Underneath my yellow skin

Fixing a Broken Society

It’s been three days since the Las Vegas shooting, and it’s already fading to the background as new atrocities spring up to take its place. Yes, the news is faithfully reporting about it, but there’s not much there, so it’s not dominating the headlines as it once was. I’ve read about the shooter, but there’s not much there. He’s the oldest of four boys, and his father left the family unexpectedly when they were kids. It turns out the father was a bank robber, which was interesting, but not sure it means much of anything. The picture of the killer is a high-stakes gambler. He met his girlfriend while he was gambling and she was working in a casino. The shooter’s brother said his brother was a multimillionaire, but if he liked to gamble, who knows what happened to the money? Another brother said they were all angry when their father left, but the shooter was the least-angry of the four. Then the brother revealed that he hadn’t spoken to the shooter in twenty years, but wouldn’t say why. To me, that negates the ‘least-angry’ claim as the brother doesn’t know what happened to his brother in the last twenty years. The girlfriend claimed not to have known anything, and she told her brother not to panic. The police weren’t aware of the shooter before this, and there are no immediate red flags as to why he did this.

Putting him aside, when I hear about a shooting, I immediately assume a few things. One, the shooter is male. This one is solid as there have been very few mass shootings done by women. Second, that it’s going to be a white man. This one is pretty solid as the vast majority of mass shootings have been done by white men. One notable exception was Elliot Rodger, the…

::has to Google it because there have been so many mass shootings::

Santa Barbara shooter. He was half-Asian, and part of his screed was a healthy dose of internalized racism. He would see white women with full Asian men and grow angry that he couldn’t get a girlfriend because in his mind, he was better than those full-blooded Asian men because he was half-white. The first people he killed were his Asian male roommates (with a knife), and I bet it’s partly because of his internalized racism. He was a PUA (Pick-Up Artist) and an incel (his word. Involuntary celibate), and he was full of rage because he wasn’t getting pussy he thought he so richly deserved.

His race was notable, but his mentality wasn’t. Another thing I think when I hear about a mass shooting is that the shooter will be an angry man who has a history of violence and/or watches a ton of FOX ‘News’ and gets riled up about all the ‘illegals’, ‘hostile blacks’, and ‘angry atheists’. This man is bitter because his life hasn’t gone the way he’s been told it should go, and he knows it’s ‘their’ fault. It doesn’t matter who ‘they’ are. It could be women (it’s women a lot of the time. 54% of mass shootings involve domestic violence, as I noted before); it could be minorities or undocumented immigrants; it could be Jews; it could be just about anyone else. It certainly isn’t their own fault; it can’t be!

That’s part of the problem. We teach boys from an early age that they have to be manly men (and I’m really depressed that we haven’t moved past this by now), and they’re faggots or pussies if they show any iota of emotion. They have to get a high-paying job so they can take care of their family, and if they don’t, then they’re utter and abject failures. They have to have a model wife who’s also a great mother, and their children all have to matriculate from Harvard and become doctors, or they will be shamed. Obviously, I’m exaggerating, but the kernel of truth is there. PUA is gross and disgusting, but it’s instructive to know what they’re about because it’s merely an exaggeration of the masculinity we espouse in our society on a daily basis. Just ask most women about street harassment or having to put up with getting hit on while, say, flying on a plane*. Or being groped by a drunk friend who persists even after you rebuff him. I will say rom-coms have to shoulder some of the blame because they promote ridiculous behavior that could get you in serious trouble in life. I’m not saying there’s a direct link, but we’re so saturated with the idea that if you’re a man who loves a woman (or a woman who loves a man. Most rom-coms are determinedly hetero-normative), you should pursue her to the ends of the earth. Be determined enough, and she’ll eventually change her mind and fall deeply in love with you. It doesn’t matter how much of a dick you are in the beginning because you’ll win her over in time

It’s telling when we talk about, say, street harassment, a sizable chunk of men get defensive. They say, “Hey, can’t we just say hi to someone if we want to?” When women point out that, no, they aren’t actually obligated to talk to someone they don’t want to, some men react with hostility. They can’t fathom not having the right to intrude on a woman’s life. They feel entitled to having a woman’s attention, whether the woman wants to give it to them or not. Many women have stories about trying to nicely turn down an unsolicited advance and being met with an out-sized reaction. Some men don’t understand that most women have it in the back of their mind that they can be attacked for saying no. It’s not that we think all men are rapists, most men are rapists, or even that several men are rapists. It’s that we don’t know with each individual interaction if this particular man is a rapist or not. It’s Schrodinger’s Rapist, and personally, it makes me wary any time a man I don’t know tries to hit on me.

