It’s been happening in the comments section of every article about the Isla Vista, California shooting. People try to talk about the misogyny behind the shootings, and someone, frankly a male, steps in to write about how more men were killed than women by Elliott Rodgers. They believe this somehow proves that Mr. Rodgers wasn’t a sexist, it seems. It isn’t altogether clear what point they want to make given the volumes of other evidence that this disturbed, young man was steeped in hatred of women. Mr. Rodgers also did hate men. He was filled with a seething hatred toward the world, born of a warped view of gender, race, and class. Simply put, his orientation toward men was rooted in his perspective that women were objects of sexual conquest and men were alpha or beta competitors standing in the way of his sexual release. He complained that desirable women went off with this alpha male or that one. We know of his complaints, because he spent so much time in online forums or on Youtube expressing these thoughts. He also left behind a lengthy manifesto.
The army of men dispatching to the comments sections of articles on this tragedy, with their monotonous repetition of the notion that this young man’s male death toll was purposely higher, are seemingly clutching to the idea that women do control society. Misogynists frequently amplify what they perceive to be women’s power. From Rodger’s own writing, you hear women described as sexual juggernauts bulldozing over men with their whims. This is not uncommon for misogynists. They believe that women hold a special sexual hold over men. The response to this is often a desire to tightly control a woman’s reproduction through birth control and abortion policy.
When domestic violence is discussed, they want to talk about how women are abusers just like men, despite the heavily lopsided death toll of women killed by significant others. Yes, women are abusers as well. Yes, women can be violent. But what motivates someone to steer the conversation directly to this topic on an article clearly describing the deaths of women at the hands of an avowed sexist? This same thing happens with conversations about rape. Misogynists will overwhelm a conversation about the rape of women with a discussion of the rape of men in prison. This is a very important topic, and it needs to be discussed thoroughly. However, they cannot tolerate focusing on the domination behavior of men towards women that is representative of domestic violence or rape. The subject must be changed or dismissed.
Mr. Rodgers posted videos and shared posts on his PickUpArtists website that explicitly made clear where he stood in relation to fellow males and to females. His rants were both racist and sexist. He complained when he saw a black man with what he considered to be attractive women, because women shouldn’t be interested in “lesser” men, but instead should reject him as they had him. For Rodgers, it simply went against the proper hierarchy that society should reflect. Rodgers was a well-to-do, entitled white male. He expected attractive women to provide him with sex, yet he remained a virgin. A black man, to him, was an inferior person who shouldn’t be able to attain the same objects he deserved, and make no mistake, he clearly saw women as objects.
We don’t have to take anyone else’s word for it than Rodger’s when we say he was out for the blood of women. He told us: “You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. I will punish you all for it.” Rodgers also promises to “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blond slut I see” or “I will take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one. The true alpha male.” These quotes from Mr. Rodgers make clear that he intended women to be the primary targets of his violence. The men were killed because they were with women who he felt they didn’t “deserve.” In addition, there were extensive themes of obsession with wealth and anger that he didn’t have what others had. In an important sense, the men were targeted because of his envy of them, and his clear awareness that he was inferior and less successful than they were, no matter how much he wanted to claim alpha male status. Moreover, his entire worldview prevented him from developing a healthy understanding of the roles of men and women in society, knowing what the essence of a human being is regardless of gender, and understanding what it means to have a relationship.
Amazingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, in the recent past, other men have been killing or attempting to kill women for refusing them as well. Last month, a teen killed another teen for rejecting his request to go to the prom. Just yesterday, a man shot at women for refusing to have sex with him. Perhaps the most stunning reaction to the shooting comes from one of the many pro-man, anti-woman websites that Rodgers frequented. A poster named “Roosh” promises that more incidents like this shooting will occur if men are not provided more access to sex, if nothing else from prostitutes. His post is so unbelievable and stunning in its misogyny that the reader becomes convinced that Roosh is right; there will be more death at the hands of men who think like this when they don’t get what they think they are owed. Given all this, it’s high time to put to rest the ridiculous notion that the tragic deaths of the men at Rodger’s hand challenge his status as a misogynist.
Deborah is a former social work professor who taught social policy, mental health policy, and human diversity. Proud to be called liberal, she happily pays her taxes after being raised in a home that needed long-term welfare. Contrary to the opinion of many, she is living proof that government investment in children leads them out of poverty having received services from Head Start to Pell Grants. Deborah works with low-income, first generation, and disabled college students who are at high-risk for dropping out of college in a program designed to help them graduate. She lives with her husband, stepson, and an aging cat.