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There’s a Difference Between Misogyny and Severe Mental Illness
New York Magazine ^ | Jesse Singal

Posted on 05/28/2014 5:45:43 PM PDT by nickcarraway

As soon as the murders in Isla Vista were reported on Saturday, everyone flocked online to find out what they could about Elliot Rodger, the perpetrator. He had left quite a trail — a series of online postings, videos, and a 137-page manifesto, all of which spoke to roiling sexual frustration and a hatred of women. Commentators quickly put this incident into what they saw as its proper context. His rampage, they argued, could be tied to the proliferation of a very modern, virulent form of internet-fueled misogyny — the men’s rights movement, the pickup artist community (and the community of men who feel like it failed them), and other breeds of sleazy women-haters enraged at the progress women have made in recent decades. This was an act of misogynistic extremism, some insisted, and to ascribe it to mental illness is to ignore the ravages of misogyny and stigmatize the mentally ill. In response to the tragedy, the #YesAllWomen hashtag — yes, all women have to deal with pervasive misogyny in its myriad forms — went viral.

The problem is that when you look closely at the evidence available so far, Rodgers’s mental health really does appear to have been a much bigger factor than any cultural explanation. Yes, by the end of his life he had dabbled in online men’s rights and pickup artist forums online and adapted some of their language, but it appears that this happened after years of bottomless anger and frustration had already warped him into a dysfunctional person. These communities warranted only a single, fleeting mention in a manifesto that goes into painstakingly meticulous detail about Rodger’s grievances and aspirations. Rodger was frustrated and outraged as a result of what he saw as a neverending stream of rejection. The manifesto gives off the distinct impression that just about everything which happened to him fueled his hatred and anger — that daily life tortured him.

If we mix this up — if we treat Rodger primarily as a creature of misogynistic culture rather than prolonged, under-treated mental illness — we miss an important difference between everyday misogyny in all of its ugly forms and the sorts of massacres perpetrated by the Elliot Rodgers and Adam Lanzas of the world. While it's true that it's always a good time to talk about misogyny, that doesn't mean a mass killing like this one is best explained by it.

By his own account, Rodger was a kid who repeatedly dropped out of college courses because he couldn’t stand to be so close to attractive women, especially ones who had boyfriends; who threw coffee on couples because of how much pain it caused him to watch them simply be together; who ran to his room crying to call his mother after finding out his new roommates weren’t virgins like he was; who fantasized about becoming all-powerful and brutally punishing his perceived oppressors; and who repeatedly drove to Arizona to buy Powerball tickets since he was convinced he’d win the lottery and that this would end his loneliness. We can’t diagnose exactly what was wrong with him — it’s been reported that he had a mild form of what used to be called Asperger’s, which isn’t usually associated with violence — but this is the type of behavior associated with mental illness.

If, as the facts suggest, he was mentally ill, he’d fit in with a lot of other recent mass killers, from Adam Lanza (complications related to autism) to James Holmes (schizophrenia) to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (psychopathy and depression, respectively). People with mental illness are not automatically violent, of course, and it's important to note that they are more likely to be victims of violence than the population at large. But it’s also clear that the mixture of unchecked mental illness and adolescent male tumult can be a supremely dangerous one. In Rodger’s case, the various psychiatrists and counselors his parents hired clearly weren’t enough to keep him stable.

The sorts of misogyny getting swept into the conversation about Rodger’s final, horrific act — everything from street harassment to date rape — are not primarily about mental illness. Plenty of otherwise healthy, normal-seeming men (they are mostly men) commit these acts. This is a key distinction that’s lost when we treat Rodger as simply sitting at the far end of the misogyny spectrum, rather than as a dangerous aberration.

A great deal of very important feminist activism is premised on the notion that men can control themselves. That’s sort of the whole point: With the right kind of education or the right engendering of empathy or the right nudging of social norms, the level of street harassment or rape and everything else can be reduced; men who might otherwise be drawn to the men’s rights movement will see it for the cesspool it is. And, acting in part on this belief that things can get better, feminist commentators and journalists have brought much-needed attention to the ugly world of online misogyny (everyone who has ever used the internet should read Amanda Hess’s Pacific Standard story about the online harassment women — particularly those with the temerity to write about feminism — face).