I’m bringing this up for two reasons. One, most of the mass shooters have displayed this mentality. Maybe not in relation to women (though that’s often the case), but just that sense of entitlement. Dylann Roof, the…

::Googles again for the same reason as above::

Charleston shooter felt like blacks and Jews were taking what’s rightfully his. He didn’t want to deal with his lawyers for his appeal case because one was Indian and one was Jewish. He felt ‘they’ were threatening the white race, and he was determined to do something about it. Side note: I am ambivalent about how much attention we give to shooters in this situation. It’s understandable that when something like this happens, we want to figure out what makes the shooter tick so we can figure out a way to prevent it. However, by paying so much attention to the killer, we unconsciously emphasize that this is a way to get national media attention. And, since we have mass shootings on the daily now that barely are a blip on the national conscious register, a man would have to up the ante considerably to even be noticed. The only reason this shooting is being discussed at all is because at least 58 people died and 515 people were injured. This all happened in roughly ten minutes, which is mind-boggling.

We need to talk about guns, obviously. And, despite what the Republicans are bleating, this is the time to talk about it. As I said on Twitter:

We have to have this conversation, but we also have to talk about our idea of manhood, specifically white manhood. As difficult as the former conversation is (we’ve proven time and time again that we as a society are very resistant to talking about gun control), I have a feeling that the latter will be even more difficult. We’re too wedded to the ‘lone wolf’ theory when the shooter is white because otherwise, white America will have to take a hard look at themselves and ask what it about their culture that causes their boys to do shit like this. Many white people are quick to jump on Muslims when there’s terrorist attack perpetuated by a Muslim. Said white people insist that all Muslims must denounce terrorism, and yet, the same white people hurriedly disavow any responsibility when something like this happens. It’s hypocritical, and it’s burying your head in the sand.

We have a sick society, and part of that sickness is refusing to admit how racist and sexist we are. Until we acknowledge that and more to the point, deal with it, we will have incidents like this happen, and at a more rapid and horrifying pace.




*Still bitter about the guy who took the book out of my hands as a form of flirting. Needless to say, it didn’t work out for him.

2 Responses to Fixing a Broken Society

  1. It’s understandable that when something like this happens, we want to figure out what makes the shooter tick so we can figure out a way to prevent it.

    Sadly, I think for many people the goal is the exact opposite. They mostly want to reassure themselves this couldn’t happen to them or the people they care about, and the easiest way of doing that is to other the killer somehow. That’s easy when the killer is already an other- a minority of some kind- but the more the killer looks like them, the more desperately they will comb through every piece of information about him to prove how different he is.

    I suspect this is why Sandy Hook became such a target for truthers. It’s not because they’re incapable of dealing with the scale of the murders and the innocence of the victims; it’s because they’re incapable of othering the perpetrator. I’ll even go so far as to predict that similar conspiracy theories will crop up around the Las Vegas shooting. When they can’t other the killer, they’ll start coming up with crazy conspiracies about why it wasn’t actually him. It’s easier for them to believe the conspiracy theories than accept that somebody that much like them could do such a thing.

    • I think you’re right, Roger. It’s also why ‘he’s evil’ is thrown around in situations like this. If the answer to the carnage is evil personified, well, you can’t do anything about that so you might as well just walk on by.

      I’ve been wondering why the girlfriend has been getting such close scrutiny, and while I understand it on the one hand (how could she not see this coming one way or the other?), it’s also unsettling in a way I can’t quite describe. It seems as if some people desperately want her to be in on it for one reason or another, and while I’m trying not to speculate, I can’t help but think that her being Filipino might be a part of it. I’m just spit-balling here.

Leave a reply