dismissal of the feminist take on Eliot Rodgers murderous rampage last week. Feminists are not always wrong. In this case, they are afraid. Very afraid. The usual problem with feminism, as with any ideology (especially those with their roots in Marxism,which is very rigid) is the incapacity of its adherents for original thought. Feminists do not respond to the phenomena, they simply classify the phenomena in an attempt to fit them into ideological pigeonholes. If a woman is raped, blame the patriarchy. If a woman is fired, blame the patriarchy. And if Eliot Rodgers killed a lot of people because he couldn't bribe, persuade or intimidate any young women into having sex with him, blame the patriarchy. It gets old. And besides that, it doesn't explain the actual phenomenon. Which is the way ideologies operate--they only exist to confirm certain specific first principles which can never be questioned. Any correspondence to reality need only be coincidental.
In this case, however, they are describing something real. There is mysoginy, and it is endemic, entrenched in the popular culture and responsible for all kinds of misconduct--including rape and murder. Anyone who thinks that women are treated with respect in American culture has to be blind and living in complete social isolation. Young girls are not only treated like sex objects, they want to be sex objects-- In a culture which reduces humans to their animal instincts while simultaneously severing their animal behavior from its normal animal consequences (i.e. children and the struggle to survive) women will serve no other purpose than as objects for the gratification of men, all other things being equal. Eliot Rodgers just did what he was taught to do.
Heather MacDonald calls Rodgers a narcissist--that's not what I would call him, but never mind. But her explanation of his rampage leaves something to be desired.
There is no pattern of gender-based rampages in this country; there is an emerging pattern of rampages by the untreated mentally ill.
That may be--but like all generalizations based on statistics, it does not even approach an explanation for the behavior of this young man whose rampage was predicted on video, and who left a 147 page document, his motivation ought not be disregarded just to shore up some vague, reflexive, antifeminist hypothesis. MacDonald does not mention Rodgers' own rantings once, preferring to counter feminist alarm simply by maintaining that more men are murdered than women, and that Rodgers killed more men than he did women. That his sexual dysfunction was a motive for his spree, and that it may have had roots in his own background (his father took pictures of women's exposed backsides, and left Rodgers' mother for the obvious reasons.) He was not only a remarkably disturbed young man, but he left extensive documentation. To dismiss all of that as "mental illness" which was "untreated" (hardly true, since he'd been going to therapists since he was 8 years old) is an offense against reality.
But the fundamental premise of the feminist analysis of Rodger’s massacre — that the U.S. is “misogynist” — is patently absurd. To the contrary, ours is a culture obsessed with promoting and celebrating female success.Is it? Is it, really? It is clear that MacDonald is probably being a tad ironic here--affirmative action is never good for any group of people, women included, and government-sponsored initiatives to encourage self esteem for women would be simply comical if they were not expensive and bent on brainwashing young women into jumping onto the materialist bandwagon that is American life. But what MacDonald loosely calls "success" I call "failure". It is never a success when one abandons nature. Feminists are, and I think MacDonald perceives this, responsible for brainwashing young girls into doing this. But there is another, more immediate danger. Margaret Mead, in a book called Male and Female, noticed that as women take on "male" societal roles and behavior, they were also getting the kind of diseases men got--ulcers, lung cancer,alcoholism. And, as most shark attacks take place in three feet of water (because that's where the people are) most assaults happen to women who are alone and exposed.
There's success, and there's success. Cultural forces of which MacDonald is ignorant--or which she finds neutral or benign--used feminism to put most young women today in an exquisitely dangerous place--aggressively asserting an illusory (and superficial) equality with men, and doing it on the men's home ground. Alone and, undefended, vulnerable, and naive, expecting to be treated with all the deference they would receive in a high school classroom. Enter Eliot Rodgers, an extreme but not atypical example of young American manhood, complete with car. Raw, human sexual behavior unconstrained by morals, taboos, or civility. Did feminism have a part to play in creating this scenario? You betcha. How many size 0 action heroines have we seen in movies vanquishing villains five times their size? But MacDonald doesn't want to face the pink elephant in the living room.
But unless those feminists intend to fully resurrect the Victorian understanding of women as deserving special solicitude by virtue of their maternal calling and delicate sensibilities, we should also be trying to end violence against men. And when it comes to mass slaughter, the best hope for doing both is by treating mental illness, not by railing against the imaginary patriarchy.As far as the "Victorian understanding of women" goes, it was pretty accurate. And it isn't a "calling"--it's a "nature". And if Heather MacDonald thinks Victorian women were weak and powerless, she ought to perhaps get an education, beginning with a good long look at Victoria herself. As for treating mental illness as an end to mass slaughter--most murders are not committed by the mentally ill. In any case, Eliot Rodgers had multiple therapists, and his parents had enough money to buy him the best. But to ignore his own reasons for his actions, and to ignore the cultural context of his behavior simply because some feminists may be waking up to the same reality, is just peevish.
A culture which espouses the killing of babies as a public good, is a mysognystic culture. A culture which separates sexual behavior from its consequences, causes, and traditional protections, will punish those members in whom human sexuality is fulfilled. Those people are women. Deal with it.