Sunday, May 25, 2014

MRAs and Violence: Elliot Rodger as a Cautionary Tale

Elliot Rodger hated women. He hated women so much that he wrote about how he wanted to put them all in concentration camps and watch them starve. He went on a premeditated shooting spree after writing a disturbing 140 page manifesto. All because he didn't feel he was getting enough attention from women.

This was a young man who had every advantage in the world. He was the son of a successful Hollywood director and lived a privileged life. He was mentally disturbed, but how much did our society encourage his behavior? We need to talk about MRAs and their connection with breeding violent men like this one. When MRAs complain about how they are "friend zoned" and describe themselves as victims of "involuntary celibacy" when they are not getting the piles of women they feel the deserve they encourage men like this guy. These are men who hate every advance that women have made in the progression toward equality since the 70s. And no, it's not all men, but it's enough men to create an online community that could help breed a monster like Elliot Rodger.

We live in a society that inundated with easy online pornography that is particularly violent and young men get the message from a very young age that they are entitled to sex. Entitled to female attention. Entitled to love. Women in television, movies, and video games often exist only as a vehicle for the male characters or a prize. Out of this entitlement grew a community of men who believe sincerely that women are too advantaged over men, in spite of every indicator that says otherwise.

These men call themselves Men's Rights Activists, and claim that they are looking out for the interests of men in areas that have previously been ignored, but in reality they just hate women, and they hate the idea of equality. These men see women as objects that exist as a reflection of and for the use of men. Not as human beings who have their own desires and their own agency. And when women show agency they believe it is part of some larger conspiracy to hold them down.

But before you scream "But not all men!" just think about what these ideas, even in small isolated communities online can do to mentally disturbed young men. I saw transcripts of some of Rodger's videos and I cannot even say how many times I have read similar things coming out of  MRA forums or in male dominated communities online. This should serve as a warning that we are breeding a very dangerous cohort of men. It only takes one disturbed man with violent and misogynist views to carry out such a horrific crime.

The most upsetting thing to me was that this kid was not stopped. Police were at his home and decided that he was perfectly polite and charming young man. How could they have let something so obvious go unseen? Is it because as a society we don't see young white passing men as a threat? Even when their parents call the cops on them and express their concerns? We need to face up to the fact that the majority of mass shooters are middle class white men, and need to confront the reasons for this violence.

I am still trying to wrap my brain around some of the things I read that this young man wrote. How do we deal with a person like this? How can we stop creating people like Elliot Rodger?  It's time to face up to the violent effects that our new society is having on our youth. It's time to recognize hate when we see it.

 Hug the women in your life today.

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