How much more clear does it have to get?
When men in Islamist theocracies assault, rape, and kill women, we have no problem calling it misogynist hatred. When they explicitly state that their motivation is to enforce God’s gender roles and put women in their place, we have no problem calling it misogynist hatred. And we have no problem laying the blame, in large part, on the culture that teaches this hatred, and on the thousands of ways both large and small that Islamist theocratic culture teaches this despicable concept of women.
So why is it so hard to see the Isla Vista shootings as motivated by misogyny?
Yet so many people are contorting themselves into pretzels to deny the connection between the Isla Vista shootings and misogyny. So many people are contorting themselves into pretzels to find any motivation at all other than misogyny. What the fuck is going on here?
Is it likely that many different factors played a role in these shootings? Of course. That doesn’t mean misogyny was not one of those factors, and a major one. Were men killed in the shooting spree as well as women? Yes. That doesn’t mean misogyny was not a major motivating factor: misogyny has splash damage that spatters blood onto men as well as women. Is it possible that some sort of mental or emotional disturbance played a role in the Isla Vista shootings? Sure. A case could be made that misogynist hatred on this level is, in and of itself, a clear symptom of being disturbed. A case could be made that misogynist hatred on this level is, in and of itself, by definition, deeply disturbed. That doesn’t make it not misogyny.
What the actual fucking fuck is going on here?
I’m not talking here about the misogynist MRAs themselves, and their denial of the role misogyny played in Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree. That’s obvious: of course they want to deny that their hateful subculture had anything to do with motivating Rodger. (Except for the ones who see Rodger as a hero. Seriously.) I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about basically decent people, people who are outraged by the shootings and appalled by misogyny — but who still don’t see a connection, and are arguing themselves blue in the face denying that there’s a connection.
Part of this, I think, is racial. As many others have pointed out before me: When black or brown men kill, they get called terrorists or criminals. When white men (or men who are seen as white) kill, they get called mentally ill. But I don’t think that’s all of it.
I think people don’t want to see the role that misogyny played in Elliot Rodger’s shooting spree, because it’s intensely painful to see.
Yes, that’s hard to accept. It is even harder to live. Being a woman who recognizes the reality of misogyny is really fucking painful. At best, it is enraging; at worst it is depressing, humiliating, exhausting, and demoralizing. It is extraordinarily hard to live with the knowledge that much of the world sees you as a thing. It is hard to live with the knowledge that in thousands of ways both large and small, both conscious and unconscious, many of the people around you see you as a status symbol to be acquired or rejected, based on your position in an imaginary, supposedly objective scale of hotness. It is hard to live with the knowledge that many of the people around you think men are entitled to have sex with any woman they want, and will treat you as a cockteasing bitch if you don’t comply. It is hard to live with the knowledge that many of the people around you see you as a machine that dispenses sex when the right coinage is put in. It is hard to live with the knowledge that many of the people around you think that when the machine doesn’t work, they have the right to kick it.
This is an intensely painful thing to understand. Once you understand it, it is an intensely painful thing to be reminded of. I spent the days following the Isla Vista shootings in a daze, my depression worse than it’s been in a long time. And once you know about it, you can’t un-know it. It’s like the red pill in The Matrix. You can’t un-swallow it — and it is a hard pill to swallow. A very, very small part of me can see why some people are looking at the misogyny driving Elliot Rodger, the identical misogyny expressed every day in the MRA and PUA forums, this grotesque overt misogyny that is simply a magnified reflection of the somewhat subtler misogyny that is widespread and deeply ingrained in our culture… and are covering their eyes and sticking their fingers in their ears. Because if all of that were real, the world would be a terrible place to live in, and we would have to fucking well deal with it, take responsibility for the ways we ourselves perpetuate it, and bust our asses trying to change it. Therefore, it can’t be true. Q.E.D.
Yes, all of this is hard to accept. I’d like to escape from it, too. It must be nice to see misogyny as a distraction, an annoyance that shows up now and then on your Twitter feed — as opposed to the sea of shit that women swim in every day. But if we want to be decent human beings, we have to accept this reality. We have to fucking well deal with it. We have to take responsibility for the ways we ourselves perpetuate it. We have to bust our asses trying to change it. At the very least, at the barest minimum of decency, we have to not ignore this reality — and we have to not try to shut women up who are talking about it.