Ever since the Isla Vista shootings I’ve been intending to write a post on this issue, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Now I have.
Basically, I’d like to offer some perspective, my own two cents, as to why people like Rodger appear. It seems to me that Rodger equated other men with his bullies. He’d been bullied for years, partially as a result of his own actions―he would often act obnoxiously and pick fights for the sole purpose of garnering attention, feeling that negative attention was better than none―and, I presume, developed a deeply negative view of women because they preferred to associate with the kind of people who bullied him rather than with him.
I don’t think this is too outlandish a view: Western (particularly modern Western) society has conditioned women and girls to expect men to be aggressive in their pursuit of them. I once came across a post here on Israblog (I think it was recommended by the editors, actually) about a young woman who politely turned down a young man who was making a pass at her, and while he accepted it gracefully, her friend barged in, insisting she was interested and simply pretending not to be, and started to dictate her number to him. After she protested angrily, her friend was genuinely confused, believing that had she actually not wanted him, she would have rejected him aggressively. In another instance, my ex-boyfriend Jón attributed the success of the Twilight series to women’s desire to be dominated, and claimed it was not misogynistic because it was true (and he’d been with a fair share of girls before me, despite not being conventionally attractive at all). I’ve come across women and girls who expect their men to take the initiative, if not, as one Israblogger put it, ‘be a bit of a misogynist’, and read cues instead of explicitly asking consent.
This is also, I believe, a vital source of the contention many people have with generalisations used by SJWs about cisgender, heterosexual, white men (‘not all men’), even if they’re used purely for rhetorics: generalising men as being bullies enfuriates many victims of bullying, who react first and foremost to being lumped together with their oppressors. Emphasis on a gender divide may be a contributing factor to the formation of the MRA movement, who adopt this divide but place the blame for society’s ills on the opposite gender (if one were to adopt a binary gender paradigm, if only for the sake of convenience). This does not mean that reaction would not have taken place had different rhetorics been used, but it definitely did contribute to its formation in this form. (Actually, scratch that. I think using ‘too many men’ instead of ‘men’ could have saved us all a lot of trouble.)
My point is, this issue seems somewhat more complicated than individual MRAs being, as SJWs have started saying recently, massive ‘shitlords
’, but rather a more complicated, systematic flaw in society, although Rodger was a massive shitlord whose racism and misogyny went far and beyond anything that his biography could have explained.
What I do agree about with SJWs about Rodger can be summed up neatly thus: I need feminism because most disapproving comments made about Elliot Rodger were about his status as a beta male rather than his rampant bigotry. While I do admit some of the jokes were funny (‘What’s the difference between Elliot Rodger and an egg?
’), and I even made one myself (‘It’s funny how his name was Rodger
and he went crazy because he couldn’t’), and the comments in support of his actions were few and far between and received a lot of scorn (what feminists often ignore in this context is that violence by men against women is actually regarded as bottom-of-the-barrel behaviour in most modern Western societies while the opposite is often praised, as any experiment done on What Would You Do?
has repeatedly confirmed), most comments I did see either mocked his beta male status, lamented that he never dared to approach a girl himself, or expressed puzzlement at him being single as he was fairly attractive (as a bisexual, I admit he was far from ugly), but comments about women and girls fearing for their lives after this incident were almost as rare as the comments commending him.
Similarly, I’ve seen mocking remarks about militant atheists’ condescending (and often classist) attitude towards religion and religious people. What these people seem to overlook is that atheists are a minority in the world today, and in some places can actually be a threat to your well-being, including in the West (in the U.S. south, for instance), not to mentions some places outside the Western world, such as Bangladesh
. I’ve seen a boastful Facebook post once by a young man about how he’d punched someone for saying they do not believe in Jesus, and his friends’ applauding reactions. I myself have been physically abused and threatened with mroe physical abuse when I expressed maltheistic
views as early as sixth grade. They take pride in standing up to the oppressive view (and active oppression
) of their society, and if you live somewhere where people who espouse atheist views and a generally very liberal society, you ought to check your fucking privilege
. Same goes for when you criticise classism in regard to artistic taste and overlook its use as a defence mechanism, a refuge, something to cling onto for one to feel superior over their bullies and have a sense of self-worth (something I can attest to first hand). (Obviously, this does not extend to classism used to reinforce an oppressive caste system).
So next time you see a condescending militant atheist posing for a photo wearing a waistcoast and holding a glass of wine, talking about his superior intellect over theists and speaking highly of the merits of ‘class’ and deriding feminism, be aware that he’s a product of something more than simple poor character.