Elliot Rodger and Misogyny Denialism: The Call Is Coming From Inside The House


How much more clear does it have to get?

When men in Islamist theocracies assault, rape, and kill women, we have no problem calling it misogynist hatred. When they explicitly state that their motivation is to enforce God’s gender roles and put women in their place, we have no problem calling it misogynist hatred. And we have no problem laying the blame, in large part, on the culture that teaches this hatred, and on the thousands of ways both large and small that Islamist theocratic culture teaches this despicable concept of women.

So why is it so hard to see the Isla Vista shootings as motivated by misogyny?

Elliot RodgerA man participated regularly, and for some time, in online forums devoted to the hatred of women, part of a “men’s rights” (MRA) subculture devoted to the hatred of women. He made multiple YouTube videos devoted to the hatred of women. (The last one of which included the words, “I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it”; “I’ve wanted a girlfriend, I’ve wanted sex, I’ve wanted love, affection, adoration, but you think I’m unworthy of it. That’s a crime that can never be forgiven”; and “If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you.”) He wrote a 140-page manifesto clearly outlining his vicious hatred of women, and his dehumanizing view of them, as his motivation for the crime he was about to commit. (A manifesto that said, among many other things, that “Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with”; that “The ultimate evil behind sexuality is the human female”; that “Women are like a plague. They don’t deserve to have any rights. Their wickedness must be contained in order to prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy. Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals, and they need to be treated as such”; and that ” I cannot kill every single female on earth, but I can deliver a devastating blow that will shake all of them to the core of their wicked hearts.”) As Lindsay Beyerstein wrote on Facebook: “I read Rodger’s manifesto twice. I wish all English comp students could formulate a thesis and support it as clearly as he did. Rodger told the world exactly why he went on this killing spree. He spelled it out in excruciating detail and sent his narrative of the killings to the media. In case that wasn’t enough, he made a series of YouTube videos to cement his narrative of his own crime in the public mind.”

Yet so many people are contorting themselves into pretzels to deny the connection between the Isla Vista shootings and misogyny. So many people are contorting themselves into pretzels to find any motivation at all other than misogyny. What the fuck is going on here?

Is it likely that many different factors played a role in these shootings? Of course. That doesn’t mean misogyny was not one of those factors, and a major one. Were men killed in the shooting spree as well as women? Yes. That doesn’t mean misogyny was not a major motivating factor: misogyny has splash damage that spatters blood onto men as well as women. Is it possible that some sort of mental or emotional disturbance played a role in the Isla Vista shootings? Sure. A case could be made that misogynist hatred on this level is, in and of itself, a clear symptom of being disturbed. A case could be made that misogynist hatred on this level is, in and of itself, by definition, deeply disturbed. That doesn’t make it not misogyny.

Birmingham church bombingWhat’s more, many people are falling all over themselves to chide feminists for bringing up misogyny, for “politicizing” the Isla Vista shootings and “using” it to advance our agenda. It’s weird. When we talk about the Boko Haram schoolgirl kidnappings and connect it with misogynist Islamist theocracy, it’s not “politicizing”; when activists around the world screamed in agony over four little black girls blown up in a church by hateful racists, it wasn’t “politicizing.” But somehow, connecting the dots between (a) a man who explicitly and repeatedly named misogyny and the dehumanization of women as the motivation for his mass murder, and (b) misogynist elements of our culture that treat the dehumanization of women as normal and acceptable — somehow, that’s “politicizing.”

What the actual fucking fuck is going on here?

I’m not talking here about the misogynist MRAs themselves, and their denial of the role misogyny played in Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree. That’s obvious: of course they want to deny that their hateful subculture had anything to do with motivating Rodger. (Except for the ones who see Rodger as a hero. Seriously.) I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about basically decent people, people who are outraged by the shootings and appalled by misogyny — but who still don’t see a connection, and are arguing themselves blue in the face denying that there’s a connection.

Part of this, I think, is racial. As many others have pointed out before me: When black or brown men kill, they get called terrorists or criminals. When white men (or men who are seen as white) kill, they get called mentally ill. But I don’t think that’s all of it.

I think people don’t want to see the role that misogyny played in Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree, because it’s intensely painful to see.

#yesallwomenA part of me — a very, very small part, like maybe a nanoliter — sympathizes with the desire to deny misogyny. The depth and breadth of misogyny in the world is an intensely painful thing to accept. It is hard to accept that the #YesAllWomen hashtag, with its hundreds of thousands of women sharing their stories there, is not coming from a handful of hardcore feminists — it is a reflection of the everyday ubiquity of misogyny, dehumanization, sexual entitlement, rape culture, and violence against women. It is hard to accept that high school students think the Steubenville rape wasn’t rape because the woman was unconscious and therefore didn’t say No. It is hard to accept that eighth grade students think a girl who says No to dates is at fault when the student who asked her brings a gun to school to threaten her. It is hard to accept that only three percent of rapes in the United States will result in conviction and prison. It is hard to accept that treating women like shit and deliberately undermining their self-esteem is a popular and widespread pick-up technique. It is hard to accept that getting women blind drunk is widely considered an appropriate way to get them to fuck you. It is hard to accept the thousands upon thousands of ways that our media and our culture treat sexual consent as trivial.

Yes, that’s hard to accept. It is even harder to live. Being a woman who recognizes the reality of misogyny is really fucking painful. At best, it is enraging; at worst it is depressing, humiliating, exhausting, and demoralizing. It is extraordinarily hard to live with the knowledge that much of the world sees you as a thing. It is hard to live with the knowledge that in thousands of ways both large and small, both conscious and unconscious, many of the people around you see you as a status symbol to be acquired or rejected, based on your position in an imaginary, supposedly objective scale of hotness. It is hard to live with the knowledge that many of the people around you think men are entitled to have sex with any woman they want, and will treat you as a cockteasing bitch if you don’t comply. It is hard to live with the knowledge that many of the people around you see you as a machine that dispenses sex when the right coinage is put in. It is hard to live with the knowledge that many of the people around you think that when the machine doesn’t work, they have the right to kick it.

This is an intensely painful thing to understand. Once you understand it, it is an intensely painful thing to be reminded of. I spent the days following the Isla Vista shootings in a daze, my depression worse than it’s been in a long time. And once you know about it, you can’t un-know it. It’s like the red pill in The Matrix. You can’t un-swallow it — and it is a hard pill to swallow. A very, very small part of me can see why some people are looking at the misogyny driving Elliot Rodger, the identical misogyny expressed every day in the MRA and PUA forums, this grotesque overt misogyny that is simply a magnified reflection of the somewhat subtler misogyny that is widespread and deeply ingrained in our culture… and are covering their eyes and sticking their fingers in their ears. Because if all of that were real, the world would be a terrible place to live in, and we would have to fucking well deal with it, take responsibility for the ways we ourselves perpetuate it, and bust our asses trying to change it. Therefore, it can’t be true. Q.E.D.

Yes, all of this is hard to accept. I’d like to escape from it, too. It must be nice to see misogyny as a distraction, an annoyance that shows up now and then on your Twitter feed — as opposed to the sea of shit that women swim in every day. But if we want to be decent human beings, we have to accept this reality. We have to fucking well deal with it. We have to take responsibility for the ways we ourselves perpetuate it. We have to bust our asses trying to change it. At the very least, at the barest minimum of decency, we have to not ignore this reality — and we have to not try to shut women up who are talking about it.

phone-keypadOur culture breeds sexism, misogyny and the trivialization and dehumanization of women. And this isn’t a universal, unchangeable fact of human nature. Some countries and cultures have more violence in general, and specifically more violence against women, than others. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to think that misogynist culture is part of what breeds misogynist violence. Misogyny in our culture is like that famous urban legend. The call is coming from inside the house. And that means that we can change it — and that we have an urgent responsibility to do so.

Comments

  1. qwints says

    Isn’t there a significant difference between violence that is performed by the state or open violence that goes unpunished by the state, and what Rodgers did?

    Rodgers explicitly wrote and said he was motivated by misogynistic and racist hatred for the people he targeted, but the reaction to his actions seems categorically different than cultures which sponsor, or at least fail to punish, people who beat, kill or rape women. Unlike many rapists, there was no chance Rodgers’ murder spree would be justified or forgiven by the state or society at large.

  2. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Our culture does routinely fail to punish people who beat, kill or rape women…or ya know anyone who is not cis-het white male.

