Misogyny and Mental Illness

OK, yeah, I get it, the UCSB shooter was mentally ill. But there are all kinds of mental illness and all kinds of mentally ill people, and not all of them commit crimes that are so clearly rooted in misogyny. You can’t just wave your hands and bury this under the rubric of “he was a nutjob” – he was a nutjob with a deep hatred of women and, more crucially, a deep sense of entitlement about women.

If you are a man, ask yourself: Have you ever thought, “Why do girls always go for the jerks instead of the nice guys like me?” Congratulations, you had the same sense of male entitlement that Elliot Rodger had. Have you ever been rejected and thought, “Well, that girl’s just a stuck-up bitch”? Congratulations, you had the same sense of male entitlement that Elliot Rodger had. And so on, and so on.

OK, so of course you didn’t act on it the same way Elliot Rodger did. Elliot Rodger’s feelings of entitlement got distorted through a lens of mental illness into full-blown, active misogyny, and yours don’t. But the sense of entitlement is still there, deny it however much you want. (I know, I know, “not all men.”) And maybe it’s a misnomer to call it “misogyny” when it doesn’t involve mouth-foaming hatred of women, but what is the right word for an attitude that treats women as nothing more than means to male ends and reacts negatively when women don’t respond accordingly?

So yeah, we need to have a discussion in this country about how to identify and deal with mental illness. We see that need, and we give it lip service, every time some dipshit goes crazy and starts shooting people up. But mental illness is only part of the picture. Just as we look at some mass shootings and see, for example, bullying as a trigger, we have to look at Elliot Rodger’s crimes and see that his views about how women and men relate were a trigger. And he got those views from somewhere – they were not just a product of his mental illness.

Our culture tells us, at many times and in many ways, that women are basically just adjuncts, meant only (or primarily, or naturally, or as dictated by God) to serve the needs and desires of men. That’s something we need to discuss.

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