On Wednesday, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik allegedly stormed a holiday party armed with assault rifles and handguns and executed yet another mass shooting in the United States. The all too familiar problem is struck with a peculiar nuance as the suspected shooters were a married couple who left their sixth-month-old daughter for a shooting spree. Women as mass shooters warps society’s perception of raving mad killers as lonely white men. Much has not been revealed about Malik, but even with little known details, American minds are perplexingly dripping with questions as to why a new mother would leave her baby to kill?
“You and I know that women, we wouldn’t leave a 6-month-old — our baby — to do this, to don tactical gear to go in and kill a bunch of people,” California Sen. Dianne Feinstein told press on Thursday. “It’s not something a woman would easily do. So it’s going to be very interesting for me to see what her background was, what level of animus she had, because she had to have had a considerable level.”
“A woman is a woman. And her child has to be of maximum importance to her,” she added.
Research overwhelmingly demonstrates mass shooters as single white men. Around 96 percent of mass shooters are white, two thirds are men and the vast majority are socially inept loners who are “single, separated, or divorced.” The couple phenomenon is even stranger in this particular scenario. In an FBI report that compiled details on active shooters from 2003 to 2013, only two instances involved a couple.
At the heart of many mass shootings reveals a misogynistic revenge — the shooter often feels betrayed or humiliated in work or socially and has a vengeful, violent thirst for payback to restore his dignity and status.
This grotesque sense of entitlement and reclamation of manhood most likely stems from society’s construct of masculinity, where men feel compelled to assert their domination and power in every facet of their lives. Without that sense of “being a man” in the workplace or with women then spurs the twisted assumptions that these already unstable male minds are losing their privilege.
These perspectives are often what have driven shooters like Elliot Rodgers to kill six people in Santa Barbara because of women’s continued rejection.
Yet research done with women as serial killers denotes a quiet, intimate killing compared to men’s upfront, out-of-control rampage typically using a more personal weapon of choice like poison, suffocation or drowning against someone they know who has wronged them. Unlike the men, these women do not appear “off” to the general society.
From the FBI’s data, only six of the shooters were women. All but one had happened at the woman’s former or current workplace, and three of these shootings occurred after the woman had lost her job. The one common thread seemed to be women seeking revenge at the workplace or suffering from a mental illness. Yet a woman tagging along with her husband to enact a bloody carnage at his workplace does not qualify in this pattern.
As details emerge, the suspected killers are less likely to fit the usual profile of mass shooters which breeds a new sense of horror as gun violence not only becomes more terrifyingly common but wide-ranging in scope.