The Feminist Battle After the Isla Vista Massacre

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This post first appeared on TomDispatch.

Isla Vista shooting, woman behind glass with bullet holes.
A woman looks at the bullet holes on the window of IV Deli Mark where a mass shooting took place by a drive-by shooter, Elliot Rodger, in Isla Vista, Calif. The shooter went on a rampage near a Santa Barbara university campus that left seven people dead, including the attacker, and seven others wounded. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

It was a key match in the World Cup of Ideas. The teams vied furiously for the ball. The all-star feminist team tried repeatedly to kick it through the goalposts marked Widespread Social Problems, while the opposing team, staffed by the mainstream media and mainstream dudes, was intent on getting it into the usual net called Isolated Event. To keep the ball out of his net, the mainstream’s goalie shouted “mental illness” again and again. That “ball,” of course, was the meaning of the massacre of students in Isla Vista, California, by one of their peers.

All weekend the struggle to define his acts raged. Voices in the mainstream insisted he was mentally ill, as though that settled it, as though the world were divided into two countries called Sane and Crazy that share neither border crossings nor a culture. Mental illness is, however, more often a matter of degree, not kind, and a great many people who suffer it are gentle and compassionate. And by many measures, including injustice, insatiable greed and ecological destruction, madness, like meanness, is central to our society, not simply at its edges.

In a fascinating op-ed piece last year, T.M. Luhrmann noted that when schizophrenics hear voices in India, they’re more likely to be told to clean the house, while Americans are more likely to be told to become violent. Culture matters. Or as my friend, the criminal-defense investigator who knows insanity and violence intimately, put it, “When one begins to lose touch with reality, the ill brain latches obsessively and delusionally onto whatever it’s immersed in — the surrounding culture’s illness.”

The murderer at Isla Vista was also repeatedly called “aberrant,” as if to emphasize that he was nothing like the rest of us. But other versions of such violence are all around us, most notably in the pandemic of hate toward and violence against women.

This struggle over the meaning of one man’s killing spree may prove to be a watershed moment in the history of feminism.

In the end, this struggle over the meaning of one man’s killing spree may prove to be a watershed moment in the history of feminism, which always has been and still is in a struggle to name and define, to speak and be heard. “The battle of the story” the Center for Story-Based Strategy calls it, because you win or lose your struggle in large part through the language and narrative you use.

As media critic Jennifer Pozner put it in 2010 about another massacre by a woman-hating man, “I am sick to death that I have to keep writing some version of this same article or blog post on loop. But I have to, because in all of these cases, gender-based violence lies at the heart of these crimes — and leaving this motivating factor uninvestigated not only deprives the public of the full, accurate picture of the events at hand, but leaves us without the analysis and context needed to understand the violence, recognize warning signs, and take steps to prevent similar massacres in the future.”

The Isla Vista murderer took out men as well as women, but blowing away members of a sorority seems to have been the goal of his rampage. He evidently interpreted his lack of sexual access to women as offensive behavior by women who, he imagined in a sad mix of entitlement and self-pity, owed him fulfillment.


Richard Martinez, the father of one of the young victims, spoke powerfully on national TV about gun control and the spinelessness of the politicians who have caved to the gun lobby, as well as about the broader causes of such devastation. A public defender in Santa Barbara County, he has for decades dealt with violence against women, gun users and mental illness, as does everyone in his field. He and Christopher Michaels-Martinez’s mother, a deputy district attorney, knew the territory intimately before they lost their only child. The bloodbath was indeed about guns and toxic versions of masculinity and entitlement, and also about misery, cliché and action-movie solutions to emotional problems. It was, above all, about the hatred of women.

According to one account of the feminist conversation that followed, a young woman with the online name Kaye (who has since been harassed or intimidated into withdrawing from the public conversation) decided to start tweeting with the hashtag #YesAllWomen at some point that Saturday after the massacre. By Sunday night, half a million #yesallwomen tweets had appeared around the world, as though a dam had burst. And perhaps it had. The phrase described the hells and terrors women face and specifically critiqued a stock male response when women talked about their oppression: “Not all men.”

