Posted on | June 21, 2014 | 25 Comments
The #YesAllWomen hashtag went viral in the aftermath of killings perpetrated last month by Elliot Rodger. Like so much contemporary feminism, #YesAllWomen was a non sequitur. The complaints compiled under the hashtag weren’t really relevant to the Santa Barbara rampage because — wait for it — Elliot Rodger was a complete psycho.
It is usually a mistake to generalize from the example of psycho killers. For example, Lee Harvey Oswald was a Marxist and an assassin; should we start rounding up Marxists? Jeffrey Dahmer was a gay man and a murderous cannibal; should we start rounding up gays? Ted Kaczynski was a Harvard graduate and a terrorist bomber; should we start rounding up Harvard graduates? People who commit horrific crimes can be categorized any number of ways, but the key point is that very few people commit horrific crimes. There are probably quite a few gay Marxists at Harvard, none of whom are mass murderers.
However, when you expand the category of collective guilt to include all men, and expand the category of collective victimhood to include all women, the logical incoherence of this flawed thought process should be more obvious. Instead, because the Grievance Culture of feminism has become so deeply embedded in our discourse, the incoherence of #YesAllWomen is less obvious to many people.
Perusing the Twitter hashtag, you see it used to express indignation about any number of feminist complaints, including indignation that anyone finds the hashtag illogical or offensive.
If you are offended by feminism’s routine demonization of men, apparently, you are anti-equality or perhaps even pro-rape. And the idiots who issue these hateful insults seem to believe they have discovered something original, a new insight on male behavior, when in fact they are usually recycling feminist tropes that were recognized as clichés long before anybody heard of Elliot Rodger.
Look, I’ve read more feminist literature than 99% of the women using the #YesAllWomen hashtag. Betty Friedan, Kate Millett, Shulamith Firestone, Robin Morgan, Charlotte Bunch, Susan Brownmiller, Adrienne Rich, Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, Judith Butler — yes, I’ve read them all, so that no one can say my critique of feminist theory is based in ignorant prejudice. But feminism has proven itself a theory impervious to facts and logic, so that its errors are never acknowledged or corrected, and entire institutions are now devoted to advancing misguided feminist ideas and fallacies that were debunked decades ago.
Here is an excerpt from Daphne Patai’s 1998 book Heterophobia:
The sociologist Joel Best, in explaining how a social problem comes to prominence through the work of individuals who expand its definition and find ever more instances of it, labels this procedure the “just another example of X strategy” — where “X” is the problem that is being dramatized. Thus, he contends, the “domain” of the identified problem “expands,” as greater and greater claims are made for the problem’s pervasiveness.
Professor Patai was here discussing MacKinnon’s “muddling of issues” involving rape and sexual harassment, specifically the conflation of offensive words with criminal deeds, which Professor Patai saw as a threat to First Amendment freedoms. But the larger point is that we fail to recognize how the definitions of problems are expanded through the “just another example” strategy.
This is what is absurd about Elliot Rodger and #YesAllWomen: Elliot Rodger is “just another example” . . . of what? Of moody loners who quietly went insane, whose profound psychiatric troubles went largely unnoticed until they perpetrated mass murder?
How can atrocities committed by psychopaths be offered as examples of anything other than the manifestations of mental illness?
What factor do we use to categorize psycho killers? Elliot Rodger spent a lot of time playing violent video games — as did Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Newtown killer Adam Lanza. The problem with that categorization is that lots of people play violent video games without ever becomes mass murderers.
Murderous Lunatics and the Super Bowl Hoax
What transfixed feminists and inspired the #YesAllWomen hashtag was that Elliot Rodger wrote a “manifesto” and recorded a video blaming his “Day of Retribution” on women who he perceived as having rejected him. But the rationalizations of psychopaths are actually symptoms of their mental illness, and must be understood as such. If a murderous lunatic says he is Satan or Jesus Christ (Charles Manson at different times claimed to be both), we don’t analyze his claim as an expression of theology, so why do feminists insist that we view Elliot Rodger’s anti-female rants as “just another example” of pervasive sexism?
Answer: Because pervasive sexism is the raison d’etre of feminism, and feminists will opportunistically exploit any news in the headlines to promote their “consciousness-raising” agenda.
Have we forgotten the 1993 Super Bowl “Day of Dread” hoax?
On Jan. 27 , a news conference was called in Pasadena, Calif., site of the forthcoming Super Bowl game, by a coalition of women’s groups. At the news conference, reporters were informed that Super Bowl Sunday “is the biggest day of the year for violence against women.” Forty percent more women would be battered on that day, said Sheila Kuehl of the California Women’s Law Center, citing a study done at Virginia’s Old Dominion University.
