[Trigger Warning: Violence against women, domestic violence, guns]
“For the last eight years of my life, ever since I’ve hit puberty, I’ve been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection, and unfulfilled desires. All because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men, but never to me.”
These are words of a young man named Elliot Rodger in a YouTube video titled Elliot Rodger’s Retribution, in which he states, “This is my last video. It all has to come to this. Tomorrow is the day of retribution. The day in which I will have my revenge against humanity. Against all of you.”
His video is textbook Nice Guy/Men Right’s narcissism. At every turn, it reeks of entitlement rhetoric:
“You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy. Yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men. Instead of me. The supreme gentleman. I will punish all of you for it [laughter].”
Unfortunately, that isn’t the worst of it. Soon, his words take a turn down an even darker path:
“On the day of retribution, I am going to enter the hottest sorority house of UCSB [University of California, Santa Barbara], and I will slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut I see inside of there. All of those girls that I’ve desired so much. They would have all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them. While they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes. I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one. The true Alpha Male.”
Shortly after this video was posted, a mass shooting occurred near the University of California, Santa Barbara – killing seven (including the gunman) and injuring seven more. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown states the above YouTube video appears to be linked to the shooting. This is hardly the first time that Men’s Rights movements or rhetoric (Alpha Male? Come on). have been linked to physical violence against women. Earlier this year, a young woman named Danielle d’Etremont was beaten by a man on her campus. Her attack came shortly after she stated she received threats because she showed support for feminist activities on campus.
Society tells men that if they’re “Nice Guys,” they are entitled to women’s bodies and time. So you can’t be surprised when some men take that as an edict to take what is theirs by violence. You certainly can’t be surprised that men like Elliot Rodger think violence is justified, when Men’s Rights leaders like Paul Elam tell their readers to beat up women:
“I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles. And then make them clean up the mess.”
Of course, instead of talking about these issues, the media will likely default to the usual armchair diagnosis and hand-wringing fuckery about how Elliot Rodger was “crazy” and “mentally unstable.” It has already begun with Sheriff Brown who told reporters,”It’s obviously the work of a madman.” Spoiler Alert: Unless you were Elliot Rodger’s therapist, you don’t get to diagnose him. To do so is not only actively contributing to mental illness stigmatization, but it’s perfectly plausible that it’s not even accurate. To quote Miri Mogilevsky of Brute Reason, “It is not actually ‘crazy’ to believe stuff that’s been shoved down your throat from birth.”
We simply can’t ignore how dangerous this movement’s rhetoric is, while hoping that they’ll simply fade into the darkness. If you still think Men’s Rights and Nice Guy rhetoric doesn’t actively condone violence against women, you need to start paying attention. If you think society as a whole doesn’t tell men that they are entitled to women’s time and sexuality, you need to start paying attention. You need to be angry.
UPDATE: An extremely lengthy “manifesto” is being attributed to Rodger, and can be found here.