Why Elliot Rodger’s misogyny matters

A chart posted by Elliot Rodger, giving his chilling spin on a manosphere meme depicting supposed female "hypergamy"

A chart posted by Elliot Rodger, giving his chilling spin on a manosphere meme depicting supposed female “hypergamy”

When a white supremacist murders blacks or Jews, no one doubts that his murders are driven by his hateful, bigoted ideology. When homophobes attack a gay youth, we rightly label this a hate crime.

But when a man filled to overflowing with hatred of women acts upon this hatred and launches a killing spree targeting women, many people find it hard to accept that his violence has anything to do with his misogyny. They’re quick to blame it on practically anything else they can think of – guns, video games, mental illness – though none of these things in themselves would explain why a killer would target women.

In the case of Elliot Rodger, who set out on Friday night aiming, as he put it in a chilling video, to “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut” in a popular sorority house at the University of California, Santa Barbara, some Men’s Rights activists and other manospherians are doing their best to convince the world that misogyny had nothing to do with it.

On A Voice for Men, for example, Janet Bloomfield (who goes by the name JudgyBitch), notes that Rodger killed more men than women, and thereby declares that

Elliot was an equal opportunity hate monger, torn between wanting to kill women and wanting to kill men. …

Jessica Valenti proclaims that “misogyny kills”, blithely unconcerned with the fact that more men than women were killed.  Killing men is misogyny?  That’s an interesting interpretation.

Bloomfield ignores the reason more men were killed than women: Rodger’s planned massacre of sorority women failed. He was unable to get inside the sorority house. And so he was forced to improvise.

On Twitter, meanwhile, cultural commenter Cathy Young, long sympathetic to Men’s Righsters, seems to think that Rodger’s rampage was entirely due to “mental illness” and argues that connecting Rodger’s rampage to a wider culture of misogyny is a form of “anti-male hate speech.”

Even more strangely, the proudly racist Steve Sailer – a hero to Heartiste and others in the “alt-right” wing of the manosphere – has declared that Rodger wasn’t motivated by misogyny but rather by “anti-Blondism,” and that his targeting of “ blonde sluts” in a popular sorority house was “an extremely intentional racial hate crime.” Never mind that the half-Asian Rodger idolized blonde women as superior (even as he hated them) and that his comments online are littered with rather crude, rather traditional racism against people who weren’t white.

But Sailer’s claim is little more than an attempt at a derail.

The fact is that Rodger made his misogyny very clear — in his videos, in his internet postings and most of all in his 140-page “manifesto,” which is filled with angry denunciations of women and elaborate fantasies of violent “retribution” towards them. As with many misogynists, his misogyny was largely driven by thwarted sexual entitlement: he desired women intensely but they (wisely) wanted nothing to do with him.

Consider the following passages from his manifesto. I’ve put some of the most disturbing bits in bold.

The most beautiful of women choose to mate with the most brutal of men, instead of magnificent gentlemen like myself. Women should not have the right to choose who to mate and breed with. That decision should be made for them by rational men of intelligence. If women continue to have rights, they will only hinder the advancement of the human race by breeding with degenerate men and creating stupid, degenerate offspring. This will cause humanity to become even more depraved with each generation. Women have more power in human society than they deserve, all because of sex. There is no creature more evil and depraved than the human female.

Women are like a plague. They don’t deserve to have any rights. Their wickedness must be contained in order prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy. Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals, and they need to be treated as such. … All women must be quarantined like the plague they are, so that they can be used in a manner that actually benefits a civilized society. …

The first strike against women will be to quarantine all of them in concentration camps. At these camps, the vast majority of the female population will be deliberately starved to death. That would be an efficient and fitting way to kill them all off. I would take great pleasure and satisfaction in condemning every single woman on earth to starve to death.

I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds just a little bit like misogyny.

Rodger saw his “Day of Retribution” as part of a war against women. Elsewhere in his manifesto he wrote:

Women’s rejection of me is a declaration of war, and if it’s war they want, then war they shall have. It will be a war that will result in their complete and utter annihilation. I will deliver a blow to my enemies that will be so catastrophic it will redefine the very essence of human nature.

Now, there is no question that he also hated certain kinds of men and boys – the “obnoxious brutes” he so often saw with the “pretty blonde girls” he simultaneously desired and despised. His manifesto is dotted with denunciations of them, as well as with denunciations of humanity as a whole. At one point, he posted a fantasy on PUAhate about killing all the men on earth with a virus so he could have all the women for himself. But he thought about, and wrote about, killing women all the time.

Indeed, even when he was bullied as a youngster, he directed most of his anger not at the bullies themselves but at their girlfriends.

Remembering one bullying incident from high school, he wrote

Some boys randomly pushed me against the lockers as they walked past me in the hall. One boy who was tall and had blonde hair called me a “loser”, right in front of his girlfriends. Yes, he had girls with him. Pretty girls. And they didn’t seem to mind that he was such an evil bastard. In fact, I bet they liked him for it. … The most meanest and depraved of men come out on top, and women flock to these men. Their evil acts are rewarded by women; while the good, decent men are laughed at. … I hated the girls even more than the bullies because of this.