As someone named Jenny Chiu tweeted, “Sure #NotAllMen are misogynists and rapists. That’s not the point. The point is that #YesAllWomen live in fear of the ones that are.
It’s the way some men say, “I’m not the problem” or that they shifted the conversation from actual corpses and victims as well as perpetrators to protecting the comfort level of bystander males. An exasperated woman remarked to me, “What do they want — a cookie for not hitting, raping or threatening women?” Women are afraid of being raped and murdered all the time and sometimes that’s more important to talk about than protecting male comfort levels. Or as someone named Jenny Chiu tweeted, “Sure #NotAllMen are misogynists and rapists. That’s not the point. The point is that #YesAllWomen live in fear of the ones that are.”

Women — and men (but mostly women) — said scathing things brilliantly.

— #YesAllWomen because I can’t tweet about feminism without getting threats and perverted replies. Speaking out shouldn’t scare me.

— #YesAllWomen because I’ve seen more men angry at the hashtag rather than angry at the things happening to women.

— #YesAllWomen because if you’re too nice to them you’re “leading them on” & if you’re too rude you risk violence. Either way you’re a bitch.

It was a shining media moment, a vast conversation across all media, including millions of participants on Facebook and Twitter — which is significant since Twitter has been a favorite means of delivering rape and death threats to outspoken women. As Astra Taylor has pointed out in her new book, The People’s Platform, the language of free speech is used to protect hate speech, itself an attempt to deprive others of their freedom of speech, to scare them into shutting up.

Laurie Penny, one of the important feminist voices of our times, wrote, “When news of the murders broke, when the digital world began to absorb and discuss its meaning, I had been about to email my editor to request a few days off, because the impact of some particularly horrendous rape threats had left me shaken, and I needed time to collect my thoughts. Instead of taking that time, I am writing this blog and I am doing so in rage and in grief — not just for the victims of the Isla Vista massacre, but for what is being lost everywhere as the language and ideology of the new misogyny continues to be excused… I am sick of being told to empathize with the perpetrators of violence any time I try to talk about the victims and survivors.”

Our Words Are Our Weapons

In 1963, Betty Friedan published a landmark book, The Feminine Mystique, in which she wrote, “The problem that has no name — which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities — is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease.” In the years that followed, that problem gained several names: male chauvinism, then sexism, misogyny, inequality and oppression. The cure was to be “women’s liberation,” or “women’s lib,” or “feminism.” These words, which might seem worn out from use now, were fresh then.

Since Friedan’s manifesto, feminism has proceeded in part by naming things. The term “sexual harassment,” for example, was coined in the 1970s, first used in the legal system in the 1980s, given legal status by the Supreme Court in 1986 and given widespread coverage in the upheaval after Anita Hill’s testimony against her former boss, Clarence Thomas, in the 1991 Senate hearings on his Supreme Court nomination. The all-male interrogation team patronized and bullied Hill, while many men in the Senate and elsewhere failed to grasp why it mattered if your boss said lecherous things and demanded sexual services. Or they just denied that such things happen.

Sexual harassment is now considerably less common in workplaces and schools, and its victims have far more recourse, thanks in part to [Anita] Hill’s brave testimony and the earthquake that followed.

Many women were outraged. It was, like the post-Isla Vista weekend, a watershed moment in which the conversation changed, in which those who got it pushed hard on those who didn’t, opening some minds and updating some ideas. The bumper sticker “I Believe You Anita” was widespread for a while. Sexual harassment is now considerably less common in workplaces and schools, and its victims have far more recourse, thanks in part to Hill’s brave testimony and the earthquake that followed.

So many of the words with which a woman’s right to exist is adjudicated are of recent coinage: “domestic violence,” for example, replaced “wife-beating” as the law began to take a (mild) interest in the subject. A woman is still beaten every nine seconds in this country, but thanks to the heroic feminist campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s, she now has access to legal remedies that occasionally work, occasionally protect her and — even more occasionally — send her abuser to jail. In 1990, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported, “Studies of the Surgeon General’s office reveal that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44, more common than automobile accidents, muggings and cancer deaths combined.”

I go to check this fact and arrive at an Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence website that warns viewers their browsing history might be monitored at home and offers a domestic-violence hotline number. The site is informing women that their abusers may punish them for seeking information or naming their situation. It’s like that out there.

