The Santa Barbara Shooting


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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414 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        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!Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @jim-heffman — 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:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        “Crazy Stalker” is cross-cultural.

        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)

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

        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.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @glyph — 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.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I agree with @veronica-dire 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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Thanks, @burt-likko . 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:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @burt-likko @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).Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        “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.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @morat20 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.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        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.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

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

        As opposed to men, of course, who are famous for their instinct for getting together for closure.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        @brandon-berg @tod-kelly

        Neither sex is free from dickish behavior. They are both unwilling to “man up” preferring to do the fade or just go dark. You develop a thick skin dating nowadays….Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        @tod-kelly Dunno. My experience with men’s behavior in these situations is limited to my own. And not being a profoundly shitty person, I don’t do that.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        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.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      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.Report

    • Your antepenultimate paragraph and the one before really speak to my experience, too.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      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?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        … 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?Report

  2. Avatar Murali says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        I suspect that social censure for not having sex plays a causal factor in a lot of date rape. If a guy is going to get shit from his peers for not having sex, he is going to put in that much more effort to have sex by any means necessary, up to and including sex with women who are less than fully consensual.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @murali — I suspect it is as much a sense of entitlement and a lack of respect for the autonomy of women. In other words, it is not just “You need to get laid to be a proper man,” but also, “A real man takes what is his, and these women belong to you by virtue of your being a man.”

        Both attitudes are rampant, and all of it feeds back on itself.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        No argument from me hereReport

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Moving to France. I’ll be offline for a couple of days.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @brandon-berg — Please take me with you.Report

      • Avatar Gerald says:

        The philosopher and ex-evangelical blogger Daniel Fincke wrote a good piece related what you’re talking about: “You can’t stop teenagers from having sex”. He comes from the “strong religious background” side but he expresses very well how the message is absorbed by young people in general.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        maybe, but not the date rape you’re thinking of.
        the date rape that is unconscious girl at party?
        Yeah, that’s what the virgin goes after, if he’s “hard up” and everyone else is doing it.

        Lotta guys who are “late virgins” are just … not getting dates.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott says:

      OTOH, there was pretty clearly something wrong with this guy, and I’m thinking it was a big contributor to why he was a virgin at age 22.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        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.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “Perception of sex as a source, the source, of masculine self-worth, comes from the exterior culture.”

        Then why didn’t I feel this way?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Many, many folks who are “sexually frustrated” use it for good.
        Folks who want to become wealthy and successful to get chicks, say…Report

  3. Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

    According to this article, Mr. Roger tried to use PUA stuff and it did not work and he became involved in an MRA subset of guys who think PUA is a fraud/scheme.

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

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

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


      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.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        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.

        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.]Report

  4. Avatar zic says:

    I reserve the right to think that this man is pawning us all; at least until there are more facts. I am skeptical of what he claims.Report

  5. Avatar veronica dire says:

    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 (, 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.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      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.)Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @zic — 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.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        We’ll see. I know that a vast amount of what people think they know about most mass shootings is wrong.

        So my skepticism isn’t that he didn’t do it, it’s that he did it for the reasons he’s claiming in the video. I don’t believe him; though I’m not quite sure what his falsehoods are here.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @zic — 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.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @zic — 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.Report

    • Avatar James K says:


      Yes indeed, “The Game” and “Game Theory” are two very different things.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        I thought the term game was gender neutral. Women can have game to.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        Yes, that’s right. Charisma in dealing with members of one’s preferred sex, I should have said.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        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.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        Indifference or trying not to hard sell is one of the key sales techniques you learn if you are hired by any decent sales company. There is no reason why it cannot be used as a technique to “sell” yourself to a potential partner.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        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 @brandon-berg comes back with “Twelve years later, we’re still married.”)Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @vikram-bath 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.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        “There is a part of me that really dislikes this.”
        That is because you are a good person.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Ditto, but i found myself wondering — “Does this mean call you in a week? a month?”… Definitely something that says “ask more questions.”Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        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.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      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.

      @brandon-berg 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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @davidtc — 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).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kazzy — 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.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Well put Veronica. Or as I like to say, ‘me” is not a point but an area to move around in.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        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.)Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kazzy — Yeah, that I agree with.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        even for “small stuff” like that, you might find Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helpful…Report

  6. Avatar Murali says:

    Echoing @veronica-dire above, I always thought game theory was about Nash equilibria and ESS and other stuffReport

  7. Avatar Michelle says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @michelle — 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.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @saul-degraw — 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 (, 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.)Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @veronica-dire that theory about trans women is quite possibly THE most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in months. And trust me, that’s an ambitious statement because there’s stiff competition for ridiculous stuff coming out of eviction court.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Ridiculous, yes, but gynocracy is a great term.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @michelle — 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.”Report

      • Instead, they just grow up to be shitty people.

        Some of them grow up to be nice, affectionate people, too, or people who aren’t perfect, but really do try to grapple with the situation they’ve been dealt.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @saul-degraw — 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 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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @gabriel-conroy — 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.Report

      • To tell the truth, I don’t have much more information than you probably do (and I might have less), and I think I knew, deep down, what you were referring to. So I apologize for overinterpreting what you said.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        @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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @gabriel-conroy — 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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @burt-likko — I have found something even more ridiculous for you.

        I give you, Fox News:

        THE GAYS DID IT! (Plus, you know, something about his mom. So women did it too.)Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — 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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @veronica-dire, 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?Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — 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.)Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      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?Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        That the problem isn’t it? Because of the low base rate of mad gunmen you need an extremely powerful test to identify them a priori. Knowing a few common personality traits just isn’t enough.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        This guy had his parents calling the police on his behalf.
        They said “he was polite and well-mannered”Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        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?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        @burt-likko For someone born in the 80s, that is a long history. Anyway, this seems to me to reinforce the idea that this is evidence-based, and not just a new spin on old prejudices.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        @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.Report

      • Avatar Wardsmith says:

        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?Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        @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.Report

      • Avatar Gerald says:

        @brandon-berg 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).Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        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!Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @michelle – 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.

        Nah. Wanna get depressed?:

      • Avatar Wardsmith says:

        @michelle 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…Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      One Gaucho to another, @michelle , 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.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        And you’ll have a hard time rooting for anyone named Rodgers.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        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.)Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:


      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.


  8. Avatar Kazzy says:

    How much do you think his (and my) generation’s upbringing with the “self-esteem” emphasis led to an inability to accept failure?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.”Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        I don’t really remember that either and my education was hardly draconian.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        As someone the same age as @saul-degraw, 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.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I can’t speak for everyone in our generation (and it is possible that you and @saul-degraw 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.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        You’re on target, and it dovetails with the independent research folks are doing on the Millenials. They’re a very different bunch from the Boomers, or even my generation.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        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!)Report

  9. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I wonder what happened to the title of this post?Report

  10. Avatar Murali says:

    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 wayReport

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      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.Report

  11. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      What could they have done, given that he had not, at the time, committed any crime?Report

      • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        @brandon-berg @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.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        for the elderly, they generally send some sort of “legal aid” (agency for the aged, something like that).Report

      • Avatar Jamie says:


        (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.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

      Again: This is the important part. Using the UCSB shooting to discuss MRA and perceptions of masculinity is like using the Gabby Giffords shooting to talk about grammar.Report

  12. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I wouldn’t apply by theory to all, but some. And what you describe at the end there is what I’m talking about.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @kazzy, 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.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        All I can tell you is keep at it, @leeesq . 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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — 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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Lord, @leeesq 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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — 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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @veronica-dire, 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.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

        @veronica-dire 8:28pm

        women are not going to tell you the truth

        I’m shocked SHOCKED to read this.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @zic, 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.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        @zic advises @leeesq 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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @scarletnumbers — 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 @leeesq . But facts are facts. If he wants the whole truth, he’ll have to look elsewhere.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @leeesq — 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.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @brandon-berg, I’m 5’6″, I guess thats pretty short by American standards. Yes, I work out regularly. I have stocky build.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @will-truman, 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.Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @zic — @leeesq 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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kazzy — 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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        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!).

        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.)Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kim — 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!Report

  13. Avatar Maribou says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar Maribou says:

      (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. ])Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        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.


  14. Avatar zic says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      If I had a way of promoting this comment, I would.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Rodger was 22 years old. Do parents have the authority to forcibly place their adult children in mental care?

        The word kidnapping seems appropriate.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        How about “persuade” him to seek some help, with all the leverage at their disposal?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @stillwater he was already seeing at least one therapist.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        And again, I don’t wanna rush to judgement here since the facts aren’t all in. Maybe they did more than merely call the police that one time. Maybe they did a bunch more.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @stillwater 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:

      • Avatar Stillwater says:


        OK. I’ll stop barking up this tree. Clearly seeing a therapist absolves the parents of any further burden regarding the well being of their kid. They did all they could do!Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @stillwater our posts were time-crossed for a few minutes there. I wasn’t being testy with you. Suffice to say for now it’s far too early to issue judgment about his family.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        but parenting by proxy – calling the cops – seems like a pretty high level of disinterest in their kids well-being.

        Tell that to Creigh Deeds.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        This is absurdly easy for me to say, but if I had the level of concern about a loved one that it seems the family had about this young man, I would have had someone on him 24/7.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        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.Report

    • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

      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.Report

  15. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    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.Report

  16. Avatar Shazbot3 says:

    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.Report

  17. 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.)Report

  18. Avatar Chris says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        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.Report

    • @chris

      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.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I think it’s possible to be sympathetic to people who find the social world difficult to navigate while doing what both you and I think we should do. Hell, I’m socially awkward, so I appreciate the difficulties.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        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”.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @chris — 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.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I wonder how we’d think about these things if the topic was something other than sex.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @chris — 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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

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

        Not necessarily, @veronica-dire . 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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kazzy — Well, I agree. I have less than zero sympathy for misogynists, which I think I have established well enough.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        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?Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @chris — 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.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Chris, that is a fantastic summation.

