May 27, 2014

Misogyny not to blame for Santa Barbara massacre

We love the narrative that blames a current cultural ill (loose morals, video games, a controversial book, misogyny) for random acts of inexplicable horror. But this narrative is completely wrong.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

Elliot Rodger massacre

When Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon at point-blank range, he was carrying a copy of Catcher in the Rye. This was also among a very few volumes found in the apartment of John Hinckley Jr. — although, of course, the infamous stalker attributed his attempt on the life of Ronald Reagan much more to the work of Martin Scorsese. Nonetheless, it’s important that after we blame Taxi Driver for that attempted homicide, we note the fatal shooting of 21-year-old actress Rebecca Schaeffer was effected by an assailant carrying J.D. Salinger in his jacket.

Talk about murder by the book. After all, everybody is these past few days. Since the fatal shooting of four men and two women in Santa Barbara, California, apparently by a man named Elliot Rodger, who also committed suicide, the role of cultural influence is again under scrutiny.

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42 thoughts on “Misogyny not to blame for Santa Barbara massacre

  1. arnold ziffel

    The title of this piece is ‘Razer: misogyny not to blame for Santa Barbara massacre’.
    I guess that might be the product of an enthusiastic subbie, if Crikey has such people.
    I’m happy for Ms Razer to take on the prevailing suppositions in our culture, including the purported links between cultural representations of violence and actual violent acts.
    Mr Rodger appeared in a Youtube saying why he was going to do this, including a desire to punish women for their choosing other men over him.
    Not to suggest that this is the motivation in all cases, but it seems to be operating in this case.
    Do we believe what he tells us?
    Why is Holden Caulfield the sign-off on the article?
    Did Mr Rodger mention that particular fictional character?
    I wish no one did – I reckon it’s a bit overrated.
    What we might need is some explanation for why the perpetrators of the shooting deaths that occur so often are virtually 100% male.
    I’m happy to regard movies, comics and video games as symptoms rather than as causal factors, as as long as we’re seriously trying to find a more satisfying explanation rather than just suggesting it started with the Mayflower.

  2. danger_monkey

    Click-bait by a contrarian writer, attacking a straw man.

    No one in the US believes that the sole cause of this mass killing was misogyny. We all know that it flows from the confluence of culture, mental illness and an obsession with guns. But the culture has a significant misogynistic component and you have to go no further than the writings and recordings of Mr Rodgers himself to see (and hear it).

  3. Georgie McRae

    How you can say that misogyny (hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women) wasn’t at least a major factor in this is beyond me. This man clearly expressed hatred against women in general. There seems to be a lot of argument that is “Was he crazy?” versus “Was he a misogynist?” – surely I’m not the only one seeing that potentially he was both? And – to say he is a misogynist is not saying that every single attack on a woman is misogynist, either.

    Yes, it also boils down to significant mental issues and gun control. I could not agree more that these need to be addressed, however that does not mean the misogyny isn’t a factor or that anybody who acknowledges that is somehow hurting feminism/missing the point. One argument for gun control is that people with sick ideologies (whether they be racist, misogynist, far-left, far-right, religious or anything else) and mental issues aren’t so easily able to inflict massive harm.

    I completely agree that misogyny is not behind every attack on women, just as every attack on a person of a particular heritage is not necessarily racism. However, sometimes – perhaps even often – it is. And there is no point denying that as we should address ALL the factors contributing to these awful attacks, not just cherry pick them.

  4. David Irving (no relation)

    Misogyny. You use that word, Ms Razer, but i do not think that word means what you think it means.

  5. Charles Miller

    It’s funny how mental illness and “you know, some people just snap like that, asking why is pointless” seems an almost entirely white excuse for killing people.

  6. Pippa Tandy

    Hurrah. Some sense.

  7. Ca Noyb

    As you claim to be a writer, perhaps pen something that has some kind of logical argument structure. If you’re going to go bashing around a sensitive issue, a proper review of the facts rather than mocking other analysis would be appropriate. But that’s not what you write, is it? You write click-bait, anti-feminist diatribes without actually producing anything of higher quality than the work that you ‘critique’.

    If you identify as feminist, trust me… we don’t want you on our team.

    As an ACTUAL social psychologist, I’m calling this article for the MRA cookie-seeking rubbish that it is.

    Yes, there is a massive issue with gun violence. However, THIS case has also raised a very serious issue not only with a pervasive culture of disrespect towards women and the entitlement felt by many men, but also in the quashing of women’s right to have a reaction, to want to start a conversation about those attitudes and to be heard. The killer did not come up with these attitudes on his own. It’s pervasively embedded in our culture, and everyone has the right to be upset about it. It’s not co-opting the gun control issue, it’s adding to that conversation that the vast majority of shooters are men. Isn’t that worth having a rational discussion about?

  8. Mark out West

    Hey if you want to see some real misogyny then look no further than Manus Island and the woman and children locked up there.

    NO WAIT, Australian woman don’t care cause the majority of them voted this govment in and agree with Manus.

    Misogyny must only be a 1st World thing.

  9. jimjames jammyjams

    before any of you pretend you know what this guy was about you should all read his manifesto from start to finish. sex was his primary motivator, and he saw women as the arbiters of that sex and wished to punish them for denying him (interestingly he never says he actually approached any women to talk to them). his ultimate fantasy was to live in a society free from sex which he thought would bring a natural purity to the human race. this last point should be viewed in context to santa barbara/isla vista where he was living, which apparently is a spring break mecca. he viewed the people there (and by extension all humans), who he had a profound jealousy and loathing of as impure beasts, driven by base desires. he had a psychopathic jealousy of just about everyone, chronic depression and extreme antisocial tendencies. people were trying to get him help for years, everyone around him recognised there was a problem but for whatever reason he was fixated on his desire to be with a “white attractive blonde woman”. “mysogyny” was not so much a symptom it was by-product, much less a cause.

  10. jimjames jammyjams

    also he hated pick up artists. PUA Hate (note the hate?) is a website devoted hating the type of men which rodgers viewed as stealing the women he obsessed over. he also viewed the people on PUAHate as depressing, and “[m]ost of the people on that website have extremely stupid opinions that I found very frustrating”.

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