Sunday, April 22, 2007

Feminism and Promiscuous College Co-eds Drove Cho Seung-Hui Over the Edge

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Someone called Sarah Baxter, writing in the Times Online, explains why Cho Seung-Hui gunned down 32 people at Virginia Tech: He was part of the "crisis of young males in a feminised society."

Just before 5am on Monday, April 16, Cho Seung-hui got out of bed and walked to his computer. Perhaps he fiddled with his rambling 1,800-word self-portrait of a killer as the insults and grievances that he had been nursing for years coursed through his head.

High on his list were his classmates from Westfield high school, who jeered at him to “go back to China” without bothering to check his nationality. Two of them — who happened to attend Virginia Tech — were going to pay later that day. Then there were the college girls who reported him to the police for stalking and got him carted off to mental hospital after he sent them shy love messages full of yearning.

“By a name, I know not how to tell who I am,” he had written to one of them. He understood literature, he could have thought, while they didn’t have the brains to recognise that he was quoting Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Spurned by them, he had to make do with a fantasy girlfriend, a supermodel who called him “Spanky”.

When he wasn't writing shy love notes to bitchy women who were too insensitive to recognize the beauty of his yearning, Cho was being corrupted and driven mad by the promiscuity of college girls who slept with every guy on campus but refused to sleep with him:

Camille Paglia, professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and author of Sexual Personae, believes Cho is emblematic of the crisis of masculinity in America. “Women have difficulty understanding the mix of male sexual aggression with egotism and the ecstasy of self-immolation,” she says. Or to quote Martin Amis on that other killer, Fred West: he became “addicted to the moment where impotence becomes prepotence”.
Cho chose to study English in at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, a sprawling residential college in the distant Blue Ridge Mountains. It is hard to fathom his rage at the “trust fund” brats with golden necklaces, vodka and cognac and “everything you wanted”, when among his victims were many immigrants like himself, who were proud of making their way in America.

But this carefully manicured campus — home to 26,000 students who called themselves Hokies — was no place for a social misfit. Even Cho used to wear the uniform of the mini-city: an orange or maroon T-shirt or sweatshirt with a baseball cap. Paglia, who has taught in American universities for 35 years, describes America’s residential campuses as vast “islands of green and slack conformity where a strange benevolent and tyrannical paternalism has taken over. It’s like a resort atmosphere”.

Paglia believes the school Cho attended would have been no better equipped to deal with frustrated young males. “There is nothing happening educationally in these boring prisons that are fondly called suburban high schools. They are saturated with a false humanitarianism, which is especially damaging for boys.

“Young men have enormous energy. There was a time when they could run away, hop on a freighter, go to a factory and earn money, do something with their hands. Now there is this snobbery of the upper-middle-class professional. Everyone has to be a lawyer or paper pusher.”

Cho is a classic example of “someone who felt he was a loser in the cruel social rat race”, Paglia says. The pervasive hook-up culture at college, where girls are prepared to sleep with boys they barely know or fancy, can be a source of seething resentment and alienation for those who are left out.

“Young women now seem to want to behave like men and have sex without commitment. The signals they are giving are very confusing, and rage and humiliation build up in boys who are spurned again and again.”

The sex, Paglia argues, “is everywhere but it is not erotic”, as can be seen by the sad spectacle of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears flashing their lack of underwear during a night on the town. “It’s not even titillating. It’s banal and debasing.”

Well, as long as he had a good reason. ...

Cross-posted at Shakesville.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you really think that was the reason for him killing all these people?
What about all the accumulated rage from his childhood? Korean culture (like many others) is very repressive and child-unfriendly, to say the least.
What happened to that sensitive little boy in the "quiet" house of his parents? Was he loved, appreciated, nurtured, noticed, respected, cherished?