        Veronica, yeah the “most” in my comment was intentional. Though I am under the impression that some prostitutes are less selective than others.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @will-truman — 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!Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @shazbot3 — I suspect you are right.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        He didn’t have NPD, he had Aspergers, which has some traits in common. He apparently had some comorbid stuff going on, though I don’t know what.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @chris — Have his medical records been released? I saw a news article that mentioned the Aspergers, but I would not be surprised if there were more serious things.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        No, and I doubt they will be, but his family has spoken about it. And there were other things, it appears, for which he was being treated.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        “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.”Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

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

        @leeesq — 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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.Report

      • @kazzy

        I’ve never seen “Catfish” or heard of it until you mentioned it here. But I think I’d agree with @veronica-dire ‘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.Report

      • Err….I realize now you partially answered my objection about “Catfish” while I was writing my comment.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        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.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        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.

        The thing that always freaks me out about the PUA people is that they don’t actually seem to be in it for the sex. I mean, they aren’t looking for girlfriends, okay, I get that, but they aren’t even looking for someone willing to sleep with them, no strings attached.

        I mean, men, think back to when you were sex obsessed, at the start of puberty, and probably not having sex. Let’s say you managed to find some girl who would have sex with you, and you had sex. Would you just have sex with her once, and then wander around trying to find other women to have sex with? Instead of, duh, trying with her again? (Don’t know how much this applies to you, Veronica.)

        I mean, I can understand the guys who are not looking for relationships, who want to find a woman to have sex with, but don’t want anything serious. I’m not that way now, but I think most men, or rather most teenage males, were that way at one time. But the things, if we’d actually found someone like that, we’d, duh, have kept her.

        The PUA people, OTOH, are an entirely different breed of men. The point is not the sex. If the point was the sex, they wouldn’t create a system where the entire point is to keep churning through women, creating a culture where how many women you have sex with seems more important than how much actual sex you have.

        I understand a culture where the status of a man is defined how attractive his girlfriend is, or if he has one. (Understand != approve.)

        But the PUA culture is this weird one, it’s almost one of those cultures where you deliberately waste food or destroy your own stuff, just to show up affluent you are. ‘Oh, my super-expensive car got a scratch, so I sold it. That’s not important, I have another in back’. (This sounds strange to most people in western cultures, but it is a real status indicator that has show up in history.)

        Except here, ‘your own stuff’ seems to be ‘a woman’. ‘Oh, I don’t need that woman to have sex with, even though she was perfectly willing to have sex last night and probably would be good for providing sex a few more times. I’m getting rid of her, I’ll just go out and get another woman, I’m that good’.

        Which is just disturbing on so many different levels. I think I’ve said he before, but at least men who use women as objects normally value them as objects. They might not be ‘real people’, but they’re an expensive car, or at least a nice vacuum cleaner. I mean, in the actual real world, men rent women, they’re at least that valuable. (Please do not take the hypothetical asshat thoughts I present here as my own thoughts.)

        PUA culture thinks women are objects…that have no value. Or objects that exist to collect and then discard, to show their social status. PUAs have managed to find something more misogynist than normal misogyny.Report

      • Hmm….I married a pale-skinned redhead, too! However, her hair is a darker brown now than before I met her.

        We’re about ready to celebrate our first wedding anniversary this Thursday. (Not that you need to know this, but we have two anniversary dates. The date we got legally married at the courthouse, and two months later, when we had the ceremony in my sister’s back yard.)Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I did not know that you were a clinician. Now that I know — and why else would you be offering a diagnosis different from the therapists and physicians who’ve treated him for years? — I will simply assume that you are familiar with the literature, diagnostic, and treatment issues surrounding narcissism and spectrum disorders, and so feel no need to go into them. Clearly you have them covered.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        That is as powerful an explanation as any I could hope to come up with, @davidtc , as to why I chose in the OP to express particular concern when this specific subculture metastasizes into psychosis.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Congrats to you and your wife, @gabriel-conroy !Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @gabriel-conroy congratulations to you and the fair-skinned Mrs. Conroy! Enjoy your special time.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Ha! I got you all beat. I am a pale skinned redhead married to a pale skinned redhead! So there!

        (This exchange probably has racial connotations that would be uncomfortable, were we to reflect on them.)

        (Oh, and I’m not a “real” redhead, got it from a bottle.)

        (But perhaps I can “self-identify” as a redhead. Can I do that?)Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @davidtc — It doesn’t seem hard for me to understand: PUA culture, like most of MRA culture, is homosocial, meaning it is a subculture largely by and for men. It is also a fundamentally misogynistic culture. Thus the actual relationship with women, whether for one night or one lifetime, is strictly secondary. Their relationships with the other men, under the completely broken social system these fuckheads have constructed for themselves, are what matters.

        It is not about the actual intimacy with a woman, not at all. In fact, one suspects that the loudest members of this community are probably quite terrible in bed, are probably quite terrified of the whole experience, distracted and uptight, that the sex itself is hardly enjoyed.

        To them, the sex is not the payoff. Instead, it is their status gained among other men.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Let me be clear and say that I am in no way disparaging pale skin people. Hell, I’d probably qualify as relatively pale skinned by many people’s standards. I mentioned Zazzy’s skin tone only to point out that I would have missed out on the love of my life if I were steadfast in my “type”. My type was darker skin and darker hair. Zazzy is pretty far from that.

        Then again, redheads turn my head now in a way that they never did before. She has converted me.

        But, yes, there is nothing unattractive about pale skin. Or red hair. It was just that my personal preference up to that point was something other than that.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        It doesn’t seem hard for me to understand: PUA culture, like most of MRA culture, is homosocial, meaning it is a subculture largely by and for men. It is also a fundamentally misogynistic culture. Thus the actual relationship with women, whether for one night or one lifetime, is strictly secondary. Their relationships with the other men, under the completely broken social system these fuckheads have constructed for themselves, are what matters.

        You stating it like that (and probably the word homosocial) made me suddenly notice something: The PUA culture actually looks somewhat like the culture that gay men used to be (And sometimes still are) stereotyped as having, except obviously swapping out ‘sex with as many men as possible’ for ‘sex with as many women as possible’.

        It’s the same basic misogynistic idea: Once you remove women as gatekeepers to sex (Either by magically having secrets to get them in bed, or just not involving women at all) the ideal universe is one where you run around having sex with as many people as possible.

        So misogynists assume that’s what’s going on with gay men. And here they’re have managed to delude themselves into actually setting up the system.

        Which is…I would call it ‘juvenile’, but, like I said, even frickin juvenile boys would be happy with just one sexual partner. There are fully grown men managing to be more objectifying of women than thirteen year old boys.

        To them, the sex is not the payoff. Instead, it is their status gained among other men.

        I think this is one of the clearest examples of how misogyny is harmful to men that there can be. In fact, the direct effects are probably more harmful to men than women. The women probably were not expecting much more anyway. The men are just completely screwed up, though.

        I’m suddenly wondering how many women are just playing along with these tools. They want a one-night stand, so while they clearly see what’s going on, they just sorta shrug and say ‘Eh, he’s hot enough, despite being an idiot PAU.’.

        I know no PAUs are reading this, but in case they are: Guys, if a woman goes to a singles bar and leaves with you to have sex…uh, she was probably planning on that from the start, at least as one possible outcome of the night. Not with you specifically, of course, but that woman probably was not sitting there minding her own business with no intent to have sex, and you suddenly changed her mind with your clever trickery. She was already planning on sex, and found you an acceptable choice for sexual partner. (As others have pointed out, waiting until closing time will vastly decrease her choices, making you more acceptable without having to do anything at all.) So all you’re really saying by relying on PAU ‘techniques’ is that you actually were not an acceptable choice without said techniques. Which is actually kinda sad.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @davidtc — Yep.

        BTW, if you want to read one woman’s take on PUA culture, read Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser by Clarissa Thorne.

        Let us just say the boys met their match with her. Fascinating read.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 says:

        Hi Chris,

        I don’t have my license yet, but am now seeing patients during practicum and have done the training for diagnosis.

        Also, I run in psych circles and this isn’t my idea so much as what everyone around me who works with personality disorders says. Few want to put that on a blog anonymously, because it is speculation -as this is all speculation- but it is there.

        Generally, therapists are loathe to give a personality diagnosis (wrongly, I think, but whatever) but that may have been in play here. They may have seen this young man as close to NPD but believed the diagnosis would’t help him. Autism is a different story. It is considered to be less “shaming” to give someone an autism spectrum disorder than a personality disorder.

        And I started by saying we have no basis or evidence to diagnose or determine psychological states. I said, given that everyone else is speculating with little evidence, I will too.

        Here are the diagnostic criteria from DSM-V:

        “The essential features of a personality disorder are impairments in personality (self and interpersonal) functioning and the presence of pathological personality traits. To diagnose narcissistic personality disorder, the following criteria must be met:
        Significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by:
        1. Impairments in self functioning (a or b):
        a. Identity: Excessive reference to others for self-definition and self-esteem regulation; exaggerated self-appraisal may be inflated or deflated, or vacillate between extremes; emotional regulation mirrors fluctuations in self-esteem.
        b. Self-direction: Goal-setting is based on gaining approval from others; personal standards are unreasonably high in order to see oneself as exceptional, or too low based on a sense of entitlement; often unaware of own motivations.
        2. Impairments in interpersonal functioning (a or b):
        a. Empathy: Impaired ability to recognize or identify with the
        feelings and needs of others; excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self; over- or underestimate of own effect on others.

        b. Intimacy: Relationships largely superficial and exist to serve self-esteem regulation; mutuality constrained by little genuine interest in others? experiences and predominance of a need for personal gain
        Pathological personality traits in the following domain: 1. Antagonism, characterized by:
        a. Grandiosity: Feelings of entitlement, either overt or covert;
        self-centeredness; firmly holding to the belief that one is better than others; condescending toward others.
        b. Attention seeking: Excessive attempts to attract and be the focus of the attention of others; admiration seeking.
        C. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual?s personality trait expression are relatively stable across time and consistent across situations.
        D. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual?s personality trait expression are not better understood as normative for the individual?s developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.
        E. The impairments in personality functioning and the individual?s personality trait expression are not solely due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, medication) or a general medical condition (e.g., severe head trauma).”

