Reflections on the LA Fitness Shootings

In the aftermath of the horrific LA Fitness shootings in Collier Township, Allegheny County, at the beginning of the month, several media outlets have begun to try and answer the question on everyone’s minds: Why?

Some look to lax gun control laws and others to psychological disorders in attempts to understand just how such a tragedy unfolded, the misogynistic agenda of Sodini’s violence is undeniable. While there were certainly other factors at work, Sodini’s deeply rooted hatred for women really must be examined as the most relevant motivation for the crime. It is easy to simply write off Sodini as a crazed, sexist, social anomaly. In reality, as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert writes, it is imperative that we reflect on the shootings in a much broader social context:

We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected.

We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.

When we reduce Sodini’s shootings to the actions of one sick man who just didn’t get the help he needed, we risk normalizing the blatant misogyny pervasive in our culture which motivated the crime in the first place. Violence specifically targeted against women and girls happens every single day across the world. As we begin to move forward in the wake of the violence at LA Fitness, we cannot afford to ignore the institutionalized sexism behind this and many other acts of violence in recent memory.

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