I have a lot of thoughts on the UCSB shooting right now. I’m going to write them up for the site for Monday, but there’s a lot I want to get down now while they’re still raw and fresh.
Friday night, Elliot Roger got behind the wheel of his BMW and proceeded to murder seven people and injured seven others. He did this because he was a virgin.
This isn’t speculation. In a blood-chilling video entitled “Elliot Roger’s Retribution”, the 22 year old delivered a long rant about being a virgin, about how since he hit puberty he has been afflicted with unfulfilled desires.
He wanted sex, but women refused to be attracted to him. He complained that it wasn’t “fair” that everybody else got to experience “sex, fun and pleasure” and he was left out.
And so he murdered seven people, and attempted to murder many more.
He claimed that he couldn’t understand why women didn’t find him attractive “the supreme gentleman” and “true alpha” while throwing themselves at the “obnoxious brutes”. And for this, they deserved to die. For, in his words, “the crime of living a better life than me”.
Because they “denied him” what he wanted. Because they “would have” - a critical phrase - snubbed him if he made a sexual advance.
From his Twitter: “Why are girls sexually attracted to obnoxious, brutish men instead of sophisticated gentlemen such as myself? #girls #perverted #sex #unfair,”
His YouTube channel is full of videos complaining about women. He was a regular participant on PUAHate, nominally an anti-PUA site but more often a site for complaining about being “incel” and the cruelty of women for not being attracted to him. He followed many MRA video bloggers
Right now there are a lot of people who are going out of their way to paint Roger as “sick”, “unhinged” or “mentally ill”. They want to make it a story about how he had a head full of bad wiring. They want it to be simple: he was a nut. He snapped.
And we shouldn’t let them. Not because we know or don’t know that he was suffering from any sort of mental illness. Maybe he was dealing with some sort of mental health issue. We don’t know. We may never know. But that is just a way of compartmentalizing him, separating him out from the rest of the male population. A systematic “Not All Men”, as it were.
Because whether any theoretical mental illness had anything to do with his rampage, it doesn’t negate the fact that he grew up believing in a toxic form of masculinity. That he believed he was entitled to women’s affections and to women’s bodies - and that being “denied" what he thought was his due meant that the best thing he could do is go murder as many people as he could to punish them. Because that was exactly what he was doing: punishing people for the crime of not fucking him. Of forcing him to be a virgin, of making him less than a man.
Because that is exactly what the cultural narrative of masculinity says. A woman who is a virgin is a prize, holding her “special gift” for a “special person”. A male (not a man, a male) is a failure. He is a boy, not a man. He is a failure, because masculinity is rated in two axis’ - in our capacity for sex and our capacity for violence. These are the two ways that men establish our masculine credentials: by being a stud or being a bad-ass.
And - critically - men cannot show weakness. To show weakness or emotion makes you less of a man; it makes you a pussy. Not even a woman, just a part of a woman, something to be fucked by “real men”.
There’s no question that Roger was in deep, emotional pain. But our culture tells men that they keep that shit inside. You don’t let that out. You don’t let it show. You hide that shit. Because real men don’t hurt. Real men don’t cry and they sure as shit don’t ask for help.
The MRA community that Rogers was attracted to talks about how they’re trying to “help” men. But that “help” consists of berating and insulting women and talking about how women “manipulate” men and how women are men’s “natural enemy”. They’re obsessed with being “alpha”, with being “real men”, not “manginas”. They’re all about asserting manhood by force, “showing” women and punishing them. Manhood by violence. Manhood by force.
Manhood by sex.
This is the world that Roger was drowning himself in.
Let’s just imagine a world where Roger could have gone to somebody - his father, a therapist, a priest, somebody and said “Help me. Please. I’m hurting. I’m scared. I need someone to help me right now” without fearing that this made him weak. Without believing that this made him less.
Without believing that the answer to feeling weak was to try to reassert himself through violence and pain.
Maybe seven people would still be alive right now. Maybe seven more wouldn’t be in the hospital.
It’s on us to make this world a reality.
More on Monday.