[CONTENT NOTE: mass shootings and shooters, violent misogyny, rape culture.]
First, when I use the word misogyny, by way of definition I incorporate by reference the concept of entitlement. It may be directed to women’s deference, obedience, attention, decisions, bodies, privacy, place in a hierarchy (such as a business), perceived or actual safety (relative to men), and/or umpteen kazillion other aspects that I cannot think of right now on account of the blinding rage. So whatever else its definition may encompass, it encompasses at least some form of gender-based entitlement.
Second, the definition of mass shooting lacks consensus, to put it mildly. Broadly speaking, it requires a single shooter, a minimum of three (or four) victims, which may (or may not) include the shooter, in a public place, in essentially the same geographic location with shots fired close together in time. Again, broadly speaking, it does not include foreign terrorist attacks, or incidental homicides such as multiple killings during a bank robbery.
Interestingly, the common caveat that a mass shooting must occur in a public place means that incidents where a shooter kills his wife, girlfriend, or ex, her children, other family member(s) and possibly himself (odds are 50-50 there) does not meet the definition of mass shooting.
I wonder why that is?
Articles about the mass shooting in Uvalde, TX, have been flooding my news feed since it occurred. I am, like most non-conservative USians, sick and heartbroken over this incident, and the countless others before it, with no end in sight.
I don’t want to talk about how to stop these mass shootings; it’s a solvable problem, but as long as conservatives exist in positions of power, it will never be solved in the U.S. I also don’t want to talk about the evils of the gun industry, its loyal servants in congress and on the Supreme Court, and how it infects broad swaths of multiple subcultures in this society.
Simply put, all of that shit has been written about (by me and many others) and there is quite literally nothing left to say that hasn’t already been said, again and again and again. It is the ultimate exercise in screaming into the proverbial void, and, well, I ain’t got time for that.
What I do want to talk about is probably an equally pointless endeavor, but here I go anyway. It’s the violent misogyny that infests the minds of the vast majority of mass shooters. And I want to pose this question: why is evidence of this not the focus of law enforcement before a massacre occurs?
Of course I have my own opinions about the answer(s) to that question, and would welcome yours. But given the status quo described above – and assuming for the moment that this, too, is a solvable problem – will it be tossed atop the towering landfill of solvable problems that will never be solved in the U.S.?
Okay that was two questions. #sorrynotsorry.
First things first. The stench of violent misogyny is present in every history of a mass shooter about whom I have acquired some detailed knowledge. I refrain from making a blanket statement here, because odds are that there will be exceptions, and in any event I find researching their lives tedious and repugnant. Racially motivated mass shootings come to mind, but… I wonder how hard we’d have to scratch the surface of a racist mass shooter to find violent misogyny – or for that matter, vice versa? Elliot Rodger’s violent misogynist rants also included racist hate, and I don’t think many reality-based people will disagree that misogyny and racism are frequent and very cozy bedfellows.
Usually, the mass shooter’s history of violent misogyny gets reported almost as an afterthought – say, in paragraph 13 of some 15-paragraph piece titled “What We Know About the [latest location] Shooter.” Alternatively, as in the Uvalde case, the violent misogyny evidence trickles out well after the ubiquitous “mental health!” scapegoat has made its appearance and been kicked around to death, and other facets of the shooter’s character and history have been reported.
Older mass shooters frequently have arrest records for domestic violence or related crimes like gender-based stalking, harassment, and sexual assault. Teen mass shooters are less likely to have acquired public arrest records, and juvenile records are often expunged or sealed. The fact that online and other available evidence of violent misogyny predates mass shootings should mark it as a critical red flag for law enforcement scrutiny. It is the canary in the coal mine for mass shooters, and a characteristic (almost) all perpetrators have in common.
Well, except for the fact that mass shooters are (again, almost) universally (white) men. Shouldn’t that fact alone elevate the importance of violent misogynist views as a precursor to mass shootings? Yet its importance is instead diminished, ignored, or excused away, by both law enforcement and the media.
Once in a while, violent misogyny comprises the entire subject of a mass shooter’s zillion word manifesto and online vitriol, e.g. Elliot Rodger. And even then, we will still have national media outlets publishing pieces denying the obvious. Guaranteed.
All of this was brought to mind (again? still?) today when I saw this:
May 28, 9:46 a.m. EDT
Young people who encountered the alleged gunman online before the massacre said their reports to social media companies were ignored and that his kind of angry misogyny is just “how online is.”
Read more [@ Washington Post]
I declined the invitation to “read more,” because there is enough in this one blurb upon which one could base a book.
The headline that says the shooter’s violent, misogynist threats were “mostly ignored” contradicts the next sentence, which states that the shooters threats were not ignored by “young people who encountered the alleged gunman online” and took the step of reporting him to social media companies. The fact that social media companies – and their partners in law enforcement – ignored those threats should not be news to anyone.
The more important point is whose voices are being ignored, when they report online threats and hate. You could ask any woman with an online presence for the answer. Or note, as the same sentence goes on to say, “his kind of angry misogyny is just ‘how online is.'”
Well guess what, Washington Post? It’s how offline is, too.
Violent misogyny certainly manifests in our ever-worsening epidemic of domestic violence. Yet curiously, those incidents never seem to appear on your front page or in your email blasts, unless of course they concern Johnny fucking Depp.
And violent misogyny also manifests in mass shootings. To downplay this, trivialize it or ignore it completely speaks to either its ubiquity, or unconscionable, willful ignorance. Or both.
Since we as a society clearly tolerate expressions of violent misogyny everywhere, we should expect a lot more bullets to fly. And all available evidence points to the fact that we’ll tolerate that, too.
I have to go play with my kitteh now. And maybe eat a cookie?