Misogynist Killer Post Compilation

Content note: misogyny, violence against women, murder

I have a deadline coming up, and won’t be able to write about the Elliot Rodger mass murder for a couple/ few days. Many people have been writing excellent things about it. Here are links to just a few, with brief excerpts from each.

Laurie Penny, New Statesman, Let’s call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism (this one is an absolute must-read):

Why can we not speak about misogynist extremism – why can we not speak about misogyny at all – even when the language used by Elliot Rodger is everywhere online?

We are told, repeatedly, to ignore it. It’s not real. It’s just “crazy”, lonely guys who we should feel sorry for. But as a mental health activist, I have no time for the language of emotional distress being used to excuse an atrocity, and as a compassionate person I am sick of being told to empathise with the perpetrators of violence any time I try to talk about the victims and survivors. That’s what women are supposed to do. We’re supposed to be infinitely compassionate. We’re supposed to feel sorry for these poor, confused, vengeful individuals. Sometimes we’re allowed to talk about our fear, as long as we don’t get angry. Most of all, we mustn’t get angry.

We have allowed ourselves to believe, for a long time, that the misogynist subcultures flourishing on- and offline in the past half-decade, the vengeful sexism seeding in resentment in a time of rage and austerity, is best ignored. We have allowed ourselves to believe that those fetid currents aren’t really real, that they don’t matter, that they have no relation to “real-world” violence. But if the Isla Vista massacre is the first confirmed incident of an incident of gross and bloody violence directly linked to the culture of ‘Men’s Rights’ activism and Pickup Artist (PUA) ideology, an ideology that preys on lost, angry men, then it cannot be ignored or dismissed any more.

Miri, Brute Reason, Masculinity, Violence, and Bandaid Solutions:

Before you call Rodger “crazy”: it is not actually “crazy” to believe stuff that’s been shoved down your throat from birth.

David Futrelle, We Hunted the Mammoth (formerly Manboobz), Why Elliot Rodger’s misogyny matters:

When a white supremacist murders blacks or Jews, no one doubts that his murders are driven by his hateful, bigoted ideology. When homophobes attack a gay youth, we rightly label this a hate crime.

But when a man filled to overflowing with hatred of women acts upon this hatred and launches a killing spree targeting women, many people find it hard to accept that his violence has anything to do with his misogyny.

(Futrelle also has a transcript of Rodger’s final video, for those (like me) who can’t bear to watch it.)

Ophelia Benson, Butterflies and Wheels, Grandstanding?:

Am I “grandstanding” for instance when I pay a lot of attention – public, blog post and social media attention – to the kidnapping and enslavement of schoolgirls in Nigeria by a violently misogynist group of Islamists? Is that “grandstanding”? Is it grandstanding to make a connection between Boko Haram’s misogynist theocratic views and its actions?

And what is “extremely selfish” about making a connection between misogyny and violence? What is even a little bit selfish about that? I don’t see it; I can’t see it.

Martin Robbins, guest blogging on Butterflies and Wheels, What elephant in what room?:

A man who was part of a community of extremists who hate women, wrote a manifesto about his hate for women, then went to a female sorority house to kill women.

But it definitely wasn’t about his hatred of women. Oh no sir, it was because of his Asperger’s, or some undefined mental illness. It clearly had nothing to do with his hatred of women because he killed men too, on his way to the female sorority house. More men than women in fact if you count them up. And even if it was related to misogyny, we probably shouldn’t talk about it because hey, if we air these sort of views publicly the terrorists win.

The Belle Jar, Elliot Rodger And Men Who Hate Women:

This is what the Men’s Rights Movement teaches its members. Especially vulnerable, lonely young men who have a hard time relating to women. It teaches them that women, and especially feminist women, are to blame for their unhappiness. It teaches them that women lie, and that women are naturally predisposed to cheat, trick and manipulate. It teaches them that men as a social class are dominant over women and that they are entitled to women’s bodies. It teaches them that women who won’t give them what they want deserve some kind of punishment.

We need to talk about this. The media, especially, needs to address this. We live in a culture that constantly devalues women in a million little different ways, and that culture has evolved to include a vast online community of men who take that devaluation to its natural conclusion: brutal, violent hatred of women. And I don’t mean that all these men have been physically violent towards women, but rather that they use violent, degrading, dehumanizing language when discussing women. Whose bodies, just as a reminder, they feel completely entitled to.

