Sunday, August 11, 2019

Mass Killers And Misogyny

A recent NYT article notes a correlation between a man becoming a mass killer and earlier expressions of hatred of women:

The man who shot nine people to death last weekend in Dayton, Ohio, seethed at female classmates and threatened them with violence.
The man who massacred 49 people in an Orlando nightclub in 2016 beat his wife while she was pregnant, she told authorities.
The man who killed 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., in 2017 had been convicted of domestic violence. His ex-wife said he once told her that he could bury her body where no one would ever find it.
The motivations of men who commit mass shootings are often muddled, complex or unknown. But one common thread that connects many of them — other than access to powerful firearms — is a history of hating women, assaulting wives, girlfriends and female family members, or sharing misogynistic views online, researchers say.

And ABC News addressed the same question:

Many questions remain in the motivations of the man who allegedly committed a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, last weekend, leaving nine dead before responding officers shot him to death.

But officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News the suspected shooter demonstrated a misogyny that was far more extreme than any of his political leanings.
In that, he follows a bleak pattern among mass shooters.

What is this "bleak pattern" among mass shooters?  I think there are two possible patterns, though in practice they may be intertwined and entangled. 

The first applies to those men whose killing appears to have been directly motivated by their feelings that they have not received the kind of female attention they felt they were entitled to.  This anger is then turned into generalized hate at every single biologically female human being.

Mass killers such as Elliot Rodger*, Alec Minassian, Scott Beierle and George Sodini fall within that pattern, because their motivation was directly based on the hatred of women as a class.  This is the class of butchers which gets succor and support on the misogynistic websites**.

The second possible pattern applies to those mass killers whose killing appears motivated by misanthropy or racism or extreme religious hatred or homophobia, but who also have a history of violence against women.  They probably did (or do, if alive) hate women, but they also hate many other demographic groups, perhaps people of other races, religions or ethnic backgrounds, and don't necessarily decide to massacre people specifically on misogynistic grounds.  When they are radicalized online the hate sites may not focus solely on the hatred of women but on the hatred of other races or religions.

A history of domestic or intimate partner violence against women and girls may belong to both patterns.  It should always be taken seriously.  More seriously than still is the case in most of this world's cultures***.


*  My long post on Rodger is a good general example of a misogynistic mass butcherer.

**  From the NYT article:

David Futrelle, a journalist who for years has tracked incel websites and other misogynistic online subcultures on a blog called “We Hunted the Mammoth,” described incel websites as a kind of echo chamber of despair, where anyone who says anything remotely hopeful quickly gets ostracized.
“You get a bunch of these guys who are just very angry and bitter, and feel helpless and in some cases suicidal, and that’s just absolutely a combination that’s going to produce more shooters in the future,” Mr. Futrelle said.
 So it's succor and support in their suffering and the warped views they hold, not succor and support in recovering from all that suffering.  As I have written many times before, those sites remind me of the anorexia sites where commenters used to cheer on each other's weight loss and share tips about how to lose even more weight.  The difference is that anorexia sites only hurt the sufferers themselves, while hate sites of all kinds can seriously hurt many innocent outsiders.

*** And we should also take seriously those types of cultural constructs of masculinity which rely on the contempt for women as part of the teenage bonding rituals, because they allow misogyny some credible cover.