The idea of George Sodini, the 48-year-old systems analyst who shot dead three women and wounded nine others after randomly opening fire at a Latin dance class in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is terrifying. For obvious reasons — he shot women dead in a gym — but also because details emerging from blogs he posted reveal him to be symbolic of a subculture of male rage that, despite all evidence to the contrary, blames women (dominating women, contemptuous women, icy women, just plain uninterested women) for everything bad that happens to them.
According to Sodini, he was a “total malfunction.” No girlfriend since 1984. No sex since 1990, “rejected by 30 million” (his estimate of how many desirable single women exist).
“Who knows why?” Sodini wrote. “I am not ugly or too weird.”
Really? Some might say that weird is a tame way to describe the act of driving to a gym to shoot people.
“Girls and women don’t give me a second look anywhere,” Sodini wrote.
With these words, he could be another George Costanza, the Everyman sexual loser in Seinfeld, complaining to Jerry in their local diner. Indeed, elsewhere, video footage shows Sodini sitting in “rapt attention” at dating seminars. Another time, another context, a very “Costanza” thing to do.
What is happening here? Were the horrific events in Pittsburgh some kind of singleton Columbine? Instead of misfit, loner, high-school kids stalking corridors killing classmates, a misfit, middle-aged dating reject guns down women at salsa classes because he isn’t getting laid?
Or is it bigger and weirder than that? Is Sodini an extreme example of a more widespread subliminal male rage that can take many forms but shares a common thread — that it is all women’s fault?
Male rage does have a habit of popping up. Hardly a week seems to go by without inordinate amounts of venom and scorn being aimed in the direction of prominent female politicians. Elsewhere, I have noticed a distinct increase in musings on how over-assertive women only have ourselves to blame if our men are weak and emasculated. We have outmanned and unmanned them — what bitches we are!
This isn’t even counting the drear that’s always there, especially on the Internet, from bitter rantings on divorce sites, to full-throttle misogyny on openly women-hating sites.
And now we have Sodini on his blogs and videos, blaming all his ills on a dominant mother (the ultimate male rage target) and the “30 million” who rejected him.
It all goes to prove it’s not the dick-swingers that women should be afraid of — the ignored man, the unsuccessful man, can be the most dangerous of all.
But this is not the whole story. Something has to explain how female dating failure leads to Bridget Jones, while for men the same road can lead to George Sodini.
It makes you wonder what these raging males want — a mass apology from womankind for being assertive and for not particularly fancying them? Are we actually supposed to placate and appease the kind of man who signs off a blog with the cheery cry: “Death lives!”
Sodini could be classed as just a random psychopath. In some ways, that’s comforting. Far better that than the idea that for some men out there this kind of thing is becoming a distinct manifesto.
The dark paradox is that if Sodini felt his social status was demeaned by his lack of success with women, he probably wasn’t even shooting at the correct gender. It’s men who tend to torture other men about status, just as women tend to torture other women about body image.
Therefore, it’s men, not women, who were responsible for Sodini’s misery. In the meantime, women should be aware: Male rage is dangerous and may be more widespread than you think. Be careful who you don’t fancy.
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