We don’t know if Elliot Rodger was mentally ill. We don’t know if he was a “madman.” We do know that he was desperately lonely and unhappy, and that the Men’s Rights Movement convinced him that his loneliness and unhappiness was intentionally caused by women.
Because this is what the Men’s Rights Movement does: it spreads misogyny, it spreads violence, and most of all it spreads a sense of entitlement towards women’s bodies.
Pretending that this is the a rare act perpetrated by a “crazy” person is disingenuous and also does nothing to address the threat of violence that women face every day. We can’t just write this one off – we need to talk about all of the fucked up parts of our culture, especially the movements that teach men that they have the right to dominate and intimidate and violate women, that lead to this, and we need to change things. Because if we don’t, I guarantee that this will happen again. And again. And again.
I’ve held off on commenting on the UC Santa Barbara shooting until authorities confirmed Elliot Rodger was the person behind it. Not because I’m defending this asshole — his YouTube videos alone qualify him as a grade-A asshole — but because I remember the Boston Marathon bombing where a number of people were incorrectly blamed as the perpetrators and demonized for it. I wanted to have things confirmed before I wrote anything. But here we go.
Fuck this guy. If your views cause you to go out and harm, let alone murder people, you are wrong. Nothing justifies murder or violence. He snuffed out six lives, and then took his own, all in the name of hate. Fuck him.
And let’s take a second to talk about the mental health angle of this. Mental illness didn’t cause this. Maybe he was depressed or unstable or something like that. But mental illness doesn’t cause murder. Hate does. Don’t shift the blame from hate to mental illness. There are countless people suffering from something, be it depression or anything else, and they do not deserve to be demonized. This is the outcome of blinded hate, not mental illness.
He did this out of the kind of hate we call misogyny. He was a misogynist. “Men’s rights activism” is just a different way of saying misogyny. It’s the idea that you’re better than someone, that a different way of thinking that challenges your worldview is evil and wrong. Let’s be real, men don’t need their rights protected; they’ve defined who has rights for centuries and beyond. Feminism isn’t a threat to the rights of men. Feminism is egalitarian, it’s about giving men and women equal rights, be it voting, pay, or the ability to walk the streets at night and feel safe. Feminism isn’t going to try to make men inferior in society and legality. Yes, there are people who claim to be feminists who advocate that, but they’re advocating hate, the same misguided, disgusting idea that fuels misogyny. All humans should be equal. So, you know what, let’s talk about hate.
Fuck hate. Hate is disgusting and awful. Why should you be prejudiced? Why should people define their identity on what they’re not? The very idea of “the other” goes back centuries, and it has always been idiotic. We see it fuel Islamophobia, anti-Judaism, homophobia, and more. We see it in every country. “What are you?” “I’m not that.” It fuels hate. I know this will sound silly and naive, but hate is awful and we need to end it. I don’t care if you’re outwardly prejudiced, or spin your hate in the defense of people, be it men or a truly discriminated minority. Don’t hate. Do not fucking hate anyone.
I quote Charlie Chaplin in 1940’s The Great Dictator (and remember, here “men” refers to all humans), “To those who can hear me, I say — do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed — the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”
You know what, fuck it. Just watch his speech. Listen to it. It’s the wisest speech ever given, and it was given 74 years ago. We need to live up to it.
Absolutely agree. This conversation shouldn’t be about mental illness. It should be about the one thing we know for sure about this guy: he was a rampant misogynist embroiled in the Men’s Rights community.
Regardless of the shooter’s mental health or other circumstances, it is obvious that Men’s Rights activism and rhetoric is dangerous, toxic, and pervasive. MRA dudes aren’t just some impotent assholes on Reddit. Their beliefs validate men who already think they need to find self-value in their ability to control women – be it through sex or through violence. The myth of the Nice Guy is wrapped up in horrible, institutionalized misogyny.
Remember earlier this week, when David Goyer said that She-Hulk is a porn star who solely exists for the gratification of men? Pop culture impacts the way boys are taught to think about women. It’s this kind of culture that creates men who feel entitled to women’s bodies. They feel entitled to screw whomever they want, while women don’t have the right to reject them. Because they’re nice, see.
On a final note: I don’t talk about this a lot, but I was in a pretty brutally abusive relationship for a year of my life with a guy who espoused Men’s Rights rhetoric. I’m lucky for many reasons to be alive. I’m positive that if he’d had access to a gun, I’d be dead. Gun control. Is. Imperative.
A lot of people look at women like me and notexactlysober and can’t understand how we could have been the victims of abuse. This is how it happens. Dangerous men justified by MRA rhetoric and institutionalized misogyny – and women who aren’t taught to know better. So, just so we can try and take something potentially helpful away from all of this, let’s remember that emotional, physical, and verbal abuse are just as dangerous and real as physical abuse. If you or someone you know is in a relationship with a man like this, please take a look at the domestic abuse checklist or have them read it over. It changes lives.