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The Santa Barbara Shooting

IslaVistaCrimeSceneI turned on the Intertubes today to catch up on stuff, and was disturbed indeed at the latest mass shooting story. They’re all awful. They’re all senseless. As I grow older and see more and more people coping with the death of loved ones, and as I acquire more experience of my own, each one chokes me up more and more.

This one, though, struck me to down my quick, as it occurred in the college student-dominated community of Isla Vista, next door to the University of California at Santa Barbara. Where I took my own undergraduate degree back when the first George Bush was President. One of the precise locations of the shootings across this generally happy college community was an apartment building across the street from a sorority house. I lived in that apartment building as an undergraduate at UCSB. (It’s been remodeled since then, but still.) And I’m hardly the only person at this blog with a personal connection to UCSB.

The shooter appears to have been a sexually frustrated man. A virgin at age 22, he left behind a video announcing his intent to seek violent and deadly retribution against women generally because his advances had been rejected, and against men for having more success then he had enjoyed. A transcript is available and it’s chilling enough; I’ll excerpt the part that stands out for me:

I’m 22 years old and I’m still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl. I’ve been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I’m still a virgin. It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair.

You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because… I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.

(Boldface for emphasis added by me.)

Now, a part of me wants to say, “He couldn’t get laid at UC Santa Barbara? Hell, if I could find women willing to date me there, anyone could.” But of course, we all have dry runs from time to time and that is a frustrating experience. Another part of my thinks that whatever approach he was using, he likely wasn’t actually a “supreme gentleman.” When people who knew him are found and are interviewed, we’ll find out, I suspect, that he was perceived as kind of a strange dude.

He shot and killed at least nine people, college students like himself, the men for the “crime” of having had what he thought were more fulfilling social and sexual lives than him, and perhaps more chillingly, the women for the “crime” of not giving him sex that he seemed to think they somehow owed him.

I’m mindful that the shooter had a family, as did all of his victims. They will mourn the death of their son just as intensely as the families of his victims will mourn the loss of their daughters; it will be as senseless to them, and as they have lost their son they deserve compassion and not to have their son mocked notwithstanding his terrible crime, a crime that took the lives of at least nine innocent other people. Simultaneously, something was obviously gravely amiss with this young man.

His lack of success in the sexual marketplace was probably due in part to an attitude his rant attests to, one in which sexual gratification was something to which he was somehow entitled.

It’s easy for me now to say that getting sex in college is easy; college was more than half a lifetime ago for me. I’m in my forties now and I can say with the comfort of a man happily married for more than a decade that getting a woman to agree to sex is principally a matter of asking the right woman, and asking her nicely.

But to me-in-my-late-teens, attracting mates seemed a daunting challenge. This advice wouldn’t have made the least bit of sense to me. For a stretch of time back there, it seemed to me that uniformly, all the women I encountered were indeed amazingly selective and unwilling to consider me. During that time, I was frustrated and bitter and perhaps a step or two myself down a road that ended where this fellow wound up.

But for me, as seems to happen with most people, was a point when I asked myself if I wasn’t really the problem, and a platonic female friend said that if I wasn’t getting sex at UCSB of all places, clearly a big part of that problem was me. “Girls don’t like bitter guys,” she said, “Would you want a girlfriend who was uptight and bitter and angry at men all the time?” And that made sense.

Given that this conversation took place in the very apartment building where someone was killed by a guy for whom this lesson did not sink in makes that particular memory all the more poignant.

After having a splash of cold water thrown in my face by a friend, I found a way to change my own attitude and almost immediately began to enjoy success with women as a result. I stopped being focused on just how attractive a woman was and started looking for other kinds of attributes I liked, common interests and intelligence and wit and other sorts of emotional and personal qualities. Where post-pubescent uptight me would have said “you shouldn’t have to lower your standards!” me after taking that next step towards adulthood said “altering standards isn’t the same thing as lowering them.” Things worked out well for me; I found myself a nice girlfriend who even post-pubescent uptight me would have thought was attractive, and she and I had a very nice college romance.

There is probably not much different about my experience than happened for a lot of people at that phase of the maturation process. Perhaps for you it was more internal than mine, perhaps for you it took longer or was more painful, or perhaps you were fortunate enough to take that step towards adulthood relatively smoothly and painlessly. I suspect an experience about like my own is something fairly close to baseline for a large number of people.

So why couldn’t that have happened to the Isla Vista shooter? It’s what he said he was looking for; if he had found that with someone, would he have never been moved to go on his deadly rampage?* Surely he had friends and acquaintances who threw similar glasses of cold water in his face, who told him that he needed to look within himself and find the right attitude there before he could expect romantic or at least sexual success. What made him become a psychopath, as opposed to me (and lots of people like me) who got advice from a friend and found a way to act on it?

I suspect there were two factors at play for this kid that were not there for me, and I don’t like where these suspicions lead me to think about the future.

First, there’s a subculture of men out there who subscribe to “game theory,” the idea that women are attracted to men who treat them badly and eschew dating “nice guys.” In this world view, gender politics are an adversarial game with asymmetric advantages. Women are cunning manipulators of men, withholding or granting sex to gain advantage; and a man is an ‘alpha’ or a ‘beta’ depending on the degree to which he can bring ‘game,’ which is the ability of a man to psychologically manipulate a woman into submission to his seduction. The degree to which a man is sexually unsuccessful, these guys will tell you, is the degree to which he fails to assert himself and instead makes himself readily available (and thus uninteresting) to women. Men who play the ‘nice guy’ game are doomed to fail, or if they do attract a woman, have surely sold themselves short and subordinated themselves to rules dictated by these same women.

Women I know who have encountered men of this sort have invariably described them as “creepy” and “arrogant.” Take a read of “maxims” of one of the high priests of this particular cult and decide for yourself if they are right.

Now, I’m not going to convince anybody one way or the other; you either subscribe to “game theory” or you don’t. I’m not preaching that. I am preaching, though, that the women who report being creeped out by guys intentionally acting like assholes in order to get laid have probably sensed the seeds of what led this young man to go on his rampage within them.

What I’m saying is that the thought process that manifests in “game culture,” of “seduction theory,” dovetails into the evidenced attitude of being owed sex.

The second thing that I think is at play is that somehow, for some reason, we have a more narcissistic culture than we did a generation ago when I lived at the site of yesterday’s terrifying crime. Not that things weren’t narcissistic in the 1980’s! But it seems even more so. Something — and I think it’s the Internet — has germinated this seed, a seed that’s probably an unchanging and eternal part of human nature. We can all have our own blogs, we can all have our own twitter and facebook accounts, and slights and insults and disagreements seem to matter so very much on them!

A reason for that is precisely the reason that we enjoy them as much as we do — they are customized around each of us, individually, so that when we log on to all of our various electronic information services and social networks, everything literally does revolve around us. My tablet and my computer and my phone, at least one of which is always with me, all have a variety of information distribution applications, which filter out information from the whole world and give me just the stuff I care about, stuff that is about me, stuff that is about people I know. I am the center of my online universe, just as you are the center of yours.

Again, I have had the great good fortune to fall in with other online chums and agreeing to share space with them, here at this online magazine. It’s never been about just me here. And the things I’ve chosen to be interested in aren’t just about me; they’re about things like law and politics, culture and food and music and video games and books and puzzles and art and movies.

But if I were more narcissistic than I am (which might be a lot, might be a little), then an online environment in which it really was all about me would reinforce and build up that narcissism. Now, change that person from me, a guy who was a kid in the 1970’s and a teenager and a college student in the 1980’s who had to go to a physical library to look things up and read a dead-trees-and-ink newspaper for the first twenty years of his adult life to learn what was going on in the world, to a twenty-two-year-old who had never known a world other than one with a customized user-centered virtual world, streaming continuously to me electronic messages that subtly reinforced the fact that I was the center of the universe…

And change that person back to a very young man, sexually inexperienced, with hormones barely subsided after puberty, immersed in a culture awash in sexualized imagery, such that whatever messages broke through the me-centric bubble convey a message that sexual activity represents the achievement and pinnacle of masculine achievement.

Including online messages to the effect that the reason hot girls aren’t going for you is that you just aren’t being aggressive enough. That what you need to do is demonstrate more outward disdain for them. That they’re the ones in the moral wrong, because they’re assuming the mastery of a sexual game, mastery that is actually your birthright by virtue of having a penis instead of a vagina. So quit being such a pussy and go out and get some, go prove to yourself that you’re a man after all.

I can see how a college kid like that, a college kid maybe not so very different from myself at only a few years younger than that age, could so much more easily slip into a downward psychological spiral. It would, of course, be a hugely negative feedback loop: the more uptight about not getting laid the guy gets, the more important getting laid becomes, and of course being uptight about it is why he isn’t getting any in the first place, only he can’t see that because it’s so difficult to penetrate through the ego-protective bubble of all of the self-focused electronic information that seems so very very important…

With the results that the intensity of his frustration leaves at least ten families lose their promising young children; ten lives extinguished.

So this one strikes particularly close to home for me. Not just because it happened in my old stomping grounds. But because I can see the path that led the killer there. I can see how, while that place is a long way away from the insipidly common experience of late-teenage sexual frustration that was hardly a unique experience for me, someone might get there. Modern technology and modern culture aren’t to blame for this kid going all the way down that ugly road, no more than grease on a driveway is responsible for a car rolling out onto the street — someone had to put that car in neutral first; the grease just made it roll out that much faster. Maybe made it that much more difficult to catch and stop, or at least slow down.

Not a word of which is any consolation to any of the families that have been shattered. My condolences and sympathies to them all, which I’m sure are shared by our entire community here.

But maybe, if we’re not among the number of those immediately overcome with grief, we’ll each briefly put down our devices and spend some face-to-face time with people we love, people who might just give each of us the cold splash of water in our faces that inspire us to correct problems within ourselves, and keep the social dynamics upon which we all depend functioning properly.

 

* I’m prone to think not; relationships end, and sometimes badly, and that happens with great volatility particularly for the romantically inexperienced, and former lovers have long been the presumptive targets of many strings of violent behavior. A shooting rampage focused on an ex-girlfriend might be more readily understandable than this one, but would have been no less tragic and possibly just as deadly.

 

Burt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.

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414 thoughts on “The Santa Barbara Shooting

  1. During my senior year of high school, SPIN magazine published an article that declared Vassar College was the most sex-debauched and filled place in the entire world. Since the school was a former Seven Sister, the Female to Male ratio was still pretty skewed and a good chunk of the guys (20 or 25 percent maybe?) are gay. The SPIN article made it seem like every heterosexual guy could be a cassanova just by being a heterosexual guy at Vassar.

    I didn’t buy it but as a relatively unpopular guy at my high school, I received a lot of teasing about how often I would get laid at Vassar.

    I did not get laid at Vassar or even kiss a girl. All my romantic experience was post-Vassar. A lot of it very frustrating set of going out 1-4 times with women from OKCupid before getting a nicely-worded (usually) let down from the woman. Typical stuff I was cute, funny, and sweet but they did not feel any chemistry. Sometimes this happened after the woman asked “When can we see each other again?” at the end of the date.

    All this stuff hurt. It really sucked. I would get angry and frustrated and flustered when I saw couples making out in public at bars, parties, on the street, on the bus, on the subway, in parks, etc. I’ve had couples use my back as support when making out at concerts (They Might Be Giants, Freshman Year of college) and next to me on relatively empty subway cars late at night (sometime during graduate school). PDAs often made me feel really miserable especially in spring time and it really did feel like there was a 16 ton (but transparent) wall that separated me from the happy couples and I couldn’t reach in.

    But you know what? I never once considered picking up a book by one of the Pick Up Artists guys (doesn’t he give himself some pretentious name like Mystery and have a stupid haircut?) or go on a shooting rampage and killing parties. I suspect that the shooter had underlying and potentially untreated mental health issues that made him be strange. Mental issues beyond being awkward and shy.

    I just can’t comprehend that level of rage and anger. What it would take to make someone want to pull the trigger of a gun.

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    • I agree. This guy had underlying mental health issues. Neither you or Burt would ever resort to a shooting spree as a result of rejection because you have some center that holds you together. This guy didn’t.

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      • This is kind of the important point here, which will be lost as everyone makes this be just another scene in the movie they want to see (“This is a sign of how our culture tells men that they should always have women!” “Refusal to ban guns is a sign of the country’s moral failure!” “The toxic culture of manliness is literally killing our country!” “He was able to shoot because he was the only one with a gun, and no Constitutional gun regulation would have stopped him getting the guns he had, so gun regulation is useless!”)

        What matters is not that this guy hung out on MRA sites, or owned guns, or made YouTube videos. What matters is that he was nuts. The only constant about mass shooters is that they’re nuts. And obviously nuts, like “the cops were called on him” nuts, like “sent threatening letters to politicians” nuts. This is not Edward J. Nebbish who’s sitting on the bus and suddenly everything is too much for him to take. This is a guy whose parents said “he is crazy and will kill someone, please put him in jail”, and the police said “nope”.

        This story is relevant. Not because the kid in it was actually going to shoot people, but because–at the time–it was seen as Obvious Law-Enforcement Overreach, and everyone agreed that the cops were idiots, because, duh! He’s just a kid! It’s just the Internet!

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      • — Are you suggesting we ignore the fact this man was part of a raging Internet subculture that hates me? Really?

        And, yes, those who go so far as to kill will be rare. Sure. And no one denies this guy had a screw or two (or a dozen) loose. Yep. But he is not alone:

        http://rantingsofanincel.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/merry-fucking-christmas-and-a-happy-incel-new-year/

        I very much want to shine a bright light on these jackasses, and they hate the foster. This murderous bastard was part of a self-reinforcing culture of hate. He did not invent the idea he was spouting. He read them online.

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      • “Crazy Stalker” is cross-cultural.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiguan_kindergarten_attack

        The Shiguan kindergarten attack occurred at a kindergarten in Shiguan village in Gongyi, Henan, People’s Republic of China on May 8, 2006. At about 9 a.m. that morning 18-year-old Bai Ningyang entered a classroom on the second floor of the kindergarten, which was reported to have been run illegally.[1] In there were 21 children and a female teacher, who, according to locals, had rejected his advances.

        (emphasis by me)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winnenden_school_shooting

        Because the majority of the victims were female, some speculated that Kretschmer specifically targeted females.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Lepine

        He had long complained about women working in non-traditional jobs, and after separating men and women in a classroom, he shot the women, claiming that he was fighting feminism. He then moved into other parts of the building, targeting women as he went, before killing himself. His suicide note blamed feminists for ruining his life.

        Now, if you want to speculate that general cultural misogyny in the world appears to factor into these sorts of attacks – that the sort of men who DO so break, often follow a similar pattern of blaming women for their troubles, going all the way back to Eve – you’ll get no argument from me.

        But trying to blame Mystery for this event, seems kinda like blaming Marilyn Manson for Columbine.

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      • “Are you suggesting we ignore the fact this man was part of a raging Internet subculture that hates me? ”

        Yes. He did what he did because he was crazy. As I said elsewhere, this tragedy has about as much relevance to The War On Women as the Giffords shooting has to do with grammar instruction.

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      • — Trying to reduce this to “blame Mystery for the event” is kinda deliberately missing the point. I am blaming the broad MRA culture and its rampant hatred for women. This man basked in this world. He videos and manifestos are point by point repetition of the main MRA talking points.

