Cognoscenti Cognoscenti

Support the news

What Jared Remy And Elliot Rodger Have In Common

Getting to the misogyny at the core of their rage. Photos, L-R: Jared Remy pleads guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder and other charges for stabbing his girlfriend Jennifer Martel to death; Elliot Rodger as seen in a YouTube video. (AP/YouTube)
Getting to the misogyny at the core of their rage. Photos, L-R: Jared Remy pleads guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder and other charges for stabbing his girlfriend Jennifer Martel to death; Elliot Rodger as seen in a YouTube video. (AP/YouTube)
This article is more than 6 years old.

Women. They’re to blame. They provoke violence by their disrespect for men.

If only Jennifer Martel had heeded her boyfriend’s warning that he would never let her take his daughter from him. She should have known he was a man of his word.

“I always told Jen she could leave, but do not threaten me with my daughter. That night Jen had a knife in her hand and threatened me with my daughter, so I killed her," Jared Remy said Tuesday in pleading guilty to first-degree murder in the stabbing death last August of Martel, the mother of now 5-year-old Arianna, who witnessed the attack.

Remy and Rodger are not aberrations. They are extreme reflections of a culture that routinely glorifies male aggression and female submission.

If only those pretty, blonde California sorority girls had welcomed Elliot Rodger’s awkward sexual advances.

“I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime,” Rodger said in a video message before killing six people and himself and wounding 13 others last Friday night near the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara. They should have known he would exact his revenge. “If I can't have you girls, I will destroy you. You denied me a happy life and in turn I will deny all of you life; it's only fair. I hate all of you.”

No matter how hard veteran defense lawyer Ed Ryan tried to spin his client’s courtroom confession, Jared Remy did not take “full responsibility” Tuesday for the murder of Martel in their Waltham townhouse. Instead, he played that tired old batterer’s card: she made me do it. She didn’t listen. She didn’t know her place. She forgot who was in charge.

“I don’t think it’s right when women use their kids against their fathers,” Remy told the court, the closest he came to an honest explanation of the murderous outburst that will land him in prison for life without the possibility of parole. Translation: I gave her fair warning and she challenged my control. It’s her own fault she’s dead.

It would be comforting to see Jared Remy and Elliot Rodger as cultural aberrations, two men whose violence was fueled either by steroids or mental illness. Those well may have been contributing factors in their crimes. But it would be a mistake to ignore the misogyny at the core of their rage.

Theirs is a sadly common story of male entitlement toward women. It is why the response to rape in the military has been to trivialize an epidemic and blame the victims. It is why 55 colleges are under federal investigation for their handling of campus sexual assaults. It is why the woman who began a Twitter hashtag this week in response to Rodger’s hateful 137-page manifesto had to close her account. #YesAllWomen prompted more than one million posts but it also sparked an angry backlash from some men who took offense at women sharing their similar experiences of sexual harassment.

Theirs is a sadly common story of male entitlement toward women.

If only Remy and Rodger were representative of a less enlightened era, a time when judges routinely asked women seeking court protection from their abusive partners, “What did you do to make you him hit you?,” a time when defense lawyers routinely asked rape victims how short their skirts were that night and how much they had had to drink.

But Remy and Rodger are not aberrations. They are extreme reflections of a culture that routinely glorifies male aggression and female submission. Only last month a 16-year-old boy was arrested for stabbing a 16-year-old girl to death in Connecticut. Chris Plaskon allegedly shoved Maren Sanchez down a flight of stairs inside Jonathan Law High School in Milford and then struck the fatal blow.

Maren had refused to go to the prom with him.


Related:

Eileen McNamara Cognoscenti contributor
Eileen McNamara teaches journalism at Brandeis University. The author of a biography of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, she won a Pulitzer Prize as a columnist for The Boston Globe.

More…

Support the news