Hello, World. Still Fucked Up, I See: Elliot Rodger Edition

Not that I expected it to improve dramatically while I was sleeping, but I have to say, a few things we’ve been pointing at and shouting “HELLLOOOO THERE’S A PROBLEM HERE” have been rather emphatically highlighted by certain recent actions. I shall be exploring them in between marathon snooze sessions. In between, we shall have nothing but lovely happy fun picture time round here, because from what I’m seeing, ya’ll could use the break.

So, misogyny. You know, I used to deny there was a problem with that in this civilization. My gosh, I could wear pants and talk about being an astronaut someday, so all problems with equality were solved forever and women who objected to being treated as sexual objects and resented being treated as invisible otherwise were just whiny bitches. Then people like Stephanie Zvan popped me on the noggin and did that thing where the sensei grabs the pupil’s jaw, mooshes their lips into an appropriate representation of their gaping ignorance, and proceeds to forcibly enlighten them. Do you know how uncomfortable it is to realize that you, a woman, are in fact a misogynist? Awkward.

I’m just glad unapologetic feminists did me this favor before Elliot Rodger invested much time and effort into making videos and writing manifestos that explained exactly how his extreme hatred of women was motivating him to go out and kill as many of them (plus their men) as he could manage, then attempted to live his vile dream. Without them, I may have been one of those howling about feminists besmirching the good name of misogyny. Or denying that the call is coming from inside the house. I mean, how dare we take a man at his word, right? He can’t be a terrorist – those are supposed to be foreign, brown, and generally screaming about Allah. Gotta be one of those crazy people, even though the shit he was spewing was separated only be degrees, no kind, from the kind of shit spewed at women by “ordinary men” every single fucking day.

It was comfortable, believing that. It’s not comfortable, reading about a man shooting up UC Santa Barbara and not being in the least surprised, only wondering why it doesn’t happen far more frequently. Denial was wonderful. It made the world look better. It was nice to pretend people like Rodger are anomalies and not depressingly common. But even before the feminists claimed me as one of their own, I’d begun to recognize the truth. I’d had a friend turn into a predator when I turned him down, after all. I’d read the forensic psychology books on the “nice, quiet men” who liked to indulge in a little light serial killing when their terrifying hatred of women overcame their ability to play ordinary citizen. I’d seen the evil that men do.

I just didn’t understand how intimately connected it was to the background sexism of our culture. I just didn’t want to.

Even back in my denialist days, I couldn’t deny that when it came to perpetrator-versus-victim populations, it was an overwhelming majority of men doing the evil, and an overwhelming majority of women suffering the evil. What I could deny was that this was a continuum, from my friends who casually denigrated women (present company accepted, o’ course – you’re practically one of the guys, Dana!), to the domestic violence my mother suffered, to the creeps who let their creep-flags fly, to the rapists and murderers and their cheering sections. It’s so much easier to blank out that grim line connecting the middle to the beginning and end. You certainly take a lot less shit for saying that people like Rodger are just crazy weirdos, total anomalies, rather than taking them at their word and saying that, yeah, this society has a huge problem with women – and while Rodger’s violence was a bit extreme, it wasn’t actually so far removed from the every-day beatings and rapes and murders that men commit.

But nothing improves when we pretend these connections don’t exist. So I shall add my voice to those who have already spoken quite eloquently. I do agree that, yes, Rodger had some serious issues, and that the little don’t-kill-people switch in his brain was broken, and we need to improve the way we recognize and handle people whose don’t-kill-people switches are broken. But I’m also going to mention that there are many people whose don’t-kill-people switches don’t function properly. It’s a damned good idea to work on fixing the bits of our culture that gave them the genius notion that some subset of the population deserved all the hatred and violence their broken little selves could muster.

