mass shooting misogyny toxic masculinity

The Dayton mass shooting: Toxic masculinity takes its toll

The aftermath

By David Futrelle

There’s no question why the man who opened fire in a Walmart parking lot in El Paso on Saturday morning did what he did: just before launching the rampage that left 22 dead, the shooter posted a manifesto to 8chan railing against what he called the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas and promoting the idea of a white “ethnostate.”

In the case of the Dayton shootings less than 24 hours later, the motive is less clear. The shooter, Connor Betts, didn’t leave behind a manifesto or even a note. But he did leave behind plenty of clues.

We can reject out of hand the idea that his attacks, which left 9 dead, as well as the shooter himself, were intended as a political act. His (alleged) Twitter account revealed that his politics were generally left leaning; he seemed to be an Elizabeth Warren fan. But Warren, unlike our current president, doesn’t traffic in hate and isn’t joined at the hip to a nascent fascist movement that kills people on the regular.

No, Betts’ motivations seem to have been rooted in his deeply troubled and troubling personal life. According to ex-friends, an ex-girlfriend, others he went to school with, and even some in the gross-out “pornogrind” music scene he was a part of, he was basically a walking collection of red flags.

Former high school classmates remembered him as a bully who liked to scare girls, and who had gotten into trouble with school authorities and the police after they discovered he had a “hit list” (and possibly also a rape list) targeting many of his enemies at school.

He reportedly reacted badly when girls rejected him, and one ex-girlfriend says she broke up with him shortly after she learned he was stalking a former ex. He reportedly told another girl, the Dayton Daily News reports, that “he fantasized about tying her up and slitting her throat.”

He reportedly spoke often of murder and suicide, and “joked” with friends on at least one occasion about how easy it would be to carry out a mass murder at a bar they were hanging out in. He was obsessed with guns and at one point tried to convince some friends to take part in an armed robbery with him; they never knew if he was joking or not.

Betts’ misogyny ran deep. As Vice News reports, he was an enthusiastic participant in the Midwestern “Pornogrind” music scene, performing as the lead vocalist in bands called “Menstrual Munchies” and “Putrid Liquid,” the former responsible for albums with titles like “6 Ways of Female Butchery” and “Preeteen Daughter Pu$$y Slaughter.”

The main creative force behind “Menstrual Munchiesm,” 25-year-old Jesse Creekbaum, insisted in an interview with Vice that the band’s violent misogyny was just a schtick and said he was shocked to learn that Betts wasn’t in on the joke. Maybe that’s because it isn’t much of a joke; “ironic” misogyny, like “ironic” racism, is difficult to distinguish from the real thing. In this case, it seems to have reinforced Betts’ wholly unironic misogyny. One can only hope that this massacre inspires those in other “pornogrind” projects to abandon them in shame. Somehow I doubt that it will.

Still, it’s rare for someone with even this many red flags todon body armor and gun down as many people as they can at a popular nightclub — including their own sibling, as Betts did. Most mass shootings aren’t political; they’re domestic — and they’re so common these days that most of them don’t even get national media attention. Was Butts’ rampage, at least in part, intended as an act of revenge against his brother? (See update below.) Or did he, and this seems unlikely, just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Whatever the precise trigger for the rampage, it seems pretty clear that the root cause of it was Betts’ toxic masculinity, driven by a need for control that led him to lash out at others, especially girls and women, attempting to bring them to heel though violence and threats of violence.

Betts’ behavior was so alarming to so many people over the years that several people reported him to school authorities and the police. But aside from a few stern talks and a suspension at school, it seems like he felt very few consequences for his actions. And so, naturally, he escalated. And now nine people are dead.

UPDATE: According to Splinter, “[a]ccounts from friends and social media profiles [indicate that the shooting victim] whose name was previously reported as Megan Betts … was a transgender man who went by Jordan Cofer … It appears that Cofer was out … to only a handful of people, and there is no indication at this time that his gender identity was a motivating factor in his death.” I’ve changed the references in the piece to reflect this.

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62 replies on “The Dayton mass shooting: Toxic masculinity takes its toll”

Trump’s talk of “red flag laws” is probably a plan to put in place a Muslim gun ban.

Also as part of the effort to declare antifa a terrorist organization. There’s clear parallels between the way right wingers use antifa to deflect attention away from their own violence and the way Nazis in the 1930s used communists to deflect attention away from theirs.

Both in 1930s Germany and today, centrists and mainstream conservatives are all too happy to buy into the both sides rhetoric. Because to them, allowing a genuinely left wing movement to rise is more terrifying than plunging the country into war into and fascism. It’s terrifying.


