Margaret Atwood famously said that men’s greatest fear is that women will laugh at them, while women’s greatest fear is that men will kill them. Misogyny and male entitlement are sustained acts of aggression against women that everyone should be invested in opposing. –Clementine Ford
Today’s column will be focused on media coverage of–and some observations about– the shooting Friday night in Isla Vista.
The coverage was predictable, ala: “a mentally disturbed young man went on a shooting spree. It seems as though he had some sort of problem with women.” A worldwide reaction via social media kept the “problem with women” part of the media equation from becoming an afterthought.
The Associated Press account featured in UT-San Diego got around to mentioning the “some problems with women” part about 10 paragraphs down, in keeping with the “if it bleeds, it leads” media mantra.
The son of a Hollywood director stabbed three men to death in his apartment, gunned down two women outside a sorority and randomly killed a sixth person in a rampage that was foreshadowed by a chilling Internet video in which he vowed to slaughter all the people who wronged him.
The LA Times gave this terse description of the spree:
The 22-year-old suspect, Elliot Rodger, outlined his plans in a 137-page document, which he sent out Friday before the shootings, authorities said.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown described Rodger as “very mentally disturbed.”
Authorities said Rodger began by fatally stabbing three roommates at his apartment complex in the 6500 block of Seville Road in Isla Vista, then went to a sorority house a few blocks away and opened fire on three women outside, fatally wounding two of them.
Rodger’s next stop was a local deli, where he fatally shot a UC Santa Barbara student inside, Brown said.
The suspect then drove his BMW, opening fire on pedestrians and others on the street, Brown said. He then got into a gun battle with deputies. Apparently wounded, he continued to drive. He was eventually found dead from a gunshot wound to the head that appeared to be self-inflicted.
As I waded through the conventional media’s narratives, I noticed a commonality pointing to insolvable problems (mental illness, the guns rights nuts) as the “why” of their stories. This isn’t to say those things are not factors, but it does point out the limitations of the sort of coverage traditional journalism is capable of producing.
Reporting on misogyny in our culture, the entitlement complex brought on by privilege and the existence of organized groups exploiting those issues is a rare event, something outside of the realm of reportage in the conventional media.
A young women calling herself “Kaye M” helped leverage a broader discussion with this simple Tweet, hoping to show that even though not all men are violent, objectification is widespread:
Guys, I’m going to be tweeting under the #YesAllWomen hashtag. Let’s discuss what “not all men” might do, but women must fear.
Predictably, her twitter feed was soon encroached upon by reporters wanting “her story”. Kaye M was smart enough not to play that game, responding:
I am protecting my private life, so I’m not responding to media.
A short but sweet description of the phenomena via blogger Amelia McDonell-Parry:
Because women everywhere — YES, ALL WOMEN — deal with this denial of their full personhood every day. This shared experience is what prompted the hashtag #YESALLWOMEN, featuring women’s stories of their personal autonomy being violated in ways “big” and “small,” and the ways we’re forced to protect ourselves from these violations. It is incredibly powerful and I urge you all to look through the hashtag here.
Salon.com and Time.com posted some of the more powerful responses, as did Boston.com. As ‘Cai’, writing at Daily Kos pointed out, “Unfortunately, Salon and Boston.com both give the first tweet to a man, and Time gives a man the last word.”
Via the BBC:
In response, Twitter users began using the #YesAllWomen hashtag – originally a response to traditional male rights activists’ complaints – to debate the issue.
The hashtag was used by more than 250,000 people in less than 24 hours.
Some social media users sparked anger by appearing to sympathise with Rodger’s bitterness at being rejected.
#yesallwomen is a Twitter hashtag in response to a twisted narrative that the women who didn’t date were to blame for Rodger’s actions. Before Rodger allegedly shot those 13 people in Santa Barbara, he filmed videos where he expressed anger at women who didn’t want to date him and that he shouldn’t be a virgin at 22.
