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Misogyny is an Inconvenient Scapegoat for the Isla Vista Murders

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You make me sick. You, Washington Post. And you, The Guardian. There are too many media sites to name that are working overtime to sensationalize the tragedy in Santa Barbara as a “misogynistic” rampage.

 

Elliot Rodger was mentally ill; it’s as simple as that. Anything or anyone he hated was secondary to, and a consequence of, the primary issue of mental illness. All the relentless chatter and moral outrage at what took place is an insult and an affront to both women and people with mental illness.

 

You want to draw attention to misogyny in our society? You want to start a movement to end the discriminatory way that women are viewed and treated? Good for you. But to use this horrible event as the catalyst for that is insulting. If you want to change the way women are treated in our society, then why not address the fact that women still earn less than men in comparable professional positions? Or how about taking a good, long look at how women’s reproductive rights continue to serve as a political pawn by male (and some female) politicians? Or hey, how about the way women are portrayed in advertising? No? Is that too REAL for you? Too…pedestrian?

 

But NOW you want to talk about women’s rights and dignity? Now? A mentally ill man has to go on a shooting spree for some of the media outposts to decide that misogyny was newsworthy?

 

Here’s a newsflash for YOU: misogyny has been going on for a long, long time. Fuck you for taking this horrendous nightmare and turning it into a self-serving, opportunistic media circle jerk. Thanks for trivializing the real challenges that women face and hanging the issue neatly on the door of this man whose issues were much, much bigger than just hating women.

 

Why not talk about the shortage of quality, intensive mental health services in this country? Wait, you’re not going to insult people further by spouting off the uninformed drivel about there being plenty of mental health services out there, are you? I have many, many friends that could enlighten you about that myth. They are people trying desperately to raise children with mental illness, and they have been left to fend for themselves time and time again.

 

No, you guys went for the easy approach, the low-hanging fruit. Murder! Death! A tragedy against women! A trail of blood and a manifesto, the son of wealthy parents, privileged!

 

Real journalism would look somewhat different. It might reflect on society’s misplaced values in the way we treat (or don’t) our population of mentally ill, disabled, and elderly people. Real journalism might explore the great American secret, that we simply do not value the lives of the mentally ill, disabled, and elderly as much as we do the lives of others. If we truly did, there would be as many comprehensive mental health facilities as there are botox clinics.

 

We simply do not value human life as equal among all people. If you are flawed, you have less value.

 

Thanks, but I don’t want your salacious headlines about misogyny simply because it’s a convenient time to bring it up and catch a ride on the media circus train. You want to impress me with your heartfelt embrace of women as equals? Then show me the money and keep your laws off my ovaries.

In the meantime, at least Time got it right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

17 responses »

  1. While there is certainly a dearth of high-quality mental health care in this country — and is separate from getting insurance/Medicaid/waivers/etc to pay for it — access to mental health treatment was not the primary issue in this specific case. Nor in a Adam Lanza’s.

    The Lanza’s and Rodgers are the 1%, easily able to pick up a $1000/day or $6000/month tab to get their kid treated if insurance won’t pay.

    In the specific case of Elliot Rodger, his parents:

    – had him in therapy starting in elementary school
    – kept in close contact with their son’s therapists (the mom shared concerns with the therapist in April, who called the mental health hotline, who sent the police to check on Elliot last month)
    – had him regularly seeing a psychiatrist, therapists, etc right up until the day he went on his murderous spree (a therapist called Elliot’s mom within minutes of receiving the manifesto)
    – had him living in supported housing for young adults with developmental issues

    I’m guessing that more services, services beyond what Elliot was actually receiving, may not even exist.

    The Rodger’s did everything right. It appears the police, therapists and mental health hotline folks did everything right. Elliot wasn’t a danger to himself others right up until he committed mass murder on Friday night.

    And that is scary as all get-out.

    Reply
    • And yet for such a very long history of mental health issues and therapy, he was still able to amass those guns? Clearly something isn’t working.

      Reply
      • littlebitquirky

        I agree with bluejuliej on almost everything. I do think the main issue is the easy access to guns. That to me is the main story (yet again). I know half the people he killed was with a knife. Yada yada yada. That doesn’t change the fact that he had 400 rounds of ammo in his car. I think it’s amazing that the death toll didn’t end up being much, much higher.

        The other issue is the police. I don’t think they did all that they could have. This was a rare case where a person made it clearly known on the internet what he was planning on doing. The parents called in the warning and mentioned all the videos. The police failed to view the videos before going to interview him. Had they, I’m sure they would have been able to get a search warrant and then do more then just interview him, but search his apartment. This could have been a case where a mass murder was stopped before it was started.

        Reply
      • Before the murderous spree, Elliot hadn’t committed any crime nor had he been involuntarily held in a psych hospital for being a danger to himself or anybody else. He was seeing therapists (including the one that hotlined him) and complying with treatment. There was no basis to stop him from buying guns.

        Having had a mental health issue doesn’t preclude anybody from gun ownership (a dear friend who is a cop had a bad bout of postpartum depression after her second baby, was put on paid medical leave, treated and returned to her beat, after a short stint of desk duty).

