Buried under the ledes of several stories about yesterday’s horrifying slaughter at a Santa Fe, Texas high school is a sadly familiar narrative that the mainstream media largely neglects in its examinations of the white males who commit the vast majorities of these massacres.
Two pieces from the Associated Press and the New York Times strongly indicate that the killings were motivated by frustration and hatred towards women. The shooter, Dimitrios Pagourtzi, murdered his ex-girlfriend and then killed another girl who had steadily rejected his increasingly aggressive advances.
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The shooting looked random to Mr. Shubert, but he did say that Mr. Pagourtzis’ ex-girlfriend was a student in his art class, and that she was shot and killed in the art room. “I think she was sitting at the table with her back facing the door and she was the very first one,” he said.
It cannot be a coincidence that the very first person he killed was his ex-girlfriend, nor a coincidence that he then targeted her friend. The mother of sixteen-year-old Shana Fisher, Sadie Rodriguez, told the Associated Press that she believed the man killed her daughter because she refused to go out with him.
Rodriguez says: “He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no,” but the advances got more aggressive.
The week before the shooting, Rodriguez says that her daughter “stood up to him” by embarrassing him in class.
This is the latest in a deeply disturbing trend of mass shooters targeting women. More than half of all mass shooters have a history of domestic violence and abuse towards their partners – and that same half killed their partners or ex-girlfriends before continuing their rampage.
Just as terrifying are the specifically targeted killings of partners, ex-partners, or rejected partners by disgruntled men that happen with increasing frequency. Two months ago, a kid walked into Great Mills High School in Maryland and shot his ex-girlfriend in the head before killing himself. One month ago, a man walked into a San Bernardino, California elementary school and shot his estranged wife in the head before killing himself. Just a few weeks ago, a man drove his van into a crowd of women in Toronto, killing ten people in a terror attack motivated by misogyny.
That last attack started a national conversation about frustrated young men, especially those who refer to themselves as involuntarily celibate (“incels”), and the ideas of toxic masculinity and patriarchal misogyny that feature heavily in the work of conservative grievance preachers like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson, who are inexplicably popular among young males.
Of course, the discussion was largely dominated by right-wing white males with their own sexual and misogynist hang-ups who immediately drove the discourse off the cliff and worked to reframe the conversation from “why are modern men so seemingly incapable of resolving their emotional issues and frustrations without resorting to horrifying violence” to “why is it women’s fault that five percent or so of the male population can’t get laid.”
This latest mass slaughter appears to have been motivated by resentment and frustration against women, and while our legislators need to take serious action to rectify our nation’s reckless distribution of firearms to an irresponsible civilian population, it is just as important that we have a national discussion about America’s men and why they are driven to commit such unforgivable acts of violence against women.
Margaret Atwood once wrote that “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.” That has never been truer than it is today.