When details of the warped mindset of the Elliot Rodgers, the Isla Vista shooter, started leaking out this weekend, I thought of two things.
One is that Rodgers was one of Amanda Marcotte’s Nice GuysTM, taken to their murderous extreme.
The other is that apparently, every woman who Elliot Rodgers encountered had extremely good judgement. This post from Vixen Strangely goes into that, the intuitively obvious notion that women probably shouldn’t date men who hate women, plus the diseased community of (some) men who take this incident as proof that women should throw some sex at losers so nobody gets hurt.
And then I thought of the hundreds of young women I have encountered over the past 5 years, teaching self defense at high schools in the LA area.
Impact Personal Safety is a full force self defense system, and its physical tools are geared toward the nightmare of stranger attack. But the reality, of course, is that the vast majority of sexual assault victims know their assailant. And so the most valuable tools we impart to our students (once they know that can physically defend themselves) are the verbal tools to use with people they know. And those are, quite often, more difficult to internalize than the fighting skills we teach.
In the high school classes I teach, we do an exercise where I play a guy (“Mitch”) who the girls know but simply do not (for whatever reason) want to date. I ask them out, and the goal is to get them to say that they’re not interested in going out with Mitch. Invariably, Mitch is told about conflicts, or not feeling well, or being out of town, and so he persists – he can change the date, or get tickets to a different show, or he can wait. Mitch doesn’t go away until the girl tells him she’s not interested in going on a date with him.
Quite often, the young women in the class feel bad about hurting the feelings of a person who’s not real. I imagine that’s both a social construct and a tool for self preservation. And I always tell them that if they’re not interested in someone, it’s better to let them know, because if he is a nice guy, he should be with someone who is interested in him. And then I ask them if they feel that if they like a guy or think he’s cute, that he is somehow obligated to ask them out.
It’s that question that usually registers, because not one of them (of course) thought that obligation exists. If you told the misogynists on the pick-up artist sites that they had to have sex with a woman they found unattractive, they’d dismiss the notion out of hand, while elaborating on said woman’s physical flaws at length.
And yet, somehow some men seem to think that women should have sex with them because they’re such nice guys.
Back to Vixen Strangely:
He proved every woman who rejected him exactly right. Brava, ladies. He was exactly what you thought, and no one is to blame for not ever thinking this piece of crap was worth the time of day–even if there is anyone out there who thinks he might have been–
And if he was a poor, poor, unfuckable boy before, I’m very sorry, but his killing women because he was so mad pretty much confirms his unfuckability. And very much confirms why we shouldn’t feel sorry for him now–had he ever talked to women? Did he know even stuck up blond “bitches” are people? Did he think sorority girls had lives, rights, families, hopes, dreams, and they didn’t have any responsibility to include him in them?
We know the answer to that, of course. It is written in blood on the sidewalks of a small college town.