If you seriously want to contend that Elliot Rodger wasn’t motivated by hatred of women

A Facebook friend, Brian Murtagh, has a public post expressing fury at the “oh it wasn’t hatred of women” trope. It’s good to see such posts (and I’m seeing a lot of them), because this trope is truly disquieting and despair-inducing. I quote him with permission.

Look, if you seriously want to contend that Elliot Rodger wasn’t motivated by hatred of women, I don’t want you to unfriend me. I want you to explain your reasoning in a comment to this post.

I will then eviscerate your arguments, mock and castigate you thoroughly, then *I* will unfriend *you* – unless you convince me. Go on, give it your best fucking shot.

Excellent, and even better is his response to an article stating the obvious “it wasn’t misogyny ALONE”:

it’s a decent article but entirely beside the point. It doesn’t deny that the guy’s primary motive was hatred of women, it admits it unequivocally. I don’t know whether the coverage is terribly different in the UK (it usually is) but over here the media is dancing an unbelievable pavane of denial saying that that is simply *not* the case and that misogyny played little or no part in his motivation. They’re not saying he was made angry at women by some mental illness or other factor and that’s why he was so angry at women he went on a killing spree, they are saying that his blatant, admitted misogyny was largely if not entirely unrelated to the killing. Racists who kill aren’t excused their racism as a motive, religious bigots who kill apostates or heathen in their view aren’t excused that, but a man who flat out said he killed from hatred of women, in pages of online comments and a seven minute video and a 137 page manifesto is said to have had no such motive. It’s utter bullshit. The media in this country have no qualms about calling the most reasonable of feminists “man-haters” for calling out a sex-based institutional injustice, but they will *not* admit this man was motivated by hatred of women.

At least I’m not the only one who is disgusted.


  1. Jackie the wacky says

    Oh no. You are not at all alone in your disgust.
    Good for Brian Murtagh. We could all use more friends like that.

  2. PatrickG says

    “dancing an unbelievable pavane of denial”…. will have to steal that. Sums it all up quite aptly, and may be of use to the ISOLATED-CASE-MENTAL-ILLNESS-SHUT-UP crowd. Of which there seem to be so many different flavors, but all united in the firm belief that there’s simply no use in discussing misogyny or gun culture. That would be totally missing the point, so shut up.

  3. theoreticalgrrrl says

    “The media in this country have no qualms about calling the most reasonable of feminists “man-haters” for calling out a sex-based institutional injustice, but they will *not* admit this man was motivated by hatred of women.”

    Yes, a thousand times yes. That’s what is behind feminists being told to stop politicizing this issue, or using it for “their own agenda.” It’s so ridiculously obvious.

  4. jeffreykramer says

    Rodger was just as clear in his manifesto about the absolute, ineradicable, menacing depravity of all women as Hitler was in Mein Kampf about the absolute, ineradicable, menacing depravity of all Jews.

    Rodger was far, far more explicit in his manifesto about his desire to slaughter every woman he could reach than Hitler was about his desire to kill all the Jews of Europe.

    Doesn’t that count for something? Or should we re-examine whether anti-Semitism was really a central motivation for the Holocaust?

  5. shari says

    Ophelia, could you please install a “like” button for this post?

    Or, perhaps, a ‘Fucking Awesome’ button?

    that’s all.

    If not, well, thanks – it helps to read this today.

  6. says

    Or the people who say it can’t be terrorism because he didn’t have an ideology.

    I’m like, “What the hell do you call a 137-page manifesto explaining exactly the rights he wants women not to have?” People are dancing hard to get away from the idea that a white man might be a terrorist for being violent towards women qua women. Too many people they know standing on the fuzzy part of that line.

  7. Trebuchet says

    It’s just occurred to me that “not all men” is simply a variation of “no true Scotsman”.

  8. screechymonkey says

    Trebuchet @8,

    Would it be the converse? Or maybe a “Straw Scotsman,” since it’s an attempt to put a NTS argument in your opponent’s mouth.

    “No True Scotsman” comes about when someone makes a universal statement (“No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge”) and then tries to salvage it when a counter-example is given (and a single counterexample is all you need to refute a universal statement).