On Jan. 28, Lenore Walker, a Denver psychologist and author of The Battered Woman, appeared on Good Morning America claiming to have compiled a 10-year record showing a sharp increase in violent incidents against women on Super Bowl Sundays. And on Jan. 29, a story in the Boston Globe reported that women’s shelter and hotlines are “flooded with more calls from victims (on Super Bowl Sunday) than on any other day of the year.”
In this roiling sea of media credulity was a lone island of professional integrity. Ken Ringle, a Washington Post staff writer, took the time to call around. When he asked Janet Katz, professor of sociology and criminal justice at Old Dominion and one of the principal authors of the study cited by Kuehl, about the connection between violence and football games, she said: “That’s not what we found at all.” Instead, she told him, they had found that an increase in emergency-room admissions “was not associated with the occurrence of football games in general.”
The alleged connection between domestic violence and the Super Bowl was a lie, entirely fabricated, contradicting actual research. Yet the vast majority of journalists never bothered to check the facts, but instead repeated the bogus claims of Sheila Kuehl, Lenore Walker and other feminists as if they were true. This was simply a dishonest attempt to exploit a high-profile news event (the Super Bowl is the most-watched televised event in America) to promote the feminist agenda, and the cynical liars behind this hoax relied on the gullibility of journalists to help them promote their phony “too good to check” statistic.
“Yes, all women have been harassed.
“Yes, all women have been judged by our looks, not our merit.
“Yes, all women have been around men who have discounted, denied and demeaned us.
“Yes, all women are outraged by the misogynistic ravings of Elliot Rodger, the narcissistic 22-year-old who went on a killing spree in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Friday night because women didn’t respond to him the way he believed he was entitled to have them respond. . . .
“Women heard Elliot Rodger. And they began flooding Twitter by the hundreds of thousands with their responses, using the hashtag #YesAllWomen.”
– Petula Dvorak, Washington Post, May 26
It’s a complete non sequitur, you see? What does the murderous madness of a psychopath like Elliot Rodger have to do with Dvorak’s complaints about being “discounted, denied and demeaned”? In some ways, Dvorak’s rant is as irrational as Elliot Rodger’s manifesto, but feminism is seldom recognized as a psychiatric disorder.
The Phony ‘Alpha Male’ Posture
A couple nights ago, the A&E cable network showed a documentary about Elliot Rodger that made clear the nature of his mental illness. The best analysis was offered by expert Dr. Park Dietz, who was previously quoted in a May 29 New Yorker article:
On Tuesday, I spoke with Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist who has worked on a wide array of mass-murder cases, including those of Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Kaczynski, and the Columbine killers. . . . “These instantaneous, off-the-cuff psychological autopsies have two giant problems,” Dietz told me. “The first is that nobody, in the midst of the news cycle, has all the data. The second is that most of the people who are performing these analyses are completely unqualified.” Dietz, who now runs a consulting firm that trains schools and workplaces on how to spot and prevent violent acts, said that all the wrongheaded analysis and the quick politicization of mass shootings leads to an instantaneous and ultimately harmful shift in priorities. “I give everyone the same warning: do not let the media set your priorities, because they will mislead you every time. Whenever mass killings become a matter of intense public debate, the issue shifts to the issue of the day rather than the more fundamental issue of how we can prevent these mass killings from happening.”
Bingo: the “media . . . will mislead you every time.” The British Independent quotes Dr. Dietz’s comments from the documentary:
“There is no question in my mind that in a society that shared data, that had a good protocol for law enforcement to make use of that data, and that had adequate mental health resources, such crimes could be prevented.”
Describing the lack of emotion shown by Rodger on a series of videos he had posted online, Dr Dietz comments: “There’s no emotion in his voice. This is the same tone that sexually sadistic killers use when they torture their victims. It’s cruel.” Speaking in a documentary being broadcast on Channel 4 tonight, he adds: “What comes through loud and clear here is his detachment. His tone during this is a cold instructional, calculated tone.”
Bingo, again. If you study mental illness and violent crime, you recognize Elliot Rodger’s “detachment” — his lack of emotion, his narcissistic arrogance — as symptomatic of his psychopathology. It was especially Rodger’s video performance, his tough-guy “Alpha male” posturing, that seems to have generated much of the initial #YesAllWomen reaction, based on a perception of Rodger as a “typical” misogynist.
Yet if you understand Rodger’s mental illness and view his video as a calculated performance — presenting himself to the world as he wished to be perceived — it looks entirely different.
The Elliot Rodger on video seems confident. He is a vain braggart, superficial and selfish. Certainly we can understand why Petula Dvorak and other feminists reacted so strongly to this video performance, as the “Alpha male” Elliot Rodger reminded them of every smug asshole who ever snubbed or insulted them. The feminist outrage might seem like a rational response to such a deliberate provocation, until we remember that this video is a calculated performance by a psychopathic murderer.
