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I’ve previously discussed the male sense of entitlement to sex. Because of the tireless work of anti-MRA advocates, we’re becoming more and more aware of the importance of entitlement to sex in male mass violence, and this deserves to be discussed widely.
Unfortunately, two facts are going against this urgent need: the mass media has muddled the discussion by refusing to discuss entitlement as a cause of male mass violence, and anti-feminists are confusing the issue by denying the very existence of male entitlement, even though it’s confirmed by their very arguments.
The most blatant example is that of Elliot Rodger. Rodger was a frustrated young man who made a video where he said he wanted to “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut” because they wouldn’t have sex with him, and wrote a 140 page manifesto detailing how “women are like a plague” and should be put in concentration camps. Despite all this, the media has refused to utter the obvious statement that male entitlement to sex had something to do with Rodger’s mass shooting.
I think this tells us that male entitlement is so ignored that we think this sort of massive rage against women is abnormal and can’t possibly be a reflection of social misogyny. Instead, we fall back to the old ableist standby that they must be “crazy,” which is just a stigmatization of mental illness. Most serial killers are in possession of their mental faculties and are not “crazy” (one trait most serial killers share, however, is being men).
This seems to be not just a reflection of male entitlement, but of privilege in general, because a similar thing happens when race is concerned: white killers are treated with kids’ gloves, while black victims (let alone black killers) are treated like absolute scum, regardless of who they are. No matter what, the issue of the killers’ racism must never be examined.
But the fact is that socialization as a man does lead to rage against women. Men are raised to believe that sexual prowess is an essential part of masculinity, and that those who don’t have sex are defective. Men are raised to believe that you’re a loser if you don’t have a girlfriend. Men are raised to believe that women exist to receive men’s attention and fulfill men’s needs.
They learn it from their fathers. They learn it from a media that glorifies it, from sports heroes who commit felonies and get big contracts, from a culture saturated in images of heroic and redemptive violence. They learn it from each other.
In talking to more than 400 young men for my book, “Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men,” I heard over and over again what they learn about violence. They learn that if they are crossed, they have the manly obligation to fight back. They learn that they are entitled to feel like a real man, and that they have the right to annihilate anyone who challenges that sense of entitlement.
This sense of entitlement is part of the package deal of American manhood — the culture that doesn’t start the fight, as Margaret Mead pointed out in her analysis of American military history, but retaliates far out of proportion to the initial grievance. They learn that “aggrieved entitlement” is a legitimate justification for violent explosion.
It is therefore not especially surprising that someone like Elliot Rodger, son of a successful movie director and part of a privileged entertainment family, who no doubt was sent to the best schools, felt frustrated by his inability to gain the favors of women. Like most MRAs, he was probably a mediocre man who had little to offer to women, and he knew it. So he lashed out against the women who refused to provide the attention he naturally believed they owed him.
Again, there is nothing “crazy” or bizarre about events of male mass violence in light of the male entitlement to sex in our societies.
Studies have found that men get anywhere from 10% to 25% of full erection (on average) from seeing non-sexual violence (Earls and Proulx 1987, Barbaree et al. 1979). While rapists show a higher level of arousal, any man can experience it. So men get some sexual charge from the idea of violence against women. This is not an issue of conscious decision (arousal rarely is), but rather an issue of indoctrination.
Entitlement is the belief that one is owed something simply by virtue of one’s social role. The typical example is that of bad customers who thinks they’re entitled to a refund or to tell employees what to do simply because they’re customers. Privilege magnifies that tendency many times over, and male privilege is no exception.
There is a toxic dynamic between male entitlement and masculinity: male entitlement is the carrot, the incentive for men to invest themselves more and more into the gender system, and masculinity is the stick, because it provides the threat of “not being a real man” (i.e. of being a woman, which of course is the worse thing a man can possibly be, because it represents the negation of one’s gender, which is seen as a primary part of our identity).
Two of the most conspicuous forms of male entitlement are PIV and pornography. They are conspicuous in that these two topics, when even lightly broached, attract the most attention from men who rally to defend them and attack anyone who dares to question the entitlement.
The defense of pornography by pornsick males reflects the entitlement mentality under which they operate. A man watching a pornographic video has no idea whether the video was made by a prostitute without their consent. He has no idea whether the video is a recording of a rape (whether of any woman or of a porn actress who doesn’t want to perform a sexual act). In many cases, he has no idea whether the video features a minor. Defending the use of anything under such conditions requires a very big sense of entitlement to that thing. It also requires a great deal of selfishness.
A pornsick dude is like a drug addict: he will try to justify his use at all costs because he’s stuck. In many cases, he can’t get an orgasm without it. In some cases, he can’t get an orgasm without escalating the violence of the pornography he’s watching. Not only does entitlement exist, but it may also, in some cases, be a cover for desperation (he “must” have pornography because he “can’t live” without it).
Male entitlement is a cause of mass violence, and pornography is no different. From studies, we now know that pornography use, no matter how light or severe, makes men more prone to rape, child rape, incest, and sexual harassment. It also makes men more likely to support rape and violence against women perpetrated by other men, and to accept a wide range of rape myths.
It’s a vicious circle. The more entitled a man is, the more likely he will be to support things like pornography, and the more pornsick he becomes, the more likely he is to double down on the entitlement. And the net losers are women.