One of the more shocking things I read recently was an essay in The Nation about the infamous slaying of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese in a neighborhood in Queens, New York, in 1964. The author, Peter Baker, reminds us that some of the neighbors who witnessed parts of her rape and murder from their windows likely mistook the savage assault by a stranger for a man exercising his rights over “his” woman. “Surely it matters that, at the time, violence inflicted by a man on his wife or romantic partner was widely considered a private affair. Surely it matters that, in the eyes of the law as it stood in 1964, it was impossible for a man to rape his wife.”

Terms like acquaintance rape, date rape and marital rape had yet to be invented.

Twenty-First Century Words

I apparently had something to do with the birth of the word “mansplaining,” though I didn’t coin it myself. My 2008 essay “Men Explain Things to Me” (now the title piece in my new book about gender and power) is often credited with inspiring the pseudonymous person who did coin it on a blog shortly thereafter.  From there, it began to spread.

For a long time, I was squeamish about the term, because it seemed to imply that men in general were flawed rather than that particular specimens were prone to explain things they didn’t understand to women who already did. Until this spring, that is, when a young Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, told me that the word allowed women to identify another “problem with no name,” something that often happened but was hard to talk about until the term arose.

Language is power. When you turn “torture” into “enhanced interrogation,” or murdered children into “collateral damage,” you break the power of language to convey meaning, to make us see, feel and care. But it works both ways. You can use the power of words to bury meaning or to excavate it.  If you lack words for a phenomenon, an emotion, a situation, you can’t talk about it, which means that you can’t come together to address it, let alone change it. Vernacular phrases — Catch-22, monkeywrenching, cyberbullying, the 99% and the 1% — have helped us to describe but also to reshape our world. This may be particularly true of feminism, a movement focused on giving voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless.

One of the compelling new phrases of our time is “rape culture.” The term came into widespread circulation in late 2012 when sexual assaults in New Delhi, India, and Steubenville, Ohio, became major news stories. As a particularly strongly worded definition puts it:

“Rape culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused in the media and popular culture. Rape culture is perpetuated through the use of misogynistic language, the objectification of women’s bodies, and the glamorization of sexual violence, thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety. Rape culture affects every woman. Most women and girls limit their behavior because of the existence of rape. Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not. That’s how rape functions as a powerful means by which the whole female population is held in a subordinate position to the whole male population, even though many men don’t rape, and many women are never victims of rape.”

Sometimes I’ve heard “rape culture” used to describe specifically what’s called “lad culture” — the jeering, leering subculture in which some young men are lodged. Other times it’s used to indict the mainstream, which oozes with misogyny in its entertainment, its everyday inequalities, its legal loopholes.

Sometimes I’ve heard “rape culture” used to describe specifically what’s called “lad culture” — the jeering, leering subculture in which some young men are lodged. Other times it’s used to indict the mainstream, which oozes with misogyny in its entertainment, its everyday inequalities, its legal loopholes. The term helped us stop pretending that rapes are anomalies, that they have nothing to do with the culture at large or are even antithetical to its values. If they were, a fifth of all American women (and one in 71 men) wouldn’t be rape survivors; if they were, 19 percent of female college students wouldn’t have to cope with sexual assault; if they were, the military wouldn’t be stumbling through an epidemic of sexual violence. The term rape culture lets us begin to address the roots of the problem in the culture as a whole.

The term “sexual entitlement” was used in 2012 in reference to sexual assaults by Boston University’s hockey team, though you can find earlier uses of the phrase. I first heard it in 2013 in a BBC report on a study of rape in Asia. The study concluded that in many cases the motive for rape was the idea that a man has the right to have sex with a woman regardless of her desires. In other words, his rights trump hers, or she has none. This sense of being owed sex is everywhere. Many women are told, as was I in my youth, that something we did or said or wore or just the way we looked or the fact that we were female had excited desires we were thereby contractually obliged to satisfy. We owed them. They had a right. To us.

Male fury at not having emotional and sexual needs met is far too common, as is the idea that you can rape or punish one woman to get even for what other women have done or not done. A teenager was stabbed to death for turning down a boy’s invitation to go to the prom this spring; a 45-year-old mother of two was murdered May 14th for trying to “distance herself” from a man she was dating; the same night as the Isla Vista shootings, a California man shot at women who declined sex. After the killings in Isla Vista, the term “sexual entitlement” was suddenly everywhere, and blogs and commentary and conversations began to address it with brilliance and fury. I think that May 2014 marks the entry of the phrase into everyday speech. It will help people identify and discredit manifestations of this phenomenon. It will help change things.  Words matter.

