Why Elliot Rodger Happened

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When I was younger I heard a fable called “Stone Soup,” and it went something like this: A hungry traveler arrives at some guy’s house and knocks on the door, asking for food. The man is unwilling to provide it, so the traveler tells him that he’s a master chef and if the man is willing to indulge him, he can make the most delicious soup he’s ever tasted simply by boiling a stone.

The man is intrigued, so he invites the traveler inside, and the traveler produces a large stone that he plucked off the side of the road, washes it up, and puts it in a pot of boiling water on the stove. After a while he tastes it and says that it’s doing great, but it’s going to need a bit of garnish to really bring out the flavor. So the man gets some carrots and some potatoes and some leeks and whatever and adds them to the soup. Then they add some salt and pepper and oregano and parsley. Long story short, the man is eventually amazed that this guy actually made a delicious soup out of a stone, without realizing that the stone itself had nothing to do with it.

Now, imagine this traveler isn’t offering to teach you how to make soup, he’s teaching you how to pick up women. Also he looks like this:

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That’s “Mystery,” a leading member of what’s known as the “pick up artist” community, and he claims to have unlocked the combination to women’s pants. The stone soup he’s selling is that he can teach you how to make women attracted to you simply by acting like a complete fuck knuckle. He’ll tell you something like this:

First, you have to clean yourself up real nice. Have a shower, wear some nice cologne, have a shave. Put on a nice shirt. Get some interesting hobbies to talk about. Grow a personality and some self-confidence.

Then go out and buy the biggest, dumbest fucking hat that you can find.

Now you’re ready for the final step in the plan: Go out and approach women. Engage them in conversation, listen to what they have to say, socialize and be cheerful. Also, occasionally tell them they’re fat and stupid.

The shocking thing is that pick up artistry actually does work for some men. Mystery will promise you that it’s not because you’re actually putting work into your appearance and talking to more than zero women now – clearly, that’s just garnish. The real secret is the hat and insults thing.

What does any of this have to do with Elliot Rodger? On Friday, this 22 year old man picked up a gun and used it to erase six random people and himself. He was not wearing a fuzzy hat at the time, but the media quickly began to report the fact that he was a disgruntled ex-member of the pick up artist community. Part of his motive for the massacre, as he outlined in his manifesto, was that their techniques had not worked on him. He began to spiral into depression and, finally, acute rage. Rage against the women he had tried all his life to figure out, to unlock the secret of how to get them to have sex with him, and ultimately decided to punish their incomprehensible, cruel womanhood by taking their lives.

Now, people within the PUA and related “manosphere” communities have been quick and desperate to distance themselves from Rodger. Whenever discussions pop up about the tragedy in forums and social media, there are people who will quickly try to lasso the conversation away from men’s rights rhetoric and toward the mental health issue. People can sense an attack coming – this event is for the manosphere what Sandy Hook and Aurora were for the gun community. I’m surprised that I have yet to hear anyone insist that this was a “false flag” attack carried out by feminists in an attempt to discredit the anti-feminism crowd. I have absolutely no doubt that charge is on the horizon.

It looks bad for the manosphere. When you’re trying to push the idea that feminism is a conspiracy to eradicate men and masculinity, it looks bad when someone from your side squeezes off the first shot.

I don’t think we can argue that Elliot Rodger is the product of any one thing. What is clear to me is that people don’t just suddenly emerge from a vacuum, fully formed, and start killing people. Even if Rodger was mentally ill, his actions were still shaped by the culture that birthed him over the past 22 years. And we are teaching our young men some really dumb shit.

Something like PUA emerges from a concept that pervades male society in general, which is that women are essentially aliens. You see that whenever you hear men talking about how women are confusing or irrational. We don’t try to understand them as people, we need to understand them as women. And so we as men try to figure out this thing called women so that we can interact with each other. It’s kind of perplexing that we as a species have existed for like a million years and are still laboring under the illusion that fully half of our kind have a fundamentally alien perspective on the world and we’re still trying to figure out a common language.

Men focus a lot of their energy on trying to figure out this woman thing, and some of them get really good at it. They study hard and learn about the way that women think and what women like and what women really mean when they say X. They work out how women are as though they’re a goddamn operating system. And then they meet a woman and try to apply their advanced knowledge to interact with this creature in the wild, only to discover that she doesn’t adhere to every rule that he’s figured out – and so we think, well damn, women are so confusing and contradictory, we just can’t figure them out!

But rather than come to the realization that women are diverse, individual human beings, we cling white-knuckle tight to the idea that there’s a secret code down there somewhere. And we teach our sons and reinforce to our mates that woman is something they need to figure out and master. We share among ourselves what we’ve learned about women in the hope that we can decode this age-old mystery eventually.

And this pitiful over-thinking about the whole situation ultimately ends in bitterness and resentment, specifically because our society also teaches men that women possess something that we desperately need for survival: Sex.