PZ Myers, Pharyngula, Well, that explains everything:

The real culprit in all of this is a culture of thriving misogyny, in which women are dehumanized and regarded as grudging dispensers of sex candy, who must be punished if they don’t do their job of servicing men. Elliot Rodger was a spoiled, entitled kid who had his brain poisoned with this attitude. First he learned that women are disposable, then he learned that they were evil for not having sex with him, and then he rationally put together two delusions and acted on them.

And it’s not just MRAs and PUAs that spread that poison. Every politician and media blowhard who bargains away women’s rights, who dismisses efforts to correct economic inequities, or patronizingly decides that they must manage women’s lives for them, is polluting the atmosphere further.

Courtney Caldwell, Skepchick, “Alpha Male” Elliot Rodgers’ Retribution:

Society tells men that if they’re “Nice Guys,” they are entitled to women’s bodies and time. So you can’t be surprised when some men take that as an edict to take what is theirs by violence. You certainly can’t be surprised that men like Elliot Rodger think violence is justified, when Men’s Rights leaders like Paul Elam tell their readers to beat up women:

“I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles. And then make them clean up the mess.”

Emma Cueto, Bustle, After Elliot Rodger, #YesAllWomen Trends on Twitter as a Response to the “Not All Men” Fools:

It seems lately that no one can have a conversation about misogyny and the problems women (#YesAllWomen) face without someone interrupting with “Not all men!” This is apparently even true on a day when a young man with a long and painfully well-documented history of misogyny predictably turns violent and kills at least six people.

Josh Glasstetter, Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog, Shooting Suspect Elliot Rodger’s Misogynistic Posts Point to Motive:

A review of Rodger’s online writing suggests an ideology behind his lust for revenge.

A Martyr of Modern Skepticism: The Assassination of Prominent Atheist Narendra Dabholkar

A great skeptical leader has been assassinated.

This didn’t happen in a tyrannical theocracy. This happened in a modern, supposedly secular nation, with no state religion, and with first-class programs of science and medicine. And still, for the crime of criticizing religious beliefs, questioning them, and subjecting them to scientific scrutiny, a great skeptical leader was gunned down on the street in broad daylight.

narendra_dabholkarFor over two decades, Dr. Narendra Dabholkar dedicated his life to overcoming superstition in India. Originally a medical doctor, Dabholkar spent years exposing religious charlatans, quacks, frauds, purveyors of “miracle cures,” and other con artists preying on gullibility, desperation, and trust. An activist against caste discrimination in India, and an advocate for women’s rights and environmentalism, Dr. Dabholkar’s commitment to social justice was expansive and enduring. But it was his work against superstition that earned him his fame.

India is a huge, hugely diverse country, and much of it — particularly the South — is thoroughly modern, urban, and largely secular. But much of the country — particularly the North — is saturated with self-proclaimed sorcerers, faith healers, fortune tellers, psychics, gurus, godmen, and other spiritual profiteers. In parts of the country, people are beaten, mutilated, or murdered for being suspected of witchcraft, and there are even rare cases of human sacrifice — including the sacrifice of children — in rituals meant to appease the gods.

Throughout this country, Dr. Dabholkar traveled to towns and villages, investigating claims of miracles and magic, revealing the physical reality behind the tricks — and organizing travelling troops of activists to do the same. He didn’t try to persuade people out of the very idea of religious belief, but he was an open atheist, proud and unapologetic. He was the Founder of the Committee for Eradication of Superstition in Maharashtra (Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti). He fought for years for the passage of a controversial anti-black-magic bill in India.

And it was his work against superstition that almost certainly cost him his life.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, A Martyr of Modern Skepticism: The Assassination of Prominent Atheist Narendra Dabholkar. To find out more about Dr. Dabholkar’s life, work, and murder — and the context it all took place in — read the rest of the piece. And please share it, retweet it, etc. – this story needs to be heard, outside the atheist/skeptical community as well as within it.

On Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman Verdict — and What “Freethought” Does Not Fracking Well Mean

Please note: This blog post has a different comment policy from my usual one. It appears at the end of the post.

Other people have written about the details of the George Zimmerman case, and the verdict, more clearly and eloquently than I can. This piece does a pretty good job, as does this, as does this, as does this, as does this, as does this. But I feel that I need to get on the record about this. I may be disjointed, I may not be my usual eloquent self, but I can’t let this pass in silence.

Sometimes, I am deeply ashamed of my country. This is one of those times. The George Zimmerman verdict is making me physically ill.