        I put in bold where the videos and transcripts and reports of this guy’s behavior seem to fit the criteria especially well.

        We don’t know about 2C especially. If this was a change in his attitude and not a persistent trait, it wouldn’t be a personality disorder. But this guy was wiring and making videos like this for a year, and a year is sufficient for persistent in this case, I would say.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Just curious, how does a diagnosis make a difference here? Does some official stamp of approval from a psychologist actually change what this guy actually was?

        I guess one thing would be good; I’d like to see this stigma removed from neuro-diverse people, who don’t deserve to be associated with this monster. For realz.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        It’s not just speculation, it’s reckless speculation, and someone training to be a therapist, if you in fact are, should know better. Hell, you don’t even know when he was diagnosed, so speculating about whether a professional got it wrong or used a different diagnosis to soften the blow is absurd. To say nothing of assigning a different, extremely difficult diagnosis on the basis of a video made by someone who was clearly in distress, and whose behavior, if his parents’ actions are any indication, recently changed dramatically, is just irresponsible. Especially for someone aspiring to be a mental health professional.

        I think we had this conversation here the last time there was a mass shooting, you and I.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 says:

        It’s not reckless. Not in the least. Where is the damage likely to be done in stating he has NPD as opposed to saying he is psychotic or just evil or insanely misogynistic or some combination thereof.

        The criteria are there. He rather clearly fits them. No?

        Again, it is possible the disorder doesn’t fit, but given the evidence (not just the video but also how people around him reacted to him and the fact that he became violent) an NPD diagnosis fits pretty well. He could also have an autism spectrum diagnosis, too.

        And by the way, this claim that “if you in fact are” [a therapist trainee] is a really jerk thing to say that you should immediately retract.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot9 says:

        Actually that last insult sinks it. I’ve been called a troll, a plague, and now when I start to offer some insight and reveal some details about my life I’ve had my honesty questioned and my sense of professional ethics disputed.

        I’m gone forever.

        Goodbye, good luck, so long, and thanks for all the BSDI.

        When you all vote for Chris Christie in 2016, just remember that they’re all lizard people and equally bad.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        There is another professional involved, perhaps more than one, and we’re talking about issues with social and potentially political implications. Speculation is, if not reckless, at least counterproductive.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        People have built entire career paths about remotely diagnosing patients with psychological problems. We have had bona fide “leaders of modestly important countries” with bona fide psychological issues. Hell, you should see the unguarded pics we can pull on George W. Bush. Valuable analysis can be had, even without seeing a patient in person.

        In some cases, that’s the only analysis we’re likely to get — and we still need it to be effective from a national security perspective.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Like Bill Frist did with Terri Schiavo!Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:



  19. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    It certainly wasn’t a beautiful day in Mister Rodger’s neighborhood on Friday.Report

  20. Avatar LWA says:

    I’m to the point where I am reconsidering the 2nd Amendment entirely.

    Is there a natural right to owning a firearm? Given the world we live in- 24/7 police protection, industrialized meat procurement- I don’t see there being a moral right to own one. I’m open to being convinced, I just don’t see it now.

    Which is not the same as banning them. Everyone is allowed to drive a car, but its not a right codified into the Constitution.

    I could easily see a strong case for overtuning the 2nd, and instituting strict laws, similar to automobile licenses, restricting who is allowed to own a gun.

    And FYI, I own a 22 rifle and enjoy the hell out of shooting targets. I just don’t see it as on par with exercising my right to pray or speak freely.

    Like TNC’s reparations proposal, I don’t see a ghost of a chance within my lifetime of it happening- but its a good thing to open up, and move the window towards.Report

    • Avatar Wardsmith says:

      It isn’t just guns @lwa, perhaps this little incident in Taipei didn’t make your radar. Only about 4 days ago, 4 killed 22 injured two knives one 21yr old punk. I rode that same subway a month ago while I was there. Should we ban knives too?

      BTW if you don’t speak Mandarin the passengers are yelling go away and the men are telling the women to stay behind them. And Taipei is generally considered one of the safest cities in Asia.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        @wardsmith Is there going to be another knife incident three weeks after this? And then, three weeks after that? And then, three weeks after that? And then, three weeks after that? That’s the problem. Yes, terrible things happen in other countries. With other weapons. But, they don’t tend to happen on a schedule like they do here.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        Do we really have 17 mass shootings per year in the U.S.?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @james-hanley – Numbers and facts don’t matter, man. People are dying out there.

        Anyway, if you or Jesse want to look at that link I posted above about the spate of school rampages in China, one notable *commonality* between theirs and ours seems to be the “schedule” Jesse refers to.

        That is, once you get one highly-publicized incident, you’ll probably get a cluster of similar incidents.

        Again, this does not appear to me to be a “US” phenomenon, so much as a “media exposure/copycat” one.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Mother Jones has compiled a list.

        2012 was tops, with seven.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        zic–thanks, I figured it wasn’t 17 per year, and I assumed it was more than 1, but I honestly didn’t know.

        glyph–Numbers and facts don’t matter, man.
        The sign of our commitment to Truth is that we don’t worry about truths.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        First, wasn’t I careful to say I wasn’t talking about banning?

        Second, this argument:
        Colonel Mustard killed Miss Scarlett in the conservatory with a candlestick, so maybe we should ban candlesticks too – is actually stronger, and makes more logical sense.

        Do we experience about 30,000 knife/ candlestick/ lead pipe deaths a year? If so, maybe we should ban them.

        Or at least declare that there is no constitutional right to candlesticks.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Time to link to this post, again.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        [Assassin, assassin].Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        germany does ban certain flashlights. For the kids, and all that.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      Given the world we live in- 24/7 police protection, industrialized meat procurement…

      I remark regularly on urban/rural differences, and this is an area where there really are two worlds. Something over 20% of the US population lives in places where police response is anywhere from 20 minutes to hours away. For a significant chunk of that 20%, meat procurement is not all industrialized. Hunting may be as much for entertainment as for food, but the game that is taken is eaten. Nor does the formal hunting season often matter that much — my ranching brother-in-law will shoot the rabbits in the garden whenever they’re there munching on the cabbage, keeps a rifle on wall pegs in the rear mudroom so he can do so, and eats the rabbits.

      For the most part, you could convince the two sides to live by different sets of rules. Rural areas where there are legitimate reasons for guns, and where mass shootings don’t happen, can safely have guns. In urban areas, where your points are true for the large majority of the population, and where mass shootings do happen, generally available guns are a whole lot more dangerous. But there are fanatics on both sides. Largely urban folks who want to take guns away from everyone (or at least restrict access to a greater degree, require registration, etc) no matter about location, and largely rural folks who insist on being allowed to bring their guns into the urban areas.

      And yes, there are rural anti-gun activists and urban concealed- and open-carry activists. I’m talking general trends.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        I agree, and took pains to point out that licensing is not the same as banning.
        Driving is a priviledge, not a right, yet is any adult prevented from driving?

        Oh yes, the mentally ill, those subject to seizures, and those who haven’t demonstrated an ability to control a deadly instrument safely.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Cosign this.
        Guns are a stupid tool for urban situations in the first place. You don’t have line of sight half the time, and ambushes are pretty easy to pull off.

        Michael, the true problem is the rural gunrunners — who ship guns cheap to the cities. Sadly, we can’t pull the Secret Service on most of their asses (unlike the folks trading in Ron Paul Dollars…).Report

    • Avatar notme says:


      I hate to break it to you but according to the S.Ct., the police don’t owe you any right of protection, see Warren v. District of Columbia.Report

  21. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    When people talk about “rape culture”? This guy’s statement is what they’re talking about.

    I’m 27 and a virgin. (I would be by choice anyway, but I haven’t been asked.) I’ve had a total of one boyfriend, for a couple months of my life, almost a decade ago. I’ve never even considered resenting men – as individuals or as a group – for that.

    Societal messages that tell men that they “deserve” to have someone have sex with them, and that their worth is determined by how many people they have sex with, and that women are status symbols or subjects of some kind of contest between them and other men, are the reason we have events like this. They’re the reason rape is so prevalent.

    That’s why the answer to preventing rape and murder of women isn’t just “imprison the culprits”. It’s stop telling men these sorts of things. Stop creating commercials, TV shows, and films showing women as objects or attainments instead of as people. Stop stigmatizing virginity. Stop treating predatory behaviours as funny.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

      this comment is outside the bounds of Commenting Policy – GlyphReport

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @scarletnumbers – On the off-chance that you had a genuine question, try again, with some manners this time. Using a hashtag, or phrasing personal attacks as ‘innocent questions’ is a figleaf that fools no one.

        @katherinemw – Apologies on behalf of the site editors for not catching this sooner.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW says:

      I didn’t even see it, Glyph, so the site caught it soon enough. Thanks.Report

  22. Avatar Matty says:

    I thought hard about posting here (though not enough to have read all the over 200 comments) because something about it struck a chord with me. There is a lot of personal stuff I’m not happy to go into but lets just say I know what it is to want a relationship and fail and obsess over trying to find solutions and what went wrong. In my case I have always tended to blame myself rather than anyone else, which may be a relatively good thing if this guy is the end of the alternative road but it isn’t a pleasant experience, and while it is some years since I was clinically depressed I know the black dog sleeps, he does not die, on a bad night I can still hear him growl.

