They won’t remember the names of the victims, but they’ll sure remember his.
We have made violence into a media phenomenon where we will revere those who cause chaos. It takes work and dedication to be famous unless you have the strength to pick up a weapon. You ask a kid who shot JFK and they’ll sprout conspiracy theories about Lee Harvey Oswald, but you ask them what JFK even stood for and they won’t be able to respond. We don’t erase the right ones: we remember Ted Bundy but can’t name his victims. It’s broken and backwards and we reward violence with exultation instead of making sure their name is forgotten.
A man has killed seven human beings and already people are flocking to view the video he made on why he did it. His manifesto is already being passed around the internet. He is already hero status to certain kinds of lowlife scum.
And I won’t remember him. I refuse to learn his name. I refuse to watch his rant on why anyone would deserve to die and I refuse to discuss who he used to be or all the warning signs we didn’t see or what his favorite activities were. I’d much rather learn about the victims. I will not make him my celebrity. I will not let him be a part of history.
I am sorry for us today. I am sorry for every person who is scared to be called a feminist because it might result in death. I am sorry for all of us who just want to live our lives without being a victim. I am sorry that survival is considered beating the odds. I am sorry for the keys between my fingers and the glances behind me and the extra layers just in case and the heavy purse and the fighting stance and every method I have of preparing myself for the war we’re not allowed to talk about - I am sorry they do not make us that safe, that there is nowhere we can be safe unless it is alone. I am sorry for every girl who is blaming herself for the death of seven others just because she turned down a boy. I am sorry that she thinks she is guilty when there is nothing to feel guilty for.
I am sorry for the people who have lived such closed and restricted lives that they think rejection is the worst possible fate a person can go through. I am sorry for every boy who thinks that unless he loses his virginity, he’s not worthy. I’m sorry for every man suffering from mental health issues who is yet again watching as he is labeled a danger to society. I’m sorry that the quickest way we have to excuse these people is to call them crazy. I’m sorry that our society has structured it so you cannot run from what these people do. I’m sorry for every boy who likes holding hands and has a quiet soul and just wants to plant gardens and I’m sorry that they’ll tell you, “A man needs sex and violence,” I’m sorry that they’d lie to you like that. I’m sorry that if you’re a man, your shadow smells like a graveyard of our bodies. I’m sorry you’ll feel defensive because you don’t want to be known as one of them - I’m even more sorry that the more I hear “he was just so normal and such a nice guy,” the less likely I am to be trusting of you. I’m sorry that murderers don’t carry around large signs warning me off, I’m sorry that there is no way for me to determine if you’re cruel or not. I wish there was. It would save me a good deal of effort.
I am sorry for us. I am sorry for the way we feel safe for a moment only to have the ground wrenched out from under us. I am sorry how they will make this another pointless debate about gun restriction. I’m sorry for the fear every college girl suddenly feels as she sees the reactions - “he’s a hero,” “this is why every man deserves a pity lay,” “now maybe you understand the pain of the friendzone” - because for some reason, even though girls rejected a boy who would become a murderer, it’s still somehow their fault instead of a symbol of how disgusting he was. I’m sorry that girls like me want to be strong but can’t be because we’re small or quiet or filled with panic. I’m sorry that we have ways to get around turning guys down because we’re terrified of what will happen. I’m sorry that we watch while we’re told that men are like animals and will turn wild if we don’t wear the right clothes, if we don’t say the right words, if we don’t let them use their fists to tear apart this world - but at the same time, we’re told that men are the only ones fit to be leaders. I am sorry we have been raised as rainbow fish surrounded by sharks and then are told we are imagining the world wanting to swallow us. I am sorry that our skin smells of blood, that our backs are creaking with the weight of the stories we hear, I am sorry we live as whispers passed between each other, I am sorry the scars so often go unnoticed. I am sorry we will be silenced. I am sorry this poem will mean nothing in two day’s time because his actions will still ring louder than any response we could have. I am sorry we have to watch as he is defended. I am so, so, so sorry, and there is no way to fix it. People are proud of hating feminism. People are proud of a murderer. People are proud of what he did.
I am sorry for us today. I am sorry, and we are not safe.