        While it’s possible the cops could have stopped Rodger if they’d viewed his scary YouTube videos… according to CNN, the truly scary ones in which he made explicit threats were only posted on the day he went on his killing spree. So even if the cops had seen the vids, I’m not so sure they’d’ve been in a position to detain him.

        Reply
    • After Rodger’s parents informed the police of their concerns, the police did a wellness check and walked away. There should have been something more that they (or another professional) could do. Just about anyone can seem polite and stable for 5 minutes.
      “In a 137-page document that has now been published, Rodger reveals that if police had searched his room during their visit, they would have found incriminating evidence indicating his deadly intentions”

      In it he details his fear that “someone had somehow discovered what I was planning to do” and vows to be more careful in the future.

      No doubt, this is very scary.

      Reply
      • Yes, but we also have laws protecting us from unlawful search and seizure. If there is no obvious signs of distress or criminal activity, the police have no basis for searching someone’s home.

        Reply
        • It’s not illegal to write a manifesto – not should it be.

          It’s not illegal to buy a gun if you’ve had mental health issues (as probably 25% of Americans will at some point in their lives), so long as you’ve never been sectioned and don’t have a criminal record. Though I do hope strict gun control laws finally get passed!

          I don’t think I want to live in an America where an adult can be forcibly confined for 72 hrs on the say-so of their parents, with zip in the way of supporting evidence. (He’s “been in therapy since grade school” and “he seems off” in and of themselves doesn’t constitute evidence).

          Reply
          • I don’t thin anyone is saying that. My point remains that this wasn’t just some woman-hater on a spree, but someone with serious mental health issues.

  2. While there is certainly a dearth of high-quality mental health care in this country — and is separate from getting insurance/Medicaid/waivers/etc to pay for it — access to mental health treatment was not the primary issue in this specific case. Nor in a Adam Lanza’s.

    The Lanza’s and Rodgers are the 1%, easily able to pick up a $1000/day or $6000/month tab to get their kid treated if insurance won’t pay.

    In the specific case of Elliot Rodger, his parents:

    – had him in therapy starting in elementary school
    – kept in close contact with their son’s therapists (the mom shared concerns with the therapist in April, who called the mental health hotline, who sent the police to check on Elliot last month)
    – had him regularly seeing a psychiatrist, therapists, etc right up until the day he went on his murderous spree (a therapist called Elliot’s mom within minutes of receiving the manifesto)
    – had him living in supported housing for young adults with developmental issues

    I’m guessing that more services, services beyond what Elliot was actually receiving, may not even exist.

    The Rodger’s did everything right. It appears the police, therapists and mental health hotline folks did everything right. Elliot wasn’t a danger to himself others right up until he committed mass murder on Friday night.

    And that is scary as all get-out.

    Reply
  3. decipheringmorgan

    PREACH!

    Reply
  4. I agree that mental health services in our country are horrific. This young man does not seem to have been lacking or denied any services. There is such a stigma with mental illness. My husband and I were actually turned down for adopting a child years ago because of my anxiety diagnosis. I don’t think mental illness is always the case or always isn’t. I think there are multiple aspects to this crime. Maybe he was a pissed off guy who was sick of getting bullied or felt entitled to something he couldn’t have. More articles should be covering the bullying epidemic and how many people commit suicide due to bullying. I worry on both sides, that people will continue to assume all people with any mental illness are just one breath from committing a horrific act. We are more likely to be victims of crime. I should know having been raped and attacked. I do think that some media outlets are using this to advance agendas, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that misogyny didn’t contribute to this, in addition to mental illness. Not all people who commit crimes are mentally ill. Some people are really pissed off and make awful choices with horrific consequences. I have mental illness dx and wouldn’t hurt a fly. It’s a hard topic..

    Reply
    • I would counter that a crime this heinous, of this magnitude, could not be committed by someone who wasn’t mentally ill. The mental illness is what contributes to the skewed perceptions and beliefs he held.

      Reply
      • I know this is off subject, but AutHaven Autstic Retreat will II will be Friday,March 20 2015,until Tuesday,March 24 2015. This past February,there were no young kids. This year we are hoping to have 2 Autistic kids and their moms’ attending as well[plus my grand kids,and of course adults]

        The kids and each of their parents will be staying in a seperate cabin [one bed and one sofa that makes into a bed] apart from the lodge where the .adults will stay. Cost is $150 per person,but only $250 for a child,parent team.

        Flannery,I wanted to e-mail you about this but could not figure out how. I respectfully understand if you choose not to post this,as this is your blog.

        i so desperatelywant to bring together the parents, the kids,,and the adult Autistics. And yes, I have invited Kassianne. There is so much about her I wish you could understand..

        BTW, love what you wrote.

        Reply
  5. Good point about how misogyny is a bad way to get ratings. Ratings really are the only reason our media has to be sensitive to the victims of tragedies like Sandy Hook and Santa Barbara. They scapegoat under the guise of trying to find out why people commit mass murders to stop it, and when another mass murder happens, they take advantage of it for their own personal gain. Hypocrites!

    Reply

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