That is absolute gold! I hope Rammstein has seen it, they’d probably get a kick out of it! 😛

@Weird Eddie

I believe part of the reason Westerners/Americans want to characterize a person who shoots up a grade school (for example) as “mentally ill” stems from the idea that we “need” to separate ourselves from people who do this sort of thing. To put them in a different category, so they don’t resemble us. If the shooter ISN’T “mentally ill”, then I, too, am vulnerable to acting that way, and that’s too terrifying to contemplate. So they have to be “crazy”

I think that’s also the rationalization for why they seek out scapegoats. They look at themselves and their surroundings and say “I’m a regular person. I go to church and own several firearms and hunt and fish and served a tour overseas do the things that good Americans do. If this person did this thing, it can’t be anything related to the stuff I do, because I didn’t do it. It has to be violent media or music or games or their brains must have been broken. There’s no way this life of suburban ennui, fear and rigid hierarchy could possibly have contributed to any feelings of alienation, amirite?”

Again, me being Mr. Morbid McMorbidston, I couldn’t help but bring up a British true crime series on Netflix about the psychology of such perpetrators. I think it’s my mom’s influence, being a Ph.D. psychologist herself. What I appreciated about the series is that being produced in Britain, it touched on cases that I had never heard of before (some I had, but they rarely get talked about.) They touched on Thomas Hamilton, who carried out the Dunblane massacre and it commented that Hamilton, much like other spree killers, are very narcissistic. Narcissism isn’t a mental illness, it’s a personality trait (and disorder). It’s a distinction that I don’t see made very often in mainstream analyses of these events.

@ Katamount:

Thanx, much clearer explanation. Something I tried to do with some of my lefty friends, I don’t like the way we’re using the term “racist” (and “sexist”, “ableist”, and all the other “ists”). Organizations are racist, policies are racist, institutions are racist… the “ism” is intrinsic in the SYSTEM, e.g. “systemic racism”….

People are bigots. trump is a bigot. AS A BIGOT, he supports racist institutions, organizations, policies, etc.

It’s a semantic issue, what my ex-brother-in-law would call “intellectual bullshit”, but I really feel “bigot” is more appropriate (partly because I believe the term “racist” has lost any sting it may have had with the bigot base). Can’t make that point, as everybody stops me at the (mistaken) idea that I’m contending that trump is not supporting a racist social structure.

🙁 🙁 🙁

oh, well, that’s my rent for the day, thank you for tuning in to Facebook University TV

@Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie,

I like that distinction. Keeps the system clearly in sight at all times. Besides, a bigot is rarely a single flavor–Neapolitan is always the flavor of the day.

Hey, I recently heard part of an interview with Jason Stanley, author of How Fascism Works on Letters & Politics:

He was emphasizing that regardless of the fascist regime, the tactics are pretty much the same. One point he made is that fascists always use a “purity” campaign to gain power. I really appreciate that David keeps hammering that GamerGate and its supposed concern with journalism ethics was the proving/recruiting ground that unleashed the alt-right into US national politics. Perfect illustration of the author’s argument.

Thank you so much for the important work you do. Have all the internet kittens to keep you going strong.

@Naglfar @Knitting Cat Lady

Thanks for your responses. Me being me, I didn’t really ask my question correctly, but y’all gave me the correct answer nonetheless. These folks are not “crazy people”, they are terrorists. Their defining trait is not mental illness, it is radicalization.

@ Moregeekthan:

Me being me, I didn’t really ask my question correctly

I feel ya!!

@ solecism:

Besides, a bigot is rarely a single flavor

like the dumpster-fire-in-chief… he’s not “neopolitan”, he’s a high-speed rollover of a Blue Bunny delivery truck…. I’ve often used the charge that his entire campaign was an unending string of insult, invective, and hatred against LITERALLY everyone who ISN’T HIM

Some breaking news on the Dayton shooting. It seems that the media misgendered the shooters sibling. The person that the media reported as his “ sister” was actually a trans male who lived under a different name. No one is sure if it was a anti-trans hate crime, but it is information that may shed light on the killers motive. It was posted on Splinter, but my phone doesn’t make it easy to give a good link to it. I apologize if this turns out to be incorrect news.

re: Jojo:

I’ll let that ride… the med techs would (obviously) know that by now, and the chances of it remaining secret are, at best, really bad….

Apologies to all, I misunderstood what was being said in Jojo’s comment

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