  3. blondeintokyo says

    That is almost exactly what I was thinking. Why is it that people are quick to point at countries like India, Iran, and Pakistan and condemn the men for their misogyny, yet when it happens on their front step they cannot even come close to admitting that the culture here is also capable of breeding misogyny? I didn’t see even ONE person questioning the sanity of the British man who killed his daughter in cold blood for marrying a man he didn’t approve of. I didn’t see even one person questioning the sanity of the Canadian man who killed his wife and daughters by pushing their car into a river because he felt that Canada had made them too independent. And I didn’t see even one person questioning the sanity of the American man who ran over his daughter with a car because she had gotten a boyfriend. Or how about that NY banker who cut off his wife’s head? Nope, not a crazy thing to do, because they were IMMIGRANTS, and MUSLIMS, and that’s just what those barbarians do. Ummkaaaaay….

    Yet this dude who was born in the US, into a rather privileged home I might add, kills a bunch of people while declaring it’s because he hates women, and nooooo…..it’s just because he’s crazy, and has nothing to do with misogyny.

    No doubt the guy had some mental problems. NO DOUBT. But as everyone in every blog has also pointed out, mental problems in and of themselves don’t usually cause people to become killers. What actually tripped his trigger we may never actually know, but what was behind his motivation was 100% misogyny.

  4. palmettobug says

    I think I also had that nanoliter of denial about misogyny. I remember reading the Dragon Tattoo books a few years ago and being incredulous at the level of misogyny that some of the bad guys in the book were portrayed as having. It seemed well over the top. What I have learned since then is that such attitudes and actions are disturbingly common, unfortunately. Part of me wants to deny it.

  5. says

    Thanks for this post, Greta. I’ve been dazed and dumbstruck, too. Wrote a piece about Rodgers, scrapped it, rewrote it, ignored it, went back to it—and I don’t think I am any closer to posting it than I was a week ago. I have, I think, put my finger on what is so unsettling and triggering for me: how intimately familiar his personality is to me. Not in some abstract sense, either: he is my former boss, my ex, my father, my childhood pastor. He is every sexist narcissistic asshole I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering. No, they didn’t go on stabbing and shooting sprees (not that I know of, anyway…), but their epic sense of entitlement, their othering of my gender, their unwarranted grandiosity, their casual racism, their hair-trigger outbursts, their passive-aggressive manipulations—as I read Rodger’s screed I realized I know this person, and only too well.

    Maybe I’ll drop the whole thing and go do a series on fluffy kittehs or something.

    : |

  6. qwints says

    @SevenOfMine,

    I’d certainly agree, especially when it comes to domestic violence and rape. But Rogers did not think that society would approve or forgive his actions, he correctly anticipated the police attempting to arrest or kill him for what he intended to do. That’s different from the college guy who correctly and horrifically believes that he won’t be punished for raping a woman in many circumstances.

    Rogers was motivated by misogyny and racism – his words and actions explicitly show that. Glenn Miller was motivated by racism when he shot at a Jewish community center. But neither expected to carry their actions through unpunished.

  7. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    One of the things I’ve been seeing most often is the insistence that even though misogyny was A factor it wasn’t the ONLY factor. And my guess is that the people making that distinction are doing it so they can sever misogyny out from the equation in order to justify their apologism for more minor versions of misogyny that they don’t want to give up. Kind of like the argument that lynching is awful and undoubtedly racism plays a major role in it but hey just having racist thoughts/attitudes or using racial epithets doesn’t really hurt anyone. It’s only when the racist goes a step further and starts gathering rope that it’s objectively bad. People make this argument because if they admit that racism is inherently bad even when it doesn’t go any further than a person’s brain cavity, the next logical step would be that the person has to re-evaluate a whole lot of their established views that have become quite comfortable that have racial components (affirmative action, work ethic of this group vs. that group, etc.) So they have to nit-pick worst-case scenarios in order to protect the more everyday versions that they don’t want to relinquish. In this case, people want to argue that sure misogyny is a big factor but as long as the misogynist isn’t some crazy, sociopath (ie- not them!) well then there’s nothing wrong with some little harmless misogyny calling a woman a bitch or harassing them in clubs etc. Anyways, that’s just my guess. I remember a guy I used to work with who claimed that he wanted a world where his daughters would have every opportunity that men have and be treated with respect rather than as objects, and then got real defensive about his right to cat-call women he found sexy (they should take it as a compliment!) There was a whole lot of cognitive dissonance on display, and I think he went to great lengths to restrict any exploration of women’s rights no further than the point at which it would begin to threaten his manly habits.

  8. Greta Christina says

    qwints: I’m going to echo Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm. What’s your point?

  9. says

    piegasm,

    Our culture does routinely fail to punish people who beat, kill or rape women…or ya know anyone who is not cis-het white male.

    Quoted for truth. To take one very obvious example, what is the explanation for the statistically disproportionate lack of investigation and prosecution of cases in Canada relating to murdered and missing indigenous women, if racism and misogyny are not at work? Magic?

    And I too would like to see a point from qwints, seeing as I’m somewhat doubtful there is a particularly useful one at the heart of those comments.

  10. johnthedrunkard says

    Unfortunately there ARE people who rationalize away reports of honor killings, dowry extortion, child marriage, sexual slavery etc. etc. The reporters are accused of colonialism, ‘orientalism,’ racism etc. If the existence of the crimes is conceded, they are somehow to be blamed on the existence of Israel, or the Bush presidency.

    Rodgers stands for so damn’ many social dysfunctions. Bullying, gun culture, rape culture, entitlement, the sexual segregation that makes young men incapable of relating to women in real life, pornification, racism, PUA toxicity, MRA madness.

    Any one of these threads is worth following. But the next observer may whinge that THAT line is tangential. E.G. so many references to White Males, when Rodgers was half-Asian, and had multiple layers of self-hatred focused on THAT. So yes, White Male-itude is a legitimate subject–it certainly links directly to MRA, PUA, etc. etc. But pre-fabricated tropes about White Menz could conceivably pull into over-generalized discussion.

    It is NOT changing the subject to mention Canada’s indigenous women’s threat from murder/alcohol etc. But it will seem like it to someone.

  11. qwints says

    Here’s my point: Rogers didn’t believe his actions were going to be praised, forgiven or ignored.

    The comparisons Greta makes are men whose behavior is directly endorsed and supported by their cultures. (e.g. the police and justice system ignore such behavior, prominent figures defend their position in public). While Rogers actions were obviously motivated by misogyny and racism, they weren’t endorsed by his culture in the same way. Like Rogers, Miller was obviously racist and the culture he lived in was obviously racist, but the extreme disparity between the nature of the two makes it had to connect them.
    I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to connect the misogyny of the culture to their actions.

    On the other hand, it’s easy for me to connect the misogyny of the culture to men who rape women or kill trans women or indigenous women knowing that the likelihood of punishment is remote. Seven of mine and xanthe are right that the US and Canada do faiI to prosecute men who attack and kill women, but those countries don’t ignore this kind of high profile killing of privileged women (consider the Nancy Grace phenomenon). Greta’s obviously right that the radical misogyny of PUAs shaped Rogers worldview, but I think such radical groups are akin to the racist hate groups Miller belonged to and not representative of society a whole. My goal here is to respond to and think about Greta’s point about connecting the dots between society’s misogyny and Rogers’ misogyny.

  12. Al Dente says

    qwints @16

    Greta’s obviously right that the radical misogyny of PUAs shaped Rogers worldview, but I think such radical groups are akin to the racist hate groups Miller belonged to and not representative of society a whole.

    You’re claiming that Roger was an outlier, an extremist even for the heavy-duty misogynists he hung out with on the internet. Unfortunately, you’re wrong. For instance the Steubenville rape showed that rape culture is mainstream in America. Likewise everyone knows that Dominique Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted a hotel maid and everyone knows he won’t spend a day in prison. Misogyny and the rape culture are alive and well in Western society. Most misogynists don’t kill strangers but a whole lot of misogynists assault, rape and kill their wives, girl friends and even dates.

  13. Kevin Kehres says

    Of course Rodger was an outlier. You don’t see misogynist spree murders every day, you know.

    Filed under “duh, Captain Obvious”.

    But he’s the tail of a very very large, well-fed dog.

  14. says

    I think as we look more and more into this guy’s past, we’ll see the elements that led to his eventual rampage start to add up. Even his family knew something was terribly wrong, as evidenced by the welfare check they asked the police to make, and the eventual frenzy his family made to reach him to stop what they saw was a disaster in the making. One report said his family was even reluctant to send him away on his own, but did so under his extreme persistence.