        Culture provides context. It provides explanations, and thus motivations. It reinforces beliefs, both good and bad. It provides “live options,” templates of what a person might do, who they might be. The templates provided to this troubled man were toxic.

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      • I agree with here. Yes, he was mentally unhealthy, and there’s a good chance that if it wasn’t this, something else would have set him off.

        But it was this. This pick-up-artist-game thing, with all the reinforcement of masculine narcissistic entitlement to sex and all the objectification and homogenization of women and all the mental pressure to demonstrate status through sexual conquest was the thing that did set this guy off.

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      • Thanks, . But furthermore, we don’t actually know that “something else would have set him off.” Maybe, but maybe not. Really, this is an example of fundamental attribution error, the idea that someone’s behavior must be explained by internal factors rather than situational factors.

        Which is not to say this man was not messed up. I think that is a safe assumption. However, he was messed up in a very particular way, one that was shaped (no doubt) by both social and organic factors. Those social factors are really bad, among the worst.

        But let me add further: why does his being “insane“ (if indeed he was) at all diminish the reality of his misogyny. This man did not exist in a vacuum. The culture he was a part of continues to exist, and even if most of its members — let us concede the vast majority — do not go on to kill, the attitude remains toxic. Read the link I posted above. Add to that this one: http://omegavirginrevolt.wordpress.com

        These are some messed up dudes, and they’re spreading a very unhealthy viewpoint, which is sadly attractive to many vulnerable young men. They are hurting those men, by leading them down a horrible path. They are hurting women as well, in obvious ways.

        Culture is context. We follow the scripts that are available to us.

        Even if this fucker has chosen not to kill, the MRA movement would remain as toxic.

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      • @veronica-dire –

        I look at these lists of rampage killers, the ones of school massacres, that I keep linking from wikipedia, and see similar incidents from before there ever was such an acronym as “MRM” or “PUA”, and from countries that have likely never heard either term, even now.

        That tells me that attributing this to the MRM/PUA movement, or believing that if the MRM/PUA movement vanished tomorrow it would make much difference in this respect, is about as useful as attributing massacres to Stephen King’s Rage.

        As far as I can tell, allowing that book to go out of print hasn’t made one damn bit of difference.

        Dude was crazy. Many knew, for a long time, that he was crazy.

        I take his woman-hating manifesto (and he managed to kill more boys than girls; a failure even in his madness) to be about as relevant as the Unabomber’s tech-hating one.

        Maybe it gives us a window into his particular *flavor* of crazy, which appears to have included both racist and misogynist elements; but that’s about it (and it’s a flavor that has existed forever).

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      • “why does his being “insane“ (if indeed he was) at all diminish the reality of his misogyny.”

        Because there are many people who express misogynist sentiments but don’t go on murderous rampages. And of the people who do go on murderous rampages, few of them are MRA-style misogynists (although, as has been pointed out, murderous rampages often do have sexual frustration or gynophobia as a motivating factor.)

        So looking at the guy’s misogyny and saying “this is important! This is relevant! This is the part that means something!” is misleading.

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      • My concern with the MRA and PUA cultures is a little more simple. Reading them, you quickly realize it’s a cesspool of toxic and often violent fantasies, lingo, and worldview. (They’re quite fond of rape threats, for instance).

        There’s quite a continuum between ‘Read it and/or participate online and do nothing different in your daily life’ and ‘Go on a murder spree’.

        My particular concern lies in the area between the two poles that rhymes with ‘late grape’. Because it’s hard to swim in that cess pool of words, and imagery and hate and not let it color your actions. And ‘no means no’ is apparently already a difficult enough concept for many men.

        Not that I have any viable solutions about what to do about it, other than call it vile, wrongheaded, and that those participating are the scum of the gene pool.

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      • gets it.

        Look, seven dead is tragic, and I get why this is horrifying. On the other hand, this is a drop in the bucket. For example, have seven people been murdered in the US since this event, here and there in other cities?

        Maybe? Probably? (Too lazy to try to look that up.)

        But myself I don’t fall into the “this crime is so singularly horrible that everything else doesn’t matter” camp.

        Over the next few months more than seven trans women will be murdered, if statistics continue as that have since forever.

        This crime was awful. It was high profile. Sure.

        Meanwhile a few months back my friend was stalked in real life by an MRA type she tangled with online. He found out where she lived, that they lived in the same city, and he started saying shit to her that freaked her out, that he’d come hurt her. She started having trouble sleeping, kept glancing out her window expecting to see the fucker. (So she figured out who he was IRL and posted his picture. “This is my stalker. If I disappear, it was him.” It was fucked up.)

        Many young men are having trouble with women. They cannot get a date or whatever. So they go to the PUA forums, or the incel forums, and there they encounter the exact ideology that this killer was spouting — for he didn’t invent this shit — and it affects them. Of course it affects them. And no, it does not turn them into killers. But it does harden their attitudes, entrench their disfunction, on and on. And if they are otherwise “marginal” people (whatever that means), then yes it could be the impetus that drives them to crime.

        Let me ask, if a white power skinhead type goes off and commits a crime against black people, and in researching the guy it is discovered that he had tons of white power literature, white power friends, read white power forums, and then he hurt black people, would you say, “Look, this didn’t have anything to do with racism?”

        Really? Good grief.

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      • Well, since you seem to be deliberately missing *my* point, I’ll try once more, and then I’m done.

        Let me ask, if a white power skinhead type goes off and commits a crime against black people, and in researching the guy it is discovered that he had tons of white power literature, white power friends, read white power forums, and then he hurt black people, would you say, “Look, this didn’t have anything to do with racism?”

        Well, no. Taking your analogy to ‘racism’, if you’ll re-read my comments, I’ve said over and over again that misogyny, in this particular case, cross-culturally, and back to the beginning of fishing time, IS a factor.

        So, I never said misogyny isn’t a factor, because it is, he told us it is, and we have multiple similar examples from – and this is the important part – times and places where ‘PUA’ or ‘MRM ‘were not things.

        What I AM saying is, a sick mind finds the materials that appeal to it, but it’s the sick mind that is the (primary) problem. To whatever extent the MRM and PUA cultures are problems (and I’m not terribly familiar with either, other than what I read here), they may be dealt with separately.

        If I am sitting in my house, obsessively cleaning my guns and watching Taxi Driver in the dark over and over, it ain’t Taxi Driver that’s to blame when I go off.

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    • A lot of it very frustrating set of going out 1-4 times with women from OKCupid before getting a nicely-worded (usually) let down from the woman.

      Really? My experience has been that women will, whenever possible, take the easy way out and just stop answering calls or returning messages.

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      • That’s probably considered the ‘safe’ route. Some men take “no” as a challenge — or an insult. Just stop responding? “She’s just a b*tch, screw her”.

        People watching can get fascinating, if you know body language. Watch a man hit on a woman, ignorant that every inch of her body is saying “Um, no” — closed off, turned away, defensive — while she remains polite, non-commital. Not to be a ‘tease’ but because a blunt “no, not interested” might be taken well — but it might not.

        And until she says it, she doesn’t know what sort of guy she’s dealing with. Better to deflect, be polite, not confront — wait until he gets bored and leaves. It’s safer.

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      • Yeah, but the problem a lot of people run into is a sort of fundamental attribution error. (You as follows is “you, generic” not “you, Brandon”)

        YOU know you’re not a crappy guy, right? But she doesn’t. And no matter how much YOU know you’re a decent guy, she still doesn’t.

        Which leads to perfectly rational responses on her part — like treating you carefully, as if you weren’t a decent guy (which is entirely rational: At worst, she might mildly upset a decent guy — a man likely to forgive it once he thinks about it, and certainly won’t do anything unpleasant about it except withdraw. At best, she’s avoiding antagonizing a man who can cause her no end of grief or pain. Definitely worth the caution).

        This might be insulting to you, but only because you’re viewing it through your own internal understanding — you know you’re a decent guy, it’s insulting to be considered NOT a decent guy by some woman who doesn’t even know you.

        It might manifest in a million ways — excessive politeness to being hit on, rather than an unequivocal ‘no’ , to crossing the street because there’s no one around but you and her. And indeed, it is upsetting to be treated as a danger when you know you’re not one.

        But in the end: She doesn’t know that, and it’s really hard to argue against her cost/benefit analysis on that one.

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    • Here’s the thing: As you said, you went to Vassar. Obviously, it’s possible to attend a school where only 30% of the students are heterosexual men and still not get laid.

      But I suspect it’s much less possible to attend a school where only 30% of the students are heterosexual men and maintain the attitude that men are simply entitled to receive sex from attractive women.

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    • A lot of it very frustrating set of going out 1-4 times with women from OKCupid before getting a nicely-worded (usually) let down from the woman. Typical stuff I was cute, funny, and sweet but they did not feel any chemistry. Sometimes this happened after the woman asked “When can we see each other again?” at the end of the date.

      I don’t have any experience with this myself, but from a lot of the comments I’ve read by women on discussions of sexual harassment, gender violence, and similar issues, might some of this be because the women were afraid of breaking up in person?

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      • … afraid? of Saul?
        … I’ve known 5 foot Jewish guys that folks could (and were) afraid of…
        I’m not getting that vibe from him, at all.

        Maybe they found someone new? Maybe they just were a little more “meh” about the whole thing, and decided to look for Mr. Perfect?

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  2. And change that person back to a very young man, sexually inexperienced, with hormones barely subsided after puberty, immersed in a culture awash in sexualized imagery, such that whatever messages broke through the me-centric bubble convey a message that sexual activity represents the achievement and pinnacle of masculine achievement.

    What seems to be problematic is that there seems to be a message that there is something wrong with you if you have not been laid by the time you are X years of age. Or that there is something wrong with you if you are not laid X times a week. Either that or this guy is an asshole of epic proportions. As I can personally attest being a virgin at the age of 22 or for that matter 29 is no big deal. There is something wrong with you if you cannot handle even a bit of sexual frustration.

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    • I don’t know about Singaporean society and pop culture but I suspect that in American popular culture, there is an overriding message that something is wrong with you if you are a virgin by age X and X is probably somewhere between 18-23. Nothing is said explicitly but there is a strong implicit message that late virgins are freaks and better have a damn good reason for being virgins at a late age. There is also the potential assumption that you grew up in a socially conservative (and probably religiously fundamentalist) community that treated sex as a major, major sin. So it can be a huge burden if someone is from a secular/modern background and upbringing and is sexually less experienced than their peers.

      I think there are probably more late virgins out there than we realize because it is a taboo and I can’t imagine many people admitting to being virgins in their late 20s or 30s without fearing getting a reaction like Steve Carrell’s character from the 40-Year Old Virgin. Notice how much skepticism and grief people get for claiming to be asexual.

      I’m not sure what a society with a healthy attitude towards sex and/or a showing of sex would be like. I don’t think it is American culture/society/media nor any place. The issue with a healthy attitude towards sex is that it is one of those areas that lets everyone think their way is the best and seems to attract a lot of utopian thought. “Everything would be better if we used arranged marriages and kept to the old ways?” “Everything would be magical if we all became poly and gave up on the outdated concept of monogamy.” Andrew Sullivan or somewhere just posted a thing from a French woman who mocked the American concept of dating and said that in France, they start at sex and move from there. I somehow doubt this is a French axiom.

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      • I think if we tried drawing all the possible directions of causality and feedback loops here, we’d end up with headaches.

        E.g., he was angry enough to go on a rampage because he couldn’t get sex and somehow identified that with his sense of self-worth. Women wouldn’t have sex with him because they sensed (correctly it turned out) that he was angry and bitter. It’s an obvious feedback loop from the outside, but when you are within it, it might not be. As Burt notes, a platonic female friend needed to point it out to him.

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    • I was a virgin by choice until I was 21. I had opportunities to have sex — both casually and in the context of semi-serious and serious relationships — and opted not to. Some of this was steeped in a somewhat religious upbringing; I didn’t really accept the faith itself but the moral code stuck for a while. That said, I was sexually active in other ways and might not fit certain people’s definition of a ‘virgin’ (e.g., oral sex, manual sex).

      In high school, I remember there being more pressure around sex. I’m not sure how much of this had to do with age, how much had to do with the particular crowd I hung with at the time (jocks), and how much had to do with broader culture (a very liberal town and a social circle comprised mainly of secular Jews versus a more conservative Jesuit college). By college, there wasn’t really pressure around it. In fact, a number of my friends would fall into the category of having limited to no experience romantically and/or sexually. We never gave these guys grief. If anything, we were sympathetic to their situations. Maybe my crew of guys was unique in this regard; none of us skewed machismo, at least with regards to sexuality.

      I wonder how much of the stigma around being a virgin into one’s 20s is self-imposed.

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      • Perception of sex as a source, the source, of masculine self-worth, comes from the exterior culture. By one’s early 20’s, that culture will in all certainty have imprinted and internalized completely such that it’s carried around inside one’s own head. So when one reaches an environment sufficiently large and diverse that one can plot one’s own course with little feedback, the imprint guides.

        In this young man’s case, it seeped in to an already-weak part of his unconscious mind and bent it, until he cracked. It was always in his head, not the outside world, but he couldn’t have perceived it that way.

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    • This feels like an internet feedback loop taken to a very tragic conclusion.

      Indeed.

      His starting premise seems to be that if men follow specific sets of rules they will earn sex. Relationships are a video game that is relatively simple to beat.

      Then he apparently realized the ‘specific set of rules’ was a lie (Which it is.), and that in fact you can’t reach sex like that, at least not regularly. (Successful PUAs are either fairly attractive to start with, or have found very specific locations where women are, indeed, just standing around waiting to hook up with someone, and would sleep with any reasonable confident man who asked. Or, more likely, ‘successful PUAs’ are lying about their success rates.)

      However, while he realized the rules were a lie, he did this without also learning that sex is not something you ‘earn’, or learning that sex is not particularly important in the grand scheme of things. No, he learned the game was infinitely more impossible than he’d been taught, that most people will actually go their entire life without a one night stand. And that no matter how much he ‘played nice’, he still presumably came off as an asshole. (Women are not idiots, and can see what ‘nice guys’ are doing.)

      And he ‘rage quit’ the game.

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      • I’ve seen other people call Mr. Rogers attractive and wonder if he had mental health issues that manifested in a way that made people keep a distance from him.

        I agree with what you are saying. There was a This American Life episode where a guy was talking about how he was with the same woman from 17-30 something but they decided to see other people for a while (they eventually stayed separated because they both decided they stayed in the couple because of fear of the dating scene and being familiar with each other, not passion.) The guy was talking about being on the single scene for the first time after essentially being in a serious relationship for 13 or so years and he made this observation about hooking up. He said that anyone can hook up at a bar but you need to do two things:

        1. Stay out until last call or later; and

        2. Radically lower your standards.

        Plenty of people do this but I never have, I don’t think doing this is for me or for most other people. Yet I wonder if we get messages from culture that we should all be able to hook up at parties or at bars like it is the most natural thing in the world. I don’t think waiting until marriage for sex is natural but neither is the bar scene.

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      • How do people have the energy if you have to wait till the last call? Thats in the very early hours of the morning, both you are probably filled with alcohol at this point, and than you have to get to one of your places. It doesn’t seem that plausible.

