Tuesday, May 27, 2014

... he's lost in the wilderness, he's lost in bitterness ...

While I have a penchant for the light and fluffy, and I do want you to know about my lovely ladies’ morning out (which involved an Elvis + egg from Sully's, my first ever anthropologie purchase, and my favorite coffee shop), I have gotten a derailed by some HUGE news and the controversy attached to it. 

The violence in California caused by Elliot Rodger has been discussed on every social media site, and has taken over most mass media outlets over the past few days.  Women and men were killed in this horrible event, though women were clearly the target of the attacker’s initial rage. Elliot rails against women for turning down his advances in favor of those of other men in his excessively long manifesto/bio (which I have not read much of, as it made me want to vomit) and his YouTube videos. Notably, the gunman was also outraged about how his ‘rules’ from the Pick Up Artists did not help him achieve his ultimate goal – to get to have sex with a women who met a certain appearance standard. The woman herself appeared to be immaterial – as long as she was a 7 on the attractiveness scale.

The MRA and the PUA communities have at least two reactions to this event that made my blood BOIL. The second article explicitly states the following – 
  • “more people will die unless you give men sexual options”
  • “game is a tiny release valve on a cultural pressure cooker where meaningful relationships have become sick, fractured, and unfulfilling [sic] compared to the time of our grandparents when traditional sex roles existed”
  • “game may not have led Rodger to find his dream girl and live happily ever after, but it would have given enough results to stop him from killing six innocent individuals and himself"
  • “until you allow and encourage all men to get sex by some means, these massacres will be more commonplace”.
So, women withholding sex from males they do not wish to have sex with makes them culpable for massacres? And having sex with those they want to have sex with makes them a slut? I had no idea my sex organs were so powerful – granted, that’s if I rate highly enough to be considered a desirable partner.

Then there are those who completely blame the fact that Elliot was able to get guns. While yes, the guns were a huge part of the equation, Elliot also stabbed three victims to death and injured many victims with his car. Elliot was mentally ill (and possibly also had ASD, but more on that later). He bought guns, lied to police, and spent the time to type up a 141 page document. He was able to mask his mental illness to the point at which he appeared sane for long enough to complete all these things. I don’t think that the right to purchase and carry guns is the key issue at play here, although it is an easy scapegoat.

Asperger syndrome can make understanding other people as individual beings hard, and can cause some rule-setting and script following behaviors as well. Obsessive thoughts can also be an issue. Elliot’s ASD could have made this situation worse. He followed the rules (PUA) and did not get what he wanted after trying for years to get results on his own. His disassociation was mentioned before the ASD info broke (some commenters on Fox News were speculating if the gunman was interested in porn, and this lead to his disassociation). He ended up hating the PUA movement AND women, making him at odds with women who would not sleep with him and all the men who were able to sleep with said women. Some reactions on twitter related to ASD and the shooting can be found here. I am concerned that with the prevalence of autism/ASD and the very public link with this incident that there could be some mistreatment of children and young adults that struggle with ASD related disorders. The connection between ASD/Lanza/Rodger is something I am looking into, because it is interesting and terrifying that ASD may be misused to explain away these incidents.

Elliot had some interesting internet searches and accounts – which showed that he was simultaneously seeking treatment from therapists and counselors and then refusing to follow their advice. He would seek out the feedback and advice from PUA and Anti-PUA websites instead.
In the wake of the spree, the #YesALLWomen twitter movement boomed, which was quickly followed by the #NotALLMen rebuttal. I have tweeted, and will continue to tweet, instances that show women – all women – have to deal with entitlement of men to their bodies, lives, and sex. I feel like the #NotALLMen movement shows another side of the same coin – women are raised with fear and experience things that cause us to act in a certain way towards men. Men don’t feel like they deserve that treatment, especially when they haven’t done any ‘wrong’. With the culture and precedents that are being set, is it any surprise that this issue is divisive?  Feminism is important. Equality is imperative. These actions – stemming from one man’s mental struggle and entitlement - may have opened up a discussion that could lead to change for our society if we are willing to struggle through some of the implications. As Petula Dvorak says much more eloquently than I can “The unfiltered misogyny of Elliot Rodger is extreme, but it’s an indicator of the hatred that remains a stubborn part of our society’s fabric. No, #NotAllMen are like Elliot Rodger. But #YesAllWomen reveal the little pieces of him we encounter every single day.”

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