    These paranoid, isolationist online communities are a mixed bag. Lots of people go on there to vent. I’m sure many of them seem like perfectly normal people when you meet them in their everyday lives. The problem with Elliot is that whatever “system” (I don’t even like calling it that) we have to recognize such depraved individuals failed to put the pieces together in time to make a powerful enough intervention.

    Sometimes you really just have to assume the worst in people and hope to hell that you’re wrong.

  15. Lea says

    Things are getting worse, much worse. Not only MRA misogyny, but Gun Rights Activist misogyny. Have you seen this story for example?

    Of course these GRAs are trying to intimidate everyone, not only women, but they are targeting women in a more vicious and threatening way. The NRA even released a statement recently asking the GRAs to tone it down, and today the NRA today walked it back and apologized to the GRAs.

    Something is really wrong.

  16. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @ qwints

    The comparisons Greta makes are men whose behavior is directly endorsed and supported by their cultures. (e.g. the police and justice system ignore such behavior, prominent figures defend their position in public). While Rogers actions were obviously motivated by misogyny and racism, they weren’t endorsed by his culture in the same way.

    Nonsense. There are stories in the news on a nearly daily basis of judges decisions which explicitly blame victims.

    A teacher in Montana was given a 31 day sentence for raping a 14 year old girl: the judge said she looked older than her years and was probably in control of the situation.

    A judge in Georgia overturned a conviction for a man who’d raped a woman with down syndrome because she didn’t “act like a victim.”

    A high school cheerleader whose rapist was on the basketball team refused to participate in a cheer that specifically named him while he attempted free throws: she gets kicked off the cheerleading squad while her rapist is not sanctioned by the school at all.

    A 17 year old victim of sexual assault was nearly held in contempt of court for naming her rapists: the court actually expected her to protect the identity of her assailants even though her name had been released.

    Steubenville.

    An 11(!!) year old girl in Texas gets gang raped and what’s the defense strategy: the victim is a seductress who wanted the sex and just decided to “cry rape” the next day.

    Hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in warehouses all over the country.

    And that’s just off the top of my head.

  17. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Whoopsie blockquote fail. Only the first paragraph above should be in blockquotes. The rest is me.

  18. Greta Christina says

    Greta’s obviously right that the radical misogyny of PUAs shaped Rogers worldview, but I think such radical groups are akin to the racist hate groups Miller belonged to and not representative of society a whole.

    qwints @ #16: Would you have said that about the KKK and other groups that did lynching and other terrorism against black people? Would you have said that they were extremist hate groups — and therefore not representative of society as a whole? Or would you have said that they were very much representative of the racism in society as a whole, certainly of one large and powerful branch of society, and were simply a more extreme side of that society?

    If you would argue that the KKK and other racist lynch mobs were simply a fringe outlier, entirely unrelated to the racism that existed (and continues to exist, although slightly less so) in society as a whole, then I have absolutely nothing to say to you. And if you accept that the racism behind the KKK and other racist lynch mobs was very much the same racism that existed in society in general, and was supported and encouraged by it — then why would you argue that MRA hate groups are totally unrelated to misogyny and sexism in the society in general, and a strong tendency in general to trivialize, dismiss, rationalize, excuse, and even defend violence against women?

    While Rogers actions were obviously motivated by misogyny and racism, they weren’t endorsed by his culture in the same way.

    If you’re arguing that the trivialization, dismissal, rationalization, excuses, and even defense of violence against women is more severe in Islamist theocracies than it is in the United States, with less overt endorsement from the government — you’re right. And hey, whaddya know? Violence against women is both more common and more severe in Islamist theocracies. Which is exactly my freaking point. In cultures where violence against women is more heavily endorsed by the culture, including by the law, there is more violence against women — so therefore, changing the culture is a really good way to reduce the amount of violence against women.

    But if you think that in the United States, violence against women is not “directly endorsed and supported by the culture,” you are living in a dream world. And if you think this doesn’t get any support from police or government, you are living in a dream world. Look at police who ignore or grossly mishandle rape and domestic violence. Look at all the rape apologists in the Republican party who hold public office. If you think that doesn’t affect how many men behave towards women, think again.

    No, I’m not saying that Rodger thought he was going to get away with it. I understand that. That’s not my point. My point is that, as Kevin Kehres said above in #18, he was “the tail of a very very large, well-fed dog.” It is not as large or well-fed a dog as it is in Islamist theocracies — and we have less violence against women than they do. So starving the dog would seem to be a really good idea.

  19. Greta Christina says

    qwints @ #16: And if you seriously think violence against women doesn’t get official, legal endorsement from government officials and law enforcement in the United States — read Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm @ #21 above.

    BTW, the “Rodger didn’t think he would get away with it, and that’s what makes the U.S. different from Islamist theocracies” argument is patently ridiculous. Do you think Rodger would have gotten away with it in Saudi Arabia or the Sudan? He murdered a large number of total strangers, including many men, outside of any act of officially sanctioned war. In any country in the world, he would have gone down. That doesn’t mean his actions weren’t motivated by the misogyny endemic in our culture. He took that misogyny to an extreme that most people in this culture excoriate — but that doesn’t mean the culture wasn’t a motivation.

  20. triple3a says

    @quints [#16]

    While Rogers actions were obviously motivated by misogyny and racism, they weren’t endorsed by his culture in the same way.

    Allow me to show you the error of your ways.  Warning: this is going to get ranty and be triggering, so be forewarned.

    When I was in junior high school, some boys, for “fun”, pulled a girl into the boys’ locker room and began to sexually molest, grope, and grab her.  A male teacher came in and pulled her to safety.  She cried and screamed was lead out.

    Not all men, right?

    When I was in high school, some boys in the locker room reworked the refrain from “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper as “Girls Just Want To Get Fucked.”

    Not all men, right?

    A popular song when I was growing up was called “Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy” by Big Daddy Kane.  The finishing line, followed by the rappers’ laughter, is as follows:

    Well, it’s Friday night, ain’t a damn thing funny —
    Bitch better have my money.

    Not all men, right?

    Another popular song was “The Way We Swing” by Digital Underground. One of the lines went as follows:

    Triple-slippin MC’s will get verbally raped
    We’ll send you home with that look on your face.

    o_O  Just music, right?  Not all men, right?

    When I was in the U.S. Army stationed overseas in Germany, one of the popular cadences had a line that went as follows:

    I don’t know but I’ve been told
    Eskimo pussy is mighty cold.

    Just jokes, right?  Just a song, right?  Not all men, right? Bonus trifecta points for being racist, sexist, and rapey, right? See “Full Metal Jacket”.

    Also, one of my superiors in the Army regaled me with this bit of wisdom:

    If she’s old enough to bleed, she’s old enough to breed.

    A good, upstanding, married man defending our American freedom.  Just jokes, right?  Not all men, right?

    A woman housed in the same barracks our all-male unit was in (with separate facilities for women across a stairwell in their own space) was repeatedly assessed (just out of her earshot) for her “fuckability”.  Never “Do you think she might want to date me?” or just “I’m attracted to her” but always, inevitably, rated on a points scale of a thing to use for sex.

    Not all men, right?

    This is how, while I was in the military, I knew I never wanted to have sex under those circumstances.  This is how I knew, when I got desperately physically sick in the stairwell separating the male and female sleeping quarters and a woman told me I couldn’t be there, I didn’t argue that I was sick or to give me a break or wonder what the big deal was but instinctively crawled my ass to the men’s bathroom on my side and spent an uncomfortable night on the bathroom floor.

    Related to that, some of by fellow soldiers thought it would be hilarious to make it their mission to get a smaller, slighter, virgin soldier “laid”.  Not ask him if he wanted to have sex, not ask if there was a woman that was also attracted to him that wanted to have sex with him, not consider the fact that he might not be sexually attracted to women, but simply to find him one of three holes in a woman to fuck.

    Not all men, right?

    Furthermore, there was a tall, slight, gentle looking soldier (a little like Elliot Rodgers) that I worked with.  He seemed like a Nice Guy™ that wouldn’t hurt a fly.  He was later arrested and tried for the murder of a female German sex worker.

    Not all men, right?

    This how I knew, even though I had no real plan for my future employment, that I was not going to reenlist after my three-year tour of duty was over and got out of there as quickly as possible.  (See “The Invisible War”.)  This is why, to this day, when I pass groups of teenage boys to young adult men, I reflexively tense up (even though I—a cisgendered, heterosexual, tall and physically strong male—wouldn’t be the target of there sexual harassment if they were so inclined).

