Soraya Chemaly on Elliot Rodger, PUAHate and #YesAllWomen

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On May 23 in Isla Vista, California, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger murdered six people and wounded 13 more. Rodger had written a 140-page manifesto and produced a number of videos on YouTube outlining his motivation for the attack. He was angry at women.

It was discovered that Rodger frequented PUAHate forums which writer, Erin Gloria Ryan, describes as such:

PUAHate, as other outlets have discussed, is an offshoot of the Pick Up Artist community populated by men (and, allegedly, women) who believe Pick Up Artistry to be a sham waste of money not because women are more than "targets" and "prey," but because women are fucking hopeless cunts who can't be convinced to give nice guys a chance. Women, argue PUAHaters, will only go out with good looking alpha males and would never look twice at anyone who isn't a musclebound dreamboat with a six-figure income, and most men will never be those things, and so the world is against them and life is unfair. From an observer's perspective, PUAHate is a group of self-pitying babies who believe they're entitled to women who are much more attractive than they are.

Rodger complained that he had not received the attention, sex and love he felt he deserved. He wrote:

For the last eight years of my life, ever since I hit puberty, I've been forced to endure an existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires. All because girls have never been attracted to me. Girls gave their affection and sex and love to other men, but never to me. I'm 22-years-old and still a virgin. I’ve never even kissed a girl. I've been through college, for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I'm still a virgin. It has been very torturous.

College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. But in those years I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime because I don't know what you don't see in me.

The hashtag, #YesAllWomen trended on twitter both in response to the shooting. Writer Jessica Valenti explains that "in addition to being a response to the frustrating 'not all men' narrative that preceded Rodger's killing spree, #YesAllWomen tried to illustrate the ubiquity of sexism in women's lives."

I spoke with writer and feminist critic, Soraya Chemaly, about the shooting and about #YesAllWomen over the phone. You can read her article, "When do we talk about 'unpleasant' truths in the wake of Elliot Rodger’s destruction?" at xoJane.com.

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