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      • Saul,
        of course waiting for marriage is natural (marriage used to be way, way earlier). so is cuckoldry.

        A lot of lonely women are out there waiting for some contact, wanting to have some fun.

        Lee,
        1) Drink slowly.
        2) We’re talking people with more body mass, not less.
        3) If you got someone to go back to your house, and then you both passed out? Do you really think Mr.Boasts A Lot isn’t going to call that a win?
        [If it’s a one night stand, really, he’s not hurting anyone.]

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  3. Thanks for posting this, Burt.

    This event is going to be hard to talk about, but we need to talk about it.

    Myself, I think you underestimate the effects of (what you call) “game theory” — about which, “game theory” is a branch of mathematics. More properly what you are referring to is called “Pick Up Artist” (PUA) culture, which is closely related to Men’s Rights Activism and the “red pill” scene. This dude’s rambling screed was in fact a litany of MRA talking points, the degree that it blames women, presumes to control women, deserve them, all of that. In fact, what amazed me most was how over the top ridiculous it was, as if it was a parody of the worst PUA bullshit.

    This was “Poe’s law” level bad.

    I would have laughed at the joke, you know, without knowing the truth about what this guy did.

    But yeah, young dudes and sexual frustration, about which, I am among those rare women who actually have perspective on this — since, you know, my unusual history. Anyway, much of my young life was not dissimilar to yours, and like you I had girlfriends (but not girlfriends!) set me straight (well, not straight exactly) on how to relate to other women. And it took time, and it took learning to let go and have fun. Dancing helped.

    Actually, for me it took transitioning to live full time as a women. Strange how life turns.

    But to the PUA stuff — like Clarisse Thorne, who wrote a great book on the topic (http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Pickup-Artist-Chaser-Interviews-ebook/dp/B007I5HRQU), I think that the basic PUA skills can be very helpful for awkward men, the basic ideas of talking to women, letting them know you are interested, showing confidence, all of that — those are useful skills.

    But for some reason that culture has morphed into a cesspool of rampant misogyny. I mean, it is truly a shithole of hate. Just the worst.

    It is predators recruiting new predators. Really, it is rape school.

    I don’t know what to do about this. Right now these dudes are basically undatable; as in, what woman would want to be with such a wretched creep?

    It’s all very tragic.

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    • This dude’s rambling screed was in fact a litany of MRA talking points, the degree that it blames women, presumes to control women, deserve them, all of that. In fact, what amazed me most was how over the top ridiculous it was, as if it was a parody of the worst PUA bullshit.

      That’s what’s getting me; why I’m skeptical, Veronica.

      (I’m actually reminded of Beaver, my name is Cassidy.)

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      • — Oh, okay.

        I mean, he family has confirmed that he is the shooter and that is really him in the video. So I don’t think the facts are at all in doubt.

        So I guess we have occam’s razor here: do we believe a ranting MRA type believed that crap uncritically and then acted on it, or do we believe someone pretended to believe it uncritically and then murdered some people?

        I think your skepticism is misplaced.

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      • — Well, okay. Thing is, guys like this exist, by which I mean, the anger he was expressing is nothing new. In fact, it really doesn’t stand out much among the general level of MRA rage. Dudes say this shit all the time, and the video-game super villain level of his rhetoric also does not surprise me. These guys really talk this way. So yeah, in some ways it seemed like a parody, but not in that MRAs don’t say this stuff, but in how perfectly it matched the things they say.

        (On another forum someone described it as too “on the nose.”)

        So, yeah. But the fact he actually went out and shot a bunch of people seems to indicate this rage and frustration were real.

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      • Well, there’s stuff like this from the NYT:

        Mr. Rodger was, from a young age, emotionally disturbed, particularly since the divorce of his parents when he was in first grade, family friends said. Patrick Connors, 23, who was his classmate at Crespi Carmelite High school, a private Catholic boy’s school in Los Angeles, said Mr. Rodger had left school before graduation. He said that Mr. Rodger was treated by his classmates as an oddball, and students mocked him and played jokes on him; once when Mr. Rodger fell asleep in his seat, classmates taped his head to his desk, Mr. Connors said.

        “We said right from the get-go that that kid was going to lose it someday and just freak out,” he said. “Everyone made fun of him and stuff.”

        George Duarte, who attended a mathematics laboratory with Mr. Rodger at the college, said he complained about his roommates for having a bong in the room, but mostly about girls.

        “He kept talking about how annoying the girls were,” Mr. Durate said. “He was stuck on the same topic.” Kathy Bloeser, a family friend of Mr. Rodger’s as he was growing up — Elliot and his sister would play at her house — said he was “emotionally troubled” and traumatized by the trouble at home.

        “We used to have him over here almost every day with his sister,” she said. “He would hide. He wouldn’t say much, I think he was bullied a bit.”

        I’m just saying I think he wants us to blame ‘girls’ for something else profoundly wrong. . . like I said, reminds me of Cassidy in Veronica Mars.

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      • — Actually, Cassidy is more properly an example of the “Abuse survivor gone wrong” thing, which is its own kind of fucked up. In any case, I think he was rather different from this guy, who matches the angry “Nice Guy” ever trapped in the “friend zone.”

        But, yeah, both were “nerd strikes back” types.

        Except this guy is real.

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      • While The Game was the title of the book, “game” is a term for charisma in dealing with women. “Game theory,” likely coined as a play on the economic term, is the systematic study of game.

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      • See, I wrote the OP while rather powerfully under the influence of recently learning about the tragedy, and I’m actually not all that well-steeped in the nomenclature of the “seduction movement” or whateverthehell it’s called.

        My own sexual successes were the result of mutual affinity. I guess that these fellows would say that I had no Game whatsoever. I also pretty much don’t care what they think.

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      • Brandon,
        Reminds me, I do owe you an apology.
        For all that certain prominent writers in the PUA culture are bona-fide rapists (perhaps not legally, please lets not discuss laws)…
        I do actually know someone who wrote a PUA book (he called it fundraising).
        Not that he’s going to tell you that his words are going to work for everyone, or some shit like that.
        Some folks are just hopeless.

        But apparently there is an actual game theorist (he’s worked on a number of video games, and some economics too) writing books on how to pick up chicks. Frankly, I’m surprised.

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    • I think that the basic PUA skills can be very helpful for awkward men, the basic ideas of talking to women, letting them know you are interested, showing confidence, all of that — those are useful skills.

      Every once in a while, a girl will tell me something that suggests that they’re onto something after all. For example, I met a girl at an event once. She was pretty good-looking, and seemed to like me, so I asked her for her number. She told me she had a boyfriend but gave it to me anyway.

      The event ended fairly early for a weekend night, so as we were clearing out, I suggested that we go out together immediately afterwards. She replied, “I have to get my bag.” What I heard was, “I have to go to bed,” so while she went to get her bag, I left. Weeks later, after she had left her boyfriend for me (Fun fact: “I have a boyfriend” is not a synonym for “no”), we were talking about the night we met (this was when I found out that I had misheard her), and she told me that, rather than being offended that I had invited her out and then immediately ditched her, she thought it made me seem cool.

      So there you go. Sometimes being a jerk does in fact work.

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      • There’s playing hard to get, and then there’s Game. Then there’s what happened to you, which sounds less like Game than “dumb luck” since your “strategic departure” was not an intentional move.

        But the critical factor is she told you she had a boyfriend but gave you her number anyway. From my perspective, this doesn’t seem like the kind of woman you want as a girlfriend; she stepped out on the first guy, so why won’t she step out on you? Maybe if all you want is a bed buddy for the night, she’d have been a reasonable candidate.

        (Now watch as comes back with “Twelve years later, we’re still married.”)

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      • she stepped out on the first guy, so why won’t she step out on you?

        With all due and earned respect, I find that to be a poor inference. It could be said of anyone who has been in more than one relationship. People can and should leave relationships if they don’t find them fulfilling. Most relationships are not forever ones.

        I think there is a mountain of value in not being overeager in a relationship, but “game” can take it to an obnoxious length. There is a nice long valley of normal, honest, potentially attractive behavior in-between the extremes of uncritical fawning and being an asshole (which leaving a girl who said she was just going to grab her bag would have been had it been intentional).

        Assholish behavior can work on a certain type of person, but if someone doesn’t want that poison around forever, it eventually needs to be replaced with an admission that one really likes the other person and is willing to treat them in accordance with that liking.

        I marvel at how modern dating has evolved into a sort of dance that involves both parties competing to determine who cares less.

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      • I’m aware that people might be in relationships they aren’t all that happy with. Makes sense they might search for an alternative.

        Here, the woman brushes off an initial advance with, “I have a boyfriend.” That signals that she assigns value to the relationship. Then she gives out her number anyway, sending a contrary signal.

        YMMV, but my reaction is, thanks but no thanks.

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      • What I’ve always heard/been told is that the person with the most power (for lack of a better word) in a relationship is the person who can show the most indifference or that the relationship matters least to them. I’ve had a recent example of this and like you my showing of indifference was completely inadvertent.

        There is a part of me that really dislikes this.

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      • Burt:
        That it was unintentional is beside the point. The point is that being rude scored me points with her, and would have done so just as well if it had been intentional.

        Well, one model you might have is that she was just the cheating type. Another model you might have is that she didn’t want to be alone, so she half-heartedly stayed with her boyfriend while waiting for someone better to come along. The latter is not an entirely flattering explanation, but it doesn’t particularly suggest that she would have been inclined to cheat on me. And I don’t have any reason to believe she ever did. Unfortunately, after the original attraction died down a bit, I realized that she had some personality traits that grated on me a lot, and I broke up with her.

        There is a part of me that really dislikes this.

        All of me dislikes it. But we live in the world we live in.

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      • Ayiyi. You guys are acting like schlmiels.

        You should look like you’re interested! Be fascinated with the person you’re with.

        BUT, play hard to get. You are Mr. Busy, the person who “didn’t come here to pick someone up” — who isn’t chasing tail. Miss Hot-on-wheels is the person who turned your eye from halfway across the room, when you were just there to relax before you did your Very Important Business.

        This makes the fascinating card work better, not worse.

        Mike had a link on how to play hard to get on one of those Linkie Fridays. it’s worth reading, but I summarized.

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      • Here, the woman brushes off an initial advance with, “I have a boyfriend.” That signals that she assigns value to the relationship. Then she gives out her number anyway, sending a contrary signal.

        I’d take the signals from that exchange (only the part quoted here, anyway) as simply “Be aware I have a boyfriend and you therefore cannot expect a monogamous relationship from me. You do however seem like an interesting person and I would be willing to speak with you on the phone, including about seeing you in person again.”

        Absolutely not included in the signals: whether the seeing in person would be strictly platonic or potentially romantic; whether the relationship with her boyfriend was monogamous or not.

        Granted I’m so off the dating scene it’s kind of funny – been with the same person since I was 17; while polyamorous for years, have barely done any dating outside the marriage and that little has confirmed my awkwardness at spinning up the dating machinery. Specifically my experience negotiating the start of relationships during college / college age is exactly nil.

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      • Be aware I have a boyfriend and you therefore cannot expect a monogamous relationship from me. You do however seem like an interesting person and I would be willing to speak with you on the phone, including about seeing you in person again.

        Maybe that’s all true. But ugh, so-o-o-o much work to sort through all of that to tease out the nuance, and to what end? A non-monogamous relationship with no promise of it ever becoming monogamy, which is what I was pretty much always looking for as the teleology to the flirting-and-dating stage.

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      • I’m reminded of universities that throw a ton of money at a successful coach at a small school to buy him out of his contract who then turn get very upset when an even bigger university poaches him from them.

        What did you expect? He showed you how he valued loyalty from the get go.

        Now, I don’t subscribe to the theory once a cheater, always a cheater (or once an anything, always that anything). But one shouldn’t ignore the fact that someone is willing to be unfaithful even (or perhaps especially) if they are the beneficiary of that lack of fidelity.

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      • A non-monogamous romantic relationship, or a relationship constrained to platonic friendship – if neither of those was of interest to you, fair enough.

        I don’t think it’s (necessarily) fair to make judgements on how she values the relationship with the mentioned boyfriend.

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    • I think that the basic PUA skills can be very helpful for awkward men, the basic ideas of talking to women, letting them know you are interested, showing confidence, all of that — those are useful skills.

      What would probably help people more is basically any book on salesmanship. The tips are almost the same. Act confident. Act like you’re offering something of value, which you are.

      Or, as I keep saying, you aren’t asking women to ‘have a date with you’, you’re asking if both of you should have a mutually enjoyable date together. You aren’t asking her to do you a favor, and if you act like you are, the answer will be no. You’re proposing that both of you do something fun. (The PUA books, of course, go way too far, and try to assert you should act like you’re doing her a favor, which is also nonsense.)

      A book on ‘How to sell things’ would probably have 90% of the useful dating tips that PUAs books have.

      There are some additional rules about dating that don’t apply to sales (How to flirt and understand when someone is flirting), but they’d probably fit in a pamphlet.

      pointed this out in another response, and he’s right…there are even some PUA ‘sales techniques’ that do work that are fairly assholic behaviors. Because those sales techniques work in sales a lot of situations also.

      We should probably not encourage them, though. It’s one thing have a car salesmen act jerky to sell someone a car. When a man acts like that towards women to get them into bed, though, it’s about a millimeter from turning into general misogamy, and always does.

      I.e., it’s less the psychological manipulation I object to, per se, than the fact that a) The PUA is already in a universe where women are objects, and b) deliberately treating them poorly. Yeah, you can kinda see where that story is going.

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      • — There is a lot of specific stuff about body language that is useful to know, things that are essentially intimate. For example, touch is a powerful tool, how to touch a person’s arm, the small of their back. Also the general back-and-forth of flirting. It is a skill worth having.

        All that said, I think the biggest limit these guys have is fear, which is hard to overcome. Certainly that won’t come from a book. This is why, I think, the PUA coaches take the dudes out on field trips to talk to women. That seems useful (in theory, except for the fact that what the coaches are training the dudes to do is really exploitative and broken; but I can see value in field trips conducted ethically).

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      • This is probably one of those times where saying, “I’ve found the most successful approach to meeting women (or, really, anyone) is to just be yourself,” is probably going to sound really obnoxious.

        Yet, I still find it’s the best approach. Even if the real you isn’t the most desirable person in the world, it’s still you. Being someone else to meet a potential mate is a fool’s errand since eventually the real you comes out. You’re better off just being honest and finding someone who appreciates you for you. That will be harder for some than for others and if it feels too hard than there might be some real work one needs to do on one’s self before they start thinking about partnering with someone else.

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      • — Thing is, I’m not sure if the “genuine me” is a singular thing, which might sound hopelessly philosophical, but I think we’re all wearing masks all the time. And the “real, genuine me” down inside might be brought to life if I learn some skills.

        You’ve probably heard this, but smiling can make you happy; standing with confidence can make you bold. (The book Impro by Keith Johnstone covers a ton of these techniques, ostensibly for improvisational actors, but it is so much more than that.)

        It is this: that “me” that is on the dance floor, moving my body close (and consensually) to a pretty woman, is exactly the same “me” that goes into full wallflower mode and leaves the club feeling defeated.

        I know which “me” has more fun.

