The 'Twisted World' of Elliot Rodger
Were I to update my 2007 book, What’s the Matter with California, I would dedicate a chapter to Elliot Rodger, the sexually jealous young man who stabbed, shot, and ran over a score of victims, seven of them fatally, in his hate-filled Santa Barbara rampage.
Unlike many recent mass killers -- Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Jared Lee Loughner (Tucson), and James Holmes (Aurora) -- Rodger was sane enough to tell the world what ailed him, and this he did in a lucid, well written, 140-page memoir/ manifesto titled “My Twisted World.” better title might have been “Our Twisted World.”
Although talk of “white privilege” runs wild through Twitterdom, Rodger’s mother was an ethnic Chinese from Malaysia. His father Peter Rodger was an aspiring British film director who uprooted Elliot from his native England when the boy was five and moved the family to Southern California.
This move was disruptive enough, but the real disruption occurred two years later. Like so many Californians, Rodger’s mother and father divorced. Not surprisingly, it was California that initiated the nation’s first and most progressive no-fault divorce law. The state did so in September 1969, just weeks after the Manson murders.
Those murders should have caused state officials to think twice. The common thread among the otherwise attractive, well-educated “Manson girls” was that they came from broken homes. Once their own families fell apart, they proceeded to look for love in all the wrong places.
So too would Elliot Rodger. “I was absolutely shocked, outraged, and above all, overwhelmed,” wrote Rodger of his parents’ divorce. “This was a huge life-changing event.” Rodgers does not blame his parents or their divorce for his subsequent failures, but he could have.
Before the divorce, Rodger “thought a man and a woman had to be married before living together in such a manner,” but when his father promptly found a new girlfriend, Elliot “was completely taken aback.” Through his father’s adventures, he began to see sex as a commodity, something one purchased through money, good looks, and “cool,” an intangible that eluded Rodger as much as it obsessed him.
One Twitter post in defense of the parents sheds unwitting light on the world Rodger inhabited. “Elliot Rodger's parents gave & gave & gave,” reads the tweet.“Money. Housing. Resources. Therapy. Life Coaches. They got the police involved. Nothing happened.”
Here is what their parents did not give their son: a home, a neighborhood, a community, a church, a faith, a God, their time, their attention. For the fifteen miserable years of his life post-divorce, Rodger shuttled between the constantly shifting homes of his two financially unstable parents and their significant others.
Often alone and friendless, Rodger retreated into the ersatz life of the video gamer. The one game in particular that attracted him was World of Warcraft, a world into which he would descend for as many as fourteen hours a day.
“I became very addicted to the game and my character in it. It was all I cared about,” wrote Rodger. There he would fight monsters and complete quests only to emerge at the end of day as the little, unloved loner he was at the day’s beginning.
As Rodger reached puberty, he found a new outlet, masturbation. He would masturbate regularly “looking at pictures of girls online while . . . fantasizing about doing sexual things with them.” Given the experience of his parents and so many of their friends, he had a hard time putting sex into any other kind of context.
Height obsessed Rodger. He saw it as an essential asset in his pursuit of sex. When I watched his video rant before Google pulled it, I wondered how a good-looking kid in a BMW could be so singularly unsuccessful in attracting women. I speculated that he must be small. That he was and had always been. “I felt very small, weak, and above all, worthless,” he wrote and wrote again in one variant or another. More than once, he described himself as an “unworthy little mouse.”
The kind of women that Rodger liked did not like mice. “All of the hot, beautiful girls walked around with obnoxious, tough jock-type men who partied all the time and acted crazy,” Rodger observed. “Women are sexually attracted to the wrong type of man. This is a major flaw in the very foundation of humanity.”
Whether or not this is a flaw in humanity, the phenomenon Rodger described is real. As Dr. Seth Meyers and Katie Gilbert argue in a recent Psychology Today article, “The literature has widely established that women prefer tall men to short men.”
Meyers and Gilbert cite a University of British Columbia study that goes a step further in its claim that women do, in fact, prefer the mythic “bad boy” type. “Women just don’t believe short men can be bad boys,” write the authors.“It’s as if the ability to win a physical fight -- to overpower another man -- is part and parcel of who the bad boy is.”
Several of the feminists who have written about this incident insist on seeing women only as the victims of what Jessica Valenti in the Guardian calls “our cultural sickness -- a sickness that refuses to see misogyny as anything other than inevitable.”
Valenti and others on the left fail to see, however, that this sickness set in when they and their ideological allies began to dismantle protective institutions of lasting value like family, community, nation, faith, and married love.
This was a sickness that infected men and women equally. A generation or so ago a woman might have looked for a man who was kind, loving, pious, generous, faithful, hard working. The women in Rodger’s circle, as he saw it, looked for men who were hot, hunky and/or rich, none of which he was.
Yes, there is a sickness afoot in the land, but feminists have no more hope of curing it with sexual harassment laws or enforced sensitivity training than Rodger did with his “day of retribution.”