    Elliott Rodger’s actions ARE endorsed by the culture in the same way.  He just chose to swim in the deep end of the toxic, woman-hating slime pool we’re all drowning in.  Just because Judd Apatow plots (good-natured, disheveled slacker tries to score—or scores—hot, sex-candy babe simply by dint of his “niceness”) wade in the shallow end doesn’t magically make the tamer elements of the culture “not sexist”.

    My head’s out of the sand and my eyes are wide fucking open.  I, like Greta, suggest you take the red pill.  If I used Twitter (darn new-fangled technology), I’d start a hashtag titled “#YesManyMen” where men could expose the subtle to egregious misogyny that goes on all the time in all-male environments.

  21. qwints says

    @Seven of Mine, you’re absolutely right, and I agree with that the US is a rape culture. It justifies or ignores the vast majority of rapes.

    @Greta, I think the KKK and other racist hate groups are presently a fringe outlier. Quite recently in the US’s history, they were not.

    I think the particular kind of violence against women Rodgers engaged is is not endorsed by his culture, and I agree that it wouldn’t have been endorsed in other cultures. In other words, I don’t agree that Rodgers is the tail of a dog, i.e. an extreme outlier on a continuum. I think that the fight against extremist hate groups is different from the fight against widespread bigotry, but I do think they’re both important. For example, getting the US culture to embrace the idea of affirmative consent is vitally important, but I don’t think that such a success would stop Rodgers or people like him. Because Rodgers violated such clear cultural norms in his actions, I don’t think changing other cultural norms would affect his behavior.

  22. llewelly says

    Extreme examples are not necessarily unrepresentative. Extreme disparity between two phenomena does not mean they are unconnected.

    A category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic is extreme. But when hurricane scientists study hurricane activity in the Atlantic they do not cast out category 5 hurricanes. They do not argue that category 5 hurricanes are unconnected with weaker tropical cyclones. They do not remove category 5 hurricanes from the data they analyze.

    Why? Because analysis of hurricanes clearly shows the phenomena of category 1 hurricanes and category 5 hurricanes are tightly related; they are produced by the same forces and atmospheric conditions.

    Given the right environment, a category 1 hurricane – or even a mere tropical storm – will become a category 5 hurricane. There is an extreme disparity between a category 5 hurricane and a tropical storm, but a category 5 hurricane and tropical storm are nonetheless connected.

    The argument that Elliot Rodgers scale murders are so extreme as to be poorly connected to the misogyny of our culture would need to show that such murders are not produced by the same environmental forces, and are not tightly related.

    That would require denial of the fact Elliot Rodgers existed within a toxic stew of forums dedicated to broadcasting the hatred that Elliot Rodgers put into action.

    That would require denial of the fact that Elliot Rodgers existed within a culture in which feminists routinely receive vast volumes of murder and rape threats simply for arguing in favor of the equality of women.

    That would require denial of the fact that Elliot Rodgers existed within a culture that routinely looks the other way whilst hundreds, sometimes even thousands of rape kits remain unexamined in many US and Canadian police districts … despite the fact that rapists are known to be correlated with many other crimes of violence against women, including murders.

    That would require denial of the fact that many of the North American serial killers of the past several decades hated women, and murdered women, and in many cases, got away with it for years before they were caught. Elliot Rodgers is not a one-of-a-kind event.

    That would require denial of the fact that Elliot Rodgers existed within a culture which constantly broadcasts the message that “Real Men” take plenty of sex from women.

    That would require denial of the many additional connections explained above by Greta Christina, Xanthe, and Seven of Mine.

    When qwints says “I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to connect the misogyny of the culture to their actions. ” , I see an exemplar of the fact that denial of all of the above interconnections is deeply embedded in our culture. qwints finds the connection hard to make because qwints is subject to the forces of our culture. qwints hears the constant drumbeat of misogyny denial and wobbles in the direction of the wind.

    We live in a culture which seeks to pretend violence against women is a thing of other cultures, and not of our own.

    We live in a culture which favors deniable violence against women – a culture which prefers rapes to murders; rapes which result in rape kits that sit unexamined amongst thousands of other unexamined rape kits, rather that murders which result in corpses, for which there is much more social pressure to examine.

    And if there must be murders, please let them be “disappearances” of minority women, and not Elliot Rodgers throwing corpses in our faces in broad daylight.

    Elliot Rodgers “… didn’t believe his actions were going to be praised, forgiven or ignored.” because Elliot Rodgers deliberately sought to cross the line of deniability.

    His decision to transgress against our cultural delusions does not make his actions unconnected with the “run-of-the-mill” deniable misogyny our culture prefers; the thread above shows the connections are strong and numerous.

  23. m0fa says

    Christina asserts that the MRM is anti women and that MRA’s are misogynists…no Christina the MRM and MRA are quite often but not necessarily against feminism, which is a flawed ideology. Being anti feminist does NOT make you anti women. The MRM is just as pro women as the feminist movement is pro men. To continually portray the MRM as anti women shows your gullibility, ignorance, tunnel vision linked to dogma/ideology or dishonesty (multiple choice …you choose).

  24. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @ qwints

    That’s quite an impressive series of non-sequiturs and unevidenced assertions. Get back to us when you’re ready to back up your claims.

  25. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Today’s lesson in self-unawareness has been brought to you by: m0fa.

  26. qwints says

    Llewlly, your points about the misogyny of the US and Canada are powerful and well made. I’m unclear, however, what you mean when you talk about Rogers transgressing against cultural delusions. What cultural delusions?

    Seven of Mine, I found the following articles useful in thinking about the relationship of Rogers to Society. They discuss the alienation of a certain kind of mass murderer from society, and the motivation of revenge against people who they think have wronged them. [Trigger warning: Explicit descriptions of violence]:

    “The “Pseudocommando” Mass Murderer: Part I, The Psychology of Revenge and Obliteration” Journal of the American Academy of Psychology and Law, Knoll, J. Vol 38:87-94 (2010). (Discussing how a certain type of mass murderer’s goal is revenge against society)

    “Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown” Fox, J., DeLateur, M., Homicide Studies February 2014 Vol. 18 no. 1 125-145 (2013) (Discussing various myths around mass shooting)

    On the other hand, most murder-suicides are men killing women. See, e.g.

    “Characteristics of Perpetrators in Homicide-Followed-by-Suicide Incidents”American Journal of Epidemiology” Logan, J. et al American Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 168, No. 9 (2008)

    You’re right that I don’t (and can’t) know what effect positive changes in society would have on extremist individuals. I do think you, Greta and others have accurately described society’s misogyny and Rodgers’ explicitly stated motivations. I don’t think anyone has shown a connection. Extremist hate seems to be a different phenomenon from institutional bigotry. That matters, because, if that’s true, we need to use different tools to fight them. I looked for, but couldn’t find, data regarding the correlation between societal attitudes and the presence of hate groups in a society. Data showing a positive correlation between societal prejudice and violent extremists would prove me wrong.

  27. Greta Christina says

    I think the KKK and other racist hate groups are presently a fringe outlier. Quite recently in the US’s history, they were not.

    qwints @ #25: And what I am saying is that the MRA movement now is comparable to the KKK in its heyday: an extreme expression of a societal attitude that is widespread and commonplace.

    I think the particular kind of violence against women Rodgers engaged is is not endorsed by his culture, and I agree that it wouldn’t have been endorsed in other cultures. In other words, I don’t agree that Rodgers is the tail of a dog, i.e. an extreme outlier on a continuum.

    A does not in any way, shape, or form imply B. The fact that his actions were not endorsed by the culture does not mean that they didn’t spring from the culture, and were not inspired by it. How hard is that to understand?

    They discuss the alienation of a certain kind of mass murderer from society, and the motivation of revenge against people who they think have wronged them.

    qwints @ #31: Again — how many more times do we have to say this, and how much more clearly do we have to say it? The fact that Rodger felt alienated from society does not in any way imply that he was not shaped by it. And the people he thought had wronged him were women. All women. And this hatred was fueled by the culture — by a subculture dedicated to hatred of women, and by the larger culture and its objectification of women, its sense of entitlement about women, and its trivialization, dismissal, rationalization, excuses, and even defenses of violence against women. Rodger said so, repeatedly, at length, in words that could not possibly have been clearer. As Arthur Chu wrote in his brilliant piece, Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds: “I’ve heard Elliot Rodger’s voice before. I was expecting his manifesto to be incomprehensible madness—hoping for it to be—but it wasn’t. It’s a standard frustrated angry geeky guy manifesto, except for the part about mass murder.” Why is it so important to you to deny this?

  28. Greta Christina says

    Unsurprisingly to anyone who regularly reads this blog, m0fa has been banned.

