I guess I have to start the ball rolling by a post that will evoke responses. Crimesider detailed a gruesome act on 4th August 2009 in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania. George Sodini, a 48 year old computer programmer, went to a sprawling L.A. Fitness Club, turned out the lights on the Tuesday night "Latin impact" dance-aerobics class for women, and opened fire with three guns, spraying dozens of bullets before committing suicide. Three women were killed and six hospitalised. Sodini did not have a relationship with any of his victims.
The police said: "He just had a lot of hatred in him and (was) hell-bent on committing this act, and no one was going to stop him," In his diary re wrote: “Women just don't like me. There are 30 million desirable women in the US (my estimate) and I cannot find one. Not one of them finds me attractive." His anger stemmed from unfulfilled desire: The women at his gym "look so beautiful as to not be human," he wrote. He complained that women "don't even give me a second look ANYWHERE" even though he was tan and fit and claimed to dress well and smell nice.
Letters to the editor appeared in the New York Times August 10. I reproduce snippets.
To the Editor:
Misogyny is deeply ingrained in the fabric of most societies and institutionalized in all the major religions.
When women are seen and portrayed as weaker, less important, expendable and inconvenient, or objectified as sexual objects, objects of beauty or indeed any kind of object, they become less than human.
Most societies do this not only with women but also with any people seen as obstacles in some way — enemies in wars, immigrants who threaten to change our way of life.
Physical strength and power — and with access to weapons, anyone can be strong — is seen by too many people as the measure of a man and an acceptable way to impose solutions to problems. Sadly, all it really measures is the fear, insecurity and loneliness of those men who have been taught to subscribe to this view.
When we all realize that “power with” rather than “power over” is the rubric for happiness, we will see a different and better planet.
Susan A. McGregor
Kingstown, R.I., Aug. 8, 2009
In my view, misogyny was incidental to the shooting in a Pennsylvania gym by George Sodini. Psychosis was the driving force of his behavior. And America’s gun culture, itself verging on psychotic, was the reason for the murders. No further explanation is needed.
William Ira Bennett
Aug. 8, 2009
The writer is a psychiatrist.
As a psychologist looking for possible causes and solutions, I see a bigger problem. Boys and young men in most of the world are brought up to admire violence through fantasy, media and sports and in preparation for the army and war. They are taught that being a successful man requires physical power, weapons and often violence.
This has to be addressed in our child rearing and in our culture and values, beginning with childhood games and culminating in our emphasis on physical force to solve global problems and sustain our “world supremacy.”
Vivien D. Wolsk
New York, Aug. 8, 2009
We need to remember that hostility toward either gender frequently has its roots in dysfunctional primary relationships. Children who grow up in supportive households where parents model respect for each other and for their children are more likely to develop into emotionally healthy adults.
Men prone to violence are not created in a vacuum; physical and emotional childhood abuse is a fact for a vast majority of these adult victims.
Rather than simply blame the men who commit acts of violence against women, we need to develop a culture within families and the classroom where girls and boys are treated with as much respect as adults have come to expect from peers.
It is not a boy’s responsibility to mold himself into the man we would all like our sons to be, but the responsibility of parents, family members and education professionals to engender that respect.
Rebecca L. Renaud
Brooklyn, Aug. 9, 2009
The writer is an occupational therapist who works with at-risk families.
This is a rather extreme case. We have seen responses from a psychologist, psychiatrist and an occupational therapist. They have all mentioned some emotions linked with the act.
Coming closer to home we have read shocking reports of sexual abuse of Penan girls and women by logging camp workers in Baram, Sarawak. Several were schoolgirls as young as 10. and 12. It was a regular and common occurrence for logging camp workers to sexually abuse girls who hitch rides to and from school. This has been going on for some time.
Rather than merely react to the above cases try to get under the skin of the perpetrators and explore their feelings and perhaps describe your own feelings when you were involved in some aggressive behaviour.