Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

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Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby Fifth » Sun May 25, 2014 1:27 pm

http://www.scpr.org/news/2014/05/24/44359/isla-vista-shootings-what-we-know-about-alleged-uc/

I'm not a student at UCSB, nor have I been to Ila Vista, but it's in my general area, and I've been to conferences with UCSB students.

The following is cross-posted from my Tumblr:

And now I'm trying to unpack my head about this whole thing…

My first reaction to Elliot Rodger’s final video was “god damn, that guy needs a hug.” Because I remember being that isolated and pissed off, and… not entitled, though I was, but I didn’t feel entitled. I wouldn’t have put it in those words. But in retrospect, that was what was under the isolation and alienation.

If I’d been aware of the term, at Roger’s age I would have called myself an incel. The stories I was reading, seeing on TV, in movies, all ended with the main character getting love, and that wasn’t happening to me at all. Whenever I tried, I got shot down. I was never as isolated or bullied as Rodgers was, but I never felt particularly privileged. I saw guys who were abusive, who were drug dealers, who kept cheating over and over, who were reprehensible human beings, and these guys were never without some cute lady in their laps. I felt myself to be better than these guys, yet why couldn’t I get any single straight female person to sit down with me for coffee, much less anything more than that?

Eventually, and I’m not sure how this happened, but I snapped out of that situation. Maybe it was having a few dates, even if none of those blossomed into a relationship. I felt like I had something to desire, and if I kept trying, I’d get there. My other interests - especially writing- helped too, I think. I had a life outside my sexual desires.

Now we venture into territory where I’m less sure of my ground, because I’ve kept a great distance from the MRA community ever since learning of its existence.

Let me be clear: I am not excusing or justifying Rodger’s rampage, or his hatred. I am trying to figure out how this happened.

"This was male privilege" misses an important point about being in a position like Rodger’s: it sure as hell doesn’t look like privilege when you’re sitting there. I’m not saying it’s not privilege, I’m saying "privilege" is probably not the word that would be used by someone in this position. When you’re focusing on a perceived unfairness (and possibly being bullied for being socially awkward, as Rodgers may have been) you’re not terribly conscious of the privilege you receive. It feels more like being shit on the heel of the world.

What Elliot Roger Said About Women Reveals Why We Need To Stamp Out Misogyny is something I’d consider to be… necessary. Completely justified. But not exactly the thing I would want a young man who feels like Elliot Rodger to see.

I remember reading years ago about T-shirts being distributed to white supremacists with hidden information about contacting support groups that would allow dissatisfied young people to help exit white supremacist groups.

So my question is - what can we, as feminists, do to help young, angry men who feel marginalized and ignored, and find refuge in misogyny? How do we give them a way out and into thoughts and behavior that’s not harmful to themselves and others?

I think the Eric plotline of Leftover Soup (#443 through #457) could be helpful in explaining my position. In summary, a woman who is harassed by a pick-up artist takes a position of power against him, and then teaches him a lesson about basing his self-worth in something other than sex. On the other hand, she can afford to be gentle because she’s inflicted violence upon him (and her doing so is played for laughs) and he is then portrayed as Not A Threat To Her.

So let’s talk about two scenarios. One is if you find yourself being threatened and put in a position of fear, get the hell out. Do everything you have to do to ensure your safety.

But the other scenario, if you find yourself in a position of power over someone who might be a BAD HORRIBLE MISOGYNIST, or might be a awkward guy who fell into the wrong crowd, and this person hasn’t hurt anyone yet, and isn’t in immediate danger of hurting someone, I suggest that you take a moment to mentor that person, and help them find a way out of the darkness of misogyny. Use understanding and empathy, and teach by showing that they’ll be happier with some form of positive feminism in their heads. And it might get the next Elliot Rodger off a path of violence.

I don’t think this’ll be any kind of panacea, but it’s worth a try, no?
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Re: Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby Tailsteak » Sun May 25, 2014 1:58 pm

I have a number of things I wanted to say about the Rodgers case - about guns and feminism and the MRA and PUA subcultures, but the main thing I want to address is the idea of mental illness.