  29. Greta Christina says

    FYI to all: Comment numbering has gotten slightly borked, since I approved a comment that gotten stuck in comment moderation (it happens with comments with a lot of links), and it’s appearing in the order it was posted in and not the order it was approved in. I heartily encourage you all to read comment # 25, by triple3a.

  30. triple3a says

    qwints @ #31:

    Data showing a positive correlation between societal prejudice and violent extremists would prove me wrong.

    You’re seriously defining “violent extremists” as only men who engage in misogynistic mass killing sprees?

    There’s another group of violent extremists your discounting—all sexual harassers, abusers and rapists.  The problem is that these violent extremists don’t usually use guns or knives.  They most often use the cultural conditioning of women having to be “nice”, alcohol and drugs, marriage and relationships, youth and inexperience, coercion, hiding in plain sight under the cloak of “boys will be boys”, sexual harassment, the fact that women exist attractively in private and public, the threat of rape to silence women that challenge them, the threat of rape to make women uncomfortable in public spaces, ignoring and transgressing women’s autonomy and space, women’s clothing or lack thereof, slut-shaming, and a host of other weapons to commit their violence.  Some sexual harassers, abusers, and rapists (again, all of which are violent extremists) resort to fists, knives, guns, the threat of murder, and murder itself when the aforementioned weapons fail to gain them the access they desire.

    Definition of sexual violence:

    Sexual violence violates a person’s trust, autonomy and feeling of safety.

    It occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity.

    The range of sexual violence includes rape, incest, child sexual assault, ritual abuse, date and acquaintance rape, statutory rape, marital or partner rape, sexual exploitation, sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, human trafficking and voyeurism.

    Rape is a crime. It is motivated by the need to control, humiliate, and harm. It is not motivated by sexual desire. Rapists use sex as a weapon to dominate and hurt others.

    You want data showing a positive correlation between societal prejudice and violent extremism (all rape culture, by the way)?  Read #YesAllWomen for one hour.

    If you want to define sexual harassers, abusers and rapists as anything less than violent extremists, then there’s really nothing left to discuss with you.

  31. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @ qwints

    They discuss the alienation of a certain kind of mass murderer from society, and the motivation of revenge against people who they think have wronged them.

    Rodger felt wronged by women because they failed to dispense the sex to him that society had taught him he deserved. We know this because he said so. We’re not failing to show a connection; you’re denying one that’s been handed to you on a silver platter.

    What cultural delusions?

    The cultural delusion that widespread misogyny isn’t a thing. Rodger made a conscious choice to act on his misogynist views in such a way that society couldn’t deny it, i.e. he threw corpses in our faces in broad daylight (to borrow llewelly’s phrasing) instead of going the more socially acceptable/deniable route of rape.

  32. llewelly says

    qwints: ” What cultural delusions?”

    Elliot Rodgers chose to transgress against the cultural delusion that misogynistic murder was not connected to “run-of-the-mill” misogyny.

    Elliot Rodgers chose to transgress against the cultural delusion that misogyny was no longer a strong part of our culture.

    qwints: ” … They discuss the alienation of a certain kind of mass murderer from society …”

    Nonetheless these articles fail to understand how inherently Elliot Rodgers is a product of the misogyny of our society; in particular they choose not to recognize how misogynistic it is for our society to require men to validate themselves by obtaining sex from women. They choose not to recognize the misogyny in Elliot Rodgers’ belief that validation must come from female bodies and female affections.

    The articles you link to choose not to admit that the very alienation of Elliot Rodgers can exist only within a society which believes that men must obtain sex from female bodies in order to be accepted; a belief only sensible in the context of extreme misogyny.

    Some of the articles you link do not even mention Elliot Rodgers. I would like to know why you think they are relevant.

    qwints: “Greta and others have accurately described society’s misogyny and Rodgers’ explicitly stated motivations. I don’t think anyone has shown a connection. ”

    You accept that misogyny is explicit in Elliot Rodgers’ motivations, you accept that misogyny is explicit in our culture. Yet you pretend that the two are unconnected, despite a clear history of Elliot Rodgers existing within a milieu of forums which advocate misogyny, forums which exist along a continuum of forums ranging from the most subtle misogyny to the most explicit misogyny.

    You accept Elliot Rodgers specifically referenced numerous misogynistic beliefs of our culture, and yet you pretend there is no connection.

  33. says

    qwints:

    I do think you, Greta and others have accurately described society’s misogyny and Rodgers’ explicitly stated motivations. I don’t think anyone has shown a connection.

    Do whut?
    You acknowledge that misogyny permeates society.
    You acknowledge that misogyny was one of ER’s motivations.

    But you don’t see a connection? How is that?
    Serious question.
    Elliot Rodger grew up in the US. From birth he was swimming in the same toxic pool of misogyny and sexism that everyone else in this society lives in. He wasn’t magically immune to it (I can’t believe I even had to type that). He was very clearly influenced by the horrific attitudes toward women that {sadly} thrive in this culture.

    Elliot Rodger grew up immersed in a the culture of misogyny in the US.
    Elliot Rodger acted on his wishes and went on a killing spree that was largely (I’d say *overwhelmingly*) motivated by misogyny.

    If that’s not enough for you to see the obvious connections, what is?
    What would it take for you to see the obvious connections?
    And why do you refuse to see the obvious connections?

    I swallowed the red pill a few years ago and despite all the horrors that I saw- and continue to see (as Greta said, you can’t unsee them)-I would *never* choose to go back. To go back would mean supporting the status quo. That status quo is deadly to women. I refuse to be a part of the problem.

    What about you? Have you taken the red pill? If you did, it may be stuck in your throat bc you’re not seeing clearly enough. Please go take a drink of water.

  34. qwints says

    @Greta,

    If I thought the men on the PUAHate forums and their ilk were comparable to the KKK in its heyday, i.e. a group representing widely accepted views and enjoying substantial political and social support, then I would completely agree with you. I don’t think that society’s misogyny is the same as Rodger’s misogyny. While there are widespread implicit attitudes and explicit beliefs about women that are false and harmful, I don’t think that there is a widespread explicit hatred of women. That matters because you fight bigoted attitudes and beliefs differently than you fight hate groups. For instance, consciousness raising works with people who haven’t examined their biases, it doesn’t work with people who have embraced their biases and use them as a central source of identity.

  35. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @ qwints

    While there are widespread implicit attitudes and explicit beliefs about women that are false and harmful, I don’t think that there is a widespread explicit hatred of women.

    Rodger’s explicit hatred of women was borne of their failure to comport themselves according to these implicit attitudes and explicit beliefs. Your denial of any connection is pure, unadulterated bullshit.

  36. qwints says

    Seven of Mine, I completely disagree with that. I don’t think either women behaving differently or society having less fucked up norms for women would have prevented Rodger from hating women. I think that because of the similarity to the other murderers discussed in the “Pseudocommando” paper I linked earlier. We can’t know which of us is right.

  37. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @qwints

    Your pseudocommando paper doesn’t contradict our conclusion and it doesn’t support your conclusion that there is no connection between Rodger and misogyny at large. It posits a murderer seeking revenge for some perceived injustice. It says nothing whatsoever about what that injustice is.

    In this case, Rodger feels wronged by women. He feels wronged because they haven’t behaved in a way that he thinks they ought to. We know this because a) that’s pretty much the definition of “wronged” and b) because he fucking said so. The way he expected women to behave toward him corresponds exactly with society’s attitudes about women. For you to then claim there is no connection is patently absurd.

  38. qwints says

    Seven of Mine

    “The way he expected women to behave toward him corresponds exactly with society’s attitudes about women.”

    Maybe the disconnect is here: how would you describe how Rodger expected women to behave towards him? His expressed views read to me as if he believes all women should be trying to have sex with him, and that they wronged him by not doing so, so he was justified in trying to kill all of them.

  39. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    That’s how I read it. If you’re about to claim that attitude is not reflective of society at large in any capacity other than the mass murder part, we have nothing more to talk about.

  40. Greta Christina says

    If I thought the men on the PUAHate forums and their ilk were comparable to the KKK in its heyday, i.e. a group representing widely accepted views and enjoying substantial political and social support, then I would completely agree with you. While there are widespread implicit attitudes and explicit beliefs about women that are false and harmful, I don’t think that there is a widespread explicit hatred of women.

    qwints @ #40: Are you kidding? Did you read any of the #YesAllWomen hashtag? Hundreds of thousands of women detailed our experiences with being treated hatefully, violently, as objects rather than as people, with a sense of entitlement to our bodies, and more — and with having our hateful, violent, objectifying, entitled experiences trivialized, dismissed, rationalized, excused, and even defensed. How on earth can you read the myriad examples discussed right here in this very thread — the widespread and institutionalized dismissal, trivialization, and victim-blaming of rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and more — and say that our culture does not have a widespread hatred of women? Do people need to go around saying, in words, “I hate women,” for you to recognize that misogyny is a thing?