And pointing out that Rodger’s violence existed on a continuum, that it’s part-and-parcel of the contempt too many people in this world have for women, that it’s not an isolated incident but part of a pattern, isn’t “hijacking” a tragedy. It’s facing facts. That shrieking you hear about hijacking is coming from people who find those facts rather painful. I shall play my tiny violin for them, but not for long – there’s serious work to be done, making this a better world. Perhaps the denialists will be so kind as to join us once they’ve finished being deliberately obtuse.

Image shows the British crown with the words "Keep calm and change the world" beneath it.

Comments

  1. tuibguy says

    What I have found most irritating is that “Skeptics” since UCSB have been preaching to feminists that they are politicizing the tragedy, taking it over to make hay while the sun shines as it were; that the #yesallwomen hashtag was created as yet another opportunity by the academic Left to shame men and cry rape culture when they see none. Pamela Gay’s “Person B” flat-out told me that he is a feminist, but that leftist feminists are too eager to see such a rampage as an example of in-your-face misogyny because Rodger Elliott had other problems.

    How skeptic can you be until you become a denialist?

  2. Jackie the wacky says

    Do you know how uncomfortable it is to realize that you, a woman, are in fact a misogynist?

    Yup.

  3. Al Dente says

    tuibguy @1

    Pamela Gay’s “Person B” flat-out told me that he is a feminist

    Person B is a confirmed liar.

    While Rodger was an outlier of misogyny he was still an example of the pervasive misogyny found throughout the world. As Amanda Marcotte noted (thanks for the link, Dana):

    1.3 million women are violently assaulted by men every year in this country for not doing or being what those men want them to be, so Rodger’s misogynist violence really is just the most extreme example of what relentlessly teaching young men that women exist to serve them gets you in terms of violence.

    Even

  4. says

    Person B is a self avowed “equity feminist”, that is a nonsense term created by one CH Sommers as the other side to her straw dichotomy of GenderEquity feminist brands. She is maybe one step above “Judgy Bitch” and “Girl Writes What” as a FeMRA, so no he is not any sort of feminist IMO. I’ll carry on believing that until there are “equity” feminist organisations, activists and not CHS and a bunch of whiny MRA-lites appropriating feminism to hide their misogyny.

  5. Trebuchet says

    But he wasn’t a misogynist he was mentally ill! Or so they say.

    Trouble is, they aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, there’s a very considerable overlap.

    Having been prodded by someone over at CPP’s, I read the entire manifesto. It made my brain hurt.

  6. says

    Hey, thanks for writing this up while you are still on the escape from too much sleep. There is always room for more different takes on the same same problem, different ways to communicate the existence of the same problem. And you’re writing is consistently awesome.

    I know. It’s like having fire safety programs being pointed out after a deadly blaze. Which is totally hijacking a tragic incident.

  7. ceesays says

    I’ve been trying to say something about this for days. I inevitably delete everything and give up.

    But I’m having a hard time believing that things are getting better. I have trouble believing that women are any safer, or more respected, or finally seen as people. I have a hard time trusting that things are improving.

    These so-called MRA/PUA people? They’re not a bunch of bitter old men. This murderer was barely an adult. There’s a staggering number of young misogynists out there growing into adults who hate women. Who don’t even see women as people.

    every damn day, it’s an avalanche of this shit. and I’m strictly limiting the examples to sexism without intersection. Drop the whole matrix of interlocking systems of oppression on that, and … yeah.

    I have a hard time believing that things are getting better.

  8. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    I’ve been recently asking the “crazy” crowd some variation of: “If a devout believer went on a shooting rampage at Skepticon and then authorities found manifestos and videos explaining how they were doing it to punish evil atheists, would it be inappropriate to have a discussion about the role that hatred of atheists played in the motivation of the shooter? Would Jaclyn Glenn and Richard Dawkins be whining about those who wanted to have that discussion because the killer was ‘just crazy?’”

  9. rq says

    ceesays
    Well, apparently, according to Husband, things are improving – they’re just doing so at a very slow and barely perceptible rate, and if we just stop talking about it and crying about it and screaming about it, we would realize that there’s nothing to worry about – it’ll all happen on its own.

    Sometime.
    Eventually.

    Never.