“I feel so invisible as I walk through my college. Your revealing shorts, your cascading blonde hair, your pretty faces. I want one for a girlfriend,” Rodger said in one of the videos. “I am polite. I am the ultimate gentleman. And yet, you girls never give me a chance. I don’t know why,” he also said.
The gist: Rodger was frustrated that women didn’t want to date him, felt entitled to a woman’s affections, and talked about women like objects. And now there are people, in the wake of the shooting, who want to blame these women’s rejections as the reason for Rodger’s mass murder. The story, to those people, isn’t that Rodger was disturbed but rather: this poor guy wasn’t treated nicely by women.
The hate-crime and ideological aspects are discussed at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch Blog:
Elliot Rodger, who died after allegedly carrying out a series of drive-by shootings from behind the wheel of his BMW last night near the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, wrote in November that he wanted to “overthrow this oppressive feminist system” and create a “world where WOMEN FEAR YOU.”
Hours before the attack, Rodger – son of “Hunger Games” assistant director Peter Rodger – posted a deeply misogynistic video on YouTube in which he pledged to exact revenge for being rejected by women. “If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you,” he says.
A review of Rodger’s online writing suggests an ideology behind his lust for revenge. As I noted earlier today, Rodger was an active member of PuaHate.com, an online message board whose users lament that women are not attracted to them. The self-pitying participants frequently identify themselves as “incels” – short for involuntary celibate – and engage in misogynistic attacks on women.
As aired on 10/News (copy by City News Service):
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, said Rodger also posted frequently on the PuaHate website, which criticizes “pickup artists” who are successful with women, and made disparaging remarks about interracial couples.
“How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me?” he wrote in his manifesto. “I am beautiful, and I am half white myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He (black men) is descended from slaves. I deserve it more.”
Laurie Penny, writing at The New Statesman, cuts to the chase in her analysis:
The ideology behind these attacks – and there is ideology – is simple. Women owe men. Women, as a class, as a sex, owe men sex, love, attention, “adoration”, in Rodger’s words. We owe them respect and obedience, and our refusal to give it to them is to blame for their anger, their violence – stupid sluts get what they deserve. Most of all, there is an overpowering sense of rage and entitlement: the conviction that men have been denied a birthright of easy power.
Capitalism commodifies that rage, monetises it, disseminates it through handbooks and forums and crass mainstream pornography. It does not occur to these men that women might have experienced these very human things, too, because it does not occur to them that women are human, not really. Women are prizes to be caught and used or hags to be harassed or, occassionally, both.
Violent extremism always attracts the lost, the broken, young men full of rage at the hand they’ve been dealt. Violent extremism entices those who long to lash out at a system they believe has cheated them, but lack they courage to think for themselves, beyond the easy answers they are offered by pedlars of hate. Misogynist extremism is no different. For some time now misogynist extremism has been excused, as all acts of terrorism committed by white men are excused, as an aberration, as the work of random loons, not real men at all. The pattern is repeatedly denied: these are the words and actions of the disturbed.
Kate McDonough, writing at Salon.com, gives us some contemporary examples:
And this anger — this toxic male entitlement — isn’t contained to random comment boards or the YouTube videos of disturbed young men. It’s on full view elsewhere in our culture. Earlier this week, a writer for the New York Post quoted a member of a men’s rights group as the sole source in a report on Jill Abramson’s ouster at the New York Times. Mel Feit of the National Center for Men told columnist Richard Johnson that Abramson was systematically firing men and replacing them with women. He said that our society gives women preferential treatment. On his website, Feit bemoans a culture in which men are subject to the powerful whims of vindictive women who exist on “sexual pedestals.” He argues that men can’t be blamed for rape after a certain point of arousal.
These views about women and violence are replicated in our criminal justice system. They filter into our media. This is what makes Rodger’s misogynistic vitriol so terrifying — the fact that in many ways it’s utterly banal.
The news out of Isla Vista is still painfully fresh, and in the coming days we will continue to struggle to understand this pattern of violence. And while we do that — the work of considering what laws, support systems and cultural shifts must be put in place to prevent these tragedies from destroying more lives, families and communities — I can’t help but be reminded of all of the women who have been victimized by a culture and a system that denies their humanity.