Crimes, Small and Large

The 22-year-old who, on May 23rd, murdered six of his peers and attempted to kill many more before taking his own life framed his unhappiness as due to others’ failings rather than his own and vowed to punish the young women who, he believed, had rejected him. In fact, he already had done so, repeatedly, with minor acts of violence that foreshadowed his final outburst. In his long, sad autobiographical rant, he recounts that his first week in college, “I saw two hot blonde girls waiting at the bus stop. I was dressed in one of my nice shirts, so I looked at them and smiled. They looked at me, but they didn’t even deign to smile back. They just looked away as if I was a fool. In a rage, I made a U-turn, pulled up to their bus stop and splashed my Starbucks latte all over them. I felt a feeling [of] spiteful satisfaction as I saw it stain their jeans. How dare those girls snub me in such a fashion! How dare they insult me so! I raged to myself repeatedly. They deserved the punishment I gave them. It was such a pity that my latte wasn’t hot enough to burn them. Those girls deserved to be dumped in boiling water for the crime of not giving me the attention and adoration I so rightfully deserve!”

Domestic violence, mansplaining, rape culture and sexual entitlement are among the linguistic tools that redefine the world many women encounter daily and open the way to begin to change it.

Domestic violence, mansplaining, rape culture and sexual entitlement are among the linguistic tools that redefine the world many women encounter daily and open the way to begin to change it.

The 19th century geologist and survey director Clarence King and 20th century biologists have used the term “punctuated equilibrium” to describe a pattern of change that involves slow, quiet periods of relative stasis interrupted by turbulent intervals. The history of feminism is one of punctuated equilibriums in which our conversations about the nature of the world we live in, under the pressure of unexpected events, suddenly lurch forward. It’s then that we change the story.

I think we are in such a crisis of opportunity now, as not one miserable, murderous young man but the whole construct in which we live is brought into question. On that Friday in Isla Vista, our equilibrium was disrupted, and like an earthquake releasing tension between tectonic plates, the realms of gender shifted a little. They shifted not because of the massacre, but because millions came together in a vast conversational network to share experiences, revisit meanings and definitions and arrive at new understandings. At the memorials across California, people held up candles; in this conversation people held up ideas, words and stories that also shone in the darkness. Maybe this change will grow, will last, will matter and will be a lasting memorial to the victims.

Six years ago, when I sat down and wrote the essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” here’s what surprised me: though I began with a ridiculous example of being patronized by a man, I ended with rapes and murders. We tend to treat violence and the abuse of power as though they fit into airtight categories: harassment, intimidation, threat, battery, rape, murder. But I realize now that what I was saying is: it’s a slippery slope. That’s why we need to address that slope, rather than compartmentalizing the varieties of misogyny and dealing with each separately. Doing so has meant fragmenting the picture, seeing the parts, not the whole.

A man acts on the belief that you have no right to speak and that you don’t get to define what’s going on. That could just mean cutting you off at the dinner table or the conference. It could also mean telling you to shut up, or threatening you if you open your mouth, or beating you for speaking, or killing you to silence you forever. He could be your husband, your father, your boss or editor, or the stranger at some meeting or on the train, or the guy you’ve never seen who’s mad at someone else but thinks “women” is a small enough category that you can stand in for “her.” He’s there to tell you that you have no rights.

Threats often precede acts, which is why the targets of online rape and death threats take them seriously, even though the sites that allow them and the law enforcement officials that generally ignore them apparently do not. Quite a lot of women are murdered after leaving a boyfriend or husband who believes he owns her and that she has no right to self-determination.

Despite this dismal subject matter, I’m impressed with the powers feminism has flexed of late. Watching Amanda Hess, Jessica Valenti, Soraya Chemaly, Laurie Penny, Amanda Marcotte, Jennifer Pozner and other younger feminists swing into action the weekend after the Rodgers killing spree was thrilling, and the sudden explosion of #YesAllWomen tweets, astonishing. The many men who spoke up thoughtfully were heartening. More and more men are actively engaged instead of just being Not All Men bystanders.

You could see once-radical ideas blooming in the mainstream media. You could see our arguments and whole new ways of framing the world gaining ground and adherents. Maybe we had all just grown unbearably weary of the defense of unregulated guns after more than 40 school shootings since Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, of the wages of macho fantasies of control and revenge, of the hatred of women.

