Atlanta shooter Robert Aaron Long is not a 'sex addict' — he's a misogynist
On Tuesday Robert Aaron Long was arrested and charged for shooting dead seven women and a man at the spas in the Atlanta suburbs. The explanation provided by one of the officials responsible for the investigation was chilling in its bluntness: “He was fed up, at the end of his rope. He had a bad day and this is what he did”. The only thing the officer didn’t do was casually shrug his shoulders.
Interviews with Long revealed that the alleged shooter had a ‘sex addiction’ and was ‘attempting to take out that temptation’ by targeting the ‘porn related industry’. According to the CNN, his addiction led him to spend hours watching porn and routinely visit the massage parlours for sex. But — lo and behold! — some of his former classmates remember him as the type of religious zealot who used to walk around school with the Bible in his hands.
How tired is this trope: a sex-obsessed man finds in piety a substitute for honest soul-searching, and tramples on women in the belief that this will rectify his own perversions. Parallels between the shooter’s words and biblical allegory will, without a doubt, not be lost on onlookers. The killed masseurs, mercenary sinners and inadvertent temptresses, are all Eve, responsible for the fall of the Adams of this world. But Long adds a twist, committing the ultimate act of self-deification.
Long is not the first young man with a God complex to inflict carnage as an attempt to purify himself of his frustrations: in 2014, Elliott Rodger killed six people and injured fourteen others — because, Rodger claimed, he was denied the sex he felt he was entitled to. Four years later, Alek Minassian was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Like Rodger, Minassian’s self-image was that of a man who was unfairly starved of sex. If Long killed women because they offered an opportunity to be sexually active, however, Rodger and Missinian did so for the opposite reason. Whether available or unavailable, licentious or chaste, then, women are reduced to the collateral damage of a man’s ‘bad day’.
It is an awful disservice to the victims that the police should play the offender’s game by preferring to mention his addiction to porn and sex over pronouncing the obvious sentence of misogyny. (Harvey Weinstein claimed to be addicted to sex to mitigate his crimes against women too.)
The desire to depoliticise men’s murders of women in respect of the victims’ families is understandable. But let’s keep in mind that our long history of excusing men’s crimes has produced atrocity after atrocity. Ugly forms of male entitlement continue to flourish. Until they’re properly addressed, days like this are bound to happen again.