    And you’re contradicting yourself. You yourself have said, quote, “it’s easy for me to connect the misogyny of the culture to men who rape women or kill trans women or indigenous women,” “your points about the misogyny of the US and Canada are powerful and well made.” Which is it? Is the culture misogynistic, or not? If you agree that it is, then misogynistic hate groups are an extreme end on the continuum of that hatred — they are not separate from it, any more than the KKK was separate from the endemic racism of the time. And if you deny it? Then this conversation is over.

    Seriously: If you can’t accept that hatred of women is widespread in our culture, I really have nothing more to say to you. You are being deliberately obtuse, rejecting reality for the sole purpose of defending your ill-conceived argument. You are painting yourself into a corner. You are digging yourself into a hole. Stop digging.

  41. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @qwints

    I know I said there was nothing more to say but I guess I lied. Oops…

    You’d have saved us all a lot of time if you’d simply stated up front that you deny the lived experiences of the vast majority of women all over the world.

    Also:

    “it’s easy for me to connect the misogyny of the culture to men who rape women or kill trans women or indigenous women,”

    I didn’t really engage with this before but it’s kind of grossing me out now that Greta has referenced it again…

    Why is that connection easy to make? Why is killing trans women or indigenous women understandable as misogyny to you but not the killing of Rodger’s victims?

    Also: given that you a) understand rape to be motivated by cultural misogyny and b) understand Rodger to have expected women to have sex with him and felt wronged when they wouldn’t…how do you not see the connection there? I mean what is rape if not taking the sex you feel entitled to?

  42. qwints says

    Greta, if you’d like me to stop commenting, feel free to say so. I’ve found this conversation helpful in further understanding your post and thinking about societal misogyny and the relationship of to extremist misogyny, but I don’t want people forced to deal with that question in a much more concrete way than I ever have or will to be hurt by that dialogue.

    @Greta Christina #47

    Yes, the culture is misogynistic. The power structure doesn’t care about stopping men raping, or about stopping murders of women by their domestic partners or stopping the murder of women from marginalized groups. It tolerates and even encourages the abuse of women. That’s misogyny.

    I just disagree with you when you say “misogynistic hate groups are an extreme end on the continuum of that hatred” even though I agree that men treat women “hatefully, violently, as objects rather than as people, with a sense of entitlement to our bodies, and more.” I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment of what extremist individuals or groups are. I’m not disagreeing with you about the misogyny of the culture, I’m disagreeing with you about the nature of extremism. Roger action’s, and the actions of other similar misogynistic terrorists, aren’t endorsed or tolerated by society and that matters for how we respond to them.

    @Seven of Mine, the connection between society’s misogyny and men raping women and killing women marginalized on additional axes of oppression is easy to see because society is either not doing anything significant about it or actively enabling such behavior.

    I think the culture conditions men to believe women have a duty to be receptive to any kind of advance anytime and anywhere the man wants, and I’ve heard countless women talk about the awful things men do to them if they respond differently than the man thinks they should. Rodger doesn’t talk about women rejecting his advances in his videos or his manifesto. Unlike the ‘nice guys’ in Arthur Chu’s article, he didn’t go out and try a get a girl through “clever ruses and schemes” (i.e. emotional blackmail and manipulation.)

  43. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    @qwints

    The fact that our culture doesn’t tolerate the type of murder Rodger committed is not evidence that his motivation was not derived from cultural attitudes. That is a non sequitur and does not become less of one with each repetition.

    The way he acted on those attitudes was atypical, yes, but you still have all your work ahead of you to show that his motivation was different.

    I think the culture conditions men to believe women have a duty to be receptive to any kind of advance anytime and anywhere the man wants, and I’ve heard countless women talk about the awful things men do to them if they respond differently than the man thinks they should. Rodger doesn’t talk about women rejecting his advances in his videos or his manifesto. Unlike the ‘nice guys’ in Arthur Chu’s article, he didn’t go out and try a get a girl through “clever ruses and schemes” (i.e. emotional blackmail and manipulation.)

    You’re assuming facts not in evidence here. Rodger was an active member of the PUAHate forum. The PUAHate forum is a forum for men who hate PUAs because their advice doesn’t work. He may not have mentioned specific incidents in his manifesto or videos but his involvement in this community certainly indicates that he did indeed make some attempt to “get a girl” via PUA methods and was unsuccessful.

  44. Greta Christina says

    Roger action’s, and the actions of other similar misogynistic terrorists, aren’t endorsed or tolerated by society and that matters for how we respond to them.

    qwints @ #49: How many times do we have to explain this to you? Here, I’ll put it in boldface so maybe it will actually sink in: The fact that Rodger’s actions are not endorsed by society does not mean that they were not influenced by society. There are thousands of ways that society influences people, which it then disapproves of or condemns. Society encourages people to eat high-calorie junk food, then shames them for getting fat. Society encourages women to dress sexy, then shames us for doing so. Many of us in this conversation have pointed this out, numerous times, and you have utterly ignored it. This is a key point. If you can’t engage with it in a meaningful way, then leave.

    Also in response to this: You still aren’t engaging with the KKK analogy in any meaningful way. You’ve already acknowledged that the KKK was an extreme end of the endemic racism of the time, even when it was being condemned by much or most of society. You disagree that this is true for MRA groups. But you haven’t made any case for why these are different. All you’ve said is “they’re different.” If you can’t engage with this point in a meaningful way, then leave.

    I just disagree with you when you say “misogynistic hate groups are an extreme end on the continuum of that hatred” even though I agree that men treat women “hatefully, violently, as objects rather than as people, with a sense of entitlement to our bodies, and more.” I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment of what extremist individuals or groups are.

    I encourage you to go read some writing from the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other actual experts on extremist hate groups, and find out from them about the connection between extremist hate groups and less extreme but still hateful attitudes in society as a whole. I think you will find that you have been talking out of your ass.

  45. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Another example of behaviors simultaneously encouraged by and disapproved of by society:

    Anything at all that is a stereotypically “girly” interest. The Twilight movies, boy bands, fashion, My Little Pony. All things marketed almost exclusively at girls and all things which society at large bashes. Virtually everything about being female in this culture is a process of being taught to be a certain way and then being shamed for being that way.

  46. qwints says

    Society encourages people to eat junk food by lowering its cost through subsides, through increasing its availability through numerous distribution channels and by making it appear desirable through wide spread advertising. It encourages women to dress sexily through media that glamorizes sexy clothes, wide spread criticism of women who don’t conform to societal expectations, and, again, through making it appear desirable through advertising. What do you think Elliot Rodgers encountered in society that compares to these examples? They seem utterly dissimilar to me. If the claim is just that Elliot Rodgers formed his views while living in a misogynistic society, I agree. After all, all of us do.

    The KKK, during its 1920’s heyday, had well over 5 million members, movies glorifying its terrorist activities and massive public support. It swung national elections, and had massive public support. It publicly killed thousands without fear of criminal repercussions. It was a group built its identity on ‘defending’ a certain vision of society against African Americans, Jews and Catholics. Hate groups against women (AVfM, etc) have much lower memberships, don’t commit public acts of violence without fear of capture and lack the public support of the Klan. The SPLC is a great organization, and it fights hate groups by trying to get them arrested and defunded. It fights bigotry by trying to educate people. Both are praiseworthy, but they are different kinds of efforts. It doesn’t try and convert people who have pledged themselves to a hate-based, extremist ideology.

  47. Greta Christina says

    What do you think Elliot Rodgers encountered in society that compares to these examples?

    qwints @ #53: We have said this, and said it and said it and said it, and it is getting very frustrating to not be listened to. Society endorses the idea that women are objects, possessions, status symbols; that women owe sex to men on demand; that women who are attractive owe sex on demand to men who are high-status; that despite this expectation, women who do have sex with high-status men are shallow, gold-digging bitches; that women are essentially machines that should dispense sex when the right coinage of either status or niceness is inserted; that women who don’t put out on demand are bitches and cockteases; that female sexual consent is irrelevant; that female bodily autonomy is irrelevant; that women are inferior in a multitude of ways; that women are not fully human. Society does this in thousands and thousands and thousands of ways: in popular culture, in law enforcement, in school policies, in ordinary people’s conscious and unconscious attitudes.