This is all vital work — but does it apply to Elliot Rodger? His online postings and videos and, most saliently, his manifesto, scream out that his mind was in another place, that he was beyond education. Even if his obsessions had to do with sex, and even if in online posts he mouthed the same anti-feminist tripe men’s rights losers everywhere employ, the difference between him and the average misogynistic forum denizen is one of kind, not degree. His beliefs only overlapped with those of the men’s rights movement in the crudest sense. The words “men’s rights” and “feminism” don’t even show up once in his manifesto; PUAHate.com, the site most closely linked to him in the aftermath of the killings, warrants two paragraphs that start on page 117 of 137. If these subcultures played a meaningful role in sharpening him into a murderer, why do we hear so little about them in what he saw as his posthumous magnum opus?

Because he wasn’t a failed pickup artist and he wasn’t a men’s rights activist. He didn’t actually even try to pick up women — instead, he went to places where they hung out and then got outraged, often to the point of tears, that they never approached him. He had no agenda, in short, other than his endless, futile desire to have sex, and dark, clashing fantasies of actually outlawing sex altogether because it’s such a “barbaric” act. Yes, he targeted a “hot” sorority in his massacre, but he ended up killing more men than women — he found a way to hate just about everybody. He probably did internalize certain aspects of the culture around him — obviously his sickness and fantasies would have taken on a different form if he’d been raised in, say, a devoutly religious community rather than a secular and sex-focused one — but if we want to understand why he did what he did, studying misogyny isn't the best place to start.


TOPICS: Health/Medicine; Society
KEYWORDS: hookupculture; internet; psychobabble; savethemales; waronwomenmeme

1 posted on 05/28/2014 5:45:43 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

He was a misanthrope, not strictly a misogynist.

He plotted to kill his half-brother because he figured him to be already more popular. He plotted to kill his male roommates. He plotted to ram his car into as many people (male and female) that he could take out before killing himself.


2 posted on 05/28/2014 5:51:41 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The new witchhunt: "Do you NOW, . . . or have you EVER , . . supported traditional marriage?")
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To: nickcarraway

I was surprised at how many people claimed his behavior was due to being a spoiled rich kid.


3 posted on 05/28/2014 5:52:51 PM PDT by Beowulf9
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To: Beowulf9

He was spoiled, but not that, “rich.”


4 posted on 05/28/2014 5:56:33 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

Remember the old days when if somebody was acting wacky the “men in the white coats” would come to take them away? I actually saw that one time in the 1960s when I was a little kid, them taking a guy away in a straight jacket, men in white coats just like the cliched saying. They use to even have a SONG about it, “They’re coming to take me away”.

I read a good analogy the other day: If someone is hit by a car, do they leave that person in the street for months, years even before the ambulance comes to take them away to the hospital? So why do we do that to the mentally ill? This kids own PARENTS called the COPS on him, and the cops who are not trained in mental health made the determination that he was OK, when they should have called “the men in the white coats” but I assume that kind of thing doesn’t go on anymore thanks to the ACLU.

Look how long it took the parents of that actress Amanda Bynes to get her committed, I think it took about a year of going to court over and over and over again, and meanwhile she’s attacking people, trying to burn a dog alive, talking to herself, basically living in her own world which at any time should could have very well ended up as another Elliot Rogers. THAT has got to change! It’s not the NRA, it’s how the whole mental health system is handled in this country, it SUCKS and I assume it’s going to get a hell of lot worse under Obamacare.


5 posted on 05/28/2014 6:01:55 PM PDT by GrandJediMasterYoda (Hitlery: Incarnation of evil.)
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To: nickcarraway

How did this guy stab three men in his apartment all by himself?


6 posted on 05/28/2014 6:03:27 PM PDT by Chickensoup (Leftist totalitarian fascism is on the move.)
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To: Chickensoup
How did this guy stab three men in his apartment all by himself?

With a high capacity, assault style knife?

7 posted on 05/28/2014 6:15:32 PM PDT by Rodamala
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To: nickcarraway

Rodger was a spoiled rotten (psychopathic) murderer. Feminists are crazy, too.


8 posted on 05/28/2014 6:20:47 PM PDT by familyop (We Baby Boomers are croaking in an avalanche of corruption smelled around the planet.)
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To: nickcarraway

Part of the story is to subtly declare as insane, any 22 year old who is a virgin.


9 posted on 05/28/2014 6:28:59 PM PDT by STYRO (War sucks. Living in slavery sucks even worse.)
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To: GrandJediMasterYoda
I read a good analogy the other day: If someone is hit by a car, do they leave that person in the street for months, years even before the ambulance comes to take them away to the hospital? So why do we do that to the mentally ill? This kids own PARENTS called the COPS on him, and the cops who are not trained in mental health made the determination that he was OK, when they should have called “the men in the white coats” but I assume that kind of thing doesn’t go on anymore thanks to the ACLU.