    So this is to say I find answers like wait to the end of the night, lower your standards and get a prostitute uncomfortably glib. It is possible to still be rejected in all those scenarios and anyway they aren’t much of a solution for those of us who are hurt by rejection from someone we want a relationship with rather than just seeking sex (any sex).

    I hope that I am not in any way supporting either the shooter or pick up artists but people can have problems around this that are not easily solved and not reducible to ‘he thinks women as a class owe him sex’.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @matty — “So this is to say I find answers like wait to the end of the night, lower your standards and get a prostitute uncomfortably glib.”

      This is a fair point. People should not diminish real struggles, those that involve real limits, both external and internal.

      I think I know why this happens. It is very uncomfortable, for most of us, to encounter people who are hurting, and often we give advice to assuage our own feelings. “This bad thing must have a solution,” we tell ourselves, and we give advice.

      That said, some of the advice is perhaps good advice. I dunno. I hope so.

      Good luck.Report

  23. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    “Just curious, how does a diagnosis make a difference here?”

    Diagnosis makes a difference because diagnosis implies objectivity. Your situation fits this set of neutral and objective criteria, therefore you are suffering from thus-and-so condition, and that means we can suspend due process and rescind various of your Constitional rights,Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      How about we say that this is part of fulfilling due process rather than cause for suspension of it?

      Due process requires notice of the charge against the defendant, notice of the loss of liberty or property interest at stake, the opportunity to be heard including the ability to present one’s own evidence and witnesses, the opportunity to have counsel, and a neutral decision-maker.

      Here, the presence of a mental health condition rendering one a danger to oneself and others is the charge, which if proven will result in a loss of liberty. A competent professional diagnosis is evidence that demonstrates the veracity of the charge.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @jim-heffman — Perhaps, but I was thinking more in terms of this conversation, among those of us on this forum, and perhaps the broader political conversation, about violence, misogyny, subcultures founded on hate, and (indeed) mental illness.

      I suspect we’ll never know with certainty if this man qualified as having this or that psychiatric condition. But we still, I think, should look at who he was and what he did and learn from that.

      Somehow discovering that this man had (for example) Narcissistic Personality Disorder would not change my mind very much about the situation.Report

  24. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I am unfamiliar with game theory or PUA or whatever it’s called- fortunately, it sounds. Honestly, the very easy way to seduce most people is get them talking about themselves and take a genuine interest in what they’re saying. Flirting is only a “game” in the way ‘tag’ is a “game”= it’s play. You’re not trying to win, just to play. Most people don’t know how to play without trying to win something over someone. Probably not unrelated- most people don’t know how to flirt.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      That shows how little you know, beta.

      Game theory shows us that the real way to seduce people is to talk about how awesome you are pretty incessantly, and to either ignore or demean women and knock down those barriers of self-esteem.

      If you send me $25, I will let you download a PDF I wrote that will explain it all, as well as a special bonus PDF that outlines my own person “treatise” on women and how they got this way.Report

  25. Avatar Kolohe says:

    If only Rodger had turned to Islam instead of the Roissyverse, everyone would have a completely different set of talking points.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      This is a good point.

      Totally off topic, but watching the coverage of the knobs who’ve been going into restaurants carrying loaded semi-automatic rifles to protest attitudes towards gun owners I couldn’t help but wonder what all of those exact same people would do if the same stunt were carried out where they eat — but the gun wielders were all African American, or dressed in Muslim garb.Report

      • Avatar notme says:


        As long as they can bring their guns I’m sure they would be fine with others bringing their guns. The problem is naively banning guns and then expecting criminals to obey the law. As I ‘ve mentioned before, take the Lubby’s shooting in TX. One survivor had a gun but left it in her car in order to comply with TX’s silly laws at the time. That law didn’t do her parents any good as they were both victims.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        “I couldn’t help but wonder what all of those exact same people would do if the same stunt were carried out where they eat — but the gun wielders were all African American, or dressed in Muslim garb.”

        Applaud the swift and brutal arrests of people like that. Assuming that those arrests ever made the newspapers.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        @tod-kelly The Black Panthers carrying guns around in the 60’s got a whole bunch of gun control legislation passed, signed by Ronald Reagan, Sainted be his name.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Wait, is that a good thing that we wish we had more of or a bad thing that shouldn’t have happened?Report

  26. Avatar Kazzy says:

    FWIW, I’m seeing reports now indicating that Rodgers was biracial: his father was white and his mother was Malaysian. The pictures I’m seeing would confirm this.

    There was a decent amount of this (and the other thread) dedicated to discussing his race and what it meant.

    I’m curious how/why the misinformation spread about his race and what, if anything, the facts of the matter change.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      More here:

      It seems race may have played a factor, though not necessarily in the way everyone seems to be assuming.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kazzy — It seems almost trite to point out this man had enormous amounts of self hate. But, yeah, he clearly did.Report

    • Avatar dhex says:

      “I’m curious how/why the misinformation spread about his race”

      headlines of “privileged biracial guy kills people” sounds bad; “privileged white guy kills people” is better.

      it’s a murder-based version of the one drop rule.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I think it was actually Professor Murder who said “Crazy’s got no Color.”Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Interesting point, @dhex . There are certainly people who want to talk about the way race seems to factor into mass shootings, but often in a way that is probably counterproductive (e.g., “WHY AREN’T WE TALKING ABOUT HOW CRAZY WHITE PEOPLE ARE?”). I will totally cop to being guilty of this. And while some people are very willing to talk about how crazy non-white races are, I think we are increasingly recognizing the problematic nature those conversations tend to take.

        But race, insofar as it is a large determinant of how one interacts with and is interacted with by society. So it should be considered, among other things. But it should be consider thoughtfully no matter the race.

        It’s fair to explore the unique pressures that biracial people face in our society. Do those pressures manifest themselves in greater risks of mental disorders? There are thoughtful and constructive ways to investigate that.

        And when a white guy does that, we need to resist the urge to go, “White people be tripping.” Instead, we should look at what about being white might be contributing to the instances. Basically, we need to look at “White People Problems” as more than jokes.

        And, of course, there are also plenty of non-racial things to consider as well.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I said this elsewhere, but I believe that much like serial killing, rampage killings are probably fairly evenly distributed racially and even culturally (though, again as with serial killing, are a predominantly male phenomenon).

        As you say, race can certainly factor into it, since it can contribute to the socio-cultural factors that may lead some men into “breaking” (it may be that American white guys “break” more often when they face economic or romantic disaster, because they can’t conceive of any way for their life to be other than ‘successful’; whereas an American black guy, due to the race history of the nation, may have been skating on the edge of poverty all his life and his father’s, so he may be more resilient in the face of the setback).

        That said, I think the “another white guy goes postal” narrative is, again like serial killing, largely a product of lopsided media exposure, and probably unhelpful.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        We should probably look at these as individual occurrences which may be influenced by broader trends but which probably aren’t broader trends themselves. Unless or until we have sufficient data to identify a real trend.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:


        “There are certainly people who want to talk about the way race seems to factor into mass shootings, but often in a way that is probably counterproductive”

        nah, it gets clicks, reinforces beliefs, excises rage, etc. it’s very productive. possibly even healthy, at least for the immediate participants.

        i tend to think this stuff is like lightning strikes. the one seemingly universal theme is some kinda mental illness-y behavior, coupled with almost always being male.

        even rounding up everyone who has ever been slightly medicated isn’t going to change much. then we’ll just have high profile normies doing it, and the overall murder rate will continue to fall regardless.

        anyway, gravedancing is a popular pastime after these sorts of things. it’s productive, and profitable, and makes everyone feel better about something we cannot control. if nothing else we know who to blame.Report

  27. Avatar Barry says:

    Damon May 27, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    “Neither sex is free from dickish behavior. They are both unwilling to “man up” preferring to do the fade or just go dark. You develop a thick skin dating nowadays….”

    Perhaps this is redundant, but as (female) commenters have pointed out, ‘fading away’ is a rather reasonable tactic for a woman, depending on her evaluation of the guy. As a guy, I wouldn’t worry that the woman will beat the cr*p out of me, much less kill me.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      You just say that because you’ve never had it happen.
      Women can and do attack men who are breaking up with them.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:


      If you’ll notice, my comments were specifically adressing online dating and the first few initial dates, where people are meeting and getting to know each other and finding out if they want to continue that process, not some scenario where there’s been a “relationship”.

      Frankly, I consider it simple politeness, and i can count on the number of fingers the women who have had the courage to simply say “it was nice, but we’re not a match” or something similiar. These are professional women 35+ and they have trouble with this simple task? Pretty damn sad.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Give you a different scenario:
        You were rated a “meh” — still worth considering, but there’s probably a better fish in the pond.

        Lady goes out with three more guys (one of which was BAD, but the other two are also “meh” (with maybe one being better than you)). Well, now she would have to admit that she’s being picky, and that she really wasn’t going to give you any more of a chance than she already did, in order to call you back and say, “sorry, didn’t work out.”

        Cognitive Dissonance — “I’m not the bad person who was stringing you along”

        [not that this absolves her of being a jerk.]Report

  28. Avatar j r says:

    I must say that I find all the hating on game both vexing and completely understandable. A lot of people are invested in the idea that attraction is some mystical, magical force that cannot be understood or manufactured. That is bunk of course.

    The logic of game is so obvious that it is basically a truism. If you do something over and over again, you will get better at it. If you decide that tomorrow you are going to go out and strike up a conversation with ten random women, the tenth conversation will likely go smoother than the first conversation. You will have become more comfortable with it. And if you repeat this a few times a week for a few months, you will get even better. You will learn the best ways to approach a woman, without spooking her. You will learn what body language gets more interest and what body language is a turn off. You will learn which type of humor gets a better response and what parts of your personality to showcase and what parts to downplay.

