Just when I think I am out they pull me back in...
We are doing some weekend palate cleansing on this thread in order to mentally reset from the ugliness that is the Elliot Rodger saga.
As I wrote previously, there is so much left to discuss about Elliot Rodger. The American media has still not offered a serious discussion of the role that white supremacy and internalized racism played in his wicked deeds.
While there has been a bit more of an intelligent conversation about sexism and misogyny, the narrative is focused--as often happens with racism--on some public whipping boy outlier (in this case the "Men's Rights Movement" and the "Pickup Artist" community) instead of looking at how Elliot Rodger learned the lessons of violent, hyper-aggressive masculinity from a range of sources in American culture.
American culture made Elliot Rodger. But, to admit such a thing is to force us to talk about gender as a system of power, rape culture, and the myriad ways that Elliot Rodger is an extreme version, the exaggerated case with the volume turned up to the max, lacking the restraints of "normal" impulse control, whose murder rampage was a channeling of the Id of American sexism, racism, gun culture, and misogyny.In many ways, Elliot Rodger is also a reflection and product of the "pornographic imagination", which is "thinking of women as being defined only through their sexuality and that sexuality to be at the service of men’s desires".
There are two resources which are helpful for understanding the pornographic imagination.
Sut Jhally's documentary series Dreamworlds examines its presence in music videos, and how they channel the pornographic imagination by offering up a (mis)representation of reality in which every woman is sexually available, young boys can have sex with grown adult women, women are objects for the pleasure of male use, and when women are not naked, having sex with any nearby man who asks, engaging in orgies and sex-play with other women for the entertainment of men, they are bored and unfulfilled.
Dreamworlds can be watched here.
The great site Women in Theology has offered up an essential essay titled "“Gay or Asian?” Race, Masculinity, and the UCSB Shooting" which I encourage readers to seek out.
In the comments on the piece, I discovered the following gem from Elliot Rodger's manifesto.
Elliot Rodger hated women. He was also a racist. And now we can add some serious issues with perhaps incest and maternal issues into the mix.
The collective ugliness:
From pg. 129: “I visited my mother’s house quite often in the Autumn. To my extreme rage, I discovered that my sister now had a boyfriend, and that she had lost her virginity. She had casually “dated” boys in the past, but never to the serious extent that she did with this one. This one was a half White, half Mexican named Samuel, and I immediately took an intense disliking to him when I was first introduced to him. He seemed like the typical obnoxious slob that most young girls are sexually attracted to. Georgia invited him to my mother’s house all the time, and it angered me to watch him lurking about, eating my mother’s food and drinks, and making use of my mother’s house. He was freeloading off my mother, and she didn’t even realize it.
I eventually grew to hate him after I heard him having sex with my sister. I arrived at the house one day, my mother being at work, and heard the sounds of Samuel plunging his penis into my sister’s vagina through her closed room door, along with my sister’s moans. I stood there and listened to it all. So my sister, who was four years younger than me, managed to lose her virginity before I did. It reminded me of how pathetic I was, that at the age of twenty-two, I was still a virgin. I hated her boyfriend as well. My sister said that he’s been with other girls before her, and I’m sure he lost his virginity at a much younger age. It is such an injustice. The slob doesn’t even have a car, and he is able to get girlfriends, while I drive a BMW and get no attention from any girls whatsoever.
My sister even showed me a picture of one of his ex-girlfriends, a pretty brunette white girl. My hatred towards him only intensified after that. I refused to speak to him whenever he came over, and I constantly pestered my mother to ban him from the house, but she refused to heed my demands. Even worse, she constantly talked about him admiringly. He reminded me of Leo Bubenheim, a typical obnoxious boy who has been able to experience a great sex life from a young age. An enemy had now infiltrated the household of my mother, the one place in the whole world where I’ve always sought refuge from injustice. Things were getting too out of hand.”
Violent, hyper-aggressive, (white) masculinity mixed with consumerist greed and entitlement is the story of American culture, history, and empire.The public retreats and turns away in horror at that fact, but to paraphrase Brother Malcolm X, when the Elliot Rodgers of the world act out, how can you ignore the roots of the tree?
If mainstream media coverage of the Elliot Rodger's murder spree is any indication, the answer is "easily".