…he sought out the Men’s Rights Movement. He watched their propaganda. He internalized their hatred of women. (There’s no shortage of anti-woman rhetoric and nonsense. For some of the worst of it, check out The Red Pill’s “Pussy Pass” forum, where they take isolated incidents, remove them from any rational context, and blow them way out of proportion.)
He listened to these guys talk about being hard, and tough, and true alpha men. He did what they told them, and began lifting weights. We know he had an account on body building forum which was recently deleted by their moderation team.
So this kid who needed some serious mental help sought out the destructive, BS views coming from the men’s rights movement. He felt entitled to sex with women. He blamed women for not providing him with sex. He exposed himself to hateful rhetoric about women.
And then he acted on that hatred, and targeted college girls for a drive-by shooting, killed six, wounded seven, and then shot himself.
I’ll turn to Aussie writer Clementine Ford at DailyLife.com for a most excellent wrap up:
This is what misogyny and male entitlement writ large looks like. The denial of its existence is what allows ongoing violence against women to flourish. Women experience a broad range of gender related violence every day, from incessant street harassment to sexual assaults to murder. It is the shadow we live under and the threat we live in fear of, and we endure it solely because we are women. It’s what leads to a young girl being stabbed to death by a schoolmate because she won’t go to prom with him. And it’s what allows a young man to believe so fervently that he is ‘owed’ female attention and adoration that when he is repeatedly denied it, he decides someone must be punished in order to reinstate his power as a dominant male.
If this isn’t a result of structural misogyny and male entitlement, what is it? A coincidence? Why is it that one woman murdered every week in Australia by her partner or ex-partner is not considered a manifestation of the ongoing, ritualised hate crime that specifically targets women? Why must we be further insulted by having our anger explained away as irrational and misplaced? We know what pure, unadulterated misogyny is because we have felt its wrath; yet we’re once again being told our instincts are wrong by people for whom such hatred can never be anything more than theoretical.
Margaret Atwood famously said that men’s greatest fear is that women will laugh at them, while women’s greatest fear is that men will kill them. Misogyny and male entitlement are sustained acts of aggression against women that everyone should be invested in opposing.
No, not all men kill or harm women.
But yes – all women have a right to be angry and afraid when they do.
#PostScript: The Fox News Sicko Spin
I tried to avoid giving the apologists for the Isla Vista shooter much play in this story. And I didn’t go into all the men I’ve seen and heard from over the past day that just.don’t.get.it. But this snippet from Fox News, via The New Civil Rights Movement is just so egregious I had to put it in.
Dr. Robi Ludwig on Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine” last night attributed 22-year-old Elliot Rodger’s Santa Barbara shooting spree to what she suggested were his “homosexual impulses.” Rodger murdered six people near the University of California Santa Barbara and had left a 140-page manifesto along with more than 20 YouTube videos (some now removed), some extremely violent towards women, the last promising to “slaughter every single one of you.”
In none of his videos or manifesto did Rodgers leave any hint or suggestion that he was gay or struggling with his sexuality, yet Dr. Ludwig, a psychotherapist, psychologist, and host of TLC’s reality TV show, “One Week to Save Your Marriage,” saw fit to posit Rodger was “angry at the men for not choosing him.”
“When I was first listening to him, I was like, ‘Oh, he’s angry with women for rejecting him,’” Ludwig told the Fox News audience. “And then I started to have a different idea: Is this somebody who is trying to fight against his homosexual impulses?’”
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltran, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day: 1913- Actors’ Equity Assn. is founded by 112 actors at a meeting in New York City’s Pabst Grand Circle Hotel. Producer George M. Cohan responds: “I will drive an elevator for a living before I will do business with any actors’ union.” Later a sign appeared in Times Square reading: “Elevator operator wanted. George M. Cohan need not apply” 1961 – Civil rights activist group Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee was established in Atlanta, GA. 1969 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono began their 2nd “Bed-In For Peace” in Montreal.
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