Rodger was not only a misogynist; he was explicitly an enemy of feminism. While he doesn’t seem to have ever identified as a Men’s Rights activist per se – the only “rights” he seemed to be interested in were his own – his postings online echo the extreme and ignorant denunciations of feminism seen amongst MRAs and other manospherians.

This, too, has been denied by Men’s Rights activists. On AVFM, the “non-feminist” would-be “philosopher” Fidelbogen declares that

We have no evidence yet that Elliott Rodger was anything but apolitical in regard to feminism as such. He was not outspoken about feminism … He was only a sexually frustrated chump with mental issues, who apparently “hooked up” with PUA literature, and websites like “the Manhood Academy”.

In fact, Rodger attacked feminism explicitly in a number of comments on PUAhate, where rabid antifeminism is essentially the default ideology. In one comment, he declared bluntly that “feminism must be destroyed.” In another he predicted that

One day incels will realize their true strength and numbers, and will overthrow this oppressive feminist system.

Start envisioning a world where WOMEN FEAR YOU.

And while he saw PUAhate itself as “a putrid pit of despair,” he argued that

it does give a view of what the world is really like, what women are really like, and the evils of a feminist society.

Every male should read the posts here so that they can be awakened. There are too many delusional males worshipping women who would only spit in their faces.

There is no question that Rodger was a very disturbed man. I’m not a psychiatrist, nor do I have access to his medical or psychiatric records. But I would not be shocked to find that he was struggling with some sort of mental disorder or disorders. He was seeing several therapists, and a psychiatrist prescribed the antipsychotic Risperidone for him; he refused to take it. This prescription in itself doesn’t prove he was psychotic; psych meds are often prescribed for off-label uses, and Risperidone is also used to reduce irritability in people with autism. (Rodger was reportedly diagnosed as having aspergers.)

But, as someone who has himself dealt with depression for decades, I cannot help but think, reading through his manifesto, that his thinking was, as mine has sometimes been, distorted by depression.

He was also clearly a narcissist, in the colloquial sense if not necessarily in the clinical sense, whose resentment of others was driven by narcissistic rage. And some of his pronouncements, particularly towards the end of his life, were so grandiose it’s hard to know whether these reflected his tendency towards melodrama, fueled by his love of fantasy literature and video games, or if they are symptoms of a delusional disconnection from the real world.

I don’t think, given the considerable evidence there is of his troubled state of mind, that raising these issues detracts from the main point, and that is:

Rodger was a misogynist through and through. In many ways his misogyny was his life. If you watch his videos and read his manifesto, you’ll see that he related anything and everything in his life to what he saw as the grand tragedy of his rejection by “girls,” a state of affairs he blamed entirely on the girls of the world and not on his own “magnificent” self.

He was utterly consumed by his sexual obsession with “pretty blonde girls” and their utter lack of interest in him, and, increasingly, by his elaborate fantasies of “retribution” against them, which ultimately led to his killing spree on Friday night.

To deny that he was driven by misogyny makes as little sense as denying that Hitler was driven by anti-Semitism.

The evidence is as clear-cut as it can be on this point. Anyone who can’t or won’t admit this is either an ideologue or a liar – or both.

Thanks to Melody and several other readers for pointing me to some of the examples used in this post.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon, Time.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on May 25, 2014, in a voice for men, ableism, advocacy of violence, alpha males, antifeminism, armageddon, creepy, empathy deficit, entitlement, evil sexy ladies, evil women, FemRAs, FeMRAsplaining, fidelbogen, grandiosity, hypergamy, imaginary oppression, incel, irony alert, judgybitch, lying liars, men who should not ever be with women ever, misogyny, MRA, narcissism, oppressed men, playing the victim, PUAhate, racism, taking pleasure in women's pain, terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1,923 Comments.

  1. cassandrakitty

    But you will be quick to defend and applaud women for taking masculine roles.

    So, like, if a woman plays Hamlet I should be upset with her and sit in the audience all stony-faced and silent, withholding my applause as a punishment? Misogynists are so weird.

  2. Oooo back to Eurythmics. For some reason, I get this as an ear worm every year or so:

  3. Argenti Aertheri

    It was worth a shot!

  4. I have mint in the ground (in a small bed) and that stuff could survive a nuclear war. Jordan accidentally dug it all up when he was digging weeds and we just stuck it back in the ground and watered it and it came back.

    LBT, would Sneak like a mint?

  5. Oh yes, and nice work Kitteh! ^_^

  6. Thank you, hrovitnir! :)

  7. Argenti Also, the other thread, can you post over there that the parent cactus gets a deep watering off to the side of it every couple of months? The way this particular one roots is weird and when I watered it directly it wasn’t putting roots DOWN but OUT.

    Cactus tend to not have deep roots, but broad. A saguaro (the canonic cartoon cactus) will have a root dept of maybe 6 inches, but a root diameter of 60 feet. The soil doesn’t retain water well enough to make deep roots practical, so they go for surface area; near the surface.

