That's not going to change. His goal all along was to kill himself as well. He can't get a pretty white blonde girl to go out with him, even though he has a fancy car. But they're united by a central phenomenon that Kimmel describes as "aggrieved entitlement": a growing anger that privilege men once considered their birthright has slipped away as American society has become more equal, and a belief that they are justified in taking revenge against people who harmed them.
Your last first date could be one match away.
They've all turned him down. So how is it this mental illness managed to sail just below the radar of virtually everybody except his parents, who tried to do something? MK: When it's a white guy, it's always about mental illness. That's also a very big part of this plan, and part of the similarities among many of these guys. That's part of what the entitlement sounds like. So it's a sense of white men's victimization. When he is looking at "these white girls" who are with black or Latino or Asian guys, he identifies entirely as white.
For example, "I haven't had a date in years, I haven't had sex in 20 years" — Sodini says — "I've been rejected by 30 million women. You go out in that blaze of glory and then your manhood is magnificently restored to you.
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They would instantly have handcuffed him, and they would have searched his room and found all the guns and it never would have happened. We're not going to go backwards. Nobody noticed because he seemed like the rest of us. LN: What will it take to have a broader conversation about cultural factors in a situation like this? So he's getting his revenge.
Violence in this case is revenge. MK: I have a chapter in which I talk about the prototype, the early instance, of something that reminds one of Elliot Rodger: George Sodini. He feels humiliated by all of these women who go out with all of these undeserving guys, while he — and these are his words — "a perfect guy," "a supreme gentleman," gets rejected all the time and is still a virgin and can't get sex.
And he doesn't understand it — he's so much more deserving. We're far more gender-equal today in America than we ever have been, and we'll be more equal again tomorrow. They provide a kind of locker room, a place where guys can gripe about all the bad things that are being done to them by women, by people of color, by feminism. As he says, it's the day of retribution.
I think those places are kind of a solace for that sense of aggrieved entitlement. MK: It's so interesting how he uses his own race. How is it possible that a guy like this — it seems on its face sort of obvious that he's mentally ill. It's not that they expected to have it, but that they felt entitled to it.
Here's a thought experiment for you. You write about violence as a way for angry men to prove their masculinity or overcome humiliations. He had posted almost the same kinds of complaints that Elliot Rodger posts.
He says no. He "sees" race when it is about others; with himself it's the class the BMW and gender his male entitlement that seems to hold sway. That's part of it: women's greater equality. What follows is a transcript of a conversation with Kimmel, slightly edited for clarity and length.
He's entitled to sex, they've turned him down, and he's getting even by going out and killing them. When it's a white guy it's always some kind of individual problem: "He was mentally ill.
And that's unjust and unfair to you. The question for men, then, is how are we going to deal with them? The truth is, of course, we're moving inexorably toward greater and greater gender and racial equality. MK: We expected our lives to look like the lives of our fathers or grandfathers — that we would work in offices that would look like the set of Mad Men.
That world is completely gone. So you would hear aggrieved entitlement, for example, from Tea Partiers who say "Let's take our country back.
And then, of course, killing himself. In a way, I guess it gives someone comfort that there are others like me, I'm not the only one to whom this is happening.
A suicide note in the gym bag pointed investigators to a website with a litany of complaints: Sodini was frustrated and angry that he wasn't dating or sleeping with women, and he shot three people and injured six others as revenge. It seems like what we're seeing in the Santa Barbara shooting is sexual entitlement. This is not simply mass murder; this is suicide by mass murder. All of the arenas in which men used to just be with other guys — the locker room, the boardroom, the operating theater, the college classroom — all of those areas have now been, from their perspective, invaded by women.
He was very polite and very deferential and the police officers take a look at him, and they asked if he ever thought about suicide. Just imagine for a moment if Elliot Rodger is black. In his manifesto, Rodger constantly complains that he sees white girls with black guys, or Latino guys, or Asian guys. Anybody who runs around shooting other people, we assume they're mentally ill. So that when the police do come, they think, we got a call, it was credible, let's take a look.
LN: One thing you write about with regard to school shootings in particular is that there hasn't been the attention to gender and race and class with white, adolescent, middle-class guys that there might be in other cases. They leave. But to someone like Elliot Rodger or George Sodini, the rules are if you play the game right, if you're good and clean and reasonably good-looking, you should be able to get a girl. They're not going to reverse the tide.
MK: These kinds of sites and these kinds of chat rooms — I think they're kind of a rear-guard action. LN: You write about male economic entitlement, about political entitlement. Do you think if they'd be asking if he had suicidal thoughts? And he's sitting here shaking, the whole time, thinking, if they walk into my bedroom I'm in trouble because they'll see the arsenal I've accumulated.
Despite Rodger's multiracial background, the Santa Barbara shootings are "a textbook case of everything I've been writing about," he said in an interview. And when you do that, you go out in a blaze of glory. What they inherited from their fathers and grandfathers, what they thought was their birthright was access to money, power, and women.
Are we going to be dragged kicking and screaming into this future, which is what these internet sites basically portend? It's restorative. And it is absolutely baffling to Rodger or to Sodini that all these other guys get them. LN: But if Elliot Rodger isn't a white man — and he wrote about his half-Asian background in his manifesto, arguing that it held him back with women — how does he fit into this phenomenon?
They feel entitled, as white men, to the idea that this is Santa Barbara men dating women country, this is their world. And so when they see others getting it, they feel like it's an injustice. MK: It will take us making race visible. Hell no. But they're kicking and screaming.
InSodini walked into an aerobics class filled with women at a Pittsburgh-area gym and opened fire. He's been emasculated by this, he's been humiliated. He seemed so "normal. MK: I think it would be facile to argue the manosphere, as it's called, urged him to do this.
Violence is the way you get even. That's what I mean by aggrieved entitlement: the sense that you are entitled to those Santa Barbara men dating women, and you're not getting them and other people are getting them. Michael Kimmel, a professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University, wrote about Sodini — and about angry men as varied as the school shooters at Columbine and Virginia Tech, fathers' rights activists and the Tea Party movement — in his book Angry White Men.
Not all of the men Kimmel describes are white. It's a way to retrieve your manhood. The ideal of the American man is we don't get mad, we get even. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, was Korean-American, the first nonwhite ram shooter in more than a decade; Elliot Rodger, who shot three people and stabbed three more, was half Asian. They're not going to hold it back.