It would be quite wrong to attribute the Isla Vista killings to the work of a lone madman, a U.S. feminist author argues today in the pages of the UK Guardian.
The real reason, says Jessica Valenti, is much simpler: “misogyny kills.”
According to Santa Barbara County sheriff Bill Brown, the murders were clearly the work of a deranged individual, as evidenced by the killer Elliot Rodger’s YouTube videos and also by his “141 page rambling… combination of an autobiography and a diary.”
Brown said: “The fact that he had been and was continuing to be seen by a number of healthcare professionals makes it very, very apparent that he was very mentally disturbed when he made that document.”
However, Valenti–an American blogger and feminist author of books including He’s A Stud, She’s A Slut–has ruled out mental illness as the cause of the killings.
According to his family, Rodger was seeking psychiatric treatment. But to dismiss this as a case of a lone “madman” would be a mistake.
It not only stigmatizes the mentally ill–who are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it–but glosses over the role that misogyny and gun culture play (and just how foreseeable violence like this is) in a sexist society. After all, while it is unclear what role Rodger’s reportedly poor mental health played in the alleged crime, the role of misogyny is obvious.
She goes on:
Rodger was reportedly involved with the online men’s rights movement: allegedly active on one forum and said to have been following several men’s rights channels on YouTube. The language Rodger used in his videos against women – like referring to himself as an “alpha male” – is common rhetoric in such circles.These communities are so virulently misogynist that the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups, has been watching their movements for years.Yet, as the artist Molly Crabapple pointed out on Twitter: “White terrorism is always blamed on guns, mental health–never poisonous ideology.”
And artist Molly Crabapple isn’t the only feminist who agrees with her. So does someone called Melissa McEwan.
Valenti brings to her opinion piece the full weight of her expertise as one of the world’s leading feminist campaigners. Besides her master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, she was named in 2011 as one of the Guardian’s top 100 women for her “pioneering work in bringing the feminist movement online and into the 21st century.”
Not all the commenters below her opinion piece, however, seem altogether persuaded by her arguments.
Wow. Such an astonishingly simplistic argument I can barely believe it’s been written.To just flat-out dismiss the role of this person’s mental health issues (based upon what expertise?) in order to assign your own political slant is staggering.I find it incredibly distasteful that someone would take a tragedy like this and barely be able to wait a few hours before finding a way to use it to further their own aims.
It is a rather incompetent misogynist who manages, on his killing spree, to murder four men and two women.
It may possibly be that there were several more comments in this critical vein. Unfortunately, as is often the custom at the Guardian’s comically-titled “Comment Is Free” (aka Komment Macht Frei) section, they have been obscured with the message: “This comment was removed by a moderator.”