In reality, Elliot Rodger was not a confident Alpha male — he was the exact opposite, a scrawny boy who was no good at sports, who was afraid of girls, and who was so painfully shy that he couldn’t even bring himself to engage in casual small talk with girls. If you read Rodger’s 140-page “manifesto” and listen to the testimony of those who knew him, you realize how bizarre his grievance against women was. Elliot Rodger says girls “rejected” him, but he seldom summoned the courage to speak to girls, much less to express his romantic interest in them. Inside his twisted mind, he believed he was the victim of deliberate humiliation; to the outside observer, however, he was an extremely quiet person, usually so unobtrusive that most people never noticed him.
To explain the vast distance between reality and Elliot Rodger’s delusional beliefs, we need only cite the example of Monette Moio, the younger sister of one of Rodger’s middle-school classmates. He had a crush on her, but apparently never made any overt expression of his interest in her. Monette shows up on Page 41 of Rodger’s manifesto as “a pretty blonde girl” who “must have thought I was an ultimate loser. . . . I started to hate all girls because of this.” On Page 42, she re-appears as “that evil bitch Monette Moio,” and he blames her for his “intense fear of girls,” saying he was “teased and bullied.”
It was all in his mind!
‘She was ten years old for God’s sake — she can barely remember the guy. He’s a sociopath. She hasn’t seen him since school.’
‘She’s devastated over the whole thing. . . . It’s like she’s being implicated in this terrible tragedy for something she hasn’t done and can’t remember.’ . . .
Mr Moio added that he and his daughter only remembers Rodger as a ‘strange kid’.
‘He was weird then and he’s weird now,’ he said. ‘He had a secret crush on her, but she was completely unaware of him. She had no idea… If you think about it, he could have killed her, he could have come after her.
‘I was hands on at that school and I don’t remember him. She just remembers that he was a strange kid, she knew he wasn’t a normal type person, but there are a lot of people like that at that age.’
Elliot Rodger “was a strange kid,” not “a normal type person” — this was recognized by a lot of people, including his parents, who hired therapists and counselors to try to repair his warped personality.
As ‘Rational’ as Ted Kaczynski
With the benefit of hindsight, the overlooked red flags are now highly visible, and many have lamented the failure of police to recognize Elliot Rodger’s potential for deadly violence during their various encounters with him. Yet just as his video performance shows that Rodger was capable of imitating an “Alpha male” persona, his success in deceiving police — who could have prevented his massacre if they had searched his apartment — shows that he was capable of imitating sanity.
Indeed, if you read his manifesto, Rodger’s prose doesn’t seem very much like the ravings of a lunatic; it’s as “rational” as Ted Kaczynski’s infamous anti-technology manifesto. Elliot Rodger determined before he began his killing spree that he would end it by committing suicide.
If he hadn’t killed himself, however, would he have been able to avoid conviction at trial by using the insanity defense? I doubt it. He was sane enough to be legally responsible for his crimes, no matter how crazy his motive was. The key to understanding Elliot Rodger’s murderous madness is his refusal to accept responsibility for his failures. He scapegoated women, imagining them as monsters who “bullied” and “rejected” him, as a way of externalizing blame, making himself the victim of the cruelty he attributed to them.
In a way, Elliot Rodger’s worldview is a mirror-reverse of feminism, an ideology that scapegoats men for women’s unhappiness. There are plenty of happy, successful women in the world who refuse to embrace victimhood as an identity, as feminism tells them they must.
One “recovering feminist” described her confusion at watching the #YesAllWomen hashtag turn from Elliot Rodger into an endless reiteration of the “rape culture” discussion, and she finally “reached the end of her feminist rope” when she encountered an article proclaiming that all men are “part of the rape culture.” Right.
And all blondes were part of a conspiracy to humiliate Elliot Rodger.
The ideology of feminism — its insistence on collective male blame and collective female victimhood — rejects the concept of personal responsibility. Feminism encourages self-pity, envy and resentment.
All men are not “part of the rape culture,” and Elliot Rodger is not “just another example” of anything except creepy little weirdos who sit around all day playing video games and brooding because of their own inadequate social skills. The attempt by feminists to exploit the Santa Barbara massacre with the #YesAllWomen campaign has succeeded only in providing further evidence of feminism’s fundamental irrationality — as if more evidence were needed.
- May 24: Hollywood Director’s Son Kills Six in Shooting Rampage Against ‘Sluts’
- May 24: Portrait of a Killer: Elliot Rodger Claimed in Video to Be ‘Supreme Gentleman’
- May 25: Trigger Warning: Violence, Scapegoating, Misogyny and a Creepy Little Weirdo
- May 26: Toward Anarchy and Oblivion
- May 27: Creepy Little Weirdo’s Murder Rant Becomes Cultural ‘Rashomon’
- June 15: The Stupid Goes All the Way to Eleven