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      • I’m going out dancing tonight, and I don’t yet know which “me” will arrive: shy, reserved me or happy, outgoing me.

        It is almost like I cannot control it. I always wish to the the latter, but sometimes it’s wallflower and I just can’t escape that. (Well, not totally wallflower. I still dance.)

        It seems other people make a difference. A few smiles from a pretty girl, at the right time, and the right mood, really brings out happy-me.

        Here’s hoping for happy-me.

        (I suspect there might be ways to “trick my brain” into going happy-me more. I wish I could figure out those tricks.)

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      • That’s a fair point, but I suppose I meant it a little bit differently.

        If you’re not into sports, don’t pretend to be because you think women like guys who are into sports.

        Be genuine, is what I mean. The genuine you surely takes different forms in different contexts. But if you’re just going through a series of motions that are foreign to you because they may or may not have worked for someone else, you’re probably not going to find success.

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  4. Great post, Burt. While I think you underplay the role of mental illness in this incident, I do see where narcissism and MRA culture could easily play into it.

    As you know, I’m also a UCSB alumna, so learning about this shooting cut deep, although all such shootings disturb me. I always find myself wondering two things. First, if this guy’s life was so miserable, why not just take himself out instead of taking others out with him? I do believe narcissism plays a role here. Second, if most of these mass shootings were committed by angry young black men (or angry young members of some other minority group, or– Heaven forbid–women) wouldn’t we be seeing a lot more outcry and a lot more being done to control that group’s access to guns and/or ensure better mental health screening. No doubt Fox News would be all over it. But angry young white guys? Crickets.

    A friend posted a map of where the shootings occurred on her Facebook page. It’s all frighteningly familiar. But so is the story and so is the suspect.

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    • — I think it would be a huge mistake to ignore the Internet subcultures this guy participated in, which reinforce extreme misogyny, and which provide an ideology that transforms sexually and romantically frustrated men into ranting woman-haters. He learned precisely their lessons.

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      • I agree but the problem with the Internet is that the best parts of the internet are also the worst parts of the internet.

        The parts that allow LGBT small-town teens to connect with other LGBT small-town teens also allow MRAs to connect and reinforce.

        The parts that allow dissidents in totalitarian regimes to get news out on conditions also allow anti-Vaxxers and other kooks to disseminate their misinformation.

        I’m not sure how or even if you can get rid of the bad stuff without damaging the good stuff.

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      • — I’m not attacking the technology. I’m attacking the specific ideology, how it festers.

        That said, I am interested in hearing the best ways to engage with the issue, because I really don’t know. For some time now the “manosphere” (I’m not making that up) has become increasingly violent and angry, and it is definitely falling into an “evaporative cooling” level of self-reinforcing marginalization (http://lesswrong.com/lw/lr/evaporative_cooling_of_group_beliefs/), which is exactly the environment that produces lone killers.

        There are many things like this, but since I’m the target of this one, I take notice.

        (Plus I work in tech, where these guys are thick on the ground.)

        In any case, chalking this up to mental illness misses this part of the dynamic. Without the litany of the MRAs and the “incel” scene, this guy’s frustrations would likely have lingered without any killings.

        (As an aside, one MRA theory of trans women that I have encountered is really quite amusing: we transition because we rightly see the advantages that women get, along with the power of the coming gynocracy, and thus we are traitors to our gender. Really. I read that somewhere.)

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      • My hope is that if there is any good to be derived from all this awfulness, it’ll be that the UCSB shootings become to the pick-up culture movement and the MRM by extension, what Oklahoma City was to the neo-Confederate movement: an event so awful and embarrassing it sets the regression these movements represent back a generation and denies them whatever claims of respectability the might otherwise have made.

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      • Me thinks that the MRA are over-thinking things. It takes a very special type of intelligence to come up with theories like that. Kind of proves what George Orwell says about intellectuals.

        There might not really be a good way to engage in the issue of MRA or incels without radical changes to human nature. Many people believe that we are living in an age of great inequality globally with a few enjoying much wealth and many billions mired in terrible poverty. Income inequality is one of the most pressing issues of the day. There are wealthy people that would really that would like the people stuck in poverty just to accept the fact that these riches or even a middle class lifestyle isn’t for them and deal with their socio-economic fate with grace. Human nature isn’t like that. People get jealous and envious when they see other striving and themselves struggling to get by.

        The same issues are having with love and sex. Our society places a lot of value on having a great love and sex life. We want to celebrate these things. Even the Evangelical set sees them as good within the context of marriage. At the same time we don’t want them to rights or entitlements for obvious reason. Not everybody has love or sex lives. Most people don’t accept that there fate is to live a celibate life for the same reason that most people in poverty don’t blindly bow down to that reality.

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      • I have no idea. I would hope less stigmatization of mental issues and better and more affordable access to mental health professionals can help. As a New York Jewish guy, I am a firm believer in the powers and importance of seeing a psychologist/therapist.

        True dating coaching might help as well. Not the PUA artists but something that combines therapy with pointers. I know there are dating coaches who help transition people from the ultra-Orthodox/Hasidic community into a more secular romantic dating scene. I think there are also serious dating coaches (and not PUAs) for more secular people who are just unlucky. Unfortunately I also think this is fairly expensive.

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      • I should also note that I only met one guy in my entire life that (to my knowledge) had a copy of the Game or some other PUA artist book. I know there was a reality TV show where Mystery took some hopeless schmoes and “trained” them to be better with women but I took one look at Mystery and wondered how anyone could take him seriously based on his appearance schtick as a fourth-rate Robert Smith.

        Also to my knowledge, I know that MRA’s exist but I don’t think I have ever met an MRA guy in person.

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      • I think it would be a huge mistake to ignore the Internet subcultures this guy participated in, which reinforce extreme misogyny, and which provide an ideology that transforms sexually and romantically frustrated men into ranting woman-haters. He learned precisely their lessons.

        I’m not suggesting that we ignore the subcultures, but most of the jerks who participate in them don’t go off on shooting sprees. Some ugly combination of mental illness and ideology set this guy off. Without the mental illness, he likely would have been just another hater.

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      • — But that cuts both ways. I won’t be surprised when this dude turns out to have some diagnosis — I’ve read he was in therapy. I suppose we’ll find out something about that. But on the other hand, many folks get diagnosed with mental illness, including various personality disorders that are really bad, but most of those do not go on to kill. Instead, they just grow up to be shitty people.

        Just curious, are you familiar with the MRA stuff? If you are not, I don’t necessarily recommend it. It is very ugly stuff. But the things is, this guy was precisely acting on their ideology.

        I mean precisely, the only difference being he acted on the violence instead of merely typing it out.

        To many people are eager to play the “lone madman” card instead of the “distressed person acting out an ideology he learned.”

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      • — Dating coaches are a great idea, but I think we also need a cultural context that encourages their use.

        Which is to say, a site such as http://www.doctornerdlove.com already exists, which is precisely a non-PUA, non-horrible dating advice site for awkward, nerdy guys.

        And, by the way, it is a great site. I’ve read most of it. (Yeah, we trans-dykes need help too!)

        But for whatever reason, these dudes end up gravitating to the “manosphere” instead, which makes me suspect there is some drive here beyond just a desire to date. Instead, I think these guys are attracted to a certain culture of men, that these dudes doubt their own masculinity and are desperately seeking validation.

        And that validation comes not from women, but from men, and where women are tokens of status. They will not get this from Dr. Nerdlove.

        (The “cheat codes” theory plays a role also. I’ve also seen the “cheat code” stuff play out in martial arts, where nerdy guys seek out the magic “ninja” schools or whatever, where they will become fighting gods without the inconvenience of becoming physically fit. A BJJ school is, in my opinion, far more healthy.)

        Anyway, I’m not sure if we can really fix this. But I do want to shine a bright light on it, show it for what it is, and to understand in full measure that this guy was a product of that culture. That message is getting erased.

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      • — I should clarify. I meant those with serious personality disorders, such as antisocial or narcissistic. My understanding is those folks are kinda just broken.

        But even so, I would prefer that such men not end up in a subculture that reinforces hostile, violent attitudes, such as white power or the MRAs.

        I’m happy to be told I’m wrong about this.

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      • @veronica-dire: I am familiar with some MRA stuff, but have a greater knowledge of white supremacist movements. I suspect there’s some overlap. And I can certainly see where both movements could be a powerful draw for lonely & angry misfits.

        We should be shining a bright light on both movements and the kinds of hatred they promote.

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      • — You don’t need to apologize. I should have been more clear that I was referring to those specific diagnoses, rather than mental illness in general, which is unfairly stigmatized. You were right to point out that I was vague.

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      • I have very mixed feelings about DNL. To a large extent his schtick is dating advise with no guarantees of success. Thats refreshing and correct but at the same time he can be very dismissive of the frustration of people with not so great success in love or dating. He doesn’t seem to understand why the message that “love can happen at any age and if you have to wait till for forties, fifties, or sixties than thats that” isn’t exactly comforting advise for most people.

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      • — I don’t see how DNL is dismissive. I think he objects to the “Nice Guy” litany, but so do I. Which is to say, I have a fair amount of sympathy for dudes struggling with this stuff, and I myself went through a “OMG I’m always in the friend zone” Nice-Girl stage — except we didn’t have the term “friend zone” back then and I didn’t quite know I was a girl.

        But anyway…

        Look, I was a total nerd in high school. Been there. Walked the walk. (Secretly wore dresses.)

        Thing is, yeah, sympathy, up to a point. But at some point the dudes need to step up and get in gear — and this is not macho bullshit posturing. Just, there is hard work to do and you need to do it. Or accept that you cannot do it.

        And the dudes who just get stuck, who cannot change and make themselves acceptable to women, and who cannot break out of their shell, who are trapped in their shyness — all the sympathy in the world — exactly up to the point that they blame girls.

        At that exact point, just then, the sympathy vanishes in a flash. They can go fuck off.

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      • , I was mainly referring to his “forever alone” schtick rather than his nice guy shtick. I agree with him that simply being nice isn’t a good enough reason to get a girl and many of those guys aren’t that nice to begin with. He really doesn’t understand why the idea of you get to meet your first romantic partner after forty when all your friends have longed hooked up and have kids is extraordinarily unappealing. How much do I get to miss out on?

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      • — Well, fair enough.

        Really, I don’t know what to say to the “forever alone” guys. I’m not unsympathetic, but I walked that path and eventually I got over it. But in my case it was gender stuff, and now that I’ve got boobs, girls like me fine. At least they like me sometimes. I have my rough patches, and some nights I go all super shy. Other nights I’m rocking.

        (True story, and kind of dark: Friday night I was at a club and feeling good. And I looked good. New skirt. Anyway, I was in a rare brave mood and I ended up hitting on two bi-ish girls. And things went well. We danced. I got close, told them I liked them, touched them in sensual (and consensual) ways. By the end of the night I was making out with them (and their gay friend), all of whom I had just met, in a bisexual frenzy of dancing and kissing. Much sexy fun. We plan to meet again.

        At more or less the same time this incel chap was murdering people because he couldn’t get laid.

        So, that’s pretty fucked up.)

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    • How does one identify such people for intervention/help before they detonate? They are quite often socially awkward/loners/etc. How can we, as a society, get them help when they avoid being noticed?

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    • wouldn’t we be seeing a lot more outcry and a lot more being done to control that group’s access to guns and/or ensure better mental health screening. No doubt Fox News would be all over it. But angry young white guys? Crickets.

      Huh? Most mass shootings are committed by angry young white guys, and we hear these things every time. People were talking non-stop about mental health support and access to guns when Adam Lanza did his thing.

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      • Yes, but race wasn’t the factor it would be if the situation were inverse.

        After Newtown, we didn’t talk about white culture. Or rock music or country music. Or white fathers. We talked about mental illness. And gun access writ large.

        Were we looking at a string of young, potentially mentally unbalanced black man doing such things, you can bet we’d talk about black culture and rap music and black fathers. Hell, we talk about those things when the NBA gets boring for a couple of years.

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      • That’s true, but completely different from Michelle said.

        It’s also true that the rates at which white people and black people commit homicide differ by an order of magnitude. Mass shootings, on the other hand, don’t seem to have any correlation with race. Most incidents in the US involve white shooters because most Americans are white.

        Moreover, the high homicide rate is part of a larger complex of social dysfunction, whereas mass shootings are outliers. If it’s not culture, what is it?

        Also, isn’t there a long history of conservatives comparing white culture unfavorably to East Asian culture?

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      • I recall a class I took at UCSB in which U.S. media portrayals of Asians and Asian culture over time was analyzed. Popular suggestions that Asian culture was superior to European culture didn’t manifest in a big way until one or another Asian economy emerged as a rival to U.S. economic hegemony, as with (for instance) Japan in the 1980’s. All of a sudden, as soon as they became as rich as Americans, there were white folks willing to say that the Asians had some things figured out culturally.

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      • @Brandon–that’s my point. All we hear is talk but, in the end, nothing happens. It’s just another spectacle for the 24-7 news cycle and cable news sensationalists. Although given that my parents were talking about how the shooter was possibly Iranianwhen I called them today, some discussion of race must have come up on Fox News along with a spokespod’s commentary that he suffered from repressed homosexual desires.

        I’m also not aware of that many mass or spree killings in other countries. It happens, but it seems to be a predominantly American phenomenon.

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      • We see mass murders by minorities all the time in Chicago and Detroit with extremely similar methods (drive by seemingly random killings). However in those cases it is called “gang violence” and we don’t have to give it another thought. Nomenclature is important doncha know?

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      • @wardsmith: nomenclature is nowhere near as important as geography, class, and race. I’ve lived in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philly–all cities with major gang issues. The only time gang violence really made the news was when some young kid or innocent, law-abiding citizen got caught in the crossfire. Generally, the body count on any given day was nowhere near what occurs during the average spree killing. And hey, it’s just ” those people” killing each other. As long as they don’t branch out into the better part of the city, who cares? (And yes, I’m being sarcastic here.)

        I don’t deny that there’s a lot of anger in both kinds of incidents, but they nonetheless strike me as dissimilar. In the gang case, the violence is generally organized and part of a larger criminal enterprise. Spree killers are lone wolves, using violence to advance their particular agenda or address their own personal demons.

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      • If the stereoptype of Asian superiority were evidence-based, then it would have predicted the rise of those economies, not accommodated it afterwards as “Well of course you would expect that of an Asian culture, wouldn’t you.” (Or: “We have always been approving of Eastasia.”)

        Stereotypes tend to contain enough subtle variety to cover most possible situations. During WWII there was simultaneously a Cunning Asian Tricking the Whites stereotype and a Stupid Asian Outwitted by Clever Whites stereotype. The Onion had an article about the public perception of African-Americans going from being “no good at sports” to being “only good at sports”. Barack Obama is supposed to be some kind of elitist intellectual grades-hiding anti-colonialist communist Nazi Muslim, and many facets of this strange brew can be connected to his race (along with the particulars of his background).

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      • Generally, the body count on any given day was nowhere near what occurs during the average spree killing.

        So the body count on a single day in a single city was less than the body count from events that occur a few times a year throughout the whole country?

        The only time gang violence really made the news was when some young kid or innocent, law-abiding citizen got caught in the crossfire. And hey, it’s just ” those people” killing each other. As long as they don’t branch out into the better part of the city, who cares? (And yes, I’m being sarcastic here.)

