America shows that a society based on entitlement, misogyny and violence is more prone to gun violence
Entitlement and America go together like salt and pepper: rarely one without the other. It’s a love affair that dates back to the colonialism of the 19th century.
Misogyny, too, is an ingrained societal norm, in which men objectify and dehumanize women on a daily basis — most visibly seen through cat-calling and teasing, but also when men maintain an air of superiority over women.
And gun violence? Compared to 22 other high-income countries, the United States’ gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher, proving that American aggression is out of control.
In 2014, Elliot Rodger uploaded a Youtube video of himself before proceeding to stab three men, shoot two women and another man. In this video, Rodger explained how he planned to seek retribution against women rejecting his advances and women who did not see him for the “superior, alpha male” that he claimed he was.
Another incident in Philadelphia saw an anonymous threat from a member of “Beta Rebellion,” a group of men upset about their inability to “get” women after numerous sexual advances.
In an increasingly progressive society in which women are now able to choose with whom they do and do not associate, the sense of entitlement that men once heavily relied on is crumbling, forcing them to lash out in violent ways.
And although the violence and rage that Rodgers and the Beta Rebellion group displayed is extreme, the mindset they possessed in relation to women and how they perceive them is chillingly common among young men.
Rodgers felt that he was entitled to punish the women that rejected him, entitled to take the lives of people he felt deserved to die. The combination of the misogyny that caused him to be genuinely angered by rejections of his multiple sexual advances and the sense of entitlement he felt towards others’ lives is what our society must find a way to combat in order to meaningfully deal with gun violence.
Attempts to do just that have arisen, with the “#YesAllWomen” movement on Twitter spreading like wildfire. Through the hashtag, people are trying to raise awareness of the everyday differences in the lived experiences of men and women. They strive to make even the slightest change in societal perceptions of women. Hopefully if that change does come, violence against women through guns will become less of an issue.
Violence in the form of video games also has a role in the gun violence that is so common in American society. In 2015, the American Psychological Association (APA) confirmed a link between playing violent video games and an increase in aggressive tendencies. The APA also confirmed that violent video games led to a decrease in both empathy and sensitivity.
For the majority of boys who start to play video games at age 10 or 11, a desensitization to violence occurs and they adopt a disregard for human life and the value it holds. Although there is insufficient evidence to conclusively link delinquency and criminal records to violent video game use, it has been established that violent video games are one of the many risk factors that make a person more inclined towards violent acts of aggression, including gun violence.
To perhaps decrease the risk of aggression and increase the level of empathy that children have, it is vital to moderate the amount of video games children play, or perhaps find a way to make video games less violent altogether.
Video games are nothing, however, compared to the sense of entitlement coupled with misogyny that our society ingrains into the value system of our youth. This is where change must begin.
#YesAllWomen is simply chipping away at the iceberg of a glacier that will take years to break down, and it is my hope that more groundbreaking social change comes soon as well.
Written by: Tamanna Ahluwalia — firstname.lastname@example.org