If you look back to Betty Friedan’s “problem that has no name,” you see a world that was profoundly different from the one we now live in, one in which women had far fewer rights and far less voice. Back then, arguing that women should be equal was a marginal position; now arguing that we should not be is marginal in this part of the world and the law is mostly on our side. The struggle has been and will be long and harsh and sometimes ugly, and the backlash against feminism remains savage, strong and omnipresent, but it is not winning. The world has changed profoundly, it needs to change far more — and on that weekend of mourning and introspection and conversation just passed, you could see change happen.


Rebecca Solnit
Rebecca Solnit, author most recently of The Faraway Nearby, is a frequent contributor to TomDispatch and the author of 15 previous books about the environment, landscape, community, art, politics, hope and memory.
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  • AnnaFrieda

    Great article, it pretty much says it all. Men tend to feel that they deserve special rights and privileges because they are the providers and protectors, even though far too many of them provide precious little and most often it is your “protector” that you need protection from.

  • John Stewart

    I remember my dad told me a story that early in the 20th century when a rapist was at large in his community that the women got together, captured the man and castrated him, basically as the same operation is performed on a bull or a pig. The way he told the story made me think that at the time, it was just.
    Now, obviously, this was extra-judicial castration. And, I’m sure that there was plenty of wife beating going on in that community, too.

  • Richard Kellum

    I can only assume you gave up reading this article before you got to the early paragraph which reads:

    The Isla Vista murderer took out men as well as women, but blowing away members of a sorority seems to have been the goal of his rampage. He evidently interpreted his lack of sexual access to women as offensive behavior by women who, he imagined in a sad mix of entitlement and self-pity, owed him fulfillment.

  • Maya

    The other fact is that after his killed his roommates, he had made it his goal to shoot up every woman in a sorority house, but when he went there and pounded on the front door, they wouldn’t let him in. Then he started the shooting spree around campus. His GOAL had been to massacre women.

  • Yokie

    I hope the author is correct, that things are improving for women. I am nearing 50 and am tired of the battle. If the good men, which is the majority of men, would just stop saying, “not me” and instead say, “this is what I will do to help”, things would change for the better, very quickly.

  • Anonymous

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  • dmead

    when we stop pigeon holing women as providers of sex and babies, and men as providers of money and protection then we can all be free.

  • Anonymous

    @Richard. Same comments as I made to Maya above. I’m very aware of this sick and disturbed individual’s STATED motives.

    But we don’t really know his REAL motive and the fact still remains that he killed twice as many men as women. If his target and hate were only women, why did he start out killing 3 men?

    And if he killed and attacked victims with knives, his car and guns, why is this incident a “mass shooting”?

    I’m sorry, but it is very hard not to think that people are exploiting this incident to advance anti-gun and/or women-victimization agendas.

    Yes, guns were use – that is horrible. Yes, women were targeted – that is horrible. But there are young men dead of multiple stabbings and people mowed down by his car as well.

    Exploiting a tragic incident to advance narrow agendas seems to be par for the course in many places, including here. But I reserve the right to find it offensive and intellectually dishonest.

    That is why I asked the question here and in the “mass shootings” posting.



  • Richard Kellum

    Well, to go back to your original post, you claimed the article made it seem as though only women got attacked. So, I pointed to the paragraph that talks about men also being attacked.

    Regarding some of your more general points on gender, I’m a little puzzled by the distinction you make between stated and real motives. If I understand you, then I think your logic runs something like this: “He said he killed because he hated women. But he killed more men than women. Therefore, he couldn’t have really meant that he hated women. He just said this because he’s crazy, and we cannot trust the words of a crazy person.”

    Okay, first off, true, he killed more men than women. In other words, he messed up. His plan did not go as he’d hoped it would. That he messed his plans up, though, does not negate his plans. He just simply couldn’t carry them out like he thought he’d be able to. I don’t understand how him messing his plans up should cause anyone to try to cast doubt on what his plans were to begin with. Such logic begs this question: “When a crazed Islamist terrorist says he’s killed people in order to glorify Allah, we in the West are more than willing to believe he had those motives. So, when a crazed Western man says he’s killed people because he hates women, why are some men compelled to try to cast doubt on those motives?”

