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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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Kitkat
Kitkat
2 years ago

I wonder how someone can hate women but support Elizabeth Warren for president.

Kevin
Kevin
2 years ago

@ Vucodlak

Seconded. Wearing armour in public is not necessarily a red flag. If you are worried about being stabbed/shot, it’s a sensible precaution.

Even in places where it isn’t at present, carrying an uncased gun in public without a d*****d good reason f*****g well should be a red flag!

Catalpa
Catalpa
2 years ago

As far as I am aware, essentially all of the mass shooters either beat women or aspired to have women to beat. (I suppose that the YouTube shooter might be the exception?) If there’s any one thing that should disqualify people from ever being able to own firearms, it should be misogyny and especially domestic violence.

(I wouldn’t be opposed to this measure being implemented in the States, though really any kind of widely implemented gun control would be a significant improvement over current conditions.)

zaunfink
zaunfink
2 years ago

@Naglfar

There’s actually some metal BY a helper of Sauron (Saruman or more precisely his actor), which is my favorite bit of metal trivia.

I also really like the idea of tracking body armor sales and preventing people with a history of violence to own guns.

What do you think of Trump claiming he’s going to sharpen weapon law and that he condemns racist violence and all of that? I had a cynical laugh about that. As if that’s not the platform you run on and now you’re trying to grab votes, you monster!

Amtep
Amtep
2 years ago

The Isengard Tourist Board would like to clarify that Saruman was in an independent partnership with Sauron and in no way a “helper”.

As for Trump… that was Teleprompter Trump saying that, not Real Trump. Even his supporters know that Teleprompter Trump doesn’t mean anything he says, which is why they aren’t worried.

dust bunny
dust bunny
2 years ago

@ Naglfar

That’s not my experience of the scene at all. I’ll take your word for your bubble of friends being cool, and maybe there’s a difference between the scene in Finland and wherever you’re from. I also agree that blaming the music for mass shootings, or for mental illness or drugs for that matter, is dumb.

My experience was very consistently that the violence, misogyny and outright nazism in the lyrics is directly tied to the attitudes most people in the scene actually hold, and there is very little to metal culture that you could scratch and not find toxic masculinity underneath. It is the least healthy scene I have ever witnessed, tied with chan culture, which it has a lot in common with. Including a very porous boundary and being motivated by the desire to shock people it deems too decent (although admittedly metal has grown beyond this).

I don’t want to take anyone’s music away, and I understand and am sympathetic to the reflexive defensiveness given the history here. But metal is in need of a long hard look in the mirror and a thorough housecleaning. I’m not holding my breath since the scene is actively hostile to what they perceive as SJWism.

Betrayer
Betrayer
2 years ago

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

Being a white male age 20-30 with a history of violence towards women would never be the primary red flag for him, no matter how obvious a red flag that is.

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@dust bunny
That seems very much at odds to anything I’ve experienced. There are definitely small enclaves of Nazis or misogynists (i.e. NSBM or pornogrind), but these are very small parts of a broader scene that seems to reject these. It’s possible that these aspects are more prominent in Finland, as I’ve never been to Finland and don’t know much about the local scene there. I’ve also never noticed any connection to chan culture in my local scene or the national scene in America. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but that description just doesn’t sound like what I know as the metal scene. Anyone else want to weigh in?

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago
Shadowplay
2 years ago

Common misconception.

The words are actually “Land of the fee and home of the knave.”

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago

“I pledge a legion stew the flag of the nine snakes of America…”

AcidTrial
AcidTrial
2 years ago

I’d like to chime in that my experiences in the metal scene (albeit in Canada) are a lot closer to Naglfar’s than dust bunny’s. It might be because most of the metalheads I know either came to the genre by way of punk rock, through stuff they picked up during university, or via hanging out with weirdos like me, but the large, large majority of metal people I’ve known over the years certainly have not been kind to extremist/reactionary views of any kind or the bands and people that harbour them.

Metal does historically have a bit of a toxic masculinity problem, particularly in the amount of “bro culture” that permeates it, especially with the cheesy “mall core” bands like Five Flavour Fruit Punch, but it’s changing over time.

Personally, I don’t even understand why anyone on the right would listen to metal at all. I mean, obviously NSBM is a thing (a really stupid thing full of a lot of bands that would be terrible even if they weren’t full-on nazis), but I really don’t see how someone in favour of a regressive status quo could enjoy classic bands like Iron Maiden, Testament, Black Sabbath, et al., or more “current” bands like Kataklysm, whose songs are all about tearing down that exact order.

Sorry for the wall of text from a very infrequent poster and only tangential member of this community, but as you might infer this is a bit of an area of interest for me.

moregeekthan
moregeekthan
2 years ago

I have an honest question. I very often hear folks refering to people-like-the-Dayton-shooter as “crazy” or “sick” or “unstable”. I would never describe them that way, as I know it tends to stigmatize all folks with mental illness. Is there a better shorthand term for a violent likely-misogonist willing to carry out mass murder? I would like it if everyone would stop using terms that lump persons suffering mental illness in with mass shooters, but I would think we need an alternative if we want that to happen.

Catalpa
Catalpa
2 years ago

@Naglfar

I’m a fan of listening to metal, though I’m not really involved in any scene. I do know that I’ve had to use some care in cultivating my library, because there are a fair number of staggeringly racist and outright white supremacist metal bands out there, particularly in the heavy metal and folk metal subgenres.

The fact that bands like that continue to exist indicates to me that the metal fandom is not generally progressive. (Although there are also plenty of non-racist and antifacist bands out there too.) I’m not sure how the demographics break down compared to the general population, whether there are more or less racists in it. But there definitely are racists.

Alan Robertshaw
2 years ago

@ naglfar et al – Re: Metal Music

This just popped up on my Facebook; don’t know if it’s relevant to the discussion, but FYI anyway…

https://www.kerrang.com/features/refuse-resist-how-black-metal-is-fighting-fascism/

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@moregeektgan
How about calling them “violent terrorists”? That’s what they are.

@Catalpa
Yeah, folk metal is a bit troubled in that regard. I’m mostly into death metal and melodeath, which in my experience have less of the toxic masculinity. I was never really into the so-called straight up “heavy metal” because of the toxic masculinity present.
I think it’s a common mistake that the media assumes all metal is like that when most bands aren’t (lyrically or stylistically), so I generally try to specify which kinds of metal I enjoy (like death metal, black metal (but only non racist bands), and melodic death metal) to avoid being associated with unsavory elements. I’ve also made sure to keep my library clear of bands with problematic content.

From my experience, hard rock tends to skew conservative (Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, etc) and since there’s a big crossover in fanbase between heavy metal and hard rock this causes the less extreme forms of metal to end up more socially conservative.

@Alan Robertshaw
I read that article. I am well aware of anti fascism in metal, and I am very supportive of all efforts to oppose fascists in the current climate.

Knitting Cat Lady
Knitting Cat Lady
2 years ago

@moregeekthan:

violent racist misogynist asshole terrorist works for me.

Or shit for brains terrorist.

Some variant of terrorist, anyway.

Because mass shooters are terrorists.

Causing terror and making people afraid to go about their lives is what they aim for.

Allandrel
Allandrel
2 years ago

I’m mostly into symphonic power metal, which is largely classically-trained sopranos singing about elves, or concept albums based on the Kalevala and stuff like that. So I’m not too familiar with the fascist or misogynistic sectors of metal.

Katamount
Katamount
2 years ago

I’ll be up front, metal music is not my scene. Beyond a handful of hair metal staples from the 80s, I’m a fan of Rammstein’s incredibly catchy dance-metal tunes and their hilariously tongue-in-cheek music videos. It amused me to no end just how much flak they got in the late 90s, early 2000s because Eric Harris drew the Rammstein logo in his diaries and had a Rammstein t-shirt. Like… c’mon guys, for every song about something scary like incestuous child abuse (“Tier”, which is literally calling the abuser an “animal”) or cannibalism (“Mein Teil” which was about Armin Meiwes), there’s a song about angels (“Engel”) or pianos (“Klavier”) or sailors (“Seemann” and “Reise, Reise”).

Pornogrind though…. I had literally never heard about it before yesterday. Can’t say I’m surprised it exists, but what does surprise me is that the frontman of the band the perp belong to was retreating to the “it’s just gags, yo!” Do we need to bring up the Kurt Vonnegut quote from Mother Night about us all being who we pretend to be? I mean, I own my artwork and written works. The least these guys can do is own their lyrics.

The reason I’m not surprised is that I’ve encountered its visual counterpart before. It’s rather disturbing just how much adult blood and gore stuff there is out there. Just pages and pages of it, mostly very poorly drawn, but on occasion you find one that’s well-drawn and you have to ask “of all the things you could be drawing, you chose this?” It’s stomach-turning stuff, but it’s definitely the same mindset that brings us pornogrind.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago

re: gun violence tied to mental illness….

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”

Not only is this on face value INCORRECT, it’s dangerously disingenuous. We ARE vulnerable to this mindset. The people who are shooting up our public spaces have bought into ideas that are rampant in our society. If all the terrorists are just mean and stupid, and their actions are governed by ideologies, and they’re just as sane as… well, as ME, then there isn’t enough difference between us.

Rereading this, I realize I’ve done a poor job of explaining this, I hope it’s clear what I mean…. 🙁

MICHAEL LONG
MICHAEL LONG
2 years ago

I’m left wing, I like metal. I have no cognitive dissonance when it comes to accepting that someone else can be into the same stuff I’m into and still be an epic shithead.

In any case his politics doesn’t seem to have affected his motives for the mass shooting-he wasn’t shooting up a soiree of billionaires or a meeting of the local Hammerskin chapter, unlike the 16 high profile mass shootings that took the lives of 175 people who’s perpetrators clearly and unambiguously connected their acts to their politics via their own words and manifestos.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
2 years ago

OH, FOR PITY’S SAKE, IS THERE NO END TO THE STUPIDITY???

https://splinternews.com/texas-cops-paraded-a-black-man-through-the-streets-by-a-1836998956

Moon_custafer
Moon_custafer
2 years ago

@Katamount:
On a slightly cheerier note, has anyone else here seen the “Play That Funky Music Rammstein” mash-up?

https://youtu.be/tcUB-3lud60

kupo
kupo
2 years ago

The metal scene in Seattle is pretty filled with toxic masculinity, to the point where when I was on dating sites if someone listed nothing but metal music in their profile I would always find a bunch of red flags. It’s sad because I know a number of the musicians in the scene who are lovely people (and of course I know some who are steeped in toxic masculinity themselves).

Naglfar
Naglfar
2 years ago

@Moon_custafer
I saw it. I’m not a big fan of Rammstein, but the mashup was funny. I prefer this mashup of Chemical Warfare by Slayer and Walking on Sunshine: https://youtube.com/watch?v=7MrMfoHejiw

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