Now, many of the reports about this guy mention that he was mentally ill, a madman... and he was never diagnosed with anything other than Asperger's, which I think we can agree is not correlated with shooting sprees. To a certain extent, I think it's treated like a tautology - we have to tell ourselves that he was crazy, because the alternative is tantamount to saying that he killed six people because he was sane, that going on a deadly rampage in a public place was a reasonable thing to do.

From all reports, I think this should have been easy to see coming. I think Rodgers' friends and family should have been aware that his misogynist, self-centered attitudes made him a danger to himself and others.

I think there should be some sort of structure or framework in place that would allow them to get him help - or, at least, to get him out of his own damn head - whether he wanted it or not. Full disclosure - I know someone who I think poses a similar risk, and I essentially dealt with the issue by cutting him out of my life. I don't know what I could do to help him. Further full disclosure - I can understand where Rodgers was at, mentally. As a socially awkward, testosterone-infused, sex-obsessed young teen, I could fully understand someone coming to a similar conclusion about me, before I met Amber. And let me tell you - I would have been resistant, if not completely hostile, to mandatory therapy at that point in my life.
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Re: Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby Fifth » Sun May 25, 2014 2:24 pm

Tailsteak wrote:To a certain extent, I think it's treated like a tautology - we have to tell ourselves that he was crazy, because the alternative is tantamount to saying that he killed six people because he was sane, that going on a deadly rampage in a public place was a reasonable thing to do.

I'd say you're essentially correct. Though is death toll is up to nine - three roommates in his apartment and six in the attacks around the town.

From all reports, I think this should have been easy to see coming. I think Rodgers' friends and family should have been aware that his misogynist, self-centered attitudes made him a danger to himself and others.

Local law enforcement had been to see him, prompted by a request by his family. Rodger put up a sane face, and they concluded he was normal. He actually mentions it in his manifesto.

I think there should be some sort of structure or framework in place that would allow them to get him help - or, at least, to get him out of his own damn head - whether he wanted it or not. Full disclosure - I know someone who I think poses a similar risk, and I essentially dealt with the issue by cutting him out of my life. I don't know what I could do to help him. Further full disclosure - I can understand where Rodgers was at, mentally. As a socially awkward, testosterone-infused, sex-obsessed young teen, I could fully understand someone coming to a similar conclusion about me, before I met Amber. And let me tell you - I would have been resistant, if not completely hostile, to mandatory therapy at that point in my life.

I agree in principle, but such a thing could also get abused. Imagine someone saying to The System, "I know a guy who draws a webcomic with a white man attacking a black kid and a woman who sleeps with everything that moves! This guy could be crazy!
...and then the Mental Hygiene Police show up at your door.
I'm not opposing the creation of such a system, I just think that such scenarios should be taken into consideration in the design process.
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Re: Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby Tailsteak » Sun May 25, 2014 9:02 pm

I've been reading comments about the case (not even intentionally, they just keep showing up everywhere), and a lot of the comments are about how Rodgers was objectifying women - he felt he was entitled to bang a hot chick because, to him, they were sex objects.

And it occurred to me that, yes, actually, what we need is more actual sex objects.

We need to ramp up the RealDoll technology until we get to the point of the whorebots you're always seeing in science fiction. No A.I.s - that just perpetuates the problem - no, I'm talking about something that looks like a Photoshopped magazine cover model, or a hentai waif, or whatever, with just enough circuitry to handle "Greetings, master, which hole would you like to stick it in?" and no more.

And then all the people - of either gender, but let's face it, mostly men - all the people who view sex as nothing more than fantasy wish fulfillment and pleasant feelings below the belt can fuck the sex bots all day every day - and yes, they'd be entitled to it, as they think they are - and they can leave the ugly, smelly, farting, aging real people the fuck alone.