    Game is just the distilled knowledge of lots and lots of interactions with women. What people choose to do with that knowledge is a completely different matter. It is important to think about these things separately.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Um… that’s not why people have a problem with game.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Part of the problem is that I really haven’t seen anyone here who sounds as if they know all that much about the game community, so there is a lot of unfounded assumptions and ad hominem. Yes, there is a fair amount of overlap between the MRA community and the game community, but they are two different things.

        And the MRAs who are the most hateful and the most virulently misogynists, like this Elliot Rodgers guy, are quite anti-game. Most guys who study or practice game are trying to get better with women. Guys like Rodgers long ago stopped trying to connect with women.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        It’s just weird to me that there is such thing as a “game community.”Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Sigh… I guess it’s time to do another PUA post.

        Once more into the breach.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Can’t wait, Tod. 🙂 Make sure you get the lingo down — Alphas and Betas and Low T and High T….

        Gotta love the lingo, man. Group jargon is fascinating — and can be a window into a culture.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Most guys who study or practice game are trying to get better with women.

        What does that mean? Trying to get better, meaning be more at ease and have friendships/romantic relationships with some depth, or better at scoring?

        Because the PUA’s I’ve seen in action were all about scoring.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        There’s a use for women besides sex? CRAZY TALK.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Most of this just sounds like “how to win friends and influence people”, or simple salesmanship.
        Except here the product being sold is…what, exactly? Like Zic, the only evidence I have seen is the thing being sold is the illusion of male desirability, in order to close the deal, i.e., have sex.
        It reminds me of Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, where he feigns charm and sincerity in order to “get” Andy McDowell.

        Except the people who talk about “game” don’t seem to have reached the epiphany he did, of grasping the difference between the illusion of sincerity and the actual thing.

        Or it seems like the flip side of the Cinderella fantasy, of learning to mime the motions and affectations of flirtation, not to actually be a desirable mate, but simply to close the deal, i.e., get married. After which, the rest of life is just an epilogue.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Come on Tod, please save the “sigh”s and the “um”s. I don’t come here to troll. And I like to think of myself as someone who makes meaningful comments and tries to weigh in with actual knowledge of the topics on which I offer an opinion.

        I made a very simple empirical claim that the game community and the MRA community have overlap, but are two different things. If I’m wrong, show me where I am wrong, but don’t try to belittle me by suggesting that my comment is either below the level of discourse here or some sort of distraction.

        Also, this thread just proves my point. People like to heap derision and snide commentary on the idea of a man taking positive steps to be better with women. Generally, we look fondly on effortless ability with women, but not so fondly on the idea of trying.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Going back to my days in high school, I’d say “getting better with women” might also mean “being able to have a conversation with them rather than stammering like a freaking idiot” or “being able to concentrate on something like homework or science fiction or video games or Peter Gabriel rather than thinking about Mindy and how awesome she probably is, despite the fact that I saw her reading Whitley Streiber.”Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        j r, if you had to list one or two things that you’ve taken away from the PUA culture, what would they be? What lessons have you learned that have made you better at interacting with women in the world?Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Jaybird: If that was what you were after, you should avoid the PUA community. 🙂

        Unless, of course, you think women like being viewed as tokens, as objects to be one and not thinking entities in their own right.

        (Also, I’m starting to think the term ‘friend zone’ is probably very, very, very telling. Some people use it to mean ‘alas, unrequited love’ but in the PUA community it means ‘She just enjoys my company when we have clothes on. What’s the point of hanging out with her?’. I dunno, dude. You hate having friends if they don’t have dicks?)Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I don’t see anything wrong with some consensual fun… as long as that’s what everyone signed up for.

        if your entire goal in life is to have sex with as many women as possible, and you aren’t terribly desirable in the first place, it’s easy to pick up a manual on how to rape someone (and get away with it. tons of non-consensual sex meets the bare minimum of legality). That’s what some parts of the PUA community sell.

        Other parts sell “act like a jerk because women like jerks” — which, while not as objectionable, is still pretty vile.

        Bear in mind that I do know someone who wrote one of these books (he called it fundraising), so not everyone is horrid. [Of course, he’d tell you that a self-help book ain’t magic, and a lot of folks still wouldn’t get anywhere with it.]

        Selling the thought that “how many women you sleep with” is critical to your status as a male human being… it’s a pretty bad thing, in my opinion.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @kim, I have no problem with consensual sex, be it casual hook-up, friends-with-benefits, or group orgies. None at all.

        I think this world would be a better place if women could be sexual and not just sexy.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @j-r “Come on Tod, please save the “sigh”s and the “um”s. I don’t come here to troll. And I like to think of myself as someone who makes meaningful comments and tries to weigh in with actual knowledge of the topics on which I offer an opinion.”

        You know, that’s very true — all of it.

        I *will* do the post, because it’s probably timely, but I apologize for not being better to you here.Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarkSnark says:

        It seems easy to look at PUA site and books, and to infer misogyny, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case.

        Some people just intuitively have higher “mating intelligence” (those set of skills that allow one to attract and bond with those of the opposite sex). And other, just to balance out the bell curve, have less. That, like many things in life, is not precisely fair but it is what it is.

        From what I’ve seen of PUA literature is that a group of analytical types (who should be contributing to some culture-and-politics blog somewhere) has instead turned their skills to reverse-engineering many of our inborn and cultural triggers to this (rather important) social process.

        But, guys being guys, this information is useful not just to those with awkwardness around women and purity of intent. It’s useful to the more “typical” males, who might have a little less empathy, and crave a little more variety. That doesn’t make the information “bad,” just subject to the ethics and intent of those that would deploy it.

        It’s kinda like plutonium. (The perfect analogy, eh?)Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      There seems to be some inherent objectification of women in your description of “the game” or a game-like approach to courting. It is one thing if you talk to ten women because you’re interested in each of those ten women. It is another to use the first nine as “practice runs” for the tenth, especially if your approach with them is off-putting. The women aren’t being seen as individuals, but rather tools by which the man can gain the attention of some other woman.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I just find it mystifying. When I was single, I talked to women I found interesting — perhaps for shallow reasons, perhaps not.

        I never really thought “Welp, ten chicks here only one has to say yes!. Let’s go see who will, starting with the closest”.

        I mean sure, if all I wanted was sex — that’s probably an semi-efficient strategy, especially if I had little interest in having more than one-night stands. (Probably not one that would work, but it’s simple enough). If I didn’t care WHO the vagina was attached to, I mean.

        But if I was actually interested in, you know, dating and relationships and having sex more than once with a woman? Seems totally inapplicable to the first two, and really sub-optimal for the last.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        This may just be designed to combat depression. Imagine if you psyched yourself up to talk to the hawt girl, and she totally blew you off? Well, maybe you go slink away for the rest of the night (some guys are totally like that, I’m sure). No, this is trying to get guys into a different outlook — that there are tons of women, and Someone Is Bound To Like You (again, this assumes a guy who really doesn’t know who is going to hit it off with him. But assume most of these are rubes, noobs or incompetents).

        *shrugs* the excerpts from the PUA book I read weren’t anything like this, anyhow.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Yeah, no, I get that. I mean “try, try again” and indeed, rejection does hurt. It can be debilitating.

        But the PUA approach seems to trivialize that, because ‘getting over rejection’ is ‘scoring with another chick’.

        I was never into the singles scene or the bar scene or anything like that, so if I was interested and she was not — I tried to move on, but not to the next girl I saw. I had to have a bit more there than physical attraction.

        I guess the thing that really annoys me about PUA’s is that, in general, they take everything unhealthy about 18-24 year old’s and relationships (you know, those years when you don’t know squat and everything seems really intense and you have NO IDEA what you’re doing) and instead of guiding them to sane, mature, rational approaches — seems to reinforce the bad ones.

        The ones decent people regret. Stalking, treating women like crap because they rejected you, equating sex with love or relationships, using women as tokens in some sort of macho scoring system. I mean, it’s like idolizing a cliche of frat culture as a winning system.

        If binge drinking and random hook-ups are the way you want to live your life, I suppose it is. But most people outgrow that, you know? You refer to it as your young and dumb days.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yeah, I’d tell anyone looking for someone interesting to stay the heck away from the basic bar scene, and to find something you like to do — and then find someone to share it with. (They have hiking clubs, they have gaming clubs, they have book clubs…)Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I haven’t participated in this sub thread and probably won’t, but I think a lot of JR’s criticisms here are on target.

      I agree with a lot of the criticisms of a number of variants of game, but the extent to which the underlying issues that gave rise to it are being somewhat dismissed.

      A lot of people need what PUA’s claim to provide and the alternative tutelage is not particularly helpful (at best). A lot of it being dependant on being not the sort of person who needs a system to begin with.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “A lot of people need what PUA’s claim to provide…”

        Is that really the case though? I mean, humans have been boinking for millenia. I get that female empowerment have changed some of the dynamics and all, but I still struggle to think so many guys need what PUA’s claim to provide.

        I can’t help but think these guys want something… namely to be able to go up to some leggy blonde in a slinky cocktail dress, dazzle her with a suave pickup line, and bed her that night. That’s not the only way to meet women.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I think that, in addition to the misogyny that is inherent in so much of what PUA’s are selling, one of the reasons why people react so negatively to them is that it really does feel like they’re taking genuinely desperate people for a ride.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        But it’s the way James Bond does it, and 30 movies over 4 generations can’t be wrong.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Is there a female equivalent to the PUA scene?

        If not, does that tell us anything of value?Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        There’s the whole….”nice guy” dynamic at play too. (The killer, in this case, took it to an extreme. Proclaiming himself to be a nice guy, even as he was planning to kill people. Cognitive dissonance there!)

