Elliot Rodger blamed women quite explicitly for the killing spree he went on over the weekend, arguing that by not having sex with him, they pushed him to take revenge. Today, the New York Post does the same with “KILLER CRUSH” blaring across its front page, over a picture of a cute young blond woman chewing her fingernail. “Childhood snub set me off, madman seethed,” the sub-headline helpfully adds. The story inside has more pictures of the young woman, who had the misfortune of being named directly in Rodger’s self-pitying manifesto about the lack of hot young naked females appearing in his bedroom.
While the woman’s father is given plenty of space to speak common sense about how stupid it is to blame his daughter, saying, “He had a secret crush on her, but she was completely unaware of him,” the story and its imagery, including a picture of the young woman in a bikini, are drenched in the ugly insinuation that by being sexy and unavailable, she somehow impelled Rodger’s violence. Lines like, “The aspiring model whose childhood rejection of Elliot Rodger lit the fuse that turned him into a murderous madman barely remembers him, her dad told The Post on Monday,” are a disgrace. How, exactly, does not paying attention to someone light “a fuse”? Are women obliged to flatter, cajole, and even have sex with men they find repulsive in order to prevent lighting this fuse?
Rodger’s problem (or one of them) was that he believed he was entitled to women simply because he wanted them. The Post cover and accusatory language reinforce this kind of entitlement, suggesting that women are somehow responsible for men’s actions if they don’t give them what they want. Refocusing this horrible story on an attractive young blonde may move newspapers, but it certainly doesn’t get us any closer to understanding the crime.