And then, hopefully, because they aren't having babies, that segment of the population will die out entirely. Wanting to connect to a fellow human being as a fellow human being will be, in Darwinian terms, rewarded, and the species will begin to trend in that direction.
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Re: Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby Arklytte » Sun May 25, 2014 9:35 pm

Dont think I could have said it any better Mason. I've had thoughts along the same lines as well and I think your idea definitely has merit. Now, we just need someone to actually come up with the necessary 'whorebots' or whatever. Hmmm...Honda's got some pretty awesome programming in that Asimo 'bot. Think we could hook them up with the RealDoll people? :)
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Re: Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby snowyowl » Mon May 26, 2014 12:45 am

Tailsteak wrote:We need to ramp up the RealDoll technology until we get to the point of the whorebots you're always seeing in science fiction. No A.I.s - that just perpetuates the problem - no, I'm talking about something that looks like a Photoshopped magazine cover model, or a hentai waif, or whatever, with just enough circuitry to handle "Greetings, master, which hole would you like to stick it in?" and no more..
The Floranovian utopia?
... in bed.
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Re: Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby RyukaTana » Mon May 26, 2014 1:04 am

See, I think there's something to be said about being 'entitled' to affection, sex, and/or love. These things are powerful, and to a lot of (maybe most) people, they're the top of the list of things we desire. To tell someone, 'we don't like the way you do those things, so you just don't get them', essentially, seems pretty clearly a recipe for disaster. I mean, if this is the thing you want most in the world, if your life feels entirely empty without it, and you can't have it, why shouldn't you go off the deep end over it?

Now, if your idea of sex/love/affection is that you are the only person who gets gratification from it, and it isn't literally masturbatory, and you don't care if someone else consents or not, then you're legitimately scum and you should just be gotten rid of... That's a dangerous person, and whatever reason they are dangerous, whether it's their 'fault' or not, they're dangerous. I don't think Jeffrey Dahmer was 'at fault' for why he was so fucked up, but he was, and short of studying him, he needs to die. I feel bad, but I'd feel worse for the victims.

However, being someone whose sexual desires and feelings about love far deviate from the norm, I know how painful it is to just be told, 'No, we don't like that you do that, fuck off.' Worse yet, most of my interests are so far off the radar that even the people marginalized sexually will treat them with disdain. I've often heard the 'slippery slope' argument of homosexuality 'deviating' into polyamory, and the vehement way that is rejected is fucking awful when you're a poly-individual. To have a group that has been hated and demeaned point at your group and say: 'No, fuck, we're not like those deviants.' That's fucked up.

So, yeah, I understand this guy's feelings. What he wanted was what he wanted, and it's not really anyone else's right to tell him he can't want that. He's scum for wanting to hurt people, he's scum for not putting that gun to his own head instead of blaming other people, but pointing the finger at him and saying: 'Fuck you for feeling like you should have gratification.' That's bullshit. There's a separation, and it's an important one. It's not that he wanted to be gratified, it's how he wanted to be gratified, and what he was willing to do because of it.
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Re: Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby Deepbluediver » Mon May 26, 2014 7:13 am

Tailsteak wrote:To a certain extent, I think it's treated like a tautology - we have to tell ourselves that he was crazy, because the alternative is tantamount to saying that he killed six people because he was sane, that going on a deadly rampage in a public place was a reasonable thing to do.

Is that sort of the same thing as a circular argument? He was insane because sane people don't go on killing sprees? Do we need to start adding "overly aggressive asshole syndrome" to medical textbooks?

Fifth wrote:
From all reports, I think this should have been easy to see coming. I think Rodgers' friends and family should have been aware that his misogynist, self-centered attitudes made him a danger to himself and others.

Local law enforcement had been to see him, prompted by a request by his family. Rodger put up a sane face, and they concluded he was normal. He actually mentions it in his manifesto.

One of the articles I read said his dad was a movie producer and his mom was on a (French) reality TV show at some point. I'm trying not to blame the parents too much, since I obviously don't have many details, but my gut reaction is that perhaps his parents didn't see it, because they where either to self-absorbed or it didn't seem abnormal to them.
It's possible I'm wrong, but I can't help but think that either he was broken from the get-go (clinically insane), in which case they should have gotten him real help, or they had a hand in screwing him up.

I agree in principle, but such a thing could also get abused. Imagine someone saying to The System, "I know a guy who draws a webcomic with a white man attacking a black kid and a woman who sleeps with everything that moves! This guy could be crazy!
...and then the Mental Hygiene Police show up at your door.
I'm not opposing the creation of such a system, I just think that such scenarios should be taken into consideration in the design process.

