Published on May 30th, 2014 | by Nathaniel


Masculinity and Mass Murder: Correlation No One’s Mentioning


Seung-Hui Cho- Virginia Tech Shooting (April 16, 2007)- 32 people murdered
Maj Nidal Malik- Fort Hood Shooting (November 5, 2009)- 13 people murdered
Adam Lanza- Newtown Shooting (December 14, 2012)- 27 people murdered
James Holmes- Aurora Shooting (July 20, 2012)- 12 people murdered
*Elliot Rodger- Isla Vista Shooting (May 23, 2014) 7 people murdered


Chronicle a timeline of the most heinous acts of mass murder and terror in our nation’s history and you’ll find the perpetrators are overwhelmingly male. Media outlets are quick to decry “mental health” deficiencies as the root problem, but there’s a deeper issue, one of “manhood” that’s intersecting these acts. Is it possible that in searching for masculine identity, the need to over-compensate for perceived inadequacies drives some men to inflict destruction as a display of power?

This question and many like it are finally starting to emerge. But unfortunately, it’s at the expense of another mass murder that took place on May 23, 2014 in Isla Vista, California, near UCSB. Elliot Rodger, the perpetrator, had clearly been dealing with mental health issues. It was reported that he started seeing psychologists at the age of 8. However, recounts from his nearly 140-page manifesto, his online blog, and a video he posted the night before he killed 7 people (including himself) and injured 13 others, reveal that years of isolation and sexual frustration contributed to his decision.

In his retribution video, as he called it, Elliot claimed that he was a virgin and had never come close to even kissing a girl. His near 7-minute video included the following comments: “Girls have never been attracted to me,” “If I can’t have you… girls…, I will destroy you,” and “You’ll finally see that I am the true alpha-male.” He wanted to engage in the “hedonistic pleasure” that other men engaged in, stating “All of you sexually active men, I hate you.”

At the center of these comments lies how Elliot defined manhood and sadly how other men define it.

Pornography. Billboards. Magazines. Television. Movies. So much of our media today hyper-sexualizes women and men. Women are portrayed as sexual objects and men as sexual dominators, exerting power through force. I believe it’s true that we as men are inherently prideful, inherently action-oriented, but so much of our media perpetuates this notion that we are supposed to showcase our power externally, at all times. Anything or anyone that diminishes or questions this power is an inhibitor to our masculinity. From the larger scope, the objectification of women as “sexual plush-toys” and possessions is an attempt by men not just to fill a sexual void, but to showcase power. Referencing women by names like “ho,” “bitch,” “slut,” “pussy,” all fit into the grand scheme of emasculating who they are and invigorating the male ego.

Similarly, our “anti-virgin” culture has boys as young as 10 having sex, thinking they’re entering the threshold of manhood in the process. This same culture has men making irresponsible decisions to have sex with a woman, get her pregnant and abandon the responsibility of raising a baby. And it’s the same culture that leads men to think it’s okay to exercise physical force over a woman. What are we saying about manhood when we trivialize the entirety of its essence to that of a power dynamic that involves how much control we can exert over another individual?

The correlation between masculinity and mass murder is one that necessitates dialogue. And since the perversion of our culture doesn’t appear to be slowing down, we have to act fast. We can’t allow the sole definition of manhood to be defined only by external means or acts.

So how should we define it? Well, masculinity is defined by Webster’s as “possession of the qualities traditionally associated with men.” But in our development process, so many of us stop short at the external qualities of manhood- the physicality and sexual prowess. But I want to look beyond those attributes. I want to be a man of wisdom (Solomon), a man after God’s own heart (David), a man of persistence despite my shortcomings (Moses), a man of obedience (Noah), a man of forgiveness (Joseph), and so on… We need to look at the purest forms of manhood and see our inadequacies don’t make us less; they rather give us opportunity to walk by faith and trust that God can do exceedingly and abundantly beyond all we can think or ask.


Elliot Rodger’s Retribution Video (below)

How do you define “masculinity”? Comment below.

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