        They care about innocent victims more than people who choose to engage in gang violence? What a bunch of racists!

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      • Sorry I didn’t get back to you, just got back from a dinner with friends from Chicago as a matter of fact and we discussed just this topic. The sad fact is that not only can there be a high body count in south Chicago on a given day, but the likelihood is low that the assailant was caught, so he can go out again all next week adding to his total. It isn’t just criminal enterprise, sometimes victims are killed only as an initiation rite. And you are completely correct that the MSM gives it scant coverage. IIRC there was a girl who performed for the Obama’s who was killed in a drive by weeks later in Chicago. That got a half day’s attention…

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    • One Gaucho to another, , a part of me (a narcissistic part?) is extra resentful because from now on, UCSB is not going to be that happy place where I got a damn fine education and did a lot of growing up and had some fantastic experiences as a young adult flying (mostly) under my own power for the first time in my life. Now, it’s going to be a Columbine High School, a Sandy Hook Elementary School. Maybe like the University of Texas, it will prove big enough and resilient enough to grow past being the place where this awful thing happened. But this stain, written in blood on the university’s history, is indelible.

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      • It does leave a stain. Between this tragedy and the recent riot, the school’s reputation is bound to change, although I think it will survive just fine. It’s too competitive a school in too beautiful a location not to.

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      • I went to Virginia Tech and the only thing anyone knows about the place is a bunch of kids got shot there (“omg, were you there when it happened?” “No, I graduated about ten years earlier.” “Oh, um, did you have classes in that building though?”)

        Actually, that’s not true, they know Mike Vick played football there (and his brother, who was a thug too.)

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    • Re mental ilness being under-weighted here – I don’t think I agree.

      Here’s why: assuming you agree with the NIMH*, 26% of Americans suffer from some kind of diagnosable mental illness at some point in every year. That’s a lot, so much that it suggests mental illness as a predictive factor is almost useless.

      If there’s a contaminated well, and a full quarter of the population in the area is vulnerable to the pathogens in the well’s water, you don’t focus your efforts on the population-wide vulnerability to infection. You close the well.

      *http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml)

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    • To elaborate… (now that I have a computer)

      A lot of research has been done recently on how self-esteem/self-confidence/what-have-you develops. I grew up in the “self-esteem” generation (I’m 30 now). We were beat over the head with messages about how great we were. The idea was that if you told kids they were great, they’d believe they were great and would go on to achieve great things. Recent research shows the opposite. Self-esteem comes from experience success, not being told that success is inevitable. I wonder to what extent my generation’s uptick in incidents like what happened at UCSB has to do with our inability to accept failure. If you grow up and are told that you’re great and will achieve greatness and that you shouldn’t accept anyone standing in your way — with no real world experience to back up such a belief in one’s self — it would stand to reason that encountering obstacles and failures with cause a certain cognitive dissonance. “Why am I not realizing what is rightfully mine?” Is that what this young man was dealing with, at least partially? Why did he presume any right or entitlement to something he so obviously had no right or entitlement to? Who led him to believe what he believed?

      Thankfully, many of our schools have turned away from that approach.

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      • I’m 33 and never really experienced this “everyone gets a trophy” thing that is or was allegedly running rampant over American child-rearing and education over the past few decades.

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      • It’s not just everyone gets a trophy. It’s “You’re great no matter what,” “Trying is all that matters,” “We’ll play ‘Candy Land’ until everyone gets to ‘Candy Castle’.”

        I’m not saying the ideal is a “Lord of the Flies” style approach. But I do think a refusal to prepare kids for the reality of the world — which includes not always getting what you want — has consequences.

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      • I want to avoid the “damn this coddled younger generation!” crap because a) it’s too appropriately followed by “get off my lawn!” and b) it’s what the Boomers said about my generation and it’s what the Greatest Generation said about the Boomers and it’s probably what their parents said about them.

        I do think that some theorists sold the idea of self-esteem as an entitlement and a presumption a little bit too hard. The princess parties where there are seventeen special princesses, the everyone-gets-a-trophy soccer games. For really little kids, okay. But the Oedipal complex needs to get resolved, and for the most part this should be done while a child’s age is still in the single digits. Self-esteem needs to be built and earned, by virtue of achievements of gradually escalating difficulty appropriate to the child.

        (Easy for me to say without having kids of my own, I know.)

        So I guess my answer is, it’s all part of a piece. Things are changing, socially and technologically, that accelerate whatever tendency people might otherwise have to narcissism, and when that narcissism turns malignant, bad things happen. I’m not sure what can be done about it, just that I don’t like it.

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      • I suppose I’m more willing to discuss it because as a member/product of that generation, I probably don’t risk “Get off my lawn” syndrome (though I do have an inner curmudgeon). And, as a teacher, I’m a bit more privy to the trends, the rationale behind them, and what the research indicates their various consequences are.

        Egocentrism — in the scientific sense of the word — is something that humans should move beyond sometime between the ages of 4 and 7 (with those on the latter end of that range raising concern). Often, when I read stories detailing the (supposed) psyche of people committing such mass shootings, it is the first word that comes to mind. “I didn’t get my way and that’s unacceptable.”

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      • I may be guilty of conflating egocentrism, probably a better-constructed and more contemporary concept, with the Oedipal complex. It’s the result of re-learning a lot of psychology at a Freud Movie Club. But the idea, “I didn’t get my way and that’s unacceptable,” is what I’m getting at. At an early point in life, you need to develop the emotional skill to cope with not getting your way.

        I’m agnostic on whether popular mythology is correct about those coping skills diminishing in frequency and efficacy as the birth year of the subject moves forward in time.

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      • I don’t necessarily think “I didn’t get my way and that’s not acceptable” necessarily gets worse as time moves forward. Rather, I’m talking about a specific time period during which our approach to helping children develop that understanding was very different than it was before or worse.

        We’re seeing a pretty dramatic shift — or at least the research is suggesting that we should be shifting our approach — so it will be interesting to see if there are changes in the trends in response to this shift (though it will probably take a decade or two to actually know).


        Dare I say you might lack the requisite perspective to understand broader trends in child rearing and/or that your experiences might not be universal.

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      • As someone the same age as , I also have no idea what anyone is talking about with this ‘self-esteem’ nonsense.

        It seems like I’ve been hearing every single generation complain that the ‘younger generation’ was suffering some sort of imaginary affliction of ‘being told they were special and unique’, and it would harm them in some unknown way. Every generation after the Boomers, of course, despite the fact that they actually were that generation, and it actually was pretty harmful to the world at large.

        But the critizism just flails around randomly, attempting to latch on to any random thing, like here, where’s it’s latched onto the fact that extreme competitiveness in small children is a stupid thing to encourage, so we decided to back off on that. And also people are telling kids they’re special!

        In actuality, in the universe I grew up in, ‘self-esteem’ seemed to be basically be presented as just a way to resist peer pressure and deal with bullying. All these complaints about how ‘everyone got a trophy’ are complete nonsense from top to bottom.

        There are a bunch of entitled idiots in every generation, and that has nothing to do with ‘trophies’ or ‘self esteem’…it has to do with idiot parents hovering over them and handling their every interaction with the outside world. That sort of horrible upbringing *used* to be the domain of the very rich, but has now managed to escape to the middle-class. (And the middle-class parents can’t run around buying off people when their idiot children ‘grow up’ and roam free, like the rich parents do.)

        And this probably doesn’t have a damn thing to do with this shooting at all. This idiot had problems, but they were entirely different problems.

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      • I don’t understand the criticism of “everyone gets a trophy”.

        After all, at my job I get paid exactly the same every day, no matter how well I do or how poorly I do.

        If you went up to an “everyone gets a trophy” critic and told them they weren’t going to get paid for a particular day of work, that critic would call his lawyer tout de suite.

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      • I can’t speak for everyone in our generation (and it is possible that you and experienced things somewhat differently because I believe you are both a few years older than I and we might be on different sides of a dividing line)… but I remember singing a song in grade school that literally had lyrics of, “I’m special, I’m special, I’m special…” It was something about a mustard seed and how this tiny seed grew into a great tree and just like that seed we might grow into great trees no matter how small we were because we were “special… special… special.”

        But let’s leave anecdote aside. I’m an educator, working in the field for almost a decade and studying it for several years before that. There was a clear and explicit emphasis on developing self-esteem in kids in the late 80’s and 90’s by delivering them positive messages with the idea being this would lead to positive self esteem and thus success. Recent research has shown this not to be the case. As such, trends are shifting. But the general trend during this particular time frame is backed up by tons of study and evidence. I’m happy to link to it if need be but hope I can be taken at my word at this point.

        I’m not saying everyone experienced it directly. And it is the sort of thing that is really hard to see if you simply lived amidst it (much like a fish describing wetness). But the general trend is no doubt real.

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      • But the general trend during this particular time frame is backed up by tons of study and evidence. I’m happy to link to it if need be but hope I can be taken at my word at this point.

        Yes, I am entirely aware that the words ‘self esteem’ entered, full tilt, the educational experience in the 80s and 90s.(The 80s and 90s were not when we actually solved problems. The 80s and 90s were when we pretended to solve problems with words.)

        My dispute is because the basic fact is that this means nothing. Kids are not any different nowadays than they used to be. As you just pointed out, research failed to make them any better off…but what you have missed is there’s no research this did anything negative either. It didn’t. It’s empty words kids were forced to mouth.

        If anything, the generations are getting less entitled. The Boomers were absurdly entitled, and still are. Gen X came of age in affluence, and either ended up entitled 80s Alex P. Keaton knockoffs, or 90s idiotically cynical nihilists, the people I wish I had a time machine so I could popularize the term ‘white people problems’ about and see if they cared.

        The Millennials are actually capable of self-reflection. They work together to solve problems. They vote. They care about the world. They, somehow, have managed to get over the asshattery of previous generations, probably by being bluntly hit in the face with hardship as soon as they became adults and started looking for jobs. (What’s the percentage of college graduate Millennials that can’t afford to move out of their parent’s house? 1/3rd?)

        Every single generational problem that people talk about is them projecting their generation’s issues onto the next generation. Every. Single. Problem. It’s always projection. It’s always been projection. It will always been projection.

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      • There is some research that says the words are problematic. Plus the fact that we weren’t given what previous and future generations were given in terms of better ways of developing self-confidence means we weren’t able to develop it as well (I’m saying this on a collective level… obviously individuals will vary).

        I’m not projecting. Again, I am part of this generation. I saw these things happen. And I see how things are done nowadays with children through my work as a teacher.

        There are other factors as well. Technological changes contribute to the problem.

        This isn’t a “Kids these days” rant. There are a number of wonderful things about our generations. And there are some problematic elements. I think this is one particular problematic element and, thankfully, one of the factors that I believe contributed to it is being reversed.

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      • There is some research that says the words are problematic. Plus the fact that we weren’t given what previous and future generations were given in terms of better ways of developing self-confidence means we weren’t able to develop it as well (I’m saying this on a collective level… obviously individuals will vary).

        I can’t dispute that, mainly because you’ve given no information there to dispute.

        Children do not get self confidence from words. But they also do not get lack of self confidence from words. (At least, not from positive words.)

        You want to argue that, due the ‘self esteem’ nonsense, that other things were neglected, that’s a reasonable premise, but at the very least, you’re going to have to explain what those other things specifically *are*, not just waving your hand and asserting that everyone stopped doing ‘those unnamed things’ when they started talking about self esteem.

        There actually are newish problems that have developed. As I said, parents refusing to let their child interact with the outside world, which, surprise, makes them completely unprepared to interact with the outside world.

        However, these are not ‘generational’ problems…they only affect kids cursed with such parents. Trying to generalize that at all is nonsense. And, in fact, they’re something that has always existed…just now it’s spread to the middle class. (Of course, we’ve also seen a much larger increase in the amount of homeless children, and somehow that’s not a generational issue defining everyone of the same age.)

        I’m not projecting. Again, I am part of this generation. I saw these things happen. And I see how things are done nowadays with children through my work as a teacher.

        Saying that you’re ‘part of this generation’ means nothing at all. In fact, it means the opposite of nothing…of course younger people are going to be less able to cope on their own, of course they’re more entitled then current Gen Xers or Baby Boomers. They’re younger.

        And Generation Z, or whatever we call it, is shaping up to be a bunch of people unable to use the bathroom or read, I guess.

        The comparison is to how they acted compared to previous generations at the same age.

        I’m 35. I saw the Gen-X grow up. And I saw Millennials grow up. I can’t speak as much to the problems of people who grew up in the 80s (Although perhaps I should make a Gordon Gecko comparison instead of an Alex P. Keaton.), but I lived the 90s, and when I call it infected with ‘cynical nihilism’, I am vastly understating things.

        People forget we literally call them Generation X because they didn’t know what they were doing with their life. That’s the origin of the name, the ‘unknown and poorly defined’ generation. And, I remind you, we named them that halfway through the generation, talking about people who graduated in the 80s…much too early for any of this ‘self esteem’ nonsense to do whatever strange thing you’re attributing to it.

        Likewise, I also saw media about them, which made them look even more useless. Of course, what people forget is that modern portrayals of teenagers come not from teenagers, but the generation before them.

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      • I think what Kazzy is referring to is more along the lines of what schools and institutions, as much as specific parents, were doing. I was in my older years in youth sports when they started doing the “We won’t keep score” and “everybody gets a trophy” business for the younger kids (though when I was young, they didn’t post league standings and everybody played regardless of ability). I’m relatively certain that what Kazzy says about institutions is right, both because that’s his wheelhouse and because it does correspond with my own observations. About the only way that it hasn’t had an effect is if such things don’t actually have an effect. Which is entirely possible, though something did appear to have an effect in places if what Kazzy says about the research that has been done on it.

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      • Well, it is well established (by Fox News) that this sort of stuff leads to “sissification,” and if we keep it up next thing you know boys will be wearing mascara and skirts.

        (About which, I very much approve. Bring on the femme boys!)

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  5. I think the title has a misleading connotation, namely that the sort of narcissistic personality disorder that caused this is peculiar to us men who are not alpha enough to go out and successfully get laid. I know that your article isn’t intended that way, but the title comes across that way

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    • Well, of course that’s not the intent. I can change it. But I do think the narcissism and pick-up-game elements are worthy of discussion, as these are, or at least seem to be, the flavor of this shooter’s particular mental illness.

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  6. Mr. Roger by all perceptions was a man suffering from a lot of mental illness. If he did not take his rage out on women than he probably would have found another group to subject his anger to. My take is that we really need a better mental health system in this country. Most of the spree murderers in recent years were obviously insane long before they acted. With a better mental health system we could prevent incidents like this from happening more consistently.

    Another problem was that the Santa Barbara police failed their job big time. Mr. Roger’s family was worried that he might do something rash and violent. They informed the police about this. They even sent them a copy of the video. The police department decided to do nothing until it was too late. Maybe Mr. Roger wasn’t specific enough in the video and the police thought they had nothing to go on besides a deranged rant. If they did some preventive work, the tragedy could have been avoided.