As I recall, the ACLU fought to end the laws that allow for indefinite confinement of the mentally ill to hospitals. Committing them amounts to imprisoning them without trial, in ACLU liberal think. So they made it nearly impossible to commit someone. Since most mentally ill people are not violent, but only homeless and dirty, the left has no real incentive to undo the damage the ACLU did. That is because homeless people serve as evidence of the failures of capitalism and are thus a valuable propaganda tool.

Sadly, Elliott started treatment for psychosis at age 8... he obviously needed more than pills and therapy, and never got it.

10 posted on 05/28/2014 6:34:47 PM PDT by exDemMom (Current visual of the hole the US continues to dig itself into: http://www.usdebtclock.org/)
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To: a fool in paradise

He also plotted to kill his step mother. The young man had severe mental health problems. He came from a broken bitter home. Those characteristics are not misogyny


11 posted on 05/28/2014 6:40:50 PM PDT by Nifster
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To: nickcarraway

Feminism is all about selling the meme that just being a woman places you in a perpetual state of victimhood!

When women start screeching about how they are victims because of their sex, and people point out that they are full of CRAP, the perceived victims use those negative statements and say, “See, we are being attacked!”

As far as I am concerned - feminists can go to hell!


12 posted on 05/28/2014 6:44:15 PM PDT by ExTxMarine (PRAYER: It's the only HOPE for real CHANGE in America!)
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To: nickcarraway
"While it's true that it's always a good time to talk about misogyny..."

In what universe?

13 posted on 05/28/2014 6:45:49 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("The commenters are plenty but the thinkers are few." -- Walid Shoebat)
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To: nickcarraway

It’s a teachable moment. We’re learning what a bunch of morons the lefties are.


14 posted on 05/28/2014 6:52:55 PM PDT by Fido969 (What's sad is most)
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To: Nifster

I don’t know his parents or anything about their real situation, but one thing to bear in mind is that having a mentally ill child, especially now that it’s so hard to get treatment for him, puts a huge strain on a marriage. He was diagnosed as having some form of mental illness or problem at a very young age, and when that happens, the the life of the entire family begins to revolve around this child and there often is a lot of conflict and anger.


15 posted on 05/28/2014 6:59:13 PM PDT by livius
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To: Chickensoup
How did this guy stab three men in his apartment all by himself?

I've been wondering that, too, since his ramming activities were around 9 or 9:30 pm -- lunchtime for the average adolescent; so they most likely weren't killed in their sleep, unless he did it the night before and "lived" with the bodies for half a day. It wasn't just the two roommates, but also their guest -- 3 on 1, and he was little. If he did it the same day, he must have had "help." So for now I'm thinking he offered them a spiked drink and when they passed out, he smote.

They were all foreigners, sent to the US for an education. Their poor parents.

16 posted on 05/28/2014 7:04:41 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("The commenters are plenty but the thinkers are few." -- Walid Shoebat)
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To: exDemMom
Committing them amounts to imprisoning them without trial, in ACLU liberal think. So they made it nearly impossible to commit someone. Since most mentally ill people are not violent, but only homeless and dirty, the left has no real incentive to undo the damage the ACLU did. That is because homeless people serve as evidence of the failures of capitalism and are thus a valuable propaganda tool.

Super astute.

17 posted on 05/28/2014 7:07:13 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("The commenters are plenty but the thinkers are few." -- Walid Shoebat)
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To: nickcarraway

I’d be willing to bet that-if any of the girls who rejected him were asked-they would say they sensed something was “wrong” about him. The “wrong” was that he was mental. Their instincts were right.


18 posted on 05/28/2014 7:14:14 PM PDT by ClearBlueSky (When anyone says its not about Islam...it's about Islam. That death cult must be eradicated.)
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To: livius

I would agree, if his father weren’t a horndog who posted naked pictures of his new young piece of wife online just as the kid was entering puberty, fought a big custody battle to insist that the child stay at his house during alternate weeks with the resentful, harsh stepmother even when the father traveled out of the country for the best part of three years on a fool’s errand (making an anti-Christian documentary that flopped) and failing to pay child support to the mother after said fool’s errand. The mother had to move from one cramped living space to another with two kids, and watch her husband make a complete fool out of himself having another baby even when he was never there for his mentally ill child and too broke to pay his obligations — but not too broke to live with Hollywood accessories, clothing, swimming pool, cars more expensive than a house, et cetera. That child never had a chance. Just like Adam Lanza, whose father checked out and married a younger model as soon as it dawned on him that he had a special needs kid on his hands. Scumbags.


