 13 others. Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old college student, fatally stabbed three roommates at his apartment complex near the University of California, Santa Barbara. He then opened fire at a nearby sorority house, killing two women. Rodger continued his rampage with a drive-by shooting on scores of pedestrians, killing one. The attack ended when he crashed his vehicle, found dead at the wheel of what police called a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The rampage was part of a plot Rodger outlined in videos and a manifesto posted online hours before. He described his anger at being sexually rejected by female classmates. He spoke of launching a, quote, "war on women" for failing to see him as, quote, "the true alpha male."
ELLIOT RODGER: 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. I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one, the true alpha male.
AMY GOODMAN: Elliot Rodger was armed with three semiautomatic handguns and multiple rounds of ammunition, all of which he had purchased legally. In an emotional statement the following day, Richard Martinez spoke out about the loss of his 20-year-old son Christopher, who was killed in the rampage. Martinez denounced the National Rifle Association and the politicians who stand in the way of gun control.
RICHARD MARTINEZ: Why did Chris die? Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’s right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say, "Stop this madness! We don’t have to live like this"? Too many have died. We should say to ourselves, "Not one more!"
AARON MATÉ: The massacre also prompted an unprecedented reaction online with tens of thousands of women joining together to tell their stories of sexual violence, harassment and intimidation. By Sunday, the hashtag #YesAllWomen had been used over 500,000 times, the most on Twitter. In speaking out, women were placing the shooting inside a broader context of misogynist violence. While there’s been intense scrutiny of the shooter’s background and mental illness, there has been far less focus on a culture of violence in which nearly all mass shootings are carried out by men, and people like Elliot Rodger feel entitled to victimize the women who reject them.