I didn’t blog about the George Zimmerman verdict the day that it happened, or the day after, because I was out of town at my father’s memorial and the scattering of his ashes (and was then flying back home). And I can’t stop thinking about how I feel about my father’s death… and then thinking about how Trayvon Martin’s parents must feel. There have been moments when my grief over my father has felt nearly unbearable — and my father died at age 79, quietly in his sleep, after a long decline and years of very low quality of life from which death was a respite, of natural causes that nobody in this world could consider unjust. I cannot begin to imagine what it must feel like to be grieving the death of your teenaged child, who was hunted down and shot, whose death came from a systemic hatred and contempt of your race that you and yours have to live with every second of every minute of every day of every year of your entire life… and whose killer, in a grotesque travesty of justice, was acquitted.

I cannot begin to imagine. But it is my moral obligation to try.

It is also my moral obligation to do whatever I can to change the world, to do what I can to move this world towards one in which this would never happen, could never happen. It’s a tiny tiny start, not anywhere near enough, but it’s a start: I’ve signed the NAACP petition to the U. S. Department of Justice, asking them to file civil rights violation charges against George Zimmerman. You can sign it, too. If you know of other action that people can take, please make suggestions in the comments.

And in response to some (not all, not even most, but some) of what I’ve been seeing in the online discussions about this — largely among atheists/ skeptics/ etc., since that’s the Internet world I largely inhabit — I also want to say this:

I am sick to fucking death of the idea that “freethought” means “we have to treat all ideas as worthy of consideration, and debate them calmly and without anger, and treat people we disagree with respectfully.” Some ideas are morally repugnant. It is not antithetical to freethought to respond to morally repugnant ideas with rage. It is not antithetical to freethought to tell people with morally repugnant ideas that their ideas are morally repugnant, and that you will have nothing to do with them.

There are some issues that are worthy of calm, considered debate, issues on which people can reasonably disagree and still be friends. The question of whether a young black man should be able to buy candy at a convenience store without being hunted and killed is not one of them.

And I am sick to death of people looking at the national conversation about the George Zimmerman verdict, and acting as if “oh no, people are being mean to people who expressed views they find morally repugnant, they’re swearing at them and unfriending them and blocking them!” was the real issue here, the most important issue, the issue we should all be discussing. A young black man was hunted and killed for the crime of being a young black man, and his killer was acquitted. This is not an isolated case: it reflects the reality of millions of African Americans. And what some people really, really want to talk about is, “People are cussing people out and banning them on Facebook!” If those are your priorities, then please get the fuck out of my life. Do not comment in my blog. Do not read my blog. Do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Do not attend my talks. Do not buy my books. Go away, now.

And I am sick to fucking death of the idea that I am somehow morally obligated to host these debates — and these derailing meta-debates — in my own space.

I am not willing to host a debate about this on my blog. I am willing to host many debates on my blog, about many issues. I am willing to make my blog into a place for people to express many ideas and opinions with which I passionately disagree. This is not one of those issues, and this is not one of those times. If you have anything at all to say about this that even remotely hints at implying that what George Zimmerman did was remotely defensible, or that this verdict was anything short of grotesque… do not comment in my blog. Now, or ever. Do not read my blog. Do not follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Do not attend my talks. Do not buy my books. Get the fuck out of my life, now. Thank you.

“A distraction”

So, this happened.

On my Facebook page, there’s a conversation about how female inmates in California prisons have been getting sterilized, without the proper approval process, and with the women being subjected to pressure and coercion.

A commenter on my page (remaining nameless here, as people have a somewhat higher expectation of privacy on Facebook than elsewhere on the Internet), had this to say:

There are worse things to be worrying about, like where people are actually dying or losing their freedoms.

When I pointed out to him that this was, in fact, a story about freedoms being lost, and asked if he wanted his Facebook readers to troll him every time he posted about something when they thought something else was more important, he replied:

Thorny topics like sterilization and the requirement of consent for it seems like a distraction from the things that can actually improve our quality of life in the here and now or in the future.

A distraction.

From the things that can actually improve our quality of life.

The requirement of consent for sterilization is, according to this person, a distraction from things that can actually improve our quality of life. Things like the right to basic bodily autonomy, or the right to decide for ourselves whether we are or are not to reproduce… apparently, these aren’t things that can actually improve anyone’s life.

Or maybe the issue here is that the “our” in “our quality of life” doesn’t include female prisoners?

And while we’re at it: A “thorny” topic? Sterilization and the requirement of consent for it is a “thorny” topic? It seems pretty freaking straightforward to me. You don’t sterilize people without their absolutely clear, completely informed, entirely non-pressured consent. Period. What, precisely, is “thorny” about that?

Sigh.

Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage… and Demand a New Voting Right Act

Yesterday was a happy, happy day. The Supreme Court struck two powerful blows for equality: forcing the Federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, and effectively overturning Prop 8 and alloweing same-sex marriage in California. Yay!

