“How dare you besmirch the good name of misogyny?!”

Amanda Marcotte takes a jaundiced look at the contorted defenses of misogyny people are being driven to by the inconvenient actions of Elliot Rodger.

I call it the “How dare you besmirch the good name of misogyny?!” gambit. The idea is to deny and deny and deny that Rodger was motivated by misogyny. Which is weird. Since 95-99% of misogynists deny they are misogynists, what’s it to them to admit that he was motivated by misogyny? The only reason I can think to deny he’s a misogynist is that you secretly know damn well you are a misogynist, and you want to deny that your misogynist ideology played any role in the killings.

Well yeah. It’s their misogyny, they don’t want some weirdo like Rodger bursting in to wreck it for them.

Some variations I’ve spotted:

Rich Lowry: “Even without any of that background, it is obvious that Rodger’s final YouTube video and his 140-page manifesto promising to exact vengeance upon the women who spurned him are the ravings of a deranged person; as such, it is the derangement itself, not the content of the ravings, that is most important.” Translation:  Misogyny is clearly blameless here, and the fact that it showed up in Rodger’s rantings should be regarded as utterly irrelevant.

Add to that Jaclyn Glenn and J T Eberhard. Oh and Richard Dawkins, since he thinks Jaclyn Glenn’s revolting video was so “rational.”

Then there was the sub-genre of the “how dare you besmirch the good name of misogyny” gambit, which I call the “just because that guy killed someone doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with misogyny generally” argument. This card was played in response to women pointing out that Rodger’s spree was simply the worst manifestation of a constant drumbeat of male entitlement and anger when it’s thwarted, a combination commonly known as “misogyny”.

Katie Pavlich: “This issue is not about women and I think it’s kind of insulting for women to go on Twitter and talk about how them getting hit on in the bar is equal to being shot in the street, because it’s not.” Translation: Misogyny is utterly blameless and just because this one guy shot someone doesn’t mean anything. Misogynists who enjoy making life hard on women, carry on, so long as you make sure to stop short of violence. (By the way, no one talked about merely being hit on in bars. They talked about being harassed, which means being hit on by a man who is not going to take no for an answer.)

There’s more. It’s all shrewd good stuff.


  1. K says

    The reality is, of course, that socially conservative males were only put on this earth to father liberal daughters. They are spectacularly incompetent at doing anything other than that and ironing our skirts.

  2. says

    , it is the derangement itself, not the content of the ravings, that is most important.”

    Look, if you are going to claim some sort of acute episode of losing contact with reality, the focus of this derangement (and it was focused) is absolutely important. There are always people somewhere having acute or chronic experiences of an extreme nature. They do all sorts of things like running, hiding, crying uncontrollably, screaming at everyone who passes by, or any countless number of other behaviors. They run out and kill people who they claimed previously that they were going to kill when their problem is that they hate these people, devalue and other them in the extreme.

    If Rodger was deranged, his derangement followed his long existing pattern of misogyny. It was not some random shit.

    Never mind we have yet to prove that he had some sort of psychotic break or anything, not that it matters one damn bit if he did or not. His fucking problem is that he was a misogynist douchebag, properly raised as one by the care and feeding of other misogynist douchebags and the general sexism and entitlement culture that surrounds us.

    Watch your legislature for an omnibus Defense of Misogyny Act.

  3. says

    So if a black woman decides to go on a killing spree and murder a bunch of dudes, some black but mostly white, are people like this (not Marcotte; the people she’s talking about) going to call that woman sane?

    Because that, in a twisted way, almost makes sense…..

  4. Silentbob says

    @ 2 Raging Bee

    It’s the previous post (link above the title of this one).

  5. screechymonkey says

    Like Amanda, I’m amazed that people have chosen this tactic. I really thought that the obvious thing for the misogynist brigade to take would be to simply say, “well, yeah, duh, THIS guy’s a misogynist. He actually said he hates women and wanted to kill them. THAT’s what a REAL misogynist looks like. The rest of us, who merely want to deny women the right to control their bodies and slut-shame them, aren’t misogynists! Because we never actually admit^^^^^ say that we hate women!”

    Sort of like how, in the aftermath of Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling, conservatives have said “SEE? That’s what a racist looks like. That’s not me at all!”

  6. says

    If some Christian or Muslim posted a screed filled with invective against atheists (or anyone not a member in good standing of their particular sub-sub-sub-sect), and then went on a shooting spree against the stated targets, would Dawkins et al be saying that no, the religious content is irrelevant, it’s just personal craziness? I recall people trying to pin the VA Tech massacre on religion, because the guy came from a religious family who failed to get him proper psych treatment.

    I first wrestled with this question back when l’Ecole Polytechnique happened. And pretty quickly it seemed obvious to me that this sort of mass shooting is the result of an interaction between personal pathology (whether or not it rises to the level of diagnosable illness) and larger issues in society. Some angry people shoot up their workplace because they have a grudge on those people specifically. Others find a more diffuse and symbolic target for their rage — women/feminism, racial issues, whatever. You can’t ignore the choice of target.

  7. sillynumbers says

    The argument seems to go, People dying is an extreme and anomalous outcome, therefore misogyny is not a significant factor. We could say the same for witch-burning and superstition; crusades and religion; lynching and racism; suicide and bigotry. But it’d be obscenely irrational.

  8. says

    I don’t want to understate the awfulness or pervasiveness of misogyny, but it really is rather rare that a sane person goes on a effectively random killing spree.

  9. Randomfactor says

    Just think, if Rodgers had been sane he might “only” have become a serial rapist.

  10. says

    Matthew Ostergren, nobody is arguing that Rodger was necessarily “sane”; we are arguing that whatever his mental health or illness, he was also motivated by virulent misogyny. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  11. says

    Fair enough, Ophelia Benson. I guess I’m mostly speculating at this point, but I would think mental illness probably motivated him to random violence and misogyny gave him the target for that violence. I do have to wonder if his participation and immersion in the especially awful misogynistic internet forums he visited kept him from getting the help he needed?

  12. says

    That’s pretty much what we’ve been arguing. Pliny’s cartoon divided the two in just that way. Of course it’s not a sign of robust mental health to go on a murder spree, but that’s not all there is to it.

  13. sillynumbers says

    I recall watching an exasperated Dawkins at Beyond Belief arguing that just because religion isn’t the *only* factor in play, it doesn’t follow that it isn’t a significant one. Maybe the Complex Cause Fallacy fallacy is easier to spot to when it comes to religion.

  14. Athywren says

    The thing that most confuses me about the arguments people make about how misogyny had nothing to do with his actions, is that they all seem to be buying into some bizarre form of quantum free will to make it work. Plenty of people have been willing to accept that society is a tiny bit misogynist, but, see, society doesn’t influence people. If you decide to do something, that’s on you, and you alone. But it’s not just this libertarian will that they’re arguing for, because it was completely random, it could’ve been anyone and anything (and besides out of a group of six, most were men, so how could he have been motivated by misogyny? That’s statistically significant, that is! Probably…) so not only was his anger toward women not influenced by a misogynistic society, it wasn’t influenced by anything – he just happened to pick women, but it could just have easily been trees, or asians and it doesn’t mean anything at all, except that he was crazy. Because that’s the main point – madness gives you magical powers of free will and so is always the only reason for anything.

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