  • C. Lau

    Thank you, Rebecca Solnit. Bless you, my Dear

  • Richard Kellum

    Well, the first two killings were people he lived with, so yeah, he was right up close to them. He then left and drove to a sorority house. That’s the very first place he went after leaving his home. He didn’t go to a fraternity house, or a McDonalds, or even simply a crowded street. He made a point of going first to a sorority house. This, after having posted a video and a manifesto detailing his hatred of women and his desire to punish them. But he couldn’t gain access to the women. The sorority house was locked. From that moment, his plan went wrong. Simple as that. He wanted to go kill women and he couldn’t. So then, he just started firing. We seem to be going round in circles on this, you and I, so I’m not going to debate that point further. He made a video saying he wanted to kill women. The first place he drove to was a sorority house and it was locked, so his plan went wrong from that moment.

    Interesting article in Salon, by the way, about his targeting of men being due to them taking the women away from him that he felt he deserved to have. Such a sense of sexual entitlement is part of the misogynist mind-frame.

    As for the hijackers, their plan, unfortunately, went right. They were better planners, though no less crazy. Although the case could be made using a certain kind of sophistry that their intentions couldn’t have been to glorify Allah because Muslims worked in the WTC buildings and were killed indiscriminately alongside people of various religions and nationalities. But I don’t buy logic like that.

    And here is where I respectfully bow out of this current discussion.


  • Anonymous

    Fair enough. I don’t necessarily disagree with anything you wrote. Just pointing out that he started out by killing 3 men up close and personal, which had nothing to do with the goal you stated “an attack on a sorority house”.

    This was a sick individual – his manifesto is simply a sick datapoint. Not the whole story.

    We agree to somewhat disagree :)

    Peace to you.

  • Esther Smith Newell

    It is incredibly offensive to use the phrase “women-victimization agenda.” There are many types of violence in the world, that affect both genders, but it is women who are faced with a constant and justified fear of men, as this article beautifully and thoroughly explains. The Isla Vista shootings and his deplorable rant were used as a starting point to further this conversation. If it is an “agenda” to improve equality, then it is an agenda everyone should have.

  • Tharunya Balan

    He started out killing three men because they were in his apartment and killing his roommates was part of his original plan. It says so in the manifesto.

    He might have killed 2 men for every woman he killed, but that’s not what his plan was.

  • Kathy Borst

    This is an excellent piece of writing on this subject. It is so hard to get even women to understand what rape culture means. Well done. Thanks.

  • Peggy Miracle Newcomb

    Bravo. Brilliant and to the point. We have all been there at some time in our lives as women. We’ve all been “explained to”.

  • Anonymous

    I respectfully disagree. Men are murdered at rates that are 3 times higher than women. And in this incident, also, men were killed at a rate that was 100% higher than the women killed.

    I find it quite offensive to say that women, exclusively, live in fear of being murdered, when their murder rates are so much lower than men’s.

    I doubt very much that you want “equality” when it comes to murders rates (and incarceration rates for that matter) for men and women.

  • Bill Rodriguez

    Point made….counterpoint:

    Psychological Disorders there are certain psychological problems,
    primarily personality disorders, in which women are characteristically
    abusive and violent toward men. Borderline personality disorder is a
    diagnosis that is found almost exclusively with women. Approximately 1
    to 2 percent of all women have a Borderline Personality disorder. At
    least 50% of all domestic abuse and violence against men is associated
    with women who have a Borderline Personality disorder or bipolar
    disease. The disorders are also associated with suicidal behavior,
    severe mood swings, lying, sexual problems and alcohol abuse.

    Unrealistic expectations, assumptions and conclusions, Women who are
    abusive toward men usually have unrealistic expectations and make
    unrealistic demands of men. These women will typically experience
    repeated episodes of depression, anxiety, frustration and irritability
    which they attribute to a man’s behavior. In fact, their mental and
    emotional state is the result of their own insecurities, emotional
    problems, and trauma during childhood or even withdrawal from alcohol.
    They blame men rather than admit their problems, take responsibility for
    how they live their lives or do something about how they make
    themselves miserable. They refuse to enter treatment and may even insist
    the man needs treatment. Instead of helping themselves, they blame a
    man for how they feel and believe that a man should do something to make
    them feel better. They will often medicate their emotions with alcohol.
    When men can’t make them feel better, these women become frustrated and
    assume that men are doing this on purpose.