        The extent to which “nice guy” is a problem varies — some guys have what amounts to an entitlement complex, where they’re basically equating “I treat her nice” with “Now she owes me sex” — they’re trying, consciously or not, to purchase sex with nice treatment. (Which is, you know, troublesome because it implies that’s the only reason they’re nice, among other things).

        THESE guys are problems for any woman.

        Some guys just take refuge in it as a way to defend against rejection — “I’m nice, and she won’t date me. She dates [other guys who aren’t me, who I don’t feel are right for her]” and conclude “She doesn’t like nice guys/she likes bad boys”. It’s solace — the problem isn’t with him (or even with ‘we don’t click’) — the problem is she makes bad choices. Projection, defense mechanism, whatever.

        Generally harmless, but it can become systemic — EVERY girl that won’t date you makes “bad choices” says “I’m the right choice for any girl I want” pretty easily, and since it’s never you (you’re nice) it’s always her — that leads pretty easily into misogyny.

        The PUA community seems to live pretty heavily on that systemic view — to converting (often for profit) men who are just handling rejection with a bit of self-deception (common for anyone) into men with ultimately skewed and narcissistic world-views.

        They seem to push towards the extremes — that it’s never you, it’s always her. It’s not even “It’s nobody, we just don’t click” — it’s her. And if she won’t make good choices (IE: you) then you need to make yourself into the sort of BAD choice she likes (which are misogynistic jerks, because obviously if a girl doesn’t like ‘nice guys’ she must like the opposite).

        Real dating advice? “Sometimes people don’t click. Sometimes you like someone and they’re just not into you. Sometimes it’s them, sometimes it’s you. Suck it up, and move on. If you can’t seem to get a relationship going, you might consider the common denominator here is “you” and think about who you are and what you’re offering and what you’re saying and what you’re doing. Because what are the chances an entire gender is just wrong, as opposed to just you?”Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        The Rules, no?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Well, if we want to go the route that “nobody needs to not spend their college and early adult years lonely and incapable of approaching people of the opposite sex…” then that’s technically true. It’s an experience people do survive.

        Saying that you don’t need a system, don’t need trial and error, in order to meet a mate, strikes me as speaking from a position advantaged in comparison to the people who, well, do need help and a lot of it.

        I happen to think that much of PUA is predicated on a whole plethora of social problems ranging from misogyny to sexual match profligation to the sexual chaos of modernity. Most of this is what makes me a rightward freak around here :). But it is what it is, and there is a playing field out there that a significant segment of the population is clueless to the rules (whatever rules there are) out there.

        Now, the arc of the mating world does, ultimately, bend towards justice over the years as we get older. But damage is done in the meantime. It would be a better place (for men and women) if more young men and women knew how to interact with one another in a non-sterile sense. A lot of PUA is counterproductive to those ends, but it’s a response to something, and some of the underlying things that come across to me as being mocked here (such as “trial and error”) would likely be quite valuable to men and women alike in the greater scheme of things.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I remember the scene in Magnolia where the one guy is telling his story to Tom Cruise and Tom Cruise thanks him for sharing and points out that every guy in the room can relate to his story.

        “And after all that, she just wanted to be friends”, I think was the punchline to the story.

        It seemed so jarring with all of the stuff that Tom Cruise was talking about (jealousy traps, that sort of thing) but the guys there taking the seminar didn’t come across as creepy pervs as much as guys with underlying issues that resulted in them shooting themselves in the foot whenever they went for a relationship.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        The point of expert advice is, one would imagine, explaining the pitfalls, problems, common mistakes, and other such things to people who lack the relevant experience.

        PUA seems to be the opposite of that, wherein people are encouraged to screw up more deeply and ignore experience. What’s the point of advice that says “Take the most common mistakes and turn the dial up to 11 on them?”

        It’s like taking investment advice from a guy in 2008 who says “Real estate! It always goes up!”.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        There’s no equivalent to the PUA scene, but there are a lot of books on how to meet and snare a man. We’re just not talking about those. Kolohe mentions The Rules. There are others. It’s asymmetrical, though, based on a lot of cultural perceptions about the availability of sex for men and women as well as the logistics of how relationships tend to happen (men approach, women decide). Books towards women talk more about “landing” a guy, books towards men talk more about the initial approach.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:


        I swear, the one piece of advice that should be tatooed on every guy’s arm from about 16 to 30 is: “You know how you know a lot of women, like through work and school and stuff? And at least half of them you have no interest in pursuing? Don’t want to date them, don’t want to hang out with them, just not into them? Yeah, any given woman you meet can totally put you in that category too. Fair’s fair. Just because you’re into her doesn’t mean she has to be into you. Suck it up”.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Real dating advice? “Sometimes people don’t click. Sometimes you like someone and they’re just not into you. Sometimes it’s them, sometimes it’s you. Suck it up, and move on. If you can’t seem to get a relationship going, you might consider the common denominator here is “you” and think about who you are and what you’re offering and what you’re saying and what you’re doing. Because what are the chances an entire gender is just wrong, as opposed to just you?”

        For better or worse, PUA is very much about “You’re doing it wrong…”

        Where I would say that PUA causes the most cultural damage is the appeal it has to people who will actually never try it and have no interest in trying it. For these people, sadly, it gives them a sense of superiority. As you say, the sense that women are the problem because they’re going for these PUA cretins instead of Good Guys. I say that the most damage is here because, within PUA online circles, I suspect that they outnumber people who actually game by a factor of at least 10-to-1.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        I might be speaking from a position of advantage. For whatever reason, I’ve never had much trouble talking to people of the opposite sex. I’ve never had much trouble talking to people in general. I’ve been generally successful both socially and romantically. So, yea, I may be missing something.

        But I also had friends who weren’t. One guy I went to high school with never officially used PUA stuff, but certainly used some of the “tactics” I understand they encourage. More importantly, he often spoke like the people who do use PUA stuff. The thing was, he had plenty of normal and healthy interactions with the opposite sex. He wasn’t James Bond, but he wasn’t standing debilitated in the corner at the mere hint of bosom. His problem was that he wanted to be the BMOC. And this likely was never in the cards. He actually had an unhealthy obsession with another guy in our grade who was the closest thing to the BMOC. Quarterback of the football team, tall, blonde, in shape, naturally cool, pulled ass left and right. He wanted that. But he was awkward and unathletic, and nerdy. None of which are deathblows but together they’re going to limit you being BMOC. But he wanted what he wanted regardless of whether it was realistic of him to want/expect it.

        Sure, we can talk about justice. Why shouldn’t he get to be the QB who bangs the cheerleader? But that’s life. He had girls who talked to him, socially and romatically, but they weren’t the type of girl he wanted. So he talked like a PUA with a dash of MRA mixed in. The fact that he was arrogant didn’t help matters.

        He didn’t need anything other than a slap upside the head and a dose of reality. He wanted something he couldn’t get. And it began to consume him.

        If there is someone who has legitimate social phobias or anxiety disorders or whathaveyou, they may very well need something. But they’re going to get it from a trained professional, not some dude in a furry hat named Mystery.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Maybe. I’ve heard of “The Rules” but don’t know anything about it. My question was asked genuinely.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        For better or worse, PUA is very much about “You’re doing it wrong…”

        Unfortunately for them, their analysis of “wrong” is in error. (Hence my point about offering, as expert advice, to double down on mistakes).

        The general PUA advice as to what you’re doing “wrong” is that she has “bad taste in men, so you have to make yourself in a bad man”.

        Women’s taste in men is entirely individual, just like men’s taste in women. The PUA approach has more of a chance of turning women off than on, and for that decrease in your ability to find a relationship you ALSO get to be a giant jerk. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        And it was answered genuinely why does everyone lately think I messing around with them?Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        If there is someone who has legitimate social phobias or anxiety disorders or whathaveyou, they may very well need something. But they’re going to get it from a trained professional, not some dude in a furry hat named Mystery.

        Someone who has legitimate social phobias, anxiety disorders, etc., who does turn to some dude in a furry hat named mystery is going to be told that a) his problem is that he is deferring too much social power to women, b) women are homogenized and interchangeable with respect to what they want and like, and c) sex is his for the taking and his task in life is to prove himself to other men by seducing and discarding as many women as possible. Of course his sexual frustration is the result of these things and to the extent that he fails sexually in the future (which inevitably he will) it is purely a result of his own failure to actually the truth which was revealed to him so he’s that much more of a failure.

        Instead of getting coached towards developing actual self-esteem.

        It’s frighteningly easy to see a steady diet of such messages developing into a mental health pathology, and that then turning into last week’s violence in Isla Vista. Sexual identity is a fundamental element of one’s ego and self-esteem; when one’s sexual identity becomes alloyed to concepts like “failure,” “victim,” “outsider,” and “inadequate,” only bad things can thereafter happen to the rest of the psyche.

        Which is why I think it’s appropriate to link the issue of mental health and pick-up-game culture: by equating self-esteem with sexual conquests, Roissy & Co. toy with people who are already at risk of having a breakdown of one sort or another. How many such men, already dissatisfied with themselves and their own lives, have turned to suicide rather than murder as the way out? We can’t know for sure, of course, but does anyone even reasonably fantasize that the number is trivially low?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        why does everyone lately think I messing around with them?

        @kolohe – and just WHAT do you mean by that?! 😉Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Morat, I’m not saying that guys are (or should be) entitled to anything having to deal with relationships. I will, however, say that there are a non-zero number of guys out there who feel like they have a great deal to offer but, for whatever reason, keep finding themselves falling into the same patterns where what they have to offer is not appreciated.

        I mean, hey, you get friend-zoned once? That can happen to anybody. You get friend-zoned twice? Sure. You get friend-zoned fifteen times? YOU ARE DOING THIS TO YOURSELF.

        At that point, it makes sense to say “I am doing something wrong. I need to change my patterns if I want different outcomes.”

