Elliot Rodger and ‘Alpha-Male’ Violence

Here’s Elliot Rodger in his own words just prior to the Santa Barbara shooting which took place late last week.

Tomorrow is the day of retribution, the day in which I will have my revenge against humanity. Against all of you. For the last eight years of my life, ever since I 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. I’m 22-years-old and still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl. I’ve been through college, for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I’m still a virgin. It has been very tortuous.

Amanda Hess has a truly harrowing piece over on Slate concerning the mass shooting and its connections to ‘alpha-male’ culture. Hess shines a light, and rightfully so, on the violent sexism and homophobia of websites and online forums aimed at ‘helping’ men get the women they ‘deserve’.

Rodger’s language is familiar to anyone who’s spent time exploring the Pick-Up Artist or Men’s Rights Activist communities. Rodger was a “Nice Guy,” a man who feels he is entitled to sex based on positive personality traits known only to him.  (“I’ve wanted love, affection, adoration. You think I’m unworthy of it. That’s a crime that can never be forgiven,” he said). He aspired to be an “Alpha,” the most attractive, dominant man in his group, but felt he’s been wrongly dismissed as an inferior “Beta.” Pick-Up Artists, by the way, refer to women they would like to have sex with as their “targets.” Rodger was also allegedly a member of PUAHate.com, a website for men who feel they’ve been tricked by the Pick-Up Artist pyramid scheme, which takes men’s money and promises to teach them how to have sex with women. (And not just any woman, but one who scores at least a 7 on the PUA decimal rating scale of female attractiveness.) PUA Hate is a community devoted to criticizing the Pick-Up Artist movement and “the scams, deception, and misleading marketing techniques used by dating gurus and the seduction community to deceive men and profit from them.” It is not, however, interested in putting an end to the PUA community’s objectification of women; it simply complains that the tips and tricks don’t work.

First and foremost, Elliot Rodger suffered from known mental health issues and it’s imperative that we acknowledge that. The systems we’ve put in place to help individuals with mental health problems fails too many and too often. Even in Rodger’s case, his family notified mental health authorities and the police prior to the shooting and yet still the ball was dropped. But it’s also critical we examine the broader society in which these tragedies continue to occur and take responsibility. Men continue to view women as nothing but rewards for their actions. For [some] men, women are trophies and men have been primed to respond with violence any time their trophies resist or when they’ve felt their trophies threatened. And this type of priming is exactly why domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women. It’s the reason why one of the major political parties can actively obstruct legislation geared to protecting women’s rights and suffer little consequence. It’s why two-thirds of NFL teams can employ players with domestic violence or assault charges and yet still belong to the most lucrative sporting league in the country.

And somehow even after a man kills six people and then himself, some would argue the answer is not to reprogram, but rather more priming:

PUAs who were not immediately connected to Rodger were quick to capitalize on the news, suggesting that if Rodger had been a more devoted PUA protégé, they could have gotten him laid and prevented violence against women. A PUA site called Strategic Dating Coach—which sells DVDs on how to “turn a conversation with a woman sexual in no time flat”—commented on one of Rodgers’ YouTube videos, where he despairs about his dating life as he films a couple kissing in Santa Barbara. “THIS is why we do what we do,” Strategic Dating Coach weighed in. “TO PREVENT THIS SHIT!!! He should have gone to our website and got our personal dating coaching or purchased one of our products. IF ANYONE NEEDS HELP, CONTACT US! Don’t ‘suffer injustice.’ ”

If this sounds crazy to you, it’s because it is. One doesn’t settle a gambling debt by upping his bets and one surely doesn’t end a war by creating more fanatics. Fellas listen, this blood is on all of our hands and we need to de-escalate. Read the whole article here.

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