    “Not All Men” comes up when someone tries to take a general but not universal statement (“Women get harassed by men”) and treat it like it’s a universal one (“Women get harassed by each and every man.”) A single counterexample (“I’m a man, and I’ve never harassed a woman!”) suffices to contradict the second (straw) statement but not the first (actual) one.

    “Not All Men” also seems like a variant of someone I used to see when I started reading feminist blogs: “Not My Nigel!” Which, as I understood it, was the battle cry of women who thought it really important to establish to everyone that their husband/boyfriend/partner was an exception to whatever was being discussed.

  9. says

    I think it’s a reasonable suggestion, screechymonkey; the idea as I see it is that the men saying “Not All Men” are effectively disavowing the miscreants as “not really men like us“, which to me is pretty clearly the Scotsman’s Denial at work. Am I wrong? Isn’t it just a different way of expressing the same thing?

  10. screechymonkey says


    I think they’re related but not the same; I agree with Trebuchet that it’s a variant.

    But remember, the person who says “but my Uncle Angus is a Scotsman, and he puts sugar on his porridge” is making a valid logical rebuttal. Pointing out an exception to the “rule” is relevant because it falsifies the blanket statement “No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.” It’s the original speaker, who tries to move the goalposts by saying, well, “No TRUE Scotsman….” who is engaging in poor argumentation.

    With #NotAllMen, the person pointing out the exception isn’t making a relevant point. Nobody said — at least, not in the cases where we mock the use of Not All Men — that All men do X. It’s an attempt to disprove a broad generalization with a single counterexample, which isn’t valid. It’s the same as me saying “Republicans have an advantage in midterm elections, because the midterm electorate tends to be older and whiter than in presidential years, and those voters tend to be Republicans” and someone trying to refute me by saying “but my grandfather is old and white, and he always votes Democrat!” or “but I’m a young, non-white Democrat, and I always vote in midterms!” Those may be true statements, but they’re non sequiturs.

    I’m not sure whether we’re disagreeing or not, but if we are, I suspect it has to do with your statement:

    the men saying “Not All Men” are effectively disavowing the miscreants

    I don’t think that’s the point of those who say “Not All Men.” Indirectly that’s an implication, but I think their point is usually an attempt to refute what a feminist has said. The sense I get is that they’re not saying “why yes, I agree with you that this is a big societal problem, and I am on your side in this, so at least it’s not all men who are the problem.” Rather, it always comes across to me as “NUH-UH! Not all men do this, so what you said was WRONG! “

  11. says

    Yeah – I’m not really disagreeing, so much, as wondering, screechymonkey. Your explanation makes more sense to me this time, and I think we generally agree. Thanks for taking the extra time to explain a second time. 🙂

  12. Anthony K says

    You’re not alone, Ophelia.

    To add my small voice to this post, anyone contending that Elliot Rodger was some sort of aberrant lone wolf should probably at least contend with the individuals still on the PUAhate fora echoing not only his anti-women sentiments, but his actions as well.

    [Trigger warning. Some of the people at the link are describing their own manifestos, and how they can/might/should shoot up a school to get their own infamy, since being an ‘incel’ alone isn’t enough to earn you a wikipedia page.]
    Lessons From a Day Spent With the UCSB Shooter’s Awful Friends.

    These fellows certainly don’t think that misogyny was not Elliot Rodger’s motivation. Not only do they think he was a misogynist and that’s what motivated his attacks, they think he was right to be one, and that most men secretly are, as well.

    99% of men relate if they are honest, is what one wrote.

  13. Matt Penfold says

    I originally made this point on FB, but I will make here as well.

    There is a paradox in claiming that Rodgers was not motivated by a hatred of women. If he was not then his “manifesto” and his online postings and videos are works of deliberate deception of quite significant extent. If his intention was to deceive then he went about it in a careful and methodical manner.

    Yet such careful and methodical planning would seem to be at odds with someone who was serious mentally ill. So the fact he was so careful and methodical would seem to be evidence that he was not in fact mentally ill.

  14. medivh says

    Trebuchet, screechy, Caitie: I went looking for a definite category for “not all men” to fit into, and I can’t find one. It’s got elements of straw Scotsman, true. There’s also straw spotlight, with a dash of screechy’s own no true Klansman involved. It’s damned hard to pin down because it’s just not even wrong is my assessment.

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