    All of these ideas were expressed, clearly and vividly, as the central thesis, in Rodgers’ writings and videos. Again, as Arthur Chu put it in his brilliant piece Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds, “I’ve heard Elliot Rodger’s voice before. I was expecting his manifesto to be incomprehensible madness—hoping for it to be—but it wasn’t. It’s a standard frustrated angry geeky guy manifesto, except for the part about mass murder.” Why is this so hard to grasp?

    If the claim is just that Elliot Rodgers formed his views while living in a misogynistic society, I agree.

    The claim is that Elliot Rodgers’ views were shaped, to a great extent, by living in a misogynistic society.

    The KKK, during its 1920′s heyday

    I should clarify: I’m not talking about the KKK during its 1920′s heyday. I’m talking about the KKK in the 1950s and 1960s, when they were finally being seen as a fringe hate group by many, but were still very active. Would you still argue that their racism was entirely unconnected to the racism that was endemic in the society at the time?

    The SPLC is a great organization, and it fights hate groups by trying to get them arrested and defunded. It fights bigotry by trying to educate people.

    Do you seriously think that the SPLC thinks these two are unconnected? Do you seriously think that the SPLC sees no connection whatsoever between everyday bigotry in the population at large, and the extremist bigotry of hate groups? Do you seriously think they see fighting extremist hate groups and fighting everyday bigotry as entirely unrelated issues — as opposed to different ends of a spectrum? Do you really think they aren’t fighting everyday bigotry, at least in part, because they know that everyday bigotry can lead to extremist hate, and that extremist hate is supported by everyday bigotry?

    If you seriously think that, then I don’t have to take a damn thing you say seriously. It is laughable.

  48. says

    qwints:

    While there are widespread implicit attitudes and explicit beliefs about women that are false and harmful, I don’t think that there is a widespread explicit hatred of women.

    Again, *why* do you think this?
    Additionally, why are you ignoring what women are saying? Women have been telling their stories for a long, long time, and people (largely MEN) have been so resistant to listening. I used to be one of those people. Now I *listen* to women when they tell me about their experiences. The more you write, the more I see someone who refuses to comprehend the extent of the problem.

    You have some sort of narrow definition of what qualifies as hate. Hating women doesn’t have to be screaming “I hate women” from the Empire State Building using a Godzilla sized megaphone.
    For example, I realize that anti-abortion advocates don’t literally say “I hate women”. But the end result of their actions is still the same as if they had said that (actually it’s worse). They’re advocating for women to be treated as less than human. They don’t want women to have the choice to decide for themselves what to do with their bodies. That denies women their human rights. The right to bodily autonomy is a right all humans possess by virtue of being human. If you deny a human that right-whether by preventing them from obtaining an abortion, or by raping them-the end result is the same: you’re treating someone as less than human. You’re treating someone as if they have less rights than other human beings. Those are just 2 examples of the crap women have to deal with every day.
    That’s hate.
    And that hate is alive, well, and kicking furiously in the United States. You’re doing nothing but arguing *for* the status quo, which is actively harmful to women.

  49. qwints says

    Greta, here’s what I hear you saying:

    1) We live in a misogynistic society.
    2) That misogynistic society teaches men that women are objects and lack agency
    3) That misogynistic society teaches men that they are entitled to attention, affection and sex from women
    4) Men, internalizing this, harm women in a variety of ways.
    5) Like other men, Elliot Rodgers harmed women, just in an unusual way.

    To answer your questions:

    Why is [the fact that society’s misogyny was “expressed, clearly and vividly, as the central thesis,” of Rodger’s manifesto] so hard to grasp?

    Because I don’t see common misogynist sentiments as the central ideas of Rodger’s videos and manifesto. Rodger talked about eliminating all women, about abolishing the entire institution of sex and relationships, and about hating all women for not spontaneously recognizing his greatness and attractiveness. I haven’t seen a ‘standard frustrated geek guy manifesto’ that resembles such statements.

    Would you still argue that [the KKK’s] racism was entirely unconnected to the racism that was endemic in the society [during the 1950’s and 1960’s]?

    No. There was still significant explicit societal support as shown by police brutality against civil rights protesters, jury nullification and pro-segregation politicians and rallies.

    Do you seriously think that the SPLC sees no connection whatsoever between everyday bigotry in the population at large, and the extremist bigotry of hate groups?

    No. In fact, their website says the goal of their educational outreach is to “put our legal work and Intelligence Project out of business.” It also says that hate groups have “been aided by mainstream media figures and politicians who have used their platforms to legitimize false propaganda about immigrants and other minorities.”

  50. melonsoup says

    I have a couple questions here, I invite Greta and anyone else to discuss them, I don’t know if these really have answers or not.

    From the article, I gather that we believe he committed this act of violence due to being raised and engaging in a society that objectifies women. If we removed all or most of those elements of misogyny and objectification he was exposed to, what would his have thoughts and behavior been like?

    How is the argument that the killings were motivated by misogyny different from the argument that the Columbine shooting was motivated by violent video games?

    I think Elliot was definitely a misogynist, but some things about our reaction to it don’t add up for me.

  51. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    How is the argument that the killings were motivated by misogyny different from the argument that the Columbine shooting was motivated by violent video games?

    Are you seriously asking this in good faith?

  52. melonsoup says

    Yes, how is this case fundamentally different from all of the other causes we have blamed mass shootings on? Bullying, video games, etc.

  53. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    (Also, as a general statement: “arguments” of the form “But if we [accept/reject] argument with [true/false] premises X, how can we then [reject/accept] superficially similar argument with [false/true] premises Y?” are bad, and people who make them should feel bad.)

  54. melonsoup says

    @ Azkyroth,

    I know I am considering topics that are only slightly related, videos games and the objectification of women, (actually there is some relationship there, but that is for another discussion) ;). It seems to me that the answer that he did this because he was misogynist fits a little too perfectly in place. How to we know that this isn’t just another easy answer to a difficult question?

  55. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    1) in addition to the points made in the linked thread, he told us (see every sentence containing the text “140 page”) and 2) if it’s an “easy answer” why are people fighting tooth and nail to blame “TEH CRAY CRAY” or any other straw they can grasp at?

  56. qwints says

    Melonsoup, the difference is Rodger explicitly laid out his misogyny. His stated goal was to terrorize women, and he said he wished he could do more to hurt women – to the point of eliminating women from the world entirely. If Klebold and Harris had explicitly said that they were killing because of video games, then that would be an accurate comparison. Instead, both wrote of their hatred and contempt for the people they killed.

    @Crip Dyke, that’s a very insightful excerpt. I think the line “A man in this situation who kills his female partner or her lover can appeal to societal expectations to show that his use of violence was a reasonable response to his female partner’s infidelity” was better and more succinctly stated by Greta when she described how “society endorses the idea that women are objects, possessions, status symbols.”

  57. says

    melonsoup:
    First, what’s with “we believe”, and “our reactions”? You’ve expressed doubt about the extent to which misogyny drove ER’s behavior, which is more in line with the misogyny deniers than those that believe ER was heavily influenced by misogyny. I also don’t know what *your* reaction was to this, so referring to “our reaction” doesn’t make any sense.

    From the article, I gather that we believe he committed this act of violence due to being raised and engaging in a society that objectifies women. If we removed all or most of those elements of misogyny and objectification he was exposed to, what would his have thoughts and behavior been like?

    There’s no way to know what his thoughts would have been if that were the reality. To be frank, it’s speculation and it’s not helpful in trying to understand the reality of what women face in this country (however, if he didn’t hate women, and want to kill them all, somehow I doubt, you know…that he would have). BTW, you can’t just remove those elements. Societal attitudes need to change. People need to change. In ways big and small. One of the first steps, IMO, is realizing that this is a huge problem.

    One thing to keep in mind is that while misogyny is hatred or dislike of women, how it manifests varies:

    Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women

    __

    How is the argument that the killings were motivated by misogyny different from the argument that the Columbine shooting was motivated by violent video games?

    Well for one, we have the words of Elliot Rodger himself. Words that show his misogynistic attitudes. We also know that misogyny is prevalent in US. We can see the effects of misogyny in society.
    Rape Culture is a prime example. We live in a society that treats rape as if it’s not a big deal. People dismiss the experiences of rape victims. People blame rape victims.
    In addition, as I said upthread, denying women the right to an abortion results in treating women as if they’re less than human. Treating women as if they have less rights than men is misogynistic.