  8. The secret to keeping cactus… don’t water them. every so often (once, maybe twice, a year) soak the soil. Keep them in the sun.

    Me and my family had a tiny cactus in our old house, and that’s the only reason it lived so long. We suck at watering plants.


    I have mint in the ground (in a small bed) and that stuff could survive a nuclear war. Jordan accidentally dug it all up when he was digging weeds and we just stuck it back in the ground and watered it and it came back.

    Wow, that’s a pretty tough plant :P

  9. Marie: It’s mint. When I was helping my former housemate set up her garden there was some mint in the back. I cursed. She asked why. So I started to pull up the decorative slates which were where she wanted to start the gardening. Under them was a mint runner… it was more than eight feet long. If it finds the surface, it’s a new growth.

    If you cut the joining root, it doesn’t care. It will survive a freeze. So long as the roots don’t get too hot it will survive a fire. Some mints (oregano, za’atar) are really drought resistant. Most can survive a short stint with no water (they will come back from whatever bit of root has managed to hang on while the foliage dies off.

    Mint is tough.

  10. Good to know about mint. So far the only pot plant that has survived my ownership is some kind of Pelargonium.

  11. RE: katz

    LBT, would Sneak like a mint?

    Sneak does not have any mint yet, and any plants that can be eaten or used for health reasons are especially high on zer desired list! So yes, most definitely!

  12. Cool, I bet if I packed a runner in damp sphagnum moss it would probably make the trip just fine. Want to email me your address?

  13. Argenti Aertheri

    Pecunium — weird that a plant that tall stands upright with only 6″ deep roots, must be one dense pad of them it spreads out!

    This thing though…I didn’t mean across the soil, I meant parallel. Wasn’t until I started forcing the damn thing to put A LITTLE effort not getting water that it figured out that roots go IN soil, or at least atop it. Also, a cactus with roots growing up out of it looks silly. Ignore the top bar and it was almost putting roots out like Z with the cactus as the bottom bar. It’s a bit crassula like in how it reproduces — knock one of the parent and it will, eventually, root — and then more little ones start growing upright from it (I’ve got four babies on mine, LBT will get the largest of them, you can have one too if you want.)

    No idea what species it is, the parent plant is a node snapped off my aunt’s cactus.

    Oh and my baby jade plant is almost pinkie finger tall. It’s come so far from being the size of a coin :)

  14. Argenti Aertheri

    LBT — send it to me too. I won’t be able to get a box out until I get more goddamned potting soil, but might as well just cc us both!

  15. Argenti: It’s also wide. A mature saguaro has been spreading that disc of roots for decades (the first “arm” doesn’t bud until they are about 75 years old) Πr sq, means a lot of total area. I did misremember the diameter. The “drip-line” is about the diameter of the plant, so the diameter is between 12-30 feet. So between 110 and 2,800 sq ft.

    And yes,they are sort of dense. They look like a giant loofah.

  16. I should see about trying to ground, or air, root some forsythia for you. That, or put a seedling into 4-6″ pot.

  17. Argenti Aertheri

    6″!! I need those, I have 4″ out my ears!

    Also! Also! *JUMPS UP AND DOWN* I just tried calling you because MEDS PSYCH FROM HELL IS NO LONGER WITH THE CLINIC!!!!!!

    Which they told me via CERTIFIED FUCKING MAIL! And I’m at the BF’s so I had my mother read me the certified letter, until I starting laughing loud enough for my brother to hear me thru the phone and upstairs.


  18. Argenti Aertheri

    And received!

  19. @argenti

    Also! Also! *JUMPS UP AND DOWN* I just tried calling you because MEDS PSYCH FROM HELL IS NO LONGER WITH THE CLINIC!!!!!!

    Yay!! :D

  20. :: throws party for Argenti and blasts Emilie Autumn for zir ::


    :: blows silly horn, releases confetti ::

  22. Argenti Aertheri

    You guys are awesome, y’all know that right?

    *pulls out vodka and cranberry juice* that’s an and/or option, anyone is free to bring other virtual drinks, alcoholic or not. The coffee is mine though! :D

  23. Here’s my interpretation of this incident. I think that it had some misogyny involved in it, given that it was about a feeling of Rodger being angry by a feeling of being deprived by women, as if they were objects that other men had but he didn’t. But I think that we live in a society where people are taught to resent themselves for almost anything [no matter how happy their background seems to be] so much that people end up believing based on almost anything that they should feel bitter about themselves. So I think that is part of it too, it was because of misogyny, but also because of the self-hatred the world frequently inflicts and teaches people to go through.

  24. I don’t feel that sorry for the little asshole, personally.

    I have no self-esteem or self-worth. Never felt like killing anyone except, during exceptional episodes of depression, myself.

  25. I don’t think there was any self-hatred involved. ER obviously thought very highly of himself, so much so that he thought women should be falling all over themselves to get in bed with him.

    He didn’t hate himself for being a virgin, he hated women for not validating him as a “man”.

    Also, why are you necroing a thread? C’mon now.

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