Masculinity and Elliot Rodger

So, Elliot Rodger shot a bunch of people because he thought he was entitled to have sex with women.

I’ve been watching the Internet talk about this, and everyone’s been quick to call him an “MRA” (men’s rights activist) and discuss how horribly toxic the MRA community is. That’s valid. That’s absolutely warranted. A hashtag has trended on Twitter called #YesAllWomen, and it mostly consists of women sharing stories about awful, violent misogyny. Again, valid and warranted. It’s very important that this discussion is happening. But I want to look at this from a slightly different angle.

PREFACE: It’s hard to follow up a conversation about women’s issues with commentary about men’s issues without coming off as a guy shouting, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MEN?!” So let me reiterate that I’m not trying to derail the conversation here — all the feminist discussion that’s happening is great and important and I’m glad it’s thereI also want to clarify that I do not sympathize with Elliot Rodger or his actions. He demonstrably had some very fucked up views, and what he did was monstrous and far beyond forgiveness.

I watched Elliot Rodger’s “Retribution” video before it got removed. It was downright terrifying to listen to, but one line really stood out to me:

“I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl.”

And my initial response was, “Dude, I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin too. What’s the big deal?”

I mean, yeah, I do have a girlfriend. And while our relationship is strained by the fact that we live a thousand miles apart, it’s still done wonders for both of our lives. But if you’d talked to me a year ago, I was 21 and had never kissed a girl. And yet I wasn’t planning on killing anyone over it.

The fact that people bundle him with the “MRAs” bugs me, though they’re correct in making that association. I’m bugged by the fact that that’s what those proudly self-proclaimed Men’s Rights “activists” believe in. As I’ve said before, men do actually have cultural problems that are mostly specific to them. And I’m not talking about them being violent. I’m talking about the pressures of masculinity. I believe that there should be a movement devoted to overcoming the societal standards of masculinity — not necessarily a men’s “rights” movement, maybe a Men’s Mental and Emotional Well-Being Movement? I dunno. But the Men’s Rights Movement — at least that which we see from the likes of Reddit — goes about things in all the wrong ways.

Elliot Rodgers identified himself as a 22-year-old virgin. The Men’s Rights Movement should respond, “And there’s nothing wrong with that.” The response instead is, “So those bitches should pay.”

The problem is not that women should “put out” for men. The problem (or at least part of it) is that we as a global culture should put less pressure on men to be “manly.” Men shouldn’t have to have sex with lots of women, or be physically fit, or have high-paying jobs of authority, or any of the other bullshit we associate with “being a man” in order to feel a sense of personal accomplishment or success. I learned this a long time ago. Elliot Rodger apparently didn’t, and several innocent people paid an undeserved price for that.

Women deserve to feel safe, and it’s great that people are spreading talk of that around via Twitter and the like. But men also deserve to feel secure. We should remember that, but we don’t. Almost nobody talks about it. The Good Men Project is a great start, but there’s a reason its tagline is, “The conversation no one else is having.” We need more men telling other men that it’s okay to be a 22-year-old virgin, that you don’t need to have sex in order to be considered strong, and yes, that we’re not entitled to women’s bodies just because we’re men. I guess that’s why I wrote this.

To any other 22-year-old virgins out there: It’s cool, dude. Keep on truckin’. And don’t be a dick.


About Ninjustin

Full-time ninja and aspiring video game blogger person. View all posts by Ninjustin

4 responses to “Masculinity and Elliot Rodger

  • Did Somebody Send a Memo? | Daily Pundit

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  • Egalitarian

    Elliot Rodger was not an MRA and he had no involvement in the men’s rights movement.

    The forums he’s been found to have posted to, a bodybuilder forum and “PUAhate”, are not connected to the men’s rights movement.

    His youtube subscriptions, cited as proof of a connection, do not include a single men’s rights channel.

    Furthermore, none of his beliefs have anything to do with men’s rights views.

    There’s a reason why no source has been able to point to even one specific example of a connection to the men’s rights movement. There is no such connection.

  • thanatos5150

    Hoi there, Egalitarian!
    (Awesome handle, by the by!)

    There’s an odd phenomena in movements and organizations — especially ones as PR-saavy as the Men’s Rights Movement (Hereafter eferred to as “MRM” for brevity’s sake), where people immediately deny any and all connections between their organization and the epicenter of any outrage — in this case, the Rodgers shooting. It’s fascinating, really, read any article where a mass murderer is identified as a Christian and check out where, in the comments, people are trying to sever him from Christianity as a whole. The “not all men” effect dressed up in a spiffy black cassock.

    Whether or not you — or any MRA — excommunicate him is irrelevant. He’s already been associated with your movement by his words and actions alone.

    The trouble with is simple: the MRM is a number of things which prevents that from happening cleanly. Two big ones:

    Trouble One: It’s a decentralized movement. Like feminism, there is no talking head, just a loose conglomeration of people who hold roughly the same values.
    Trouble Two: The MRM has a seemingly set number of talking points, which Rodgers repeatedly referenced in his videos, themselves. If a woman committed mass murder after posting a video ranting about the Patriarchy and blaming them for the murders she’s about to commit and calling it retribution and punishment, people would call her a Feminist.
    So too, with the MRM. You, individually, may not identify with Rodgers. A large swathe of the MRM probably doesn’t. Most human being acknowledge that murder — especially murder aimed at women, backed by a number throughly misogynistic statements, over something as minor as not having sex — is a *bad thing*.

    Rodgers had an unhealthy obsession with sex, something he saw as his due that was being unjustly withheld from him. Like it or not, that’s the public image the MRM has, if the movement works on shedding that image, and, more importantly, that *incredibly toxic* value, then you have a shot at distancing yourself from Rodgers.

    Woogles acknowledges that the MRM does have some good points, and things that absolutely need to be worked on. Unequal rights in custody cases, the social stigma which says that men are unrapeable, the treatment as the “disposable” gender. Those are valid. Those are *damn’ good points*.

    Feminists have some damn’ good points, too. Ones with facts and figures to back them up, too. Women are treated as lesser than men. They’re paid less for the same work. They are constantly stalked and harassed and treated like their only value to society is as a sperm repository. Feminists have great points.

    You call yourself a “Egalitarian”. I consider myself one, too. Egalitarianism is a good thing, and I absolutely loathe double standards and rail against wherever I see them, be they racial, cultural, religious, or across gender lines. An Egalitarian, as I’m sure you’re aware is about equality, and equality means you have to, necessarily, be a Feminist.

    Don’t distance the MRM from Rodgers. Don’t “Not all men” to the Internet. “Not all men” is a true statement, but there’s a significant enough portion of the male population that perpetuates these toxic values. Don’t run aware from them, hiding behind the terrible and flimsy shield of “Not all men”. Take up arms against the Feminist’s sea of troubles. By opposing, end them.

    Actually *be* an Egalitarian, and go to war for feminists. Rage and rail against Rodgers. Make it known and certain that him and his kind are not welcome in your organization, decentralized as it is. Recognize Feminism as the natural ally of the MRM, instead of treating it like a foe, and spread those values amongst the MRM.

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