        (As for The Rules, I have a female friend who did a spectacular job of dating jerky guys who did not appreciate her. I mean, above and beyond “sometimes people just don’t click” but “jesus christ, you’ve shown a massive failure of judgment here, like, five guys in a row and the only guy who actually fits the description of what you want in a lifemate is the guy you dumped because you didn’t find him sexually attractive.” Thankfully, she is dating a good guy now. But she’s the only person I’ve ever told to buy and read and live The Rules.)Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        In all fairness, it was a fairly crappy book written by two people with no relevant experience except being old enough to date and/or marry (one of them was unmarried, IIRC), and it boiled down to “let’s just rehash all the standard male/female dating tropes and hope people pay 19.95 for it”.

        Which apparently some people did. 🙂Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Perhaps I’m wrong, but I think most of the guys who have trouble relating to women, and in particular trouble meeting women, have two needs: confidence to approach women and some sense of what to do once a woman is in front of them. The latter is a problem, because there really is no script for these sorts of things. This is why the PUA success rate is so low: if you go up to a woman with what amounts to a script, a particular set of things you’re supposed to say and do, nine times out of ten, or ninety-eight out of a hundred, the women are going to reject you because they are not “generic woman” and they don’t respond to “generic stereotypically masculine guy”

        The key is the first one, confidence, and that’s not something easy to train, but you can teach yourself, or others, to be confident. And part of that teaching will involve actually approaching people. But you don’t start in a bar or a club. Those are difficult environments, because everyone is on their guard, and everyone has their own agenda, whether it’s meeting people, just having a good time and not being bothered, or just having a drink because they had a rough day. It’s better to start small: talk to the woman behind you in the checkout line at the grocery store, or joke around with your server at a restaurant; when you’re on the elevator with that cute coworker whom you always see but never talk to, say hi and ask her how her weekend was. None of these interactions have to lead anywhere, they’re just about teaching yourself that you can talk to people, you can talk to women if you want, and people will listen. Hell, some of them might even find you interesting.

        That’s how you learn to interact with people, and that’s how you build confidence. I can honestly say that my most successful encounters with women in bars and clubs, the ones that resulted in a number, dates, or whatever, started out pretty similarly to the sorts of interactions I have with people every day out in the world. The only difference is that in a bar, if a person finds you interesting, you have more time than you would in, say, a checkout line, so you go from “Hey, how’s it going. This line is really long, eh?” to talking about music or sports or how much your co-workers annoy you, and pretty soon you’re having a real conversation with a real person whom you find interesting and who appears to find you interesting as well.

        I know that when you’re desperate, frustrated, and lonely, it can be difficult to take the long view, and the sorts of quick fixes that PUAs offer seem really tempting, but life is not particularly kind to quick fix methods.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        My apologies. I’ve bungled this. I reread my question and saw that it could easily be interpreted as me positing that there was no female equivalent. So I wanted to clarify that. But it indeed ended up looking like I was calling you out on something.

        “The Rules” might well be the answer. I don’t know enough about it one way or the other to know for sure. But it is something I’ll look in to.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:


        The “cold intro” is something I never mastered. Every link-up or relationship spark I ever had relied on one of the three following things:

        1. She did the heavy lifting.
        2. Forced prolonged exposure (waiting in line together for an hour, a group trip we were both on, sitting at a table together at a wedding, etc.)
        3. The Internet.

        This despite the fact that I had some advantages. But I am well short of having social-phobia or anything diagnosible. I suspect that most of the people who have real trouble with this are in that category. it’s just that unlike me they didn’t stumble onto a female friend network to get as comparatively comfortable around women as I did, and didn’t stumble onto some of the earlier good fortune that I had. But put me in different circumstances, and the results could have been quite different. They were and are for a number of my peers, and for other peers things didn’t start falling into place until comparatively late. Some were quite simply ruined in their 20’s and at this point I would recommend to a female friend only as a “fixer-upper” if that.

        (Also, FWIW, I was describing “justice” here as finding someone relatively similar to your order in the pecking order. So the cheerleader ending up with the QB and the schlub ending up with a schlub qualifies as justice. I was less than clear on that point.)Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @burt-likko –

        It’s frighteningly easy to see a steady diet of such messages developing into a mental health pathology, and that then turning into last week’s violence in Isla Vista. Sexual identity is a fundamental element of one’s ego and self-esteem; when one’s sexual identity becomes alloyed to concepts like “failure,” “victim,” “outsider,” and “inadequate,” only bad things can thereafter happen to the rest of the psyche.

        According to his family’s attorney and a family friend, Rodger had seen multiple therapists since he was eight years old and while he was a student at Santa Barbara City College, although the school later claimed he was no longer taking classes.[16] It was later revealed in his manifesto that Rodger had dropped out of all of his classes in February 2012.[49] The lawyer also said that Rodger was diagnosed with “high-functioning Asperger syndrome” as a child….In his manifesto, Rodger named Charles Sophy as his psychiatrist.[52][55] According to Rodger’s manifesto, he had been prescribed Risperidone but refused to take it, stating, “After researching this medication, I found that it was the absolute wrong thing for me to take. I refused to take it, and I never saw Sophy again after that.”

        (emphases by me).

        Risperidone is an anti-psychotic.

        Over at AVClub, someone pointed out an interesting factoid: In Rodger’s manifesto, he discusses elaborate fantasies of winning the lottery, and his rage at having not won.

        Apparently Hitler did the same.

        My point is, a mind that breaks in this paranoid way, will always see a conspiracy of some kind: women, Jews, lizard people; and may act out elaborate revenge fantasies against it.

        Without wishing to defend Roissy/PUA specifically, because I know little about him/it, I think linking this sort of event to PUA is tenuous at best.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:


        What you write is spot on. I think that some guys need a “script” of sorts in order to have the confidence of approach. It’s a problem when the script is too narrow, for the reasons you describe. Or when the script is genuinely bad, as it is with at least some PUA variants (some seem designed, like The Rules, to allow you to lose with self-defined dignity rather than actually achieve any success). Added to the fact that there is an increasing likelihood that she has heard that precise script before. “Bullet points to remember” is a better approach, in my view. But still, a plan or a system. A lot of folks really need that. Forget women, that’s how I learned to interact with people. Ask questions. Talk less than they do unless they’re leaving huge gapes in the conversation (than see #1). Maintain eye contact in a friendly manner. Don’t talk about this. Don’t talk about that.

        I used to have this great idea for a TV sitcom that was basically A Misfit’s Guide To Interacting With People.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I’m seeing a lot written about what men should say when talking to women. And what we say certain matters. But I haven’t really seen anyone talk about the importance of listening.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        The fact that he was arrogant didn’t help matters.

        Dunno about that. I’ve had quite a few women call me arrogant, or some variation on that, approvingly. There’s malicious arrogance, and there’s DGAF arrogance. The latter is gold if you do it right.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Well, listening was never my problem. But if someone is an extravert I imagine it could be.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        @glyph , ah, that makes a lot of sense. And it gets to why I was bugged by the lay diagnosis stuff above: how we react to this situation is, in some sense, dependent on what sort of mental state he was actually in, and if we speculate with little information, we’re very likely to react to it incorrectly.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        confidence to approach women and some sense of what to do once a woman is in front of them.

        Speaking from my own experience, that’s it exactly. I’ve been spoken to first by a woman far more than I’ve ever spoken to a woman first. And even when I managed the confidence to speak first, I rarely had any sense of what to do or say after the first line.

        Of course as I’m now married, those are probably advantageous qualities. 😉 But it’s not actually limited to women; I have those problems in general. It makes trying to network at conferences, etc. a daunting and exhausting task.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Kazzy, there’s a pretty good reason you haven’t heard much about listening. As Will says, listening is easy. The problem, for someone who lacks confidence, is not knowing how to listen, but knowing what to say even as you’re listening, or getting to the point at which someone is talking to you enough for you to be able to listen. Rarely do we initiate interactions by listening. It’s usually by saying something, and as Will notes, a lot of people who are seriously insecure about interacting with people feel like they need a script just for that. I think a script, even a pretty general one, is a bad idea because if you’re thinking about the script you’re not thinking about the person right in front of you and the specific situation that you’re in, but I suppose it could work for some people. My advice is always to just talk to people, everywhere, and you will build both the confidence and the ability to engage people without feeling like you don’t know what to say.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Leaving aside the whole approaching-a-stranger-in-the-bar thing (which, ironically, is how Zazzy and I met), listening is still very important. Let’s say we’re talking about an office mate instead of a stranger. Maybe you say hi in passing, maybe not even that. But surely you find yourself in a room while they are talking. When they are, listen. You’ll learn about them. Not only will it help you identify if they are a suitable match for you, but it might give you insight into what to talk to them about. Listening allows you to start a conversation with, “I remember hearing you talk about X. I recently saw something related to X and it made me think of you.” And proceed from there. Starting a exchange with, “I was thinking of you…” makes the vast majority of people feel good. Sure, some will see it as a reason to be creeped out. “Ewww… why was he thinking of me?” Odds are, that wasn’t a good match for you anyway.

        I recognize that what we say — especially if we are assuming the onus of initiating the conversation — is hugely important. But the ratio of discussion here (and surely in PUA circles) of what to say versus how to listen makes it seem as if the latter isn’t even necessary.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @chris – well, that’s from wikipedia, so take it with the usual grain of salt, it will probably change.

        But everything I’ve read thus far seems to be indicating that everybody who knew him – roommates, family, members of an online bodybuilding forum where he posted – had been predicting trouble for a long, long time, and he seems to have been struggling from a very young age.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Kazzy, I agree with you 100%. People who lack confidence, or are extremely shy or insecure, are going to focus on the most immediate problem, which is approaching people, whether they’re approaching them in a bar or in a book store or at work, because the most immediate problem is the most salient. I suspect that many people think, “Why should I care about how to go about a conversation when I can’t even get to the point of having a conversation?” PUAs, recognizing that this is what their marks are target audience is focusing on, will focus on it in their “products.” So listening will not get much attention.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I disagree with the contention that listening is easy. Particularly for a narcissist.

