Misogyny and Mass Murderers

I shall try to make this post as brief as possible and do my best not to be a hypocrite, though the latter will be quite difficult.

As I’m sure you’re all aware, last week a young man went out and shot a number of women. Since then he hasn’t left our screens. After the first round of coverage, we’d learned everything about the incident itself, courtesy of excessive news coverage by 24 hour stations, and everything about his madness, courtesy of his manifesto being published all over the web and his last YouTube video being played by every channel and website.

Then came the second round, the dissection of his motives by bloggers and news sites alike. This particular killer’s actions have been attributed to everything from misogyny, to lax gun laws to Hollywood (Judd Apatow films by the Washington Post, The Hunger Games by Rush Limbaugh).

I am not here to add to this discussion. I am here to ask that it stop. Any mention of this man’s name only elevates his infamy, making his actions more successful and inspiring others to follow in his path.

After every mass shooting, after every serial killing we go through the same three-ring circus. The first is a frenzy of voyeurism, where no blurred Facebook photo, no shaky home video of the killer is too mundane or obscure to be broadcast.

The second is an orgy of opinion, where every cause tries to claim the tragedy as a demonstration of the evils they see in society. The killer is held up as a poster boy, as either the monster the evils created or the victim of their influence.

The third is a quiet chorus that desperately asks that we not award the killer the fame he desired. It carefully goes through the undeniable evidence that our voices raised in horror and pity only serve to feed the cycle of infamy that will inevitably create the next monster.

What’s most tragic about this particular cycle is that this incident has been co-opted by causes I believe in. The #YesAllWomen campaign and feminist perspectives in general, advocates for stricter gun control and tireless advocates for the better understanding of mental illness have all weighed in and held up this man’s actions as a cause to rally behind.

I don’t doubt that for every blogger who’s only trying to promote themselves through controversy there are another five who are doing it out of genuine belief but the point remains that on many of these blogs, this man’s name is said, mostly shouted. His picture is in the header. His last video is embedded in the article.

It is these people I address when I say please, let him fade into obscurity. The causes you promote are important and worthwhile and don’t need this incident to draw attention to them. Don’t let your fervour lead to inspire the next killer and to contribute to the death of his victims.

There are better ways to promote better mental health than holding up a case like this. Feminism doesn’t need a misogynist to commit mass murder to validate its points when rape and domestic violence statistics exist. Even gun control advocates can let him become another number to bolster their cause, without having to show his face.

Let his name die and you might prevent another from taking his place.

2 Comments

  1. “Feminism doesn’t need a misogynist to commit mass murder to validate its points when rape and domestic violence statistics exist.” I really wish I could agree with that statement. The number of arguments I’ve been in where those statistics are used but people either don’t understand statistics or wilfully ignore them, and turn the conversation into “well men have it bad too”. This is so unarguable, so poignantly perfect that I can see why feminist groups have latched onto it. It’s the embodiment of everything that’s been shouted from rooftops and soapboxes over the last several years. Having said that, it’s doubtful that rape culture will cease to be based on the number of Twitter comments which lauded the guy with praise.

    • I can see why it’s been latched onto but I can’t agree that it should be.

      Firstly, it only serves to polarise the conversation. For example, I actually felt pretty sick reading the Washington Post article which tried to connect Judd Apatow films with his actions. Comparing systemic sexism with one extreme act of violence only serves to inspire reactionary responses as people feel victimised by being compared to monsters such as this one (check out Seth Rogen and Apatow’s twitter responses to the article for evidence of this). It doesn’t serve to further discussion, only stifle it.

      Secondly, perhaps statistics aren’t enough but the only way that one can justify using this incident to further the cause (given the fact that doing so has negative effects in inspiring other killers) is if there are no better arguments in favour of feminism. I don’t believe for a second that this is true and really doubt that you do either. If it were, then feminism would not be a cause worth supporting.

      What we have is people mistaking outrage and attention for debate and discussion. This incident will do very little to further the cause of feminism (as in, gain people who don’t yet identify as feminists) and even if it did do more, there are far better and less harmful ways to achieve the same end.

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