Unfortunately, Elliot Rodger wasn't alone in feeling justified in horrific action because he felt rejected by women (the comments, oh the comments that supported his acts of terrorism, were completely heartbreaking). There's an emerging body of research about Aggrieved White Male Entitlement Syndrome. Perhaps that was to blame, perhaps it wasn't. However - the idea that women somehow belong to men, and are out of line to reject them (as are the men of color who "claim" what isn't "theirs") is obviously incredibly dangerous. As educators, it's our job to fight this social disease. Here are some concrete tips:
- Hold white male students accountable to the same rules as everyone else (track your discipline data to make sure you’re equitable)
- Talk about sexism in a developmentally appropriate way. Specifically – talk about moments when men get unearned advantages (like in math, like the wage gap etc)
- Refer to sexism as male supremacy (so that you can be clear about reverse sexism not being a thing)
- Teach consent. If you teach kindergarten, talk about how we need to check in with our friends before we hug them. Ask students for permission before you give them a hug. Ensure that each student knows their body is their and it’s okay not to want to be touched. Also let students know that it’s okay if their physical displays of friendship aren’t wanted. It happens to everyone and it’s normal.
- Give students opportunities to fail and be rejected. Teach them how to recover and celebrate how they bounced back (Scott was super disappointed I didn’t call on him, but I’m really glad he did the “aww shucks” we talked about and bounced back).
I need you to take action, not because Elliot Rodgers committed heinous acts, but I’m asking you to act because not acting ensure there will be exactly zero change. We can’t act surprised when this happens again, and honestly, surely while you’ve read this, other woman has fallen victim to the dangerous white male aggrieved entitlement syndrome. #interruptthecyle