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      • This is a tricky question. He had a free speech right to post those videos (though I really don’t understand why anyone would want to post a video rant like that to youtube, I am not up on my internet cultures). I don’t think the videos amounted to warranting a search of his apartment. Though I do wonder if the police would have searched the apartment if Mr. Roger was a member of a minority and posted a similar rant or something about killing all those privileged white frat boys and sorority girls.

        That being said, it would potentially be nice if there was a way in this situation to get someone some psychological evaluation quickly rather than having to play it to chance about whether the rant is just a rant or the sign of something dangerous happening.

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      • Given the deplorable history of police dealings with the mentally ill, I’m loathe to suggest we should summon the police to assist with such persons.

        Except we have no real alternative.

        That said, sometimes a simple police contact can go a long way. Perhaps the police just having a conversation with him would have done some good. Hard to say.

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      • @mad-rocket-scientist

        This is where I’m a bit confused by what I understand of the family’s reactions. I’m not blaming them, mind you. But if you are concerned enough that a loved one poses a threat to call the police — who were ultimately unwilling or unable to intervene — I would like to think you wouldn’t just leave it at that. If it were my son and I had the level of concern it appears Rodgers’ family had, I would organize 24/7 monitoring of him. I wouldn’t just leave him be and cross my fingers that nothing bad happens. I understand there are practical limitations to how effective this approach might be, but surely it is better than doing nothing.

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      • (though I really don’t understand why anyone would want to post a video rant like that to youtube, I am not up on my internet cultures)

        It’s a strange phenomenon, but a lot of people will boast about their criminal acts on Youtube and Facebook, the NYPD makes a periodic sport out of arresting gang members for doing this very thing. If the whole point of your crime is to seek some kind of social recognition or prestige, to “send a message” or assert your dominance, such criminals are going to find it almost untenable to not talk about their crimes on Facebook and Twitter.

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  7. Handling romantic love and sex on a societal basis is very difficult. Most of us on the blog probably do not want to go back to the system that existed before the Sexual Revolution. The problems with the old system are too numerous to even list. The current system has some rather serious problems of its own. We currently treat romantic love and sex as something that should be universally celebrated but not everybody gets to enjoy these things. Many people find themselves trapped in horrible relationships with abusive partners for a variety of reasons. Other people have next to know luck with love or sex. When you hear a message about how love and sex are things to be celebrated but can not experience them yourself than its like being a starving person at a feast. I know this from personal experience. My love life is non-existent and the feelings of loneliness and horniness can get overwhelming at times.

    Happily most people keep this sort of frustration to themselves or only rant about it at worse. There isn’t really a good solution to this. You can make romantic love and sex more fair by breaking down various past barriers. You make it possible for women to have sex without being seen as you know what. You allow homosexual couples to be rather than force them underground. What you can’t do is provide everybody with a romantic partner or sex. There is simply no way to do this ethically. My only answer is that we might want to stop treating romantic love and sex as absolute necessities for human happiness in our society. People with bad love or sex lives should not be made to feel ashamed by this.

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    • I’m curious how often the people with “next to no luck with love or sex” can attribute their predicament, at least in part, to unrealistic expectations. I’m not just talking about someone who will only date a “Perfect 10”. Rather, I wonder if these people — having not come to understand the intricacies of relationships in a more organic fashion — don’t fully grasp that not every negative a person has is a deal breaker. I know many people who fall into the “next to no luck” category who will call things off with a potential mate over small or stupid things because they’ve internalized a mindset wherein they’re supposed to find a perfect match. I’m sure those of us who have been in long-term relationships can speak of many of our partner’s shortcomings yet we accept that in loving them fully, we love their faults as well.

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      • My interpretation is slightly different. I usually ask women out for second date three-fourths of the time. If we seem to be getting a long and the conversation is good than you might as well see how things develop. To this day, I’ve never had a second date. If given a reason, the usual response is that they felt no chemistry. People don’t necessarily have unrealistic expectations in a partner but the definitely seem to want something more amazing from a first date than usually happens. They seem to want something out of a movie, an instant click of passion and attraction.

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      • , I’m wondering when this started. I have no idea when or why chemistry became so important to get a second date let alone anything else. There were plenty of dates I had that I thought were going on great or at least good enough to warrant a second date, only to be rejected on the grounds that she “didn’t think that we would make a good couple” or that she “didn’t think we had good chemistry.” One of those dates lasted for four hours. I really wish I had the ability to know who would make a bad partner for me after an hour. It would make the dating thing much easier.

        My theory is that a lot of people are being affected by media portrayals of romance more than they want to admit.

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      • All I can tell you is keep at it, . It’s frustrating. But you’re far from the only one experiencing it or who has ever experienced it. Women looking for men experience it, too. LGBTQ folks experience it. It’s part of being single to not want to be single but to have difficulty breaking out of the rut.

        Cold comfort on a night you go home alone, I know.

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      • I know lots of other people are going through this Burt. That doesn’t mean I’m contractually obligated to like or accept it. I feel like I’m missing out on a lot. I hate this freaking system.

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      • — Please stop me if I’m out of line —

        But, like, have you ever tried one of those dating coach dudes? Even one of the PUA ones?

        I mean, look, those dudes are pretty gross — on that we all agree — but they do provide skills, and a decent person can distinguish the worthwhile skills from the garbage, take what they need, and leave aside the rest.

        ’Cause like here is the bitter truth: women are not going to tell you the truth, and if you keep failing, and getting the “no chemistry” excuse, then you are doing something wrong.

        And no one on this forum can tell you what it is. And no women is going to tell you; horrible men have trained us to lie. It is just so much easier. Thus you need someone to observe how you act around women to figure it out.

        One can live without romance, but they are pretty nice and worth working for. Good luck.

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      • Veronica, I have looked into them and I’m more than a little dubious. There techniques might work but they seem kind of ethically questionable at best. I’m not really sure if thats a gap I’m willing to cross. The other thing is that the chemistry things would not be naturally coming from me. They go so against my own personality that they would seem extremely fake.

        Its not every date that says they have no chemistry. Most really don’t give any explanation so I can kind of only guess whats going wrong. There were some dates that I had where women were obviously underwhelmed by me but others that seemed to go fine. Your right that women aren’t going to tell me what I’m doing wrong. Its not like I get tongue tied around women. I’m very good at talking to lots of people and women seem to like me on a platonic basis at least so I don’t have a creep factor. I have lots of women as friends. I’m just not seen as boyfriend material for some reason.

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      • Lord, I’m so not wanting to give you advice; I know nothing of dating any longer.

        So instead, I’m going to tell you what they tell women when they’re having trouble conceiving: stop worrying about it. The stress of the worry is often the problem. You say, I have lots of women as friends. I’m just not seen as boyfriend material for some reason. So just be a friend. And she’ll find you. This is a nicer way of following Brandon’s suggesting of being the unintentional jerk — the willingness to walk away signals something about not being creepily obsessive.

        And just to cover all the bases, have you tried a matchmaker? I know there are still a few around.

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      • — Well, I won’t try to sell you on the stuff. Much is indeed ethically questionable. But on the other hand, I believe we’re all playing roles all the time, to one degree or another, and if your current “Lee on a date” role is not working, then you can explore other roles.

        I believe you can do this ethically. In fact, I believe this can be a path to an even more genuine self.

        Out of left field: have you ever considered an improvisational acting class?

        Anyway, I’ll drop it. I hope you have better luck in the future.

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      • , I’m a lawyer. My entire career is one big improvisation class. I also like to believe that I’m a good and witty conversationalist. Most of the people I know in real life can vouch for this. I’m very good at getting dates and none of the dates, its the follow up thats the problem. None of the dates have been spectacularly and obviously bad enough to have an unidentifiable problem. At this point I have no idea whats going on.

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      • , I did one of those dating services for busy professionals. Besides being ridiculously expensive, they weren’t exactly helpful. According to the feedback from dates, I was found to be “kind, passionate, and sweet but not what they were looking for physically.” I also don’t think they paid that much attention to who would be a good match for me. Some dates were very good and others were completely the opposite of what I was looking for.

        As to your latter suggestion of just being friends, its not that attractive of a proposition. One of my anxieties is basically that I’m going to be out of luck until women decide to settle down, get married, and have a family. I know its supposed to be seen as admirable to be seen as a good husband and father but I don’t. I see it like being the ant in the fable of the ant and the grasshopper, the version where the ant saves the grasshopper. People have their romantic fun until they realize that they are getting older and its time to settle down and raise a family and I’m the one who gets to do the work. I want to have my romantic fun to and not with somebody whose going through the motions of being a girlfriend.

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      • You’re pretty short, right? That’s a pretty significant handicap, but it can to some degree be compensated for by being in really good shape. This is especially important going into middle age, when a lot of men start letting themselves go. If you don’t have that taken care of, it’s probably the most important low-hanging fruit.

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      • advises with the following:
        “So instead, I’m going to tell you what they tell women when they’re having trouble conceiving: stop worrying about it. The stress of the worry is often the problem.”

        To share my own story of how I met my wife…

        About 9 months earlier I had a really difficult breakup. We never got back together, but every now and then we’d reconnect, including sleeping together. This went on about 3 more months. I was a mess. I didn’t know what I wanted but knew I didn’t like what I currently had and tried like hell to change it. With no luck. Eventually, I cut it off entirely with the ex but was still rebounding hard. Meeting different girls every weekend, trying so hard to make something out of nothing, and repeatedly falling short. Eventually, I realized I had 6 weeks left in the city I was living in before I moved and said, “Fuck it. I’m going to enjoy the remaining time I have hear with my friends and try again in the next city.” But a week later I was out with friends, saw a cute young woman across the way, and the rest is history. She, too, was on her way out of town… a few days short of her college graduation and headed to DC with the Navy. I was headed to NY for grad school. Neither one of us had any intention of meeting anyone, let alone our eventual spouse and partner for life.

        Now, it is easy to say that this only happened because neither of us were trying. One or both of us might have been trying and we still could have succeeded. But I’ll say that I was able to interact with Zazzy in a completely different way because I was essentially playing with house money. And by that I mean that I wasn’t expecting anything to happen so I took whatever I got as a wonderful gift.

        And it continues to give to this day.

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      • — You’re a troll, but for the benefit of others, I will explain. Yes, when a woman decides to “let down” a man, she seldom explains precisely why. Now, it would not surprise me if men did the same. I’m not sure. I can only speak from the woman’s perspective.

        Here is the deal: if a woman is not keen to date you, she will say whatever she needs to say to quickly end the conversation. “I’m just not feeling it” will be the most common refrain, or else, “I have a boyfriend,” “I don’t want to ruin our friendship,” “I’m not dating right now,” on and on. She says what she needs to say.

        What she will not say is that she lacked physical attraction, you were too overweight, not masculine enough, too masculine (some of us like femme guys), too soft, too hard, too loud, whatever. The reason we do not say these things is complex. In some cases it is because we do not want to hurt you. This can be from mercy, a desire to be kind. But also it can be because we’ve discovered that spurned men are often horrible. (For example, the recent killings.) We do not wish to open the door into a man’s damaged and raging ego.

        But on the flipside, sometimes our reasons are a bit shallow.

        Right. I said that.

        See, women are people and romance is romance. So if a guy is too fat, we might not want to say that out loud. Perhaps we are not proud of ourselves. Perhaps we wish we were more open-minded. But if the attraction isn’t there, we aren’t going to fake it. Likewise, perhaps he is too poor, beneath our “social station.” Which sucks. But women are no more perfect than men.

        For example, plenty of lesbians will not date trans women, even if politically they know they should be open-minded. But feelings are feelings, attraction is attraction, and so it goes.

        On the whole I don’t know if this is good or bad. However, it can suck for a guy like . But facts are facts. If he wants the whole truth, he’ll have to look elsewhere.

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      • — A suggestion: the improvisation done by an attorney will never involve the kind of vulnerability that an actor must explore. Nor will it involve the close sensitivity to a single person, a scene performed face to face, one on one. Nor will it maintain the shifts in status that an actor must, the patterns of dominance and submission, which like it or not can fuel deeply erotic feelings.

        I suggest you adopt a beginner’s mind.

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      • Women tend to be held personally morally accountable for their mate selection criteria in ways that men often aren’t. So they have to be dodgy about it. This is especially true when it comes to looks and sexual charisma. The latter so unscrutinized in men that they often don’t even realize that it’s there.

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      • , I think its a bit more complicated than that. I’ve lots of men being criticized morally for their tastes in mates, especially if their tastes run towards conventionally attractive women. This might not be true in all circles but its true in more than a few. I’ve known that I’ve been yelled at online for some of things I’m looking for.

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      • People have their romantic fun until they realize that they are getting older and its time to settle down and raise a family and I’m the one who gets to do the work. I want to have my romantic fun to and not with somebody whose going through the motions of being a girlfriend.

        I’ve struggled with how to parse this. I’ve failed; and I realize it’s probably my own short coming. But I don’t have experience of having romantic fun until I settled down to the work. The work of marriage, at least in my life, has been the romantic fun, it’s not what proceeded these last 38 years, it is the last 38 years.

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      • seems to be echoing a certain version of the MRA narrative, which goes something like this: Women, when they are young and attractive, date “bad boys,” who are sexy and hot, but are in no way a good provider. Later, as these women age, they realize they can no longer get these men, so they change strategy and find a “beta” who is a good provider. This, according to the MRAs, is totally a raw deal for the “beta.”

        It’s a pretty broken narrative, but I’ve heard plenty of guys say variations of it.

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      • Part of what makes the narrative hard to break is that it is true for some people. But almost any crazy theory can be found to be true in certain cases.

        My issue with the narrative is the assumptions it makes about the women’s intentions. I’ve found that it is not often that women actively seek out “bad boys” until it is time for a “good guy”. Rather, they think the bad boys are good guys until they realize they aren’t. At which point they move on. When they find a real good guy, they tend to stick around. Of course, it’s just easier for some men to make the women out to be monsters.

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      • — I think a lot of intellectual, nerdy types, who form the backbone of the MRA scene, base their models of women on what they observed in high school. Thing is, people in high school are teenagers, and teens, both girls and boys, are just beginning to figure things out. We expect people at that age to make a lot of bad choices. And, yeah, dating can be really tough.

        As you get older, you should develop more wisdom about finding partners, along with more wisdom in life. Instead, these dudes, who are playing catch-up in the dating scene, find themselves in online forums that reinforce some really broken views. And this compounds. And anger deepens.

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      • Great point. The way in which the internet facilitates people having their warped views affirmed is a huge contributing factor.

        Here’s another thing though: Let’s assume their theory is true. That there exists some subset of women who’d rather date bad boys than good guys. So what? There exists a subset of women that prefer to date blondes instead of brunettes. Or tall guys instead of short guys. Or women instead of men. Why focus your energy on those whose interests lie elsewhere? Focus on the women who are looking for good guys if you are a good guy and are bothered by women who chase bad boys. I get that there tends to be a certain human desire to seek what one doesn’t have or can’t get. But if you can’t overwhelm that desire, then that is on you.

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      • v,
        And that just proves they are being Idiots of the Highest Order.
        The girls who date jocks in high school are mostly Looking For Status.
        Most of the rest of the girls are busy crushing on teachers (or seniors).
        Yeah, sure, there’s some kids who find True Love in high school.

        But, mostly? A lot of folks aren’t looking for the expectations that dating in high school brings (sex!).