19 posted on 05/28/2014 7:16:05 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("The commenters are plenty but the thinkers are few." -- Walid Shoebat)
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To: exDemMom

Ann Coulter claims in her new column that he was given medication but stopped taking it when he found out it was used to treat schizophrenia which he judged as being imperfect. I don’t know where she got that, but I wouldn’t doubt it. The dude absolutely seemed off his rocker.

I totally agree what you said about the homeless, without question the left uses them to bash capitalism and to push communism but it looks like they are slowly being confronted about the reality of the mental health issue - They just can’t keep blaming the NRA every time a nut goes psychotic and commits mass murder, people are getting wise to the connection, the real blame for it which is mental illness. I was reading the story of Seung-Hui Cho the guy who did the Virginia tech shooting, and it was just absolutely unbelievable how this kid who was completely out of his mind, who was constantly threatening people was allowed out in public! His own parents said he was possessed by a demon he was so hellbent on hurting people, threatening people, and this went on since he was a little kid! One teacher told the school she would retire unless he was kicked out of her class, and yet there he was waltzing around in public free as bird, doing anything he pleases, buying guns, making his plans. But the NRA is to blame! The NRA which has absolutely nothing to do with any of this. So we got liberals scamming the people two ways: By blaming capitalism for the mentally ill, and then blaming the NRA when the mentally ill flip out.


20 posted on 05/28/2014 7:27:50 PM PDT by GrandJediMasterYoda (Hitlery: Incarnation of evil.)
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To: livius

He developed his problems after his folks divorced. More likely he had organic causality but triggered by the divorce


21 posted on 05/28/2014 8:54:43 PM PDT by Nifster
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To: nickcarraway
obviously his sickness and fantasies would have taken on a different form if he’d been raised in, say, a devoutly religious community rather than a secular and sex-focused one

Clearly, Christianity is to blame. /sarc

22 posted on 05/28/2014 9:53:07 PM PDT by backwoods-engineer (Blog: www.BackwoodsEngineer.com)
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To: exDemMom; livius

Other than some unattributed statements in articles, do you have any proof he was treated at a young age. In his autobiography, he seems to complain about what his parents do, but he never mentions seeing any mental health professional. He talks about a social skills adviser when he is older.


23 posted on 05/28/2014 10:06:38 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: All

You could take out two kids playing video games on a couch and the third one wouldn’t even notice.


24 posted on 05/28/2014 10:17:06 PM PDT by Rodney Dangerfield (Has any President in history sunk to such a level of self-flattery & validation-seeking?)
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To: Chickensoup

Maybe he drugged his roommates before slaughtering them. He planned to slowly torture them while still alive. He also planned to take several ODs of pills AND shoot himself with 2 guns before the cops could close in on him after his rampage. He shot himself with at least one gun.

The media has been hush as to whether his roommates WERE merely stabbed or more viciously butchered and whether he had any drugs (prescription or otherwise) in his system/possession at the time of his death.


25 posted on 05/28/2014 11:27:00 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The new witchhunt: "Do you NOW, . . . or have you EVER , . . supported traditional marriage?")
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To: STYRO

In the “hookup culture” you are considered to be abnormal if you are still a virgin at 22. This is part of the media driven hype that helped this creep feel inadequate.


26 posted on 05/28/2014 11:30:59 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The new witchhunt: "Do you NOW, . . . or have you EVER , . . supported traditional marriage?")
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To: nickcarraway

True.

Misogyny is what you hear in the lyrics of Lil’ Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Pit Bull, and a variety of other rappers.

Mental illness is what that murderer in Santa Barbara exhibited.


27 posted on 05/29/2014 2:32:34 AM PDT by SoFloFreeper
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To: nickcarraway

The only “proof” I have is what I read in the press. But what “proof” does everybody here have for saying his parents are evil people?


28 posted on 05/29/2014 4:44:50 AM PDT by livius
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To: Nifster

Paranoid schizophrenia is not caused by having one’s parents get divorced.


29 posted on 05/29/2014 4:46:19 AM PDT by livius
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To: livius

I didn’t say it was. And since no doc who treated him has declared him to have been that your comment is pointless. The young man was beyond troubled but he started going to counselors shortly after his parents divorced (and that is public info available in multiple stories)


30 posted on 05/29/2014 2:36:21 PM PDT by Nifster
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