*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Celibacy and teen-male rage

The former isn't meant to excuse the latter.  Let it be understood that stalking, much less assault, rape or homicide, is never excusable.  I do want to address the toxicity, however.  Relationships between genders among adults is toxic enough, but between teens, that much more toxic.  As ever, all of this should have gone better with gun control.

An old friend sent me an email which got me thinking about the crimes committed by Elliot Rodger.  It's heavily changed, for the usual reasons, as is mine which follows.
The disturbing part for me was how he talked about how lonely he felt, and blamed it all on the pretty girls who wouldn't sleep with him. For this kid, the only way to break out of loneliness would be for a hot girl to have sex with him. This is exactly how I felt at times during those years.  I'd guess that many men feel that way at one time or another, and have to grow out of it. I'm hoping that there's some way I can steer my son to avoid that trap... 
My response:
I had my own version of murderous thoughts in teens.  Some of the type you say, but more at my parents and 'peers'.  If I'd been any more angry or had better weapons...  Going to have to teach my boy physical and emotional self-defence, because humanity sucks.  Also, instead of telling him how he should be, get him to recognise who he is, and how to work with it, and how to quickly identify what others are.
It seems* Elliot Rodger was a mess of psychological issues, racial sensitivities, and social-climbing envy; what I had shared with him is family issues, and a poor grip on my nature as an introvert.  He's also a murderer and the lowest kind of asshole.  I'm not.

That makes it no less true that our society creates socioeconomic classes, lauds those at the top no matter how they got there, and scapegoats those at the bottom no matter the reasons they are there.  It also makes it no less true that both the boys and girls whose parents got them advantages are more likely to act, or be, sociopaths.  I expect there's as much nature as nurture in that, and some socialization added.  Who didn't want to kill someone in high school?!  You think it was only us losers who did?  The sociopathic** kids didn't?  Or only didn't because they didn't have to.

Sex: having it or not having it, as a teen.  It's not just about the sex, but also about physical loving contact.  Many teens get very little of it..  So do many children and adults, but these ages are not as emotionally volatile, nor is your success at 'getting some' the main part of your social identity, one hopes.  Humans need touch, and go off without it.  There were years at a stretch in my teens that I had none, and it did me harm.  Of course it added to the harm in Elliot Rodger.  More so in a sexualized culture: which the entire culture is, was very much so for teens in the eighties, and can't be any less now.  Whether we should be desexualizing the mass-media I doubt, so shouldn't we be emancipating teenage sexuality from the toxicity in it, and the negative consequences.  A school is more toxic because the student body nails you on your race, look, wealth, and who'll have you.  Not that teenagers should all fuck more, but should learn to love a person, not the symbols attached to them, and that there should be enough birth control around that the freedom is there when they decide it's something they will do.

Do not kid yourself: people fuck for status as teens, and as adults: 'arm candy', 'a good provider'.  Men fuck pretty when they can, and women money: the archetype tells that status is what we are after at our basest.  That much Elliot Rodger got right.  The best of us do a little better than that, but it's always part of the trade-offs.  Wealth and superficial physical beauty have always been eroticised, as has race.  Though which races have status can change, for some, but never for certain races it seems.  I wouldn't have the energy to swing, though I have no issue with anyone who does, or any acts between consenting adults (or teens with other teens).  'Free love' should be the ideal, if not an indiscriminate practice.

*Because I only have shabby media reports to work with.
**Acting or actual.


  1. I agree to a point but I think your argument falls down with the women going for money bit. That kid obviously had a fair bit of money and maybe it's relative if people around you are richer but his money didn't help him get laid. I'd say it's because women could tell something was off about him - a real mood killer that is.

    I used to be friends with a guy who'd say, non-ironically, that hot chicks are superficial because they wouldn't date him. He couldn't even work out what was wrong with that.

    1. It's a blog post, so my reasoning isn't as properly fleshed out as my dissertation... I agree with your objection to what I wrote. My thoughts included your objections.

      I was noting the archetype of what men and women go after: the archetype tells that status is what we are after at our basest, and I will add that. He was. I do wonder if he had as much money as the kids in his environment. Seems not. Income disparity causes more envy than actual poverty.

      I have been your friend in JHS. Glad to be over it. I'd apologize to the young women I slighted. With any luck they've forgotten about me entirely.

    2. Note - my friend was 30yo at the time. I think the only thing that stopped him from going on a rampage is that his parents wouldn't have given him the money for guns!

  2. This hit a bit close to home for me. Isla Vista was an old stomping ground of mine where I would spend weekends partying. My childhood friend got her law degree down in UCSB and her mentor's son was murdered by Elliot. She was on a girls trip with my sister when I heard the news and all I could do was express my sympathy and wonder why. I almost wonder if he Elliot snubbed girls that did not meet his high expectations causing himself further frustration because he attracted girls that he felt were beneath him. I think I wonder too hard about these things.
    I was a really angry teen, vicious even but never murderous. Maybe it's my tenacious empathy that kept me from going on a rampage. Maybe it's same thing that kept me from taking the easy, low-road out and still here today. When it all boils down to it I knew I would be hurting someone and that in my book is wrong. I would rather feel the pain than inflict it. I always wonder what it is that causes people to do what they do when dissatisfied with life, why they react to extremes.
    Also the media reports are quite shabby, I agree there.

    1. There's much to feel rage about in JHS and HS. Best I can imagine for my kids is not make that the main part of their life: just your daily job, make friends where you can but don't rely on the place for it. My kids will also learn martial arts, not so much to use them as to carry themselves confidently. After I started taking Aikido, which is frankly useless in a street fight, nobody seemed to hassle me anymore. It was spooky. Bullies are a worst type of coward: look for easy targets.

      "I almost wonder if he Elliot snubbed girls that did not meet his high expectations causing himself further frustration because he attracted girls that he felt were beneath him. I think I wonder too hard about these things."

      'kathrynoh' addressed this, and I responded to it.

  3. It's extremely beneficial for a young man to have a mature down-to-earth man or two help him by sharing their own experiences during the adolescent years. Hopefully, that's a father, but it can't always be. Often times, when you're suffering, it helps to share with those who've suffered the same...