        Nodding appropriately in response to emotional cues is easy. A dog can do this. Understanding and mentally processing what has been said is a bit more difficult and it involves assigning a degree of importance to what one’s interlocutor is saying, a posture of interest and desire to engage.

        That seems easy for us here, because we’ve cultivated a culture of that amongst ourselves. For the narcissist whose pathology tells him he is the most important person in the universe? Less so. For the pick-up-artist who has been mentally programmed that women are homogenously alike and interested only in leveraging their sexual favor into acquiring power over men as status symbols? It’s only worthy of listening so as to ascertain which of her insecurities can be most immediately leveraged into sex.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Maybe I’m just an outgoing introvert, but I’ve never had problems walking up to Joe Random in the bookstore (regardless of whether I wanted a date) and asking for recommendations, or “hey, what kind of books do you like?” or “whatcha reading?”. [The extra bonus to doing it there, is, if they do blow you off, you can salve your ego with “guess they just wanted to be alone.”]

        The whole meatmarket idea of a bar just doesn’t seem to lend itself well to starting good conversations (not that I’d know).

        Also, there really are schools that will teach folks how to be witty, flexible, and great conversationalists.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Kim, I have absolutely no doubt that you are good at walking up to strangers and confusing the hell out of them ;).

        By the way, some of my favorite conversations ever have taken place in bars, with strangers.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I’ve never had problems walking up to Joe Random in the bookstore

        Then you don’t understand, and don’t have anything useful to add.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @kim I have no problem with starting conversations with people, either. I’m very good at it; and that was an essential skill as a freelance writer, I could convince (and convince is the exact word) people to talk to me for me to write about them and editors to publish what I wrote. I have no fear about approaching total strangers to talk.

        But: I talk about them, not about me. I already know I’m cool, I don’t need to prove it; I want to find out how they are cool.

        Which sort of goes to the problem of PUAs; they’re trying to validate their status, instead of finding the actual value of someone else. Theirs is essentially a con game, without any promise of authenticity beyond, “I’m horny.”

        What they don’t get is that sperm is plentiful. (I figured it out once, and in a single second, a healthy male makes more viable sperm than a woman the viable eggs a woman produces through her entire life time; even assuming she never fails to product an egg with each potential monthly cycle.) So something beyond sperm to make a man be of interest to most woman.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        That’s how you learn to interact with people, and that’s how you build confidence. I can honestly say that my most successful encounters with women in bars and clubs, the ones that resulted in a number, dates, or whatever, started out pretty similarly to the sorts of interactions I have with people every day out in the world. The only difference is that in a bar, if a person finds you interesting, you have more time than you would in, say, a checkout line, so you go from “Hey, how’s it going. This line is really long, eh?” to talking about music or sports or how much your co-workers annoy you, and pretty soon you’re having a real conversation with a real person whom you find interesting and who appears to find you interesting as well.

        @chris I think this is quite right. The more such conversations that are struck up, the less importance assigned to each one. The less importance assigned to each one, the less nerve-wracking it is. The less nerve-wracking it is, the more confidence you have.

        So sadly, one of the best avenues of this for me was smoking. It really turned out to be a remarkably good thing for my social skills. It’s one of multiple positive side effects of the destructive habit. There’s probably a great sociological lesson in here, somewhere.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        @zic I have generally not had a problem with interaction provided that the interaction can be justified on some basis other than a specific desire to interact. I could often actually be almost outgoing with classmates in college, for example. Because we were there for a reason.

        As mentioned above, I am also far less introverted when it comes to smoking docks. It’s partially where I cut my teeth. But it’s obvious and straightforward to me. I’m here, you’re here, we’re going to be here for at least a few minutes. Find something to talk about. Throw in some general social customs (if you’re smoking over there, you want to be alone, but since you’re here you’re probably not averse to conversation) and I have a better sense of the rules and boundaries.

        I find that otherwise, in part because I so often want to be left to my own thoughts, that I am intruding by starting a conversation. Or, more often, I am just not in the mood myself. Even though I know it would be good for me, and that if I only interact when I am so motivated… I never will. (That’s one of the reasons I always smoked in the social area, to keep that from happening.)

        All of which puts me in a remarkably better place than, I think, Hanley and others. But it was definitely something that I had to learn. Obviously, I am pretty well outside of the dating market now and I hope that I am permanently so. In addition to all of the above issues, I also have the tendency not to want to do things and be in places that put me in situations where being social is easy or even possible.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I have generally not had a problem with interaction provided that the interaction can be justified on some basis other than a specific desire to interact. I could often actually be almost outgoing with classmates in college, for example. Because we were there for a reason.


        I think it helps to have a curious mind and the habit of learning.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Then you don’t understand, and don’t have anything useful to add.

        And you say you have trouble socializing?


  29. Avatar zic says:

    @kazzy +100.

    You get an A, a gold star, and (I hope she’ll oblige; if she’s there this weekend, please ask and witness for me, OT’ers,) a Zazzy-endowed kiss.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Since the reply didn’t, Kazzy’s praise is for this (which is why I request that Zazzy kiss him):

      I’m seeing a lot written about what men should say when talking to women. And what we say certain matters. But I haven’t really seen anyone talk about the importance of listening.


      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        It actually felt almost silly to say. “We all know this, right? Am I stating the obvious? Is this going to sound corny?” I reject your praise, @zic , as well-intentioned as I know it was because listening should be an expectation of any human interaction, not something laudatory.

        But thank you nonetheless.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        <ilistening should be an expectation of any human interaction, not something laudatory

        Women spend a great deal letting men take credit for their ideas because the value of what’s said, is too oft determined by the perceived value of the speaker. So when someone suggest the importance of listening, and listening to women specifically, yes, it is laudatory. And so you were lauded.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Well, thank you, @zic . The messenger/message thing is something I struggle with. A good idea should succeed on its own merits. The right thing should win the day all on its own. Unfortunately, that tends not to be how things play out.

        Then again, the most lasting change comes from within. To whatever extent I can influence male culture — or perhaps more realistically, the men I am positioned to influence — I try to do my best.Report

  30. Avatar zic says:

    @chris @glyph unthreading

    Chris says how we react to this situation is, in some sense, dependent on what sort of mental state he was actually in, and if we speculate with little information, we’re very likely to react to it incorrectly.

    I’m really grateful for this. We’ve had Lanza and now Rodgers, and the term, “Aspergers,” and “Autism” thrown about way fast. I have a lot of concern for high-functioning autism-spectrum people carrying that burden on top of the difficulties mastering social relationships. I do not know of any link that suggests these people are violent outside normal incidence. And instead of building the kinds of relationships that help people more socially skilled learn how to help people with autism-spectrum model behavior more easily, this stuff is likely to contribute to othering, bigotry, etc.

    More importantly, is the importance of recognizing psychosis; it’s a different kettle of fish from autism, no?Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Maybe I’m not the person to ask, but I do find that, in my limited anecdotal experience, Aspergers folks can be a little more prone to violence than your average person (or maybe they simply advertise their buttons, making them easier to push).

      Most people don’t tar and feather millions of dollars of equipment because someone shrunk their office, inch by inch (they got about five inches inward before he noticed).

      Most people don’t start screaming if you assert that Picard was a better Star Trek Captain than Kirk.

      [Yes, in these cases, as Rodgers above, one can say — “don’t push the fucking buttons, you yutz!”]Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Kim, there are several behavioral disorders that are frequently (that is, they are more common than they are in non-autistic individuals) comorbid with autism in higher functioning autistic children and adults, some of which, like operational defiant disorder in children, are characterized by violent outbursts, among other things. I’m not sure anyone’s quite sure why that is. However, aggression is not a trait associated with autism spectrum disorders specifically.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Thank you. As always, the “has actually done statistical research” perspective is very helpful.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I’m seconding what @kim says, @chris

        I’ve been trying to take more care in the language I use speaking about mental illness. In particular, I’ve been trying to speculate less about potential diagnosis of people who obviously seem troubled.

        And that’s because of you, and I’m very grateful for that lesson in respect. I’ve been thinking of writing to Shaz about it.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I was pretty cross with Shaz, but I feel pretty strongly about this. This is not the first time I’ve been cross with someone about it on this blog, and I think it’s not the first time I’ve taken Shaz to task for it either.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        fwiw Chris, I completely agree with you about diagnosing people and throwing around mental illnesses. Diagnosing is neither easy or always clear. What we can get from a manifesto or public pronouncements might be important but is inadequate for making a decent diagnosis.

        I also bristle at clinicians who tend to throw 4 diagnoses when only one will do. I can’t even begin to count the kids i’ve seen who have 4 or 5 or 6 diagnoses which is just really unlikely. There was no care taken to give one good diagnosis.Report

  31. Avatar Kazzy says:


    This is one of the most powerful articles I read in recent memory, at least in terms of improving myself:

    (We can debate the merits of a site called “The Art of Manliness” and some of the heavily gendered language and themes they employ. However, conversational narcissism and how not to do it is hugely valuable.)Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      You should meet the authors before you start that debate. 😉Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I actually think they do themselves a disservice with their name and some of the language they choose because it frames their content in a way that doesn’t accurately reflect what they’re usually talking about. I think the content is generally quite good, but the title, imagery, and language sometimes undercuts the message.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        The idea for the site was that there were an awful lot of guys out there who didn’t have fathers, and might lack role models (again, some of it’s for simple things, like how to tie a tie, or how to shave yourself).

        The article you reference deserves wider publication.Report