Sunday, May 25, 2014

MRA and NRA, a Toxic Synergy

When I wrote yesterday's lighthearted post, I was ignorant of the details about yesterday's horrific mass shooting near UCSB. On Saturdays, I work until 4AM, wake up at 11AM, listen to NPR for a couple of hours, and return to work at 5PM. At work, I am in a bubble for the first couple of hours- I have to interact with the public for an hour-and a half, and then have to run around closing the site up after operating hours. Whoa, did I have a horror story awaiting for me when I checked out the web in my first quiet moment.

Now that I'm catching up with the coverage of the shooting, two things strike me- the first is that the killer had a history of making misogynist and racist comments on "Men's Rights" sites, and the second is that he wrote a lengthy manifesto describing himself as a "good and pure" individual suffering at the hands of "brutal and twisted humanity". Two toxic cultural narratives, the MRA narrative of evil women "withholding" sex and love from "worthy" males, and the NRA narrative of the "good guy with the gun" defeating the "evildoers" combined in a poisonous synergy that ended up with seven corpses.

Reading snippets of the killer's "manifesto", one sees a picture of a bitter guy, obsessed with the facts that the "hot" women go out with "brutes" (in a number of instances, a racist obsession with blonde women going out with "dark-skinned Mexicans" and “ugly black filth” comes to the fore). Hypocritically, the guy excoriating women for not seeing his worthy qualities was solely concerned with women's superficial attributes. He was a shallow person, railing at the shallowness of others. In one jaw-dropping statement, he railed that women “should not have the right to choose who to mate with”. Aping the MRA obsession with "alpha males", he decided that his ticket to "alpha" status would be the ability to kill- after the purchase of a Glock 34, he asked, “Who’s the alpha male now bitches?” Whatever personality deficits he had, his dive into the fever swamp of online misogyny caused him to make the transition from an awkward youth to a wannabe supervillain straight out of a Jack Vance novel.

The other evil thread running through this sordid narrative is the idea that violence is the answer to all of life's problems- the "good guy with a gun" being the preferred hero of the tales Americans tell themselves. In the case of this killer, he was the newly-minted "alpha male", armed and ready to kill the "bad" people: “How sweet it would be to slaughter all of those evil, slutty bitches who rejected me.” Distilled to its essence, his warped view of the world could be summed up by his assertion that “the ultimate evil behind sexuality is the human female.” Fit into the narrative pushed by the gun-lobby, he was the "good guy" and the women that he hated were the "bad guys".

While the prevailing media narrative is going to be that the killer was "mentally ill", this is unfair to the already marginalized mentally ill community. No matter what was going in his head, the killer's embrace of misogynistic websites aggravated his problems- a toxic blend of MRA and NRA talking points combined in a synergistic fashion, resulting in a horrific tragedy.

7 comments:

Syrbal/Labrys said...

All the gun nuts will brand him as the usual "crazy lone wolf" and all the MRA types will say he was NOT one of them. The racists will announce it was because he was Asian and NOT a good white guy with a gun. Women who continue to complain about the deeply entrenched misogynistic vein in American life will be called names for making the "good" guys feel bad.

And the daily toll of mass shootings will continue.

Syrbal/Labrys said...

All the gun nuts will brand him as the usual "crazy lone wolf" and all the MRA types will say he was NOT one of them. The racists will announce it was because he was Asian and NOT a good white guy with a gun. Women who continue to complain about the deeply entrenched misogynistic vein in American life will be called names for making the "good" guys feel bad.

And the daily toll of mass shootings will continue.

mikey said...

It is mind-boggling that the American people continue to accept the cost of unfettered access to modern weapons. Think about it: 32,000 dead, 50,000 serious injuries, now add in the grieving families, the orphaned children, the imprisoned shooters, the medical and societal costs - to continue to make the case that this ridiculous constitutionally guaranteed 'freedom' is worth that much death, pain, horror and suffering is madness.

And yet, here we are. One of only 4 nations in the world with a constitutional guarantee of the right to own and carry (and in many cases USE) firearms. These mass shootings are truly just the tip of the iceberg - every night dozens of people are shot with readily available handguns in cities across America. Another dozen, in a dark moment that otherwise might have passed, takes the gun out of the drawer and ends their own lives quickly and without another thought.

I personally cannot understand why the people believe the gun lobby's propaganda - it would be simple to devise a firearms ownership regime that made guns more expensive and harder to get, but still ultimately available. The right depends on absolutist positions - unfettered gun rights or totalitarian gun confiscation, when there are free market solutions that would very efficiently increase scarcity, particularly in handguns.

It's ultimately hard to look at an important issue, from guns to economics to electoral politics to health care to infectious disease to environmental degredation to resource scarcity to religious and ethnic conflict and not see a dark, ugly, violent world ahead.

We were incredibly lucky to live at humanities high water mark...

John Gray said...

It sounds likethegunman was a damaged individual ...
How damaged he must have been

M. Krebs said...

This may be he best take I've read today on this awful shit. Well done, sir.

Smut Clyde said...

While the prevailing media narrative is going to be that the killer was "mentally ill", this is unfair to the already marginalized mentally ill community.

CBS were particularly vile in the regard, practically calling for everyone with schizophrenia to be rounded up into camps. Also particularly dishonest -- reporting on their own editorial decision to talk about sanity rather than guns and misogyny, as if this was an external, immutable act of society: the tragedy
refocused national attention on the shortcomings of the mental health system and how to identify and treat people who may pose a risk to themselves and others

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The other evil thread running through this sordid narrative is the idea that violence is the answer to all of life's problems- the "good guy with a gun" being the preferred hero of the tales Americans tell themselves.

It goes along with our other national myths.

For instance, the John Galt myth.

And the "we are the good guys, the other side is always Hitler" myth.
~