  • Jen

    Watch his youtube video recorded the day before his rampage. He clearly stated how angry he was at “asians” and other men he felt superior to who had attractive girlfriends. I am pretty sure I saw a picture of his deceased roommate with a beautiful blonde girlfriend.

  • Esther Smith Newell

    I think the murder and incarceration rates are out of control in this country, and I hope that we as a nation can demand better prevention resources for men and women of all creeds, colors, and walks of life. I believe that starts with ascertaining the reasons behind people’s actions and decisions.

    However, this article is not about murder in this country. It is not about “how women have it worse” when it comes to crime. That’s not what I’m saying either. It is about the culture which feminists(females and males) fight against in which women are seen as lesser than men. We have made great strides in defining and preventing this culture, but we are not done.

    This is just one issue amongst many that this country faces. As I said before, the author used the Isla Vista shootings as a starting point. No, the shootings do not only provide an example of this type of culture. Innocent people, men and women, died. You cannot boil any tragedy down to one issue. And the author isn’t trying to. Neither am I. But misogyny was a factor in this crime, and it provides everyone a good opportunity to discuss this issue to try to improve it and, perhaps, prevent further incidents.

  • sceptikl

    One thing that seems to be missing from all these discussions, and I am sure to be flayed here but…granted men are the majority perpetrators of sexual (gender) based crimes, but go spend some time in a junior high or high school and watch how the girls compound and enforce the idea that women are nothing but pretty things to look at. Sure blame the media, I for one don’t think women are such simpletons to be influenced as such without it being compounded over and over again by her peers; we men have the same pressures with violence. Again, not trying to say it is a womens fault that she sadly has to live in fear. Ok on with the flaying

  • Bill Rodriguez

    u know, I feel, personally, that it’s extremely
    important for men and women to be having this dialogue. Certainly, for
    any community, rising up out of repression and abuse, there is a period
    of time when the pendulum must swing too far in the opposite direction
    in order for the issue to heal and clear. And, for the community of
    women, these messages of personal power are very important for their
    growth and self actualization. And it’s important, I think, for men to understand that.

    yet, in all this dialogue amongst women, it’s also important for men to
    realize that, while women are achieving certain freedoms, so too, in a
    zen manner, can men begin to be released from their own cultural and
    societal expectations. I can’t begin to relate to you the numbers of
    women I know who proclaim, with vehemence, that they are feminists, yet,
    when we go out to lunch or dinner, they expect me to pick up the tab.
    And, in some cases, not even a thank you. Or, when leading the way thru a
    doorway, they will stand there waiting for me to open the door, as if
    they themselves are powerless to open the door. Or as the man, I’m
    expected to take the initiative, make the first move, put my ego out
    there, and relieve the woman of taking that risk,

    so, my
    counterpoint is that we are all part of our gender community. parity,
    understanding, and love are the goals. and, speaking as a man, and one
    who considers himself self aware and compassionate, it’s important that
    men remember their own power and goodness. And not to take on the
    abusive descriptions being bandied about by women seeking their own
    place in the world. There’s room for both of us.

    “Be careful what
    you ask for”, it’s said. Because with the feminist movement, cultural
    expectations on men have a right to evolve, as well. And for women to
    let the the 1-2% of very visible and severely dysfunctional men in our
    culture define all of maleness is equally as chauvinistic and
    dysfunctional as any prejudice men have perpetrated.

  • Anonymous

    As I said a very sick, twisted individual, with plenty of hatred to go around (towards men and women), likely with many unresolved sexual issues.

    Trying to exploit the gun (one of three weapon types used) and one gender (2 out of 4 murdered) in this tragedy is intellectually dishonest, IMHO.

    Thanks for the video description – I have no intention to watching anything this twisted individual put out.

  • Esther Smith Newell

    “However, this article is not about murder in this country. It is not about “how women have it worse” when it comes to crime. That’s not what I’m saying either. It is about the culture which feminists(females and males) fight against in which women are seen as lesser than men. We have made great strides in defining and preventing this culture, but we are not done.”

  • Anonymous

    On that note, we can all agree.

    As the father of a 7 year old daughter and two teenage boys – I’m right there with you working, every day, both sides, to do my part. Raising young men who will cherish, admire and respect women and a young lady who will relate as equal to boys and men when she grows up.

