never married, over forty, a little bitter


The killer (I’m purposefully not using his name) wanted to belong. That need for human connection and belongingness is an intense one, and the frustration of that need can be excruciatingly painful. (Obviously, no amount of pain justifies killing.) The murderer, though, wanted a particular kind of belongingness – he wanted to be part of a couple. His rage against women was fueled primarily by his perception that they were uninterested in him as a romantic or sexual partner.

Interest in coupling is commonplace on college campuses – and in the rest of the culture. In and of itself, is not a bad thing. What is troublesome, though, is (1) the over-the-top celebration and overvaluing of coupling and romantic relationships over all sorts of other relationships and other kinds of values and achievements and goals – part of what I call matrimania; and (2) the undervaluing, and even denigration, of people who are single, single life, and all of the potentially positive and powerful aspects of singlehood – what I call singlism.

identity problems

The idea of men going on shooting rampages because of threats to their identity as men makes sense to me. One way to think about that idea is to look at the cases where women DO kill multiple people. In the ones that make the news, most often the victims are the woman’s own children. They are not counted as mass killers because the body count isn’t high enough. But just like the breakdown in identity that I see happening with men, when the thing that defines a woman’s identity as a women breaks down (being a good mother), she—in those most extreme of cases—feels the need to kill the part of her that is causing the most pain.


Yes, sexism, misogyny, inability to deal with sexual rejection, and entitlement to women’s bodies still exists. Yes, we need to deal with it.

Best place to start? Talking with and treating women as equals. Encouraging men to see women as humans first, with sex taken completely off the table. Encouraging platonic friendships between the genders where each help each other succeed. Teaching consent and respect. It seems unimaginable we are still in need of progress in this area, but we know it to be true.


Men need to be able to get help for their problems without fear or shame. Emotional pain is real and devastating. Men need to understand that and they need help seeking out solutions. We need to look for warning signs and follow up immediately when we see those signs. We need to let men know it is ok to ask for help. We need to encourage friendships, sharing, and a wider, more open definition of love. We need to teach actual coping skills and actual problem solving skills to be able to deal with the inevitable loneliness, pain, anger, or lack of success that are simply parts of life. How many times have you heard some version of “just man up” instead of teaching real coping skills? And we need to continue to expand our definition of masculinity so that a man’s identity isn’t wrapped up in any one thing, but there are always a wealth of options for a long, happy productive life.