I was just having a discussion on another forum the other day about genetically engineering men to reduce their tendency towards violence, and of course lots of people where siting either prior real-word eugenics experiments or sci-fi stories where it never ends well. And it's true that this sort of thing has a lot of ethical problems and pitholes for good people who want to do it right, but as Tailsteak pointed out in the under-comic comments, the whole criminal justice system can already be kinda scary sometimes. And in general, I think it does more harm than good.

Tailsteak wrote:We need to ramp up the RealDoll technology until we get to the point of the whorebots you're always seeing in science fiction. No A.I.s - that just perpetuates the problem - no, I'm talking about something that looks like a Photoshopped magazine cover model, or a hentai waif, or whatever, with just enough circuitry to handle "Greetings, master, which hole would you like to stick it in?" and no more.

If it where just about the physical act of getting your rocks off, then he could have just hired a prostitute. From what little I've read about (other) serial killers who target women, it's often very much about the power over someone. I almost can't imagine that even if we develop technology to the point where robots can give mind-blowingly great sex and not be vapid enough for people to think "I'm screwing a robot", AND we manage to eliminate all the social stigmas against such things (think about the current attitudes towards this kind of stuff), there will still be pressure of a sort to get with a "real" girl.'

From what little I've read, the shooter in this case seemed like he wanted other people (woman) to admit that he was as good as he thought he was, and he though he was a 10+, so he was only looking at the hottest girls. I guess it escaped him that he considered himself to be a "perfect gentleman" and then only evaluated potential partners based on their bodies, instead of applying the same standards to himself. I kind of wonder if he ever got hit on by someone and just didn't notice, because the person hadn't even crossed his mind as being up to his standards.

RyukaTana wrote:So, yeah, I understand this guy's feelings. What he wanted was what he wanted, and it's not really anyone else's right to tell him he can't want that. He's scum for wanting to hurt people, he's scum for not putting that gun to his own head instead of blaming other people, but pointing the finger at him and saying: 'Fuck you for feeling like you should have gratification.' That's bullshit. There's a separation, and it's an important one. It's not that he wanted to be gratified, it's how he wanted to be gratified, and what he was willing to do because of it.

One the one hand, I want to agree with you because I believe that an individual's personal thoughts and beliefs are on an unmatched level of privacy and sanctity; your mind takes on an almost holy status, and you can't/shouldn't tell another person how to THINK. That's why fantasy or sci-fi stories with mind-reading magic/technology scare the bejeezus out of me.

But on the other hand, I also believe in this sort of process:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

And if I knew someone was walking around every day, thinking of every person they passed in the street, "Stab her, stab him, shoot that one, shoot her in the kneecaps, garrote wire, poison, bash that kids head in, stab him..." I'd want to tell them to cut that shit out.

There can be some real messed up stuff in people's heads, and so long as you don't act on it then that's not something you should kill yourself over, but I also think that you need to actively pursue a set of behaviors that will IMPROVE your thoughts, as they improve you actions. And sometimes, people need help with that.
Last edited by Deepbluediver on Mon May 26, 2014 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby Fifth » Mon May 26, 2014 8:38 am

Deepbluediver wrote:There can be some real messed up stuff in people's heads, and so long as you don't act on it then that's not something you should kill yourself over, but I also think that you need to actively pursue a set of behaviors that will IMPROVE your thoughts, as they improve you actions. And sometimes, people need help with that.

Seconded. This essentially my argument - that if people have a chance to teach the lesson Ellen taught to a vulnerable, sex-obsessed MRA/PUA, they should take it. We can't hand men their self-respect, but we can give men the tools to create their own self-respect, and separate that self-respect from their penises. The more I think about this, the more I come to the conclusion that having hobbies outside of sex - writing, my mapmaking career, and then cooking and jewelry-making - helped keep me sane in my low points. And now that I'm in a relationship, all of those are important in keeping me together. So my relationship isn't the only thing defining my life.
I think men, specially men in positions of authority and respect, have the best chance of making this point, especially to men who are already infected with misogyny.
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Re: Ila Vista, MRA, and Feminism

Postby RyukaTana » Mon May 26, 2014 3:11 pm

I hear a lot of this kind of argument. Tell me how to fix someone, short of torture and brainwashing. Tell me the secret to make someone stop believing something that they believe that deeply. People only change if they want to, and it's often extremely difficult even then.
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