        Lee,
        Psych folks have a saying: “Fake it until you make it” — learn how to be fascinated by someone. Learn how to be passionate in general.
        [Also, after four hours? Maybe she was looking for you to make a first move — invite her back to your place.]

        I’m also seconding the Improv Classes. if nothing else, you can find people there who will appreciate a good sense of humor.

        (Shame you aren’t in Pittsburgh, else I’d recommend Ashley Madison.)

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      • — On the “first move” thing, for realz. I recall once back in high school days there was the girl my friend was crushing out on. And it turns out she liked me. And she told him! And he told me!

        Yay me!

        I mean, this girl was waaaaaay hot, and waaaaaay (so it seemed to me) out of my league.

        So anyway we went out on a date and I was the perfect (secretly a girl) “gentlemen,” and at the end of the date she said goodnight. One kiss. But then, no returned calls. No second date.

        When my friend asked her why, she said, “I kept waiting for ‘him’ to do something.”

        Holy badgers I was a fishing idiot!

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  8. This is so tragic, and I’m so sorry for what happened.

    Young college-aged men shooting people (purportedly) because they’re angry about women isn’t a novel or growing proposition to me, though – the Ecole polytechnique shooting, in which the shooter murdered 28 people and then killed himself in a so-called protest against feminism, happened in 1989, when I was 13. Because of that, I grew up with the expectation that this sort of thing happens, and happens specifically because of misogyny.

    The flavor of the horror might change, but the horror stays the same.

    Rebecca Solnit has a very powerful article out on the topic of civil rights genies coming out of bottles and the “volunteer police force” that tries its hardest to cram them back in, here. It’s not specifically about this kind of horror, but it bears heavily upon it.

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    • (I should say – I’m not sure about “this kind of thing happens specifically because of misogyny”. It very well might just be that there are people who are going to do this sort of thing, and only the flavor of it changes based on the surrounding culture. That seems more likely to my intellect? But my gut lives in 1989, with 28 people shot and 14 of them women, who died, and “feminism” all over the media as the killer’s phantom target. [He was a victim of childhood physical abuse by his father, that guy, which, yeah. Seems more important as a “cause” insofar as these things are at all explicable. Also I’m sorry for getting the facts wrong in my first comment. I get very upset when I think about that story and it screws up my recall. ])

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      • I am growing to a huge fan of Solnit’s work.

        For those not familiar, Solnit’s essay, Men Explain Things to Me inspired the term ‘mansplaining.’ In her words:

        I still don’t know why Sallie and I bothered to go to that party in the forest slope above Aspen. The people were all older than us and dull in a distinguished way, old enough that we, at forty-ish, passed as the occasion’s young ladies. The house was great–if you like Ralph Lauren-style chalets–a rugged luxury cabin at 9,000 feet complete with elk antlers, lots of kilims, and a wood-burning stove. We were preparing to leave, when our host said, “No, stay a little longer so I can talk to you.” He was an imposing man who’d made a lot of money.

        He kept us waiting while the other guests drifted out into the summer night, and then sat us down at his authentically grainy wood table and said to me, “So? I hear you’ve written a couple of books.”

        I replied, “Several, actually.”

        He said, in the way you encourage your friend’s seven-year-old to describe flute practice, “And what are they about?”

        They were actually about quite a few different things, the six or seven out by then, but I began to speak only of the most recent on that summer day in 2003, River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, my book on the annihilation of time and space and the industrialization of everyday life.

        He cut me off soon after I mentioned Muybridge. “And have you heard about the very important Muybridge book that came out this year?”

        So caught up was I in my assigned role as ingénue that I was perfectly willing to entertain the possibility that another book on the same subject had come out simultaneously and I’d somehow missed it. He was already telling me about the very important book–with that smug look I know so well in a man holding forth, eyes fixed on the fuzzy far horizon of his own authority.

        Here, let me just say that my life is well-sprinkled with lovely men, with a long succession of editors who have, since I was young, listened and encouraged and published me, with my infinitely generous younger brother, with splendid friends of whom it could be said–like the Clerk in The Canterbury Tales I still remember from Mr. Pelen’s class on Chaucer–”gladly would he learn and gladly teach.” Still, there are these other men, too. So, Mr. Very Important was going on smugly about this book I should have known when Sallie interrupted him to say, “That’s her book.” Or tried to interrupt him anyway.

        But he just continued on his way. She had to say, “That’s her book” three or four times before he finally took it in. And then, as if in a nineteenth-century novel, he went ashen. That I was indeed the author of the very important book it turned out he hadn’t read, just read about in the New York Times Book Review a few months earlier, so confused the neat categories into which his world was sorted that he was stunned speechless–for a moment, before he began holding forth again. Being women, we were politely out of earshot before we started laughing, and we’ve never really stopped.

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  9. Just to point out:

    In the weeks before this tragic thing, Roger’s family and therapists contacted the SB Police, expressing concern. Police had contact with Rogers. His social-media posts suggested he was aware of these contacts, that his family was freaking out.

    From the NYT:

    In his manifesto, which he called “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger,” Mr. Rodger said the police had visited his apartment in April, acting on the complaints of his mother, who was alarmed by videos he had posted online. He said he had managed to convince the police that there was nothing to worry about, and quickly took down the videos — posting them again in the days before what he called his “Day of Retribution.”

    The sheriff acknowledged that deputies had visited Mr. Rodger’s apartment on April 30, but said he had appeared courteous and polite, and did not meet the conditions that would have permitted them to confine him.

    “You’ve got to understand that this is a fairly routine kind of call that is quite commonplace,” he said. “The deputies are well trained and are adept at handling these kind of calls.”

    I’ve read other reporting that said his therapist also called police. There is a place, a crack, where families are unable to get help for loved ones until they do something that invokes the justice system. And shootings like this are part of the result.

    There’s a balance of the rights of the mentally ill here; I don’t know where it is, but multiple calls suggesting someone is a danger seems like a pretty big warning flag; and perhaps something more than a visit from the officer on duty might be in line. What that might be, I don’t know.

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    • I’m not gonna blame the parents here, but if they seriously thought their kid was a danger to himself and others then why didn’t they take the initiative on the issue, go grab him up and place him in a mental health facility where he could get some help? Is there a legal impediment to their having exercised that option?

      There’s something distasteful to me about parents who won’t parent their kids when shit like this goes down. I don’t want to rush to judgement here since the facts aren’t in, but parenting by proxy – calling the cops – seems like a pretty high level of disinterest in their kids well-being.

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      • Calling the cops was clearly a good thing to do, they can be there faster and presumably have training to deal with this sort of thing (indeed, the Sheriff said as much). I don’t think the parents acted unreasonably or with wanton disregard for consequences.

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      • Burt,

        Calling the cops was undoubtedly the right thing to do. What’s slightly irritating to me is that the parents defaulted to the cops’ judgment that the kid didn’t present a danger to himself or anyone else. They presumed that a 15 minute interview with police officers was sufficient to overrule their own judgment on the issue.

        I think that’s effing crazy.

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      • first off, Rogers was receiving mental-health treatment — his therapist called the police, too. But what was required here was a step beyond ‘mental health treatment’ into ‘involuntary treatment.’

        Second, he was an adult; and it’s notoriously difficult to get involuntary treatment for mentally-ill adults until after they’ve broken a law. Family members are advised by police to wait until such an event has happened. This is part and parcel of why the prison system is our first line of ‘treatment’ for adult mental illness.

        Here, for instance, is some of the typical advice from professionals on the topic:
        http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/solution/358

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      • He was still economically dependent on his parents being a college kid and all. Maybe they could have used that as a sort of leverage.

        Rogers parents and therapist knew that he was at a huge risk to himself or others. They thought he was such a risk that they called the police to check up on him. Thats a radical step. The police probably did what they could within the law. The results were tragic.

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      • There are also great risks at allowing involuntary confinement for mental health treatment as well. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that allowing that would prevent these situations without resulting in harm to a different set of innocents.

        If we decide to go that route, let’s just go in with conscious awareness of the costs.

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      • James is also right. We had a system of easier to enforce involuntary confinement for mentally ill for most of the 19th and 20th centuries. The results were horrible. The mental institutions were often hell on earth. Even when conditions improved lots of people fond themselves involuntary confined for reasons that aren’t real mental health problems. People were sterilized against their will or forced to endure some other gruesome treatments.

        This isn’t an issue with an easy answer. Regimes that allow for easier involuntary treatment or confinement of mentally ill people tend towards having miserable records when it comes to the human rights of mentally ill people. The problem with the current system is that a lot of people who really need help don’t get it. This isn’t usually a society wide problem but sometimes the mentally ill person can do a rash act like this and cause much misery.

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      • I don’t know if mandated treatment for something like Narcisstic Personality Disorder (or anti-social Personality Disorder) is going to be very effective. If anyone has stats, that would be cool, but I would doubt it.

        And if the therapy ain’t working, the patient will simply stop revealing important info to the the therapist about violent tendencies.

        Therapists aren’t magicians.

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      • Therapy is part of the solution here, but not the whole thing. We need to decrease social pressures towards violent behaviors and we need to have more feminist attitudes and behaviors. We also need to make access to more deadly things more difficult.

        In short: Gun control, feminism, and nanny statism (small-bore and technocratic, balancing rights with societal well-being) about violent imagery and ideas.

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      • Whoops, I mean we need: Universal mental health care, lack of stigma for mental health care and increased use of services, and gun control, feminism, and nanny-statism.

        Basically we need less conservatives in power.

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    • Perhaps we need to start staffing PDs with a few practicing psychologists, people who can at least assess a person during a mental health contact & decide if a psych hold is warranted.

      Granted, some will slip past such a cursory exam, but a trained psychologist will undoubtedly catch things a cop would miss.

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  10. Reports today indicate that the number of deaths are six or seven, depending on whether the gunman is included. At least 10 people are injured. The report I initially found that said there were nine deaths appears to have been exaggerated. No comfort at all to those who lost people they left.

    Also, the gunman apparently left behind a 140 page autobiography. This will probably turn out to be a Unabomber-style screed chronicling the young man’s inability to fit in to a social environment. He will have been bullied. Scorned, ignored. And all of it will have been someone else’s fault.

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  11. Speculation about what he thought that lead him to kill will remain… speculation and nothing more.

    The important question is how do we lessen the likelihood and deadliness of such attacks occuring in the future.

    I’d say the answer, in outline, involves all of these:

    1. Very strong but sensible gun control across all states.
    2. Increased funding for mental health programs and a decrease in stigma (via public awareness campaign) about using mental health services. IMO, all kids should be going for some psych testing and interventions regularly. A checkup, if you will. And many kids should be getting more regular help.
    3. Increased respect for feminism and women’s rights at the policy and rhetoric level. Teaching kids that feminism is correct in schools and on TV, like teaching them racism is wrong.
    4. A public awarness campaign (like the anti-smoking campaign) to teach that watching violent images is generally not cathartic in getting out violent impulses, but is in many cases kindling. Some violent imagery is okay, but in general it comes with a cost in the aggregrate. You and your kids should avoid it to some degre.

    In general, more gun control, more feminsism, use of “nudging” (taxes, fees, requirements) and not bans to limit violent imagery (ie more nanny state) and more direction of education. In short, more liberalism.

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  12. I was a very late bloomer, and I confess to all sorts of obsessions and complexes and narcissistic self-pitying behavior. Even though I have graduated beyond all that (mostly), I still remember what a distorted view I had of life and I remember how much I felt shut off from a world that others seemed to enjoy so effortlessly. I want to be very clear that the problem was with me. And I am now very happily married to the love of my life.

    And as to what I might have done….I’ll leave it with saying I would really like to believe that I would never have done what this guy did.

    In passing, I’ll say I resist the notion that our culture today is uniquely narcissistic, although I suppose that resistance comes mostly from my historian’s tendency to deny that any generation is uniquely more something than the generation before it. (And just because the tendency is there doesn’t mean it’s right.)

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  13. An extremely deadly instance of misogyny meeting mental illness, I suspect, but only one of the many cases where misogyny will turn deadly this year. I wish it would result in an extended conversation, directed toward action, on both misogyny and mental illness. It will not.

    Men who are rejected, and all of us are, too often seem incapable of grasping the reasons and implications of rejection. Most of us — men and women — have probably rejected others for a variety of reasons: maybe we went physically attracted to them, maybe we didn’t like their personalities, maybe we were at different points in our lives, maybe they behaved poorly, maybe we were hung up on someone else, maybe they clearly were, maybe we weren’t in the right place emotionally, maybe we chose to focus on other parts of our lives at the time, maybe we simply didn’t have time, maybe some combination of these and a thousand others. Yet for some reason, men in particular seem to internalize rejection, and as a ego defense made readily available to them by a culture infused throughout with misogyny, decide that they were victims, of irrational choices or willful malice on the part of those who have rejected them.

    What’s more, even here we don’t see men taking responsibility for their own romantic failures. I guarantee that each man here who is even the slightest bit but about not getting laid for whatever period could have found plenty of women willing to date, and ultimately fuck them. But either they weren’t really trying, and blame their own shyness on women or culture or what have you, anything but themselves, or they ignore the women they could have dated because those are not the women every wanted, but they fail to recognize their own behavior in the behavior of the women who reject them. Add the entitlement so many men seem to feel out of a deep and perhaps unconscious sense of superiority to women fostered by a culture of misogyny, and you have a level of bitterness that, even it is added to the impaired decision making of mental illness or even a night of drinking, can lead to violent outbursts.

    I will say this, then. If you wanted to fuck before 22, and in a culture like ours, you did not, it’s your own damn fault, and only yours. Only yours.

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    • I dunno about all this talk in these threads about how hard it is or isn’t to get laid if you know what you’re doing or do a little self-inspection, or whatever.

      It feels a little like framing a discussion about John Hinkley, Jr. around the collective works of Jodie Foster.

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      • I pretty much agree. Not to get too arm-chair psychological here, but it seems to me that the kid’s focus on getting laid by the pretty girls he lusts after is not the cause of his mental problems but a symptom of some deeper problem. I’m not gonna hypothesize what that might be except to note that, as Burt said in the OP, internalizing culturally determined external signifiers of social worth to the point where they determine your self-worth isn’t the right way to go about your business. I’d like to say something intelligent about how reversing that ordering of things is a fundamental problem in our society which leads to all sorts of what would otherwise be viewed as psychological disorders. And some types of spiritual practices actualy do view things that way. I won’t elaborate because, as I said, I can’t really say anything intelligent about it.

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      • From what I’ve read in the NYT, people thought that Rodgers was mentally off for his entire life. According to the article about this today in the Times, classmates of Rodgers in high school thought that he’d go off the deep end one day and constantly made fun off him accordingly.* Rodgers had mental problems and they just happened to manifest in the form of sexism. With another set of factors, they could have manifested another way.

        *I have no idea why people would want to set off a person that they knew was capable of great explosive anger. Besides the overall immorality of making fun of somebody it does not seem like a good idea to taunt somebody you think his going to lash out against all of society one day.

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      • My point is simply that thus dude’s attitude is common, this isn’t the first or last time it’s resulted in violence, and it is fostered by a culture of misogyny.