Rodger claimed that what drove him over the edge was that women wouldn’t have sex with him. Now, I do realize that the internal monologue of a man who is about to go out and spray his neighborhood with bullets is the ultimate unreliable narrator, but what strikes me is the way he keeps referring to women withholding sex as a “crime.” A crime so evil that it deserved the death penalty. This is where people say this guy was just nuts. Mental illness, boom, in the bag. But of course, he’s grown up in a society that teaches boys, constantly, everywhere they turn, that sex is the most important thing in the universe for them. Every movie ends with the hero winning the woman that he deserves. Every song on the radio is about the same thing. Meeting an attractive member of the opposite sex and having fun boning times for the rest of eternity. You know that if a movie starts off with the female lead already attached to some guy, he’s either going to die or turn evil by the end, because that woman belongs to the male protagonist. That’s the woman’s role in almost every popular film, book or comic out there – the conquest. The keeper of the sex.

And the construction of the male identity, what we beat into boys from a young age and reinforce over and over again, is that we are the overwhelmingly sexual gender. We think with our dicks all day long, not five minutes passes when we’re not thinking about boobies, we can’t even help ourselves. We celebrate it, we joke about the burden it places on our lives, we ridicule virgins. Society teaches men that sex is, for us, a fundamental human right, as necessary as breathing.

And that creates confusion, because men start to think about sex not just as something fun to do without clothes, but as something they deserve. Something they need. Enter the concepts of rape culture and male entitlement. And when men start to see women withholding sex as being akin to withholding food, that’s where resentment comes from. When men see an ideology like feminism threatening to further limit their ability to get sex, they become fearful and furious.

For the most part, whenever I hear people declare themselves “anti-feminist,” I suspect they have a feeble grasp on what feminism actually is. It’s not a female supremacy movement. Often you’ll hear criticisms leveled at feminism as “trying to create equality between the genders by focusing only on the problems of one gender.” That criticism is much more applicable to the men’s rights movement than it is to feminism. Feminism from an academic standpoint doesn’t ignore men’s issues, it analyses them through the observation that both men’s and women’s issues both arise from common problems that exist at the basis of our social structure. The view isn’t that men are never oppressed. It just posits the idea that, as society has long sustained a patriarchal structure, women aren’t oppressing men. Men are oppressing men.

When men feel pained and lonely at the fact that there are no women in their life, it’s because society has taught them that women and sex are something they should expect, and they feel lied to. When they see that women are becoming empowered by feminism to have greater choice in who they hook up with, and it’s not us, they feel betrayed and resentful. These people, these women, are hoarding a commodity that society tells us we need, and now we’re supposed to suck up to them, put on our fedoras and be really nice to them in the hope that they’ll give it up, and if they still don’t, well they’re just horrible, petty creatures who revel in our suffering, and if they’re not going to give it up, we’re going to have to take it.

A community on Reddit called “The Red Pill” is an example of a group of men who have come to this sad, misguided conclusion. The Red Pill, a reference to the pill that Neo takes in the Matrix that enables him to see the world as it really is, is dedicated to the idea that level interaction between men and women is futile. Their world is a battlefield, women are the enemy, and sex is the commodity they’re fighting over. Using concepts borrowed from PUA and men’s rights rhetoric, they compare notes on how to get the sex they deserve from its tyrannical, vagina-hoarding gatekeepers. They’ve reduced interaction with all women to a cold, morbid calculus. They speak at length about the myth of rape and domestic violence, all lies cooked up by the conspiracy of women who dedicate their lives to withholding sex from those men who deserve it.

The opinions of communities like The Red Pill about Elliot Rodger are united in their condemnation. To their credit, few of them support his actions, at least publically. But there is an element of suggestion that this was a man who was pushed too far by women’s refusal to give him sex, that he is a victim of women, even after killing several of them. If he’s a victim of anything, it’s sure as hell not women. But in a stunning lack of awareness, the consensus of the manosphere is clear – this guy needed to get laid. Whether they’re condemning him for his weakness or pitying him as a man pushed too far, the idea is that a good boning would have fixed him right up. The source of this tragedy is once again somehow that the women are to blame. There’s nothing wrong with the way that we put a man’s sex drive on a pedestal and command them to screw at all costs, that this is the measure of their worth.

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Or maybe we can just chalk this up to good old fashioned insanity. That’s what keeps us sleeping at night, right? Just another random act of violence that nobody could have predicted, from a mind that none of us could have comprehended. A random person snapped, no real reason. We’ll go back to discussing whether this could have been prevented with more or fewer guns. And hey… women, huh? Crazy.

Edit: I posted this earlier today with the promise that conspiracy theorists would soon be declaring this a “false flag” event, and the internet has not disappointed. This article just came to my attention:

http://jaysanalysis.com/2014/05/25/santa-barbara-shooter-psy-op-the-first-mens-rights-false-flag/

For those who don’t know, the term “false flag” dates back to the days of naval piracy, when pirates would be hired by governments to fly a particular official flag as they attacked vessels, to give the impression that a foreign navy has incited war, as a means to in fact incite war against that nation without appearing to have done so. In modern usage, the term has come to the forefront especially referring to last year’s murderfest trinity (Aurora, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Bombing) by conspiracy theorists who believe these attacks were perpetrated by the American government (usually as an attack on the second amendment) and blamed on somebody else.

As many or most conspiracy theorists think that feminism is a part of the New World Order scheme to subdue, control, and ultimately depopulate the globe, anti-feminists are going to begin declaring this event as a false flag operation, orchestrated by the government, to discredit and vilify their movement. They will be coming out of the woodwork over the next couple of days, and I expect Alex Jones will weigh in soon.