  • NotARedneck

    Why blame men for this? You should blame organized religion – especially the right wing trash variety that doesn’t believe in christian charity.

  • NotARedneck

    Now days, misandry is far more prevalent and damaging than misogyny.

    Men need to organize.

  • HopeWFaith

    Equality is not a given. Certainly when I watched our so called men in Congress question Anita Hill in a manner that was accusatory, instead of respectful and dignified, I knew then that no matter what rung on the ladder of life our American men stand, likely as not they are just as much at risk of being sexist pigs as the next guy. Women have to be accountable for their attitudes, and are cursed and accused for any hint of a lack of balance. It is not easy to forgive the way that men in this country still act like they “own” everything and everyone, simply because they were born. When do men in power begin to act like decent role models for excellent male behavior, in all circumstances? Rhetorical question. It won’t be in my life time.

    I remain am ever grateful for women who’ve taken on the systemic arrogance of sexist pigs, but there are lifetimes more work to go, just to get close to a logical balance in thinking for both men and women. If you could take the disgusting behaviors out of men in leadership, you would pave the way for much more balance in men and women alike, in all areas of behavior, across the nation. The problem begins to be corrected in the home. I raised my sons and my daughter to all be equally fair to the other, no matter the circumstance. They are amazing. I am so very pleased with the outcomes. It has to start somewhere.

    People who’ve been discriminated against tend to understand and want to rail against that discrimination more readily than those who do the discriminating. But the law of cause and effect will eventually get you. No matter how arrogantly you may play away your life. Karma (the law of cause and effect) will get you. Or as Maude used to always say, “God will get you for that, Walter.”.

  • Donna

    How quickly you make clear the sentence,
    “A man acts on the belief that you have no right to speak and that you don’t get to define what’s going on, is entirely accurate.
    The concerns and very real fears of half the population is “narrow agenda”. You have no concern about it, clearly find it over rated, and just want us, as stated to “shut up”. You find it offensive, because you are defensive. Finding offense is also an act of aggression.

  • HopeWFaith

    I can agree with much of what you said, but your 1-2% idea is well below the severely dysfunctional reality of people behaving badly. You would likely have been subjected to discrimination if you had been a woman, or a man of color. Without those factors, a lot of discrimination goes right over people’s heads, unnoticed, unfortunately. It takes a lot of attention to make a change in a habit. Let’s agree that we all need to work harder on fairness. In my circle of friends, I am very, very blessed to be friends with both men and women who are paying attention now and have been for decades. The sexism is non-existant among the group. But that is a rare, rare experience and not shared by most. It takes an amazing parent to raise children who become balanced adults. Dysfunction crosses all boundaries, and is not held only by men, but by women also. There is just so much to “consider” when holding this discussion. It is not a cut and dried few simple areas to change. Vast changes are needed. But we have to start the conversation, and “be willing to hear”, before lasting changes will be achieved.

    Good job – good comments. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    I have no idea what you are commenting on.

    I’m extremely concerned that sick and disturbed individuals, who were under professional psychiatric care, are allowed to roam the streets when it is apparent that they are a danger (even the mother called the police on her own son, so scared she was).

    I’m concerned that all systems (mental health care, police, parents, roommates, etc) FAILED and this individual acted out his psychotic rage and killed two women and four men and injured others in a vicious way.

    I care deeply about that. I feel deeply about the victims and their families. I’m disgusted by the failure of the professionals (his mental health therapist and the police who interviewed him after being called by the mother).

    And I am disgusted that BillMoyers and company had two headlines on this. One calling it a “mass shooting” (ignoring that more people were attacked and killed with knives and a car). And the other calling it a “massacre of women” when more men were killed. That is all. I object to the dishonest exploitation of a tragedy, to focus only on guns and only on bias against women. When 4 innocent men are dead, including 3 by stabbing.

    You can play the “gun-lover” or the “anti-women” cards all you want. I reserve the right to find it disrespectful to the male stabbing victims and exploitive to advance an “agenda”.

    And it is perfectly fine to agree to disagree. You and the author presented your views that this is all about gun, all about targeting women. I presented it mine that it is about a societal failure to stop a clearly disturbed individuals from wrecking young men and young women lives with a variety of weapons.