Archive for June 2, 2014

Did Society Owe Elliot Rodger Sex?

June 2, 2014 58 comments

While there is a lot I want to write about the Elliot Rodger saga, time constraints require me prioritize some posts over others. So let us talk about one of the most common talking points of media feminists and their male supporters. I am sure almost all of you have come across one or more tweet, post or article that makes the following assertion.

Society did not owe Elliot Rodger anything, including opportunities for sex with women.

If this statement by so-called “liberal” feminists seems familiar, that is because it a rehash of one of the oldest CONservative tropes aka “Society does not owe the individual anything”. Often invoked to cover over glaring faults, systemic defects and outright dishonesty- it relies on shaming naive people into accepting their exploitation as normal. Of course, the low fertility rates (less new naive suckers) and the spread of information (especially the internet) has made this trope far less effective in the last few decades. This change has however not stopped people from trying to use it. Indeed, those who know of no other argument to justify their bullshit often tend to double down on the old one when they are challenged.

And all of this brings us to an interesting question about the dynamics of groups made up of sentient individuals. These groups, unlike those of insects or fish, are by no means inevitable. Infact, a quick look at human history and pre-history suggests that the kinds of large impersonal societies most of us live in today are the exception, rather than the rule. In a previous post, I had made the point that all groups made up of sentient individuals require a certain set of basic conditions to work over an extended period of time. All these basic conditions can be roughly summarized by one word- reciprocity.

A society that demands a lot from individuals without fulfilling its end of the bargain, both the explicit and implicit parts, become dysfunctional and fragile- especially if it cannot find more suckers to replace the ones burnt out by believing those lies and misrepresentations.

So how does that play out in the Elliot Rodger saga? Well, most societies make one peculiar, but often ignored, implicit bargain with its male individual members. It can be summarized as- “doing x,y and z or having a, b and c will almost certainly ensure you sexual access to a non-ugly woman”. Note that this almost always an implicit bargain and not an absolute guarantee. However it is fair to say that it is meant to be true for the vast majority of its male membership.

So what happens if circumstances, or large-scale social changes, make these implicit promises untrue for anything beyond a small minority of its male membership?

The short answer is that you get people like Elliot Rodger. The somewhat longer answer to that question as follows.. A number of large scale social changes such as women working outside the house, easily available oral contraception, social atomization etc has short-circuited many of the “traditional” ways for most men to appear as viable mates to most women. Now, this does not mean that women have lost interest in men. Indeed, the more desirable men have no problems getting tons of women to have sex with them.

These changes have however made many of the older “do x,y, z or have a, b, c to get women” either irrelevant or an afterthought. Society, at large, has however not been honest about these changes and still keeps trying the old stuff. While younger men are increasingly aware of the nature and extent of this gap between reality and official talking points, it fair to say that a significant minority of them have not gotten the message. Moreover, many of those who realize the nature and extent of this deception lose faith in the ability of society to make good on any of its other promises- explicit and implicit.

So while it is technically correct that society or women did not owe Elliot Rodger sex, it is also technically correct that he did NOT have to keep on playing by their rules. Functional contracts, you see, are a two-way street.

What do you think? Comments?