Rodger is the young man who went on a shooting rampage in California last week, targeting young college women — women who, he said in a previously made "selfie" video posted on YouTube, would not deign to go to bed with him. Rodger died of a gunshot wound to his head, possibly self-administered, during the ensuing police chase.
Dvorak (@petulad on Twitter) says Rodger was but an extreme example of the misogyny that affects "millions [of men] who share the same twisted view of women that he did."
Women by the "hundreds of thousands," Dvorak writes, have posted their resentment of this widespread misogyny on Twitter, using the hashtag #YesAllWomen. Here's an example:
Elliot Rodger has exposed the sick world of the Men’s Rights Activist movement, self-described "alphas" who fume about any and all the times they don’t call the shots with women, specifically the airbrushed, inflated and photo-shopped creatures they assume are there for them.
Mostly, it’s about sex. Or the lack thereof.
A group of them call themselves Pickup Artists. And some sell their wisdom — tips that include stale bar tricks, ways to insult and ignore women as part of their seduction — as online courses, apps or seminars. They call this ability to get women to sleep with them "Game."
When desperate men who shell out cash thinking it will buy them Game fail, they lash out online. Not at the men who try to sell them Game, but at the women who didn’t buy the act.
Of Elliott Rodger himself, Dvorak writes:
He may have been mentally ill, but he was also the product of a culture that objectifies, demeans and sexualizes women. Nearly one in five American women report being raped at some time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The raging sexual assault epidemic in our military and on our college campuses is a reflection of the entitlement too many men feel they have to women’s bodies.
Every day we hear of another military man — powerful, disciplined, bulging with Game — who sexually assaulted a woman in uniform. This month, investigations began at 55 colleges and universities over the way their officials have handled sexual assault. These are our nation’s thought leaders — privileged, educated, bursting with tweedy Game — who have rebranded rape as 'non-consensual sex' so they won’t have to deal with the misogyny on display on their campuses.
Think it’s not real? Consider the texts and e-mails allegedly exchanged between members of a banished frat at American University. The young men — who also were identified as scholars, interns at prestigious nonprofits and senators’ offices — show a shuddering hatred and objectification of their female classmates.
Hatred of women? Objectification? Sexualization? "Game?" Sexual assaults? Rapes? Why is all this happening? And what can we do about it?
Those two questions, I realize, might draw our attention in different directions. The why question suggests we might be able, if we but knew the answer, to pluck out the entire problem by its taproot, as we would dig up a dandelion in our garden.
The what question suggests the problem will have to be solved more indirectly, as when we spray a dandelion with weed killer instead.
My own first inclination would be to go for the taproot. But what, then, is the deepest source of all this blatant misogyny?
I suppose there were misogynists in earlier times, most of them secret, undeclared woman-haters. Today, it's different: misogyny is rampant and blatant. What's changed, and why? Well:
- Women nowadays occupy societal roles they were once excluded from: as students at coed universities, as soldiers in the military, in professional careers.
- The sexual revolution put paid to virginity and chastity as cultural norms, particularly for women.
- Women and men now wait longer to settle down and get married, leading to a time of life experts call "post-adolescence" or "adultescence." (This has to do in part with how long young people are staying in school today. Elliott Rodger was 23 and still a college undergraduate.)
- The Internet has made porn readily available.
- Social media have opened up avenues for misogynist rants and other craziness to reach a critical mass.
These fairly recent changes in our culture fall generally into two overlapping categories:
- The victory of individual liberty over censorship, as with the availability of online porn, the sweep of unfettered social media, and even our having gotten out from under yesterday's sexual norms of purity, virginity, and chastity.
- Changes that no feminists or right-thinking progressives would ever want to roll back: more college- and graduate-level education for both sexes; women in all walks of life; women, unlike in the olden days, being "allowed" to enjoy sex.
If changes of this sort are the taproot of today's blatant and rampant misogyny, or at least the feeder roots, then I guess I'd better reconsider my first inclination, which was to pluck out the misogyny by its roots. The deepest feeder roots are, after all, sacrosanct to feminists, to right-thinking progressives, and to proponents of civil liberties and open exchanges of ideas.
Putting weed-killer on the dandelion of rampant misogyny can, though, only go so far, I feel. We hear of reconfiguring how the military handles sexual assault. We hear of the Obama administration trying to get universities to do more to stop abuses on campus. Worthy approaches, I'd say, but not nearly sufficient.
What we really need is a new code of honor: individual young men need to swear themselves to proper behavior toward women.
It could come as part of a 12-step program, à la Alcoholics Anonymous. Call it Misogynists Anonymous. AA participants are encouraged to confess to their fellows that they have a drinking problem. MA participants would have to confess that they have a woman-hating problem. Then the healing could begin.
As part of it, they would have to pledge to give up what amounts to their "bottle": calling women sluts and whores after picking them up and having sex with them; calling women stuck-up snobs after failing to pick them up and sleep with them; and like expressions of misogynist hostility.
Labels: #YesAllWomen, Code of Honor, Men’s Rights Activist Movement, Misogynists Anonymous, Misogyny, Pickup Artists