    Then there’s domestic violence. Women are the victims of domestic violence in far greater numbers than men.

    We do *not* know that violent video games cause people to go on shooting rampages. In fact, there’s insufficient evidence to support that claim (as a result, no one should believe this claim). Moreover, millions of people around the world play video games–violent ones at that. Yet among those numbers, an infinitesimal number of those people go on shooting rampages. If video games caused people to go on killing sprees, we’d see far greater number of killing sprees.

    In fact, numerous studies have been conducted and the results are mixed. Some studies have shown that video games increase aggression; others show the opposite.

    No study has ever shown that violent video games result directly in actual violence, let alone mass shootings. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, though the numbers suggest it’s very unlikely.

    Analysts estimate 18 to 20 million copies of Rockstar’s GTA V will be sold worldwide by the end of March, 2014.

    It’s possible that someone who buys and plays the game will later go on to carry out a horrible shooting. Should that happen, it will almost certainly occur in America, which boasts far and away the highest number of mass shootings (and shootings in general) while boasting no higher rate of video game consumption.
    […]
    If and when this hypothetical shooting happens—and really, it’s just a matter of when at this point—it will be terrifying and terribly sad, but it will pale in comparison to the reality of gun deaths in America.

    Each day in this country, on average, 30 people are murdered with a gun, 162 more are injured, and 53 use a gun to commit suicide, according to the CDC.

    In 2010 in the United States, firearms were used to carry out 11,422 homicides and 19,392 suicides.

    But overall, violent crime is down in the US—indeed, as violent video games have become more popular, violent crime has fallen.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2013/09/18/do-games-like-grand-theft-auto-v-cause-real-world-violence/

    In other words, there is evidence that misogynistic attitudes can lead to violence against women (and in Elliot Rodger’s case, not just violence, but murder).
    By contrast there is insufficient evidence to claim that playing violent video games causes people to be violent.

  58. melonsoup says

    Do you believe he was a very introspective person? Can we assume that his motivations are absolute truth when viewed only in the light he gives us?

    I never suggested it was a mental illness that drove him to it. Like mental illness, misogyny is something we can identify, are readily understandable, and are exclusive, thus thus they are easy answers.

  59. says

    melonsoup:

    Can we assume that his motivations are absolute truth when viewed only in the light he gives us?

    Do you have some reason to doubt that his motivations are what he said they were? If so, what are your reasons? If not, why are you searching for something else? Why are you-and qwints-so invested in finding reasons *other* than misogyny to justify ER’s actions?

  60. melonsoup says

    @qwints, that is point worth noting, however there could be problems with taking ER’s word, not to mention Eric/Dylan and Elliot are not the same people with the same profile.

    @Tony, true those aren’t my sentiments exactly, didn’t exactly make sense to single Greta/yours/his/hers out on the viewpoint since it is widely held.
    How do you know misogyny is a cause and not a symptom of ER’s behavior?
    No I don’t have any concrete theories as why his stated motivations are not accurate, Eric Harris had an ideal of natural selection and killing off the weak and lesser, thought that is not why he perpetrated that massacre.

    The reason I am searching for the answers is because that is the only way for us to prevent this from happening. In order to the abuse of women, the objectification of women, and treating women as second class citizens we have to identify the people causing it, and why understand why they do it. The same goes for mass killings, if we fail to understand it, it will just keep happening; and I do not want this to be the case.

  61. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Can we assume that his motivations are absolute truth when viewed only in the light he gives us?

    If Elliot Rodger had killed black people and left a racist manifesto calling black people a plague and detailing his plans for their extermination, would you be wringing your hands over whether “his motivations are absolute truth when viewed only in the light he gives us?”

  62. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    How is stating your hatred of a particular type of person and your desire to kill that type of people and then actually going out and killing that type of people RANDOM?

  63. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Oh for fuck’s sake. He killed the men because he thought they’d stop him getting to the sorority house where he intended to kill all the women inside. We know this because he fucking said so. We’re taking his word for it because we have no reason not to. If you have some reason to think otherwise besides more bullshit solipsistic “how can we really know” fuckwittery, please let us know.

  64. melonsoup says

    Ah, you need to go check out his manifesto again, he wanted to turn his apartment into a torture chamber or something like that. There isn’t a real clear reason why his killed his roommates, other than they were vulnerable and close. Do I have a reason to think otherwise eh, people even well adjusted people are not especially good reporters of their motivations, I don’t see why we think he would be particularity accurate.

  65. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Ah, you need to go check out his manifesto again, he wanted to turn his apartment into a torture chamber or something like that.

    From Rodger’s manifesto:

    I knew that when the Day of Retribution came, I would have to kill my housemates to get them out of the way.

    The first people I would have to kill are my two housemates, to secure the entire apartment for
    myself as my personal torture and killing chamber.

    I will torture some of the good looking people before I kill them, assuming that the good looking ones had the best sex lives.

    The Second Phase will take place on the Day of Retribution itself, just before the climactic massacre. The Second Phase will represent my War on Women.

    To get them out of the way. To secure the apartment for himself. So he could torture people who’d had better sex lives than he had. Before proceeding to the climax which he called his War on Women.

  66. says

    melonsoup:
    Ah, so you’re a hyperskeptic. Lovely.
    I’m done with you and qwints.
    Each of you, in your own way wants to deny the evidence that’s right before your eyes.
    Each of you, in your own way is denying the realities that women face.
    Neither one of you is helping.

  67. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    melonsoup, why the hell are you rehashing arguments the rest of us refuted two weeks ago? What’s the fucking point?

  68. Greta Christina says

    Why is [the fact that society’s misogyny was “expressed, clearly and vividly, as the central thesis,” of Rodger’s manifesto] so hard to grasp?

    Because I don’t see common misogynist sentiments as the central ideas of Rodger’s videos and manifesto. Rodger talked about eliminating all women, about abolishing the entire institution of sex and relationships, and about hating all women for not spontaneously recognizing his greatness and attractiveness. I haven’t seen a ‘standard frustrated geek guy manifesto’ that resembles such statements.

    qwints @ #56: One smaller point before I get to the larger one: “Standard frustrated geek guy manifestos” definitely include hating all women for not spontaneously recognizing their greatness and attractiveness.

    But now to the main point. So what you’re saying is basically this: Despite the fact that 99% of Rodger’s writings and videos were completely in line with the common misogyny in our culture, the 1% difference, just by itself, shows that there is no connection whatsoever with that misogyny. The very fact that Rodger took this hatred one step further into extremism, just by itself, shows that his hatred has nothing at all to do with the common misogyny in our culture, and was not in any way influenced by it. Even though you acknowledge that rapists and domestic abusers are shaped by their misogynist culture, that 1% difference somehow magically makes Rodger a total freak outlier. The very fact of his extremism proves this.

    Thus making your argument completely tautological. By this logic, any extremist who takes the hatred of their society one step further is therefore no longer a product of that society.

    Thus rendering this entire conversation a complete waste of everyone’s time.

    And you acknowledge that the extreme racist hatred of the KKK in the 1950s and 1960s was shaped by the common racism of the time, and was in fact the extreme end of a cultural spectrum. You acknowledge, along with the SPLC, that hate groups are fueled by mainstream culture, and that educating people out of everyday bigotry is a good way to prevent extremist hatred and hate-inspired violence. But somehow, magically, the MRA movement is different. Because, reasons.

    Thus, once again, rendering this entire conversation a complete waste of everyone’s time.

    Get out. Now. You are part of the problem. You are engaging in misogyny denialism, and I have no tolerance for it, and no more patience. I am not going to ban you from participating elsewhere in this blog — yet — but I do not want to hear one more word from you in this thread that is not an apology. Violate this, and you will be banned.

  69. Greta Christina says

    melonsoup: This is your one warning. Every single point you have made has been addressed, at length. If you won’t be convinced by a mountain of evidence generally linking misogynist hatred to violence against women, and if you won’t be convinced the clearly, extensively, repeatedly stated motivation of the killer himself, I can’t imagine what evidence would convince you.

    I have no patience or tolerance for misogyny denialism. And I have no patience for hyperskepticism. I have no patience for people who demand more evidence for misogyny than they would for Bigfoot. You are part of the problem. This is your one warning. Back off, or get out, or you will be banned.

  70. melonsoup says

    Greta I’m sorry, I never meant to be hyperskeptic, or deny misogynistic hatred. I think that it is a huge problem is our society and cases like this are symptomatic of it. I wanted to analyze it further is all, and everyone made good, pointed arguments.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply