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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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Elizabeth
Elizabeth
2 years ago

When I think I’ve heard or read everything at this point – now I know “Midwestern Pornogrind” is a thing that exists.

What a world we live in.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

Regarding pornogrind and extreme metal:
I am a fan of extreme metal and I love bands like Amon Amarth or Naglfar (my namesake here), which do occasionally have violent lyrics (not sexual or bigoted, mostly about apocalypses and mythology). However, I want to make it clear that the vast majority of metal fans, myself included, find pornogrind absolutely disgusting and condemn it in no uncertain terms. I know a lot of metal fans, and all of them hate pornogrind due to the horrific misogyny and terrible musicianship in the genre. Pornogrind makes up a small minority within metal, and the broader metal community, especially now, has rejected it. A good article from a metal news site on this can be found here. The vast majority of metal fans are liberal and do not hold misogynistic views.
I just want to make it clear that I, and other metal fans, condemn the horrific violence and misogyny in this attack. I also hope that metal does not become a scapegoat to blame. The music is not the cause of the violence. If anything at all, his pornogrind band was a symptom of underlying trouble. Metal has a history of scapegoating for incidents like this, and I just want to make it clear where I (and all metal fans I know) stand.

OMEGALUL
OMEGALUL
2 years ago

I know this has been said before on this blog, but it bears repeating:

Sexism kills.

Please, stay safe, people. I know it is unlikely to happen, but please pass sensible gun control laws, US. I am deeply sorry for the Americans who constantly have to deal with these tragedies.

Lainy
Lainy
2 years ago

There are so many beautiful people in this world. So many kind souls. People that go out of their way to help strangers. Strangers that go out of their way to save other strangers. Somewhere a baby is laughing for the very first time. Somewhere someone just got their dream job. Someone is out celebrating a birthday with the people they love. Someone just adopted an old pet from a shelter and gave that animal their forever home. Someone just had their first kiss. Someone realized that they were in love with their partner. Someone bought a engagement ring to ask the person they love to spend the rest of their lives with them. Someone is holding their baby for the first time. Someone just came out to the people they love and they responded with acceptance and love. Someone randomly found five dollars on the street and are buying an ice cream cone with it. Some just learned how to ride their first back without training wheels. Someone got their driver license. Someone just finished writing the novel they’ve spent a couple years on. Someone just posted the next chapter of a really good fanfiction. Someone got told that they are now cancer free. Someone is getting married. Someone seeing the ocean for the first time. Someone is falling in love all over again for the second time in their life. Someone acne is finally clearing up. Someone just got the keys to their first home or apartment.

In a world that is filled with so much ugly, we need to take a moment and remember it’s beauty. Remember all the good despite evil little shits like this lurking in the shadows. I love you all, and I hope you’re safe.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@OMEGALUL

Sexism kills.

It sure does. There’s a reason feminists never go on killing sprees.

EH
EH
2 years ago

Delurking to say:

My partner was fond of “ironic” racist/sexist/etc jokes when we first got together, and I hated it. What finally got him to stop was saying firmly, “ironic racism is still racism” (or whatever ism it was) to every “ironic” joke, and refusing to react otherwise. It took very few repetitions of this to break his habit, or we wouldn’t still be together. His family of origin is okay with that shit, but I am not.

Ironic humor only works when everyone within earshot is in on the joke – ie, knows you well enough to know that you’d never actually believe the things you’re saying. All it takes is one sexist/racist/etc person to hear you and think you’re serious, and you’re supporting and reinforcing their bigotry. Which isn’t very funny.

Jesalin, Goddess of Lust & Pleasure
Jesalin, Goddess of Lust & Pleasure
2 years ago
Jesalin, Goddess of Lust & Pleasure
Jesalin, Goddess of Lust & Pleasure
2 years ago

Since it’s not showing any kind of preview, this is from near the end.

comment image

ThingsComeUndone
ThingsComeUndone
2 years ago

Why shoot his sister at a bar if it wasn’t personal? and the bar? her social life? was not somehow tied in to his motive? Honor killing perhaps? dating outside the race?Do we know the race of the victims?
Being a Warren fan does not mean he is not racist

The Portland killer who attacked Good Samaritans coming to the aid of two possibly-Muslim teens is a white supremacist and Bernie Sanders supporter. He showed up at an Antifa-Trump protest in March because he also hates Antifas.

I am not saying he is not very mentally confused.

Moggie
Moggie
2 years ago

@Jesalin, thanks for that! History threads are some of the best of twitter, IMO. I learn so much! Also, “hog-corn nexus” is the name of my jug band.

Bananananana dakry: Short-Haired, Fat, and Deranged
Bananananana dakry: Short-Haired, Fat, and Deranged
2 years ago

@ThingsComeUndone

I am not saying he is not very mentally confused

Oi. Do not bring mental illness into this. Millions of people in this world are mentally ill– including me– and feel no urge to go out and kill because of it. This guy was a jackass who shunted all his shortcomings imagined and otherwise into misogyny and violence, full stop. Place the blame where it lies.

Crip Dyke
Crip Dyke
2 years ago

@thingscomeundone:

Why shoot his sister at a bar if it wasn’t personal? … Honor killing perhaps?

Whether or not the sister-murder might be an honor killing was one of my first questions.

Moggie
Moggie
2 years ago

“Honour” culture needs to die in a fire. There’s nothing more dishonourable than killing someone for “honour”.

Jesalin, Goddess of Lust & Pleasure
Jesalin, Goddess of Lust & Pleasure
2 years ago

Also, “hog-corn nexus” is the name of my jug band.

Can I play the washboard in it?

Steven I Dutch
Steven I Dutch
2 years ago

A couple of ideas:

Tracking guns and ammo is a non-starter, but lots of these people buy body armor. Only a few people like police, the military, and some security firms have reason to buy body armor. You’ll never get it on in time for self-defense. So we track body armor purchases and watch those people like hawks.

Red flag laws threaten some people because they fear abuse by, say, vengeful exes. So we eliminate the idea of reporting threatening behavior (subjective) and rely on objective criteria. Most of these people show precursory violence, so CONVICTION for any violence, however trivial, loses you the right to bear arms. And constitutes grounds for a warrant to search your stuff. Domestic assault, animal abuse, road rage, drunk and disorderly, assault, vandalism, any violence at all, and no more guns.

But what if I’m in a bar and someone starts a fight? Stay out of those bars.

Dalillama
Dalillama
2 years ago

@Naglfar
I had wondered why a practicing Jew was named for thr ship Loki sails to Ragnarok

Allandrel
Allandrel
2 years ago

@Naglfar

You mean you’re NOT a ship made from the honorless dead’s fingernails and toenails?

I love metal, though I lean FAR more to the symphonic power metal end of things than the extreme stuff.

(There’s a quote I love: “Not all heavy metal is about Satan. Much of it is about Sauron.”)

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Dalillama
I just really like the band and I also like Norse mythology. It has nothing to do with religion.

@Allandrel
Disappointment of disappointments, I am not a ship made from dead people’s nails. And I do not herald the end of the world.
There is probably actually more metal about Sauron than Satan.

Bananananana dakry: Short-Haired, Fat, and Deranged
Bananananana dakry: Short-Haired, Fat, and Deranged
2 years ago

@Naglfar

Probably just as well. Not sure if I’d want to herald the end of the world smelling like feet.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Bananananana
I didn’t even think of that. If I had a boat made of nails, I would probably be most worried about the fact that nails get soggy and soft when wet, making them a less than ideal boat material.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
2 years ago

And here I was thinking of the novel Silverlock.

@Lainy

Thank you. Mister Rogers would be pleased with your reminder.

personalpest
personalpest
2 years ago

@Lainy, I second Victorious Parasol. Your post is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever read on WHTM–or anywhere, really.

Patty Cakes
Patty Cakes
2 years ago

RE: blaming metal (or any other music) for violence, I’m always reminded of the Zappa quote. “There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we’d all love one another.”

Dalillama
Dalillama
2 years ago

@Patty Cakes
I’m pretty sure that 95% of all songs ever written are about one or more of sex(/romance, but a lotta the time even those are about sex), drugs, crime, violence, and/or religion.

Vucodlak
Vucodlak
2 years ago

@ Steven I Dutch

Only a few people like police, the military, and some security firms have reason to buy body armor.

Really? Because we sell body-armor for children now. It’s pretty much useless, but there’s also a pretty obvious reason why children have need of body armor.

You’ll never get it on in time for self-defense.

That’s not how body armor works. You don’t carry it around, waiting for trouble to start. You wear it at all times in any place where you might conceivably need it. It’s uncomfortable as all hell, but I’ve seen enough people shot to know it’s a damn sight better than the alternative.

But what if I’m in a bar and someone starts a fight? Stay out of those bars.

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s not just bars that are getting shot up. It’s stores, concerts, festivals, schools, sidewalks, malls, temples… basically any public space you care to name.

I don’t blame anyone who decides they need body armor to grocery shopping. I have zero patience for any fool who carries a gun in public (outside of certain professions), but armor seems like a perfectly reasonable choice these days.

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