The Miseducation of Young Men

Inside: Deranged intersectionality, #YesAllWomen and #TooManyMen

There has been a LOT of editorializing and blogging about Elliot Rodgers. I’m not much for the just-shut-up-and-listen approach. I believe in having open and challenging discussions. Or writing a blog entry after the fact that only I and spambots will read. Either way.

Another homicidal rampage Rorschach Test.

Once again we’re trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy. It seems like everyone has theories and insight into why he did what he did. Everyone has their hot button issues: gun control, white privilege, male privilege, misogyny, mental health, etc.

I don’t like using the terminology of any identity politics, for lack of a better term, but what makes this particular tragedy so discussable is its intersectionality.

IRRATIONAL INTERSECTIONALITY

There was obviously something very wrong with Rodger. He had mental health issues and was in therapy and treatments beginning, if I remember what I read correctly, at the age of eight. Eight years old.

At some point, he was prescribed anti-psychotic medication but refused to take it after doing research on it. He was a functioning, mentally ill individual.

He should never have been able to purchase firearms. Our mental health care system is inadequate, at best. I don’t know where the line is or how much info institutions and agencies can/should share about an individual, but if someone has been prescribed anti-psychotics, and has parents who tried to bring in law enforcement … that should be enough. The officers should have searched his apartment, considering that Rodgers’ parents said that he may be a danger to himself and others. Is that sufficient cause for a search?

He was intensely and irrationally misogynistic, however he was also intensely racist. This is especially interesting since his father is white and his mother is Asian — Chinese, I think.

He viewed people who weren’t white as inherently inferior, including himself. He referred to a black guy’s blackness or non-caucasian-ness as filthy. Seeing minorities with white women drove him into an internal rage. He viewed himself as superior to a full Chinese guy but markedly inferior to white people.

He stabbed three Chinese American young men to death — two of them his roommates and the other a frequent visitor. He shot and killed two caucasian coeds — who fit the description of the women who, in his mind, were responsible for his pain. He shot a Mexican American to death while apparently firing into a business. And he injured fourteen (?) other people while evading police during a chase before killing himself.

Those are the facts, as I understand them. There’s a lot going on there.

#YesAllWomen

Of course, the most prominent, boisterous online discussion has been #YesAllWomen. Society is a minefield for women. No. Let me rephrase that. Men are a minefield for women.

I’ll admit that sometimes I’m put off by the demonizing and ridiculing of masculinity and male sexuality, but there is absolutely no denying that the dark side of the male ego is strong and dangerous to itself and others. Lethal, even.

Rodger was a hateful misogynist but there was definitely a mental unhinging at play. He was fixated. His entire life, it seems, was shaped and rotted through with intense alienation and a sense of rejection. He had an internalized hatred of himself and of women.

I would love to be able to dismiss him as an outlier in terms of rhetoric but that would be a lie. You can go online to any comment section of just about anything and you’ll see a lot of blatant, outspoken hatred against women (along with racism, xenophobia. Obamaphobia, political chauvinism, pit bull love/hatred, religion-ism, etc.).

The unsettling thing is that you never know when someone who has the same dank rhetoric is capable of actual physical violence. Are they just awful, wounded, immature people or are they violent offenders?

So even though I think it’s an oversimplification of this horrible event, what better time than now to have the discussion.

It’s a good time to talk to the young men in your life about their views on women. To at least plant a seed of respect and let them know that you don’t own other people and you aren’t entitled to other people.

Do no harm.

You’d be shocked at what some boys, tweens and young men believe. They too easily adopt an antagonistic attitude. Then again it is what we teach them. They get it honestly. Our culture portrays women mainly as sex objects. The push back paints men as the enemy. So they view male/female relationships as a game at best and a war at worst.

Our society and our world does have a toxic attitude toward women. The online world is an ideal cesspool for self-reinforcing vile ideologies so I’m glad this is out in the open and views are being challenged.

THE INNER HATER

Hate isn’t necessarily the right word here.

I know many guys who are much more successful with women than me (however you want to define that and it’s not much of a feat, which is why my man-card has a probationary stamp on it). Most of them have a little edge to them. Conquistadores. They view it as a game and they get good at it. By “it” I mean the act of pursuing/courting/wooing/bedding or whatever. The end goal varies.

I’ve known plenty of guys who are hard working, upstanding, and even somewhat religious, but put them in a men-only setting and they will talk much trash. I’m not talking about machismo. I’m talking about old-fashioned, throwback sexism if you’re lucky. Misogyny and bitter dehumanization in the extremes. I generally will not be found in the vicinity of someone who habitually calls women bitches, c*nts, whores, and so on.

It speaks volumes about a man’s character.

There’s no quicker way to stoke a man’s ego darkseid than rejection or humiliation, real or perceived. That’s a good indicator of one’s character. How do we react when we don’t get our way? When we don’t get what we want?

Seriously. I have wanted and coveted after many things in my life. We all have. But there is nothing as intense as wanting someone. Desire and infatuation in itself can be life changing.

I understand Rodger’s frustration to an extent. We can all relate to working hard (or thinking we are), or wanting hard but not knowing what to do about it, for something that comes easy to other people.

Y’know. You work your butt off to make ends meet and pay down your student loans and meanwhile your nice but irresponsible cousin just inherited $3 million dollars and is posting pics parasailing in the Maldives and cracking open $1,000 bottles of top shelf liquor.

It’s human nature to feel some resentment. It’s within the norms. But not planning to slaughter everyone with a rich elderly relative. That’s far afield of the norms.

Not the irrational escalation. How do you get so twisted? Not the scapegoating. He blamed all of his shortcomings on everyone else. Not believing that someone — or society — owes you affection/intimacy/sex. Not the violent homicidal fantasies that culminated in this carnage.

There’s not much worse, emotionally, than the subject of your longing either ignoring you, not knowing you exist, distancing themselves, rejecting you, or rom-com-esque publicly rejecting you. That’s hard stuff. It can knock off a few damage points for even the most confident and stout among us.

Then what? What kind of person are you? What kind of man are you?

Or are we damaged goods and confusing our rage and resentment with “manhood”.

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