A brief thought prompted by the Santa Barbara shootings

It is probably offensive to try to draw a connection between the Santa Barbara shootings and the recent controversies over sexism in the SF and comics communities, but I’m going to try anyway. Elliot Rodger’s beliefs are the logical extreme of a misogynistic mentality which is very common in the geek community. Elliot Rodger believed that women are no more than sex objects, and that men are entitled to sex from any woman they want. This same mentality is at the root of many of the recent incidents where male comics professionals (Brian Wood, Scott Lobdell) have sexually harrassed female colleagues. But more broadly, comic books, as well as other popular media, are often complicit in fueling this mentality. Depicting women as sex objects, and implying that men are entitled to any woman they want, is exactly what superhero comics do. (See point #5 in this article by David Wong.) 

This is why it’s so important that we condemn sexist behavior by comics and SF professionals and sexist depictions of women in comics and science fiction. It’s equally important to support works of popular culture that work against sexist atittudes — My Little Pony and Lumberjanes and Ms. Marvel come immediately to mind. I’m not suggesting that Elliot Rodger killed people because of popular culture. But I do think that popular culture is part of what’s created our culture’s misogynistic climate, and that popular culture also has the power to chip away at misogyny. 

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