        Also, it looks like he had autism, high functioning, and was under psychiatric treatment for comorbid stuff. Like I said, the bitterness toward women and society, combined with reasoning-impairing mental illness, is a disaster waiting to happen. And the two steps to defusing it are getting rid of the misogynistic sense of entitlement and blame, and coming to grips with the fact that mental illness is a societal problem, a huge one, and we have to start addressing it as a society.

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    • What you say is absolutely right, and one of the many steps men in general ought to do is to take responsibility for their own choices. And yes, misogyny and violence need to be decoupled, and mental illness needs to be addressed, whatever the specifics of the Santa Barbara case turn out to be.

      All that said….I can understand that given the seriousness of the issue at hand, and the fact that the stakes are literally life and death, it’s completely reasonable what you’re saying. And for more than one reason I feel awkward about calling you out on this, but I will….

      I will say this, then. If you wanted to fuck before 22, and in a culture like ours, you did not, it’s your own damn fault, and only yours. Only yours.

      ….that rubs me the wrong way and I think you’re not going to get much traction in helping people do the uncoupling you advocate for. Some people have different experiences and different challenges and even though it mostly boils down to choices they made, there can be a sense of powerlessness that one feels when they’re in the thick of it. It’s almost definitely the case such people are in a small minority and are pathetic, self-entitled losers. But they’re also humans with feelings.

      But again, it bears repeating that you’re right about the linking of misogyny and violence and right that it’s all (or at least almost all) about choices and taking responsibility. And perhaps, as Tod pointed out, this isn’t the forum to raise the type of objection I do in this comment.

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      • Gab,
        You come from a different part of this world than I do.
        I come from the part where a significant number of college parties end with at least one girl or another getting raped.

        Now, yes, that’s probably not something anyone around here would do intentionally. But chris is also right, that it is your fault.

        Maybe some folks ought to take a bit of pride in that fact, rather than saying “woe is me”.

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    • — There are people who could not have sex as teens, but wish they could have had sex, and it is not their fault.

      For example, some people had the wrong genitals as teens, and despite the fact plenty of girls were willing to hook up with them, things never seemed to — well — work quite right.

      These things are not their fault. They did all we could with what they had.

      Not that I have any personal experience with this.

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      • You are right, and I was unclear. I was speaking specifically of straight, cis-males who want to have sex with women. Like I said, there’s not a guy here who can’t find a woman; there are just guys who can’t find a woman they want. The problem is, too many mistake the latter for the former, and decide women as a whole have rejected them, so it’s women’s fault.

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      • Chris, I think your comment, while not false, seems to rely on wrong (excessively lofty) standards when I think it’s often a matter of identifying people you might attract. Lowering standards doesn’t actually solve much for a fair number of people.

        From my own experience, my standards weren’t too high, but I was looking in the wrong places or wasn’t looking in the right ones. Which I think is a common problem.

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      • Still, and I mean this as an observation not a judgment or to suggest that you think otherwise, your fault, not women’s. Too many men will decide it’s women’s fault, because our culture encourages them to do so.

        That’s not to say that it’s easily fixed. Lord knows I have had some frustrating periods, and I am the sort of person who has ever had trouble meeting people when I wanted to. But it’s easy to direct your frustration outward, and at times, it can become dangerous when people do so.

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      • I think it’s often faultless. The basic unfairness of the world. Where people go wrong is when they expect others to make things fair for you, as though it’s their responsibility.

        Sometimes, of course, it isn’t faultless at all. I think I am just hypersensitive against the notion that there is fairness and justice in the romantic marketplace.

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      • There are some interesting parallels between the fairness of the sexual marketplace and the fairness of the economic one (most particularly the importance of being dealt a good hand). Some crucial differences, too (most particularly the degree to which the unfairness can be remediated).

        This sort of thing was Hit Coffee material (as well as Vik’s old blog) for a while.

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      • — I don’t think you are being sufficiently sympathetic to well-meaning guys who have difficulty in these areas. Not all of them go down the MRA rabbit hole. Those who remain above deserve our care and sympathy.

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      • I guess what I’m trying to understand from men who are frustrated about sexual failures is are they upset that they’re not having sex -OR- are they upset that they’re not having sex with the types of women they want to/think they should be having sex with?

        I ask this because I often hear such men saying the former but further probing reveals the latter to be the case. And experiencing the latter is no less legitimate a form of frustration, but it is going to garner a different response than the former and will be remedied via different means.

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      • “Those who remain above deserve our care and sympathy.”

        Not necessarily, . Some of the guys I know who were the least successful romantically/sexually also had the most deplorable perceptions of women, though none of them would fall under the MRA umbrella. It’s hard to say what is the chicken and what is the egg, but not every one of these men deserve our care or sympathy.

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      • It’s almost always along a spectrum. Most everyone can get a prostitute, so they’re looking for more than that. (They can’t always get a fat girl, which was my opening entry into this subthread.)

        I just hesitate to assume that when they talk about their lack of success they are aiming too high. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes when they are, it’s temporary.

        I honestly tend to be unsympathetic when it’s strictly about sex compared to relationships (even fluid ones), but that’s the repressed prude in me.

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      • Veronica, I have plenty of sympathy for social misfits. In many ways, I am one. I don’t have sympathy for the all too frequent externalizing of their own frustration, placing blame on people who simply failed to bend to their will. They recognize their own internal complexity, but treat others as unidimensional, at least with respect to their romantic behavior.

        So, if we’re talking the difficulties of the social world, you will get nothing but sympathy from me. But that isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the issue in this context, should it?

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      • I once watched a sex worker turn away a guy ’cause he was creepy as fuck.

        (I stayed with her for a while after he left the bar, and while she wouldn’t talk about it, she was clearly shaken up.)

        So, no, not every guy can get a sex worker. At least not automatically. And thank the stars. Sex workers are people and some men are monsters.

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      • — Fair enough. I think you mean to target your disdain on “dudes who blame women,” about which I very strongly agree with you.

        I mean, on this I agree with you a lot. Tons. I fucking hate those guys.

        But the way you phrased it seemed too broad. That is all.

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      • Since we’re going into motivations, let me speculate too.

        He isn’t worried and feeling sad about not having sex. He could masturbate, hire a sex-worker, etc.

        He is upset at the fact that women don’t want to have sex with him. It is his ego that is at stake, not getting more pleasure. And he isn’t sad and feeling bad about the fact that people don’t like him like most loveably sweet, but social awkward nerdy social-phobic people. He is angry that others don’t like him and he must be great.

        So analogizing this guy with someone with social phobia or generalized nerdy lack of social skills but a genuine desire for human connection is a bad analogy.

        A much better (but imperfect) analogy would be with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I wouldn’t say it is NPD (could be anti-social), but it is closer to that than a socially anxious but ultimately very caring person. My guess is, had this guy been in a relationship, and got over the social anxiety, he would have been awful and narcissistically cruel to his girlfriend. A “merely” (and it is a less severe disorder than NPD or anti-social PD) anxious teen, nerd, social phobic will often be almost overly nice and dependent on any significant other he or she became comfortable with.

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      • — Well, I’m personal friends with exactly two full-service sex workers (one of whom was the woman in my story). But anyway, I know they both will turn down guys who creep them out. I cannot speak in general.

        (That said, I surely hope most will trust their “gift of fear.” The guy in my story was truly creepy as fuck. Even I, observing from down the bar, picked up terrible vibes from him. I was very pleased my friend did not go with him. Yikes.)

        Thing is, the dude in the video is exactly the sort of guy who is going to creep out women. I mean, try to imagine being a woman and approached by a guy like that. Yeeesh! Sometimes my skin crawls.

        I cannot describe the feelings well. I recall one night, 3:00 AM on the subway, pasty white boy, kinda plump, smiled too much, leered too much, sat beside me in an empty train car, tapped my shoulder — I was wearing headphones. I literally ran from him. In heels.

        Just, nope!

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      • Let me add also, if you read between the lines in the MRA/PUA circles, you quickly see these guys aren’t actually looking for a girl they will personally like, who will be cool and like them and be liked in return, a proper girlfriend. That is not their goal. Instead, they are looking for women who will mark their status among men.

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      • Hey Chris,

        We’re guessing at diagnoses.

        But the anger at others over his sense that he deserved sexual attention is textbook narcissism.

        Asperger’s doesn’t result in this kind of emotional dysfunction.

        He could have both Aspergers (which ain’t in DSM-5, which favors a spectrum of autism) and NPD. However, it is very possible (seems reasonably likely to me) that he was misdiagnosed as being on the autism spectrum because he was having interpersonal difficulties and a lack of “empathic” expressions of emotions.

        You don’t diagnose most personality disorders in teens (except conduct disorder) but they sort of do exist and NPD in a “nerdy” teen could look a lot like autism spectrum.

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      • I mean autism can result in emotional and social difficulties, obviously, but not feelings of grandiosity and rage at not being valorized.

        Those feelings and accordany behaviors, if they are pervasive and long lasting, aren’t part of autism spectrum. They are a central part of NPD.

        Maybe he didn’t have NPD. But the problem that drove him to kill was more along the lines of narcissitic personality and not at all awkwardness, social phobia, social difficulties associated with autism, etc.

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      • The difference between the lack of fairness in the economic marketplace and the lack of fairness in the romantic marketplace is that dealing with the former can be handled with government programs. Countries have programs that help mitigate some of the inherent economic unfairness of the free market. You really can’t deal with the unfairness of the romantic marketplace in a non-morally problematic way.

        Kazzy, many people are more frustrated about their lack of a full time romantic partner than their lack of sex. Lack of sex is often only part of the equation.

        Veronica, you might want to rephrase that. Even non-mysoginst men with romantic problems will feel emasculated by comments like “they deserve our care and sympathy.” Being able to attract women is seen as such an important part of heterosexual manhood that not having one can be an emasculating experiences in many ways. Using the word care is also emasculating because it implies lack of adulthood, you care for children or the elderly not for adults in their prime.

        I don’t necessarily find my lack of a girlfriend emasculating but what I do fine emasculating is the focus on a men’s height. I’ve heard too many women gush over tall men as if it were an accomplishment in itself. If they like height thats fine but treating it as an accomplishment is disgusting.

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      • “Kazzy, many people are more frustrated about their lack of a full time romantic partner than their lack of sex. Lack of sex is often only part of the equation.”

        I understand that. Again, I think at least part of this for some people is rooted in their expectations (influenced by a number of factors) for what that romantic partner will be, which are often unrealistic.

        Have you seen the show “Catfish”? One of the things that is most interesting about it is the commonalities between the people being catfished. They tend to be people with limited to no romantic success who are suddenly presented with a seemingly perfect person: looks, personality, and a deep interest in them. And these are the people they engage in multi-year relationships with despite never being in the same room as them (and sometimes never seeing more than a picture of them). Yet they go this route because a fake relationship with a “perfect” person is seemingly preferable to them over a real relationship with a normal person.

        Further, sometimes, these people are getting exploited. The person on the other end is essentially a con artist. But sometimes the person is more genuine but has their own issues of confidence and they’re using fake or altered pictures to present a better image. The personality was real and their feelings were real. And while their deception is admittedly problematic, these people are usually just as quickly cast aside by their “victims” as the con artists once exposed. Even though the connection and personality and relationship is real! But, hey, they’re a little overweight or have mousy hair instead of flowing blonde locks? Done. That is all it takes for someone who says they want nothing more than to find love to walk away from someone they previously claimed was the love of their life. They often don’t even attend to walk through the issues with the person. “You don’t look like Heidi Klum’s younger sister? I’m out.”

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      • — Dude, I can’t watch that show. It’s just, arrrrrrrrr!

        — If you find me, a woman, expressing care and sympathy for men who are hurting to be “emasculating,” then you have some issues to work out.

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      • The show is ridiculous on a number of levels. And I do harbor concerns about the two hosts ability to actually guide people through what is happening. Yes, the one guy himself is a victim of cat fishing. But they dole out advice that really should be left up to trained professionals.

        However, one real positive of the show is how respectfully they treat LGBTQ people, including at least one trans man. At least, it seems very respectful from my perspective; I may be blind to problems with their approach.

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      • I’ve never seen “Catfish” or heard of it until you mentioned it here. But I think I’d agree with ‘s assessment of it. I wouldn’t want to use what happens on that show as a rubric by which to understand the frustrations of all people who are having difficulties. And the situations you describe–where someone presents themselves as near perfect and then are dumped when it’s discovered they’re not quite as near perfect–might be ascribed to the fact that the dumper doesn’t like relationships that start out on a blatant deception instead of or in addition to the fact that the dumper may have had impossibly high standards. Also, being a reality show on MTV (from what the wikipedia article I skimmed suggests), the show probably focuses on those who are dumped or do the dumping.

        Not that you’re wrong necessarily. You’re not arguing that “Catfish” is proof of how all such people are. You’re only positing it as an illustration of a pattern that you think holds for a lot of people. But I suspect that what you describe is only a part of the dynamic that usually goes on with people.

        I think the issue in this sub-thread is a rather complicated one. For those who have direct experience with such frustrations, it probably feels hard to get across the feeling to those who may have had more success in the arena. Even I have a hard time putting myself back in my mindset of what was really only a few years ago.

        I think any honest reckoning has to take your and Chris’s points into account, but also Lee’s and others’, as well. All people have contradictions. We’re not all or any of use haplessly oppressed or buffeted by a harsh, cruel world that simply doesn’t understand us. The same people who don’t enjoy the “understanding and sympathy” from others and who are simply wanting what most people want, also sometimes make bad choices, and perhaps even go a little into the misogynistic hole of blaming others or feeling entitled. There’s no real ideal type of the “really nice guy unlucky in love.” We all think things and sometimes do things we can’t and shouldn’t be proud of. And what we do and the thoughts we entertain represent our own choices. We have to take responsibility for all that.

        This subject brings up a difficulty. I’d like to explain fully what my own experiences were really like, where I’m coming from, and why I’m so quick to rush to the defense of a certain group of people who in my opinion are being maybe too flippantly criticized here. But to do so honestly, I’d have to disclose some personal and embarrassing (and t.m.i.) details that even under a pseudonym I just can’t or won’t do.

        Finally, and just to be clear, I realize the issue at stake in the OP is much more serious than the issues in this sub-thread.

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      • No worries. “Catfish” should not be considered definitive proof of anything. Rather, I think it is one snippet worth considering because there is an extent to which the phenomenon the show purports to capture is real and that certain people are susceptible to being catfished because of their own flawed approach or perception of romance, dating, etc. I realize that might seem a bit like victim blaming.

        If I may use myself as an example. Growing up, I was never really attracted to redheads. My “type”, physically at least, tended towards girls who looked Hispanic, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern: dark complexion, dark hair. Who did I end up marrying? A pale-skinned redhead. Why? Because I met her and fell in love with her and that was that. The thing is, I know people who never would have taken the path that I took. Because they are very rigid in their expectations. Which is their right. But if you are going to be super rigid, than you’re going to limit your opportunities. And if you voluntarily limit your opportunities, you’re odds of success are less.

        This isn’t just the case in romance. If you say you won’t take a job that pays less than six figures, you are less likely to gain employment. If you say you won’t buy a home that doesn’t have a pool, you are less likely to own a home.

        This doesn’t mean people can’t have standards and expectations. Compatibility matters. Chemistry matters. Fit matters. But there are many forms a relationship can take and may different ways people can fit together.

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