But the day before yesterday was a fucking travesty. The Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, effectively gutting the act. The tl;dr: The Voting Rights Act recognized that some states have a lousy track record of actively and systematically stopping some people — most notably black people — from voting… and it required those states to get federal approval when they changed their voting laws.

That’s now gone.

So now these states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) can enact restrictive voter ID laws that placee a disproportionate burden on poor people, young people, and racial minorities… without any federal oversight. They can gerrymander their voting districts to disenfranchise poor people, young people, and racial minorities… without any federal oversight. They can set up different voting rules and regulations in different districts, making it easier to vote in rich, white, conservative districts, and harder to vote in poor, non-white, progressive districts… without any federal oversight.

And they’re going to. They’re already doing it. Within two hours of the Supreme Court decision, Texas passed a voter ID law that the Federal government had quashed after VRA mandated review.

Think this doesn’t affect you? Think again. To give just one example: You know Wendy Davis, the amazing Texas state senator whose filibuster stopped a draconian anti-abortion bill from passing? Republicans have already tried to gerrymander her out of her district. Now that the Voting Rights Act has been gutted, that’s suddenly going to be a whole lot easier for them.

This affects all of us. If you give a damn about citizens in this country being able to vote… this affects you. If you give a damn about the fundamental moral principle that citizens being able to vote, without pointless roadblocks being thrown in their way because they won’t vote the way the entrenched power interests want them to… this affects you. If you give a damn about the way that the principle of democracy in this country is gradually being chipped away at, bit by bit… this affects you.

We can’t let the happy news about same-sex marriage lull us into complacency. There is hard work ahead.

The NAACP has a petition in place already, pressing Congress to enact a new Voting Rights Act, one that the Supreme Court can’t gut on the specious grounds that the old one is out of date. Sign it. And then throw some money their way — every penny helps. And spread the word about it: tell your friends, spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, do whatever you can to raise the alarm. And get onto other ways to support them and take action.

And if you have other suggestions about hard action that we can take on this, or other organizations that are working on this, please speak up in the comments.

If you’re at all into this social justice/ intersectionality thing… put your money, or your time, or your voice, where your mouth is. Thanks.

SCOTUS, Same-Sex Marriage, and Admitting When I’m Wrong

Since I’m a big proponent of admitting when you’re wrong, I feel that I should say this today:

I was one of the people objecting to bringing same-sex marriage to SCOTUS. I was one of the people saying, “It’s too soon, this court sucks, we have to wait until we have a better court, this will set a bad precedent that we’ll have to live with for years.”

I was wrong.

And I have rarely been more happy to be wrong.

What the SCOTUS Ruling on DOMA and Prop 8 Means

Such good news to wake up to! DOMA has been (basically) overturned, Prop 8 has been (effectively) overturned! Same-sex marriage now recognized by the United States Federal government, and legal in California!

So what does this mean? It’s a somewhat legally complicated decision in some ways, and the “standing” issue is particularly tricky to parse. So here is my complex, nuanced, detailed analysis of the Supreme Court’s decisions today.

Here’s how this translates:

“Fuck you, religious right.

“Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.

“Other people’s love lives are none of your business. Other people’s sex lives are none of your business. You have your collective head entirely up your collective ass. The fact that you think other people’s loves lives and sex lives are any of your business, the fact that you think they hurt you in any way, is just pathetic and sad. It has nothing to do with you. And it’s a sign of just how twisted and small your lives are that you want to squelch other people’s lives and loves in order to preserve your own rigid, backwards ideas about gender. It’s a sign of just how twisted and small your lives are that you want to force your ideas of a petty, vengeful god obsessed with the details of people’s sex lives onto everyone around you. So try minding your own beeswax for a change. History is going to look back and see you for the short-sighted, cold-hearted, narrow-minded bigots that you are. This country is moving forward — this world is moving forward — and you are being left in the sad, sad dust. To choke.

And queer people — go party! Have an awesome Pride Day!”

Please Sign Petition Against Nigeria’s “Jail the Gays” Law

In case you haven’t heard: Nigeria has just passed a hideously draconian anti-gay law. it makes it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations. It makes it illegal to even speak in favor of gay rights — anyone who abets a gay person, witnesses a same sex marriage, or advocates for LGBT rights is in violation of the law. It bans gay marriage, obviously. And it sets prison terms of up to 10 years for offenders — 14 years for people violating the law against same-sex marriage.

There’s a petition up, petitioning Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan to not sign this bill. Please sign it. I just did.

(Hat tip to Yemisi Ilesanmi at Yemmynisting for getting the word out about this.)