Connecting the dots: Nice Guys™, MRAs, mass shooters, and aggrieved entitlement

A few things happened in the last couple weeks that stood out to me because they felt connected. About a week ago someone showed me the hot new tumblr, Nice Guys of OKCupid.

Never before has Nice Guy Syndrome been so clearly illustrated.

Not long after that, I got a spike in hits recently from a not-so-feminist-friendly forum and as you might imagine, the comments coming in have been … unkind. One pointed me to a blog called “A Voice for Men.” Up for a good hate read, I clicked. This is what I saw on the site’s masthead.

register-her

Yep. Clear as day, right next to the words “compassion for boys and men” is an ad promising revenge on bitches with the graphic image of a bloody knife. So much for compassion. (This is also an example of their fine work.)

Men’s Rights Activism (MRA) is not a legitimate movement advocating for boys and men, but a vehicle for misogyny, violence, and hate. Even the Good Men Project, which has recently come under fire for their icky rape apologism, agrees that Men’s Rights is bullshit. David Futrelle wrote: “the more I delved into the movement online, the more convinced I became that, for most of those involved in it, the movement isn’t really about the issues at all—rather, it’s an excuse to vent male rage and spew misogyny online. To borrow a phrase from computer programmers: misogyny isn’t a bug in the Men’s Rights Movement; it’s a feature.”

MRA Marmoset gets it

Instead of advocating or protesting or doing anything really to better the lives of boys and men, MRAs just like to bash women and feminists in particular. And when I use the term “bash” I mean it both figuratively (complaining about them on the internet) and literally (advocating for violence against women, often supposedly “in jest”). And handy for them, MRAs’ misogyny is supported and reinforced by dominant cultural beliefs about women being manipulative, back-stabbing sluts.

Like everyone else, I’ve also spent a lot of time this week reading and reflecting on the horrific tragedy at Newtown’s Sandy Hook elementary school. I came across a great Examiner piece by William Hamby on school shootings and white, male privilege that introduced me to the concept of “aggrieved entitlement.”

Aggrieved entitlement is a term used to explain the psychology behind mass shooters, which have all been white males. It is perhaps best defined by Rachel Kalish and Michael Kimmel (2010) in their article, Suicide by mass murder: Masculinity, aggrieved entitlement, and rampage school shootings:

These perpetrators were not just misguided ‘kids’, or ‘youth’ or ‘troubled teens’ – they’re boys. They are a group of boys, deeply aggrieved by a system that they may feel is cruel or demeaning. Feeling aggrieved, wronged by the world – these are typical adolescent feelings, common to many boys and girls. What transforms the aggrieved into mass murders is also a sense of entitlement, a sense of using violence against others, making others hurt as you, yourself, might hurt. Aggrieved entitlement inspires revenge against those who have wronged you; it is the compensation for humiliation. Humiliation is emasculation: humiliate someone and you take away his manhood. For many men, humiliation must be avenged, or you cease to be a man. Aggrieved entitlement is a gendered emotion, a fusion of that humiliating loss of manhood and the moral obligation and entitlement to get it back. And its gender is masculine.

Aggrieved entitlement is the thread connecting Nice Guys™, MRAs, and mass shooters. I spent a couple hours yesterday drawing webs, diagrams, and graphs trying to figure this all out. I wanted to see if I could diagram the different expressions and mutations of aggrieved entitlement in relation to variables like aggression, perceived threat of emasculation, introversion, extroversion, isolation, etc. I wasn’t able to come up with a model that made sense to represent this whole mess, but I did come up with a hypothesis.

MRAs and mass shooters probably started out as Nice Guys™. 

Now, I realize I can’t prove this hypothesis. I also don’t want to be misunderstood — I am not saying that all Nice Guys™ are future murderers or bigots. I just believe that they have the potential to be, depending on their circumstances and the influence of certain variables.

For example, an aggrieved and entitled Nice Guy™ who experiences rejection and the perceived threat of emasculation who is an extrovert may seek connection and community on the internet, and may one day become an MRA. An aggrieved and entitled Nice Guy™ who experiences rejection and the perceived threat of emasculation who is an introvert, on the other hand, may bottle up his anger and frustration. If you factor in aggression and the desire for revenge, that Nice Guy™ could be positioned to become an Adam Lanza or Seung-Hui Cho.

Of course, an aggrieved and entitled Nice Guy™ could become a lot of things. He could become an abusive partner, a rapist, the next radio host calling Sandra Fluke a “slut,” or the next right-wing Republican congressman trying to legislate birth control. But just as likely, an aggrieved and entitled Nice Guy™ could grow out of it. He could get educated and learn to understand the problems with this way of thinking and go on to become a perfectly healthy, well-adjusted, non-misogynist man and partner.

So, how do we make that happen? What can we do to help Nice Guys™ climb their way out of that aggrieved entitlement rabbit hole?

In a perfectly timed Cracked article, 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person, David Wong gives some straight talk advice to Nice Guys™:

“I read several dozen stories a year from miserable, lonely guys who insist that women won’t come near them despite the fact that they are just the nicest guys in the world.”

“I’m asking what do you offer? Are you smart? Funny? Interesting? Talented? Ambitious? Creative? OK, now what do you do to demonstrate those attributes to the world? Don’t say that you’re a nice guy — that’s the bare minimum. Pretty girls have guys being nice to them 36 times a day.”

“…don’t complain about how girls fall for jerks; they fall for those jerks because those jerks have other things they can offer. “But I’m a great listener!” Are you? Because you’re willing to sit quietly in exchange for the chance to be in the proximity of a pretty girl (and spend every second imagining how soft her skin must be)? Well guess what, there’s another guy in her life who also knows how to do that, and he can play the guitar.

It’s a good start, but we need to do more than explain that being nice isn’t enough to get girls.

We need to teach boys how to be friends with women. We need to teach them that friendship and kindness are standard elements of being a decent human being, not precious commodities to be rewarded or paid for in sex. We need to teach boys that rejection is a normal part of life, and to stop lashing out at All Women Ever when they feel hurt. We need to teach boys that violence doesn’t make them any more of a “man,” and that revenge is never the answer.

The past few weeks have been full of finger-pointing and solution-hunting. Gun control, mental health, and school security are all important things to talk about in light of what happened at Sandy Hook. However, the issue is larger than Sandy Hook and larger than mass shootings.

This issue at hand is the complex web of sexism, misogyny, and violence that spawns from aggrieved entitlement. In my opinion, the best place to start this deeply important work is consciousness raising with those young, marginalized, and misguided kids who identify themselves to us as “Nice Guys.”

While Nice Guys of OKCupid is a great tool to help explain Nice Guy Syndrome and raise awareness of the problem, it’s also a vehicle to further shame and humiliate kids who already feel marginalized and rejected. It’s not going to help them, and they need help. This is the real challenge. How do we reach out to them? How do we get through to them?

We need to start thinking of solutions; the potential cost of ignoring or further humiliating Nice Guys™ is far too scary to ignore.

21 thoughts on “Connecting the dots: Nice Guys™, MRAs, mass shooters, and aggrieved entitlement

  1. The knife in the Register-her.com logo represents violence done by women, as documented by public court records of registrants, and by mainstream reporting. If you’d bothered to get your information by actually examining the sites you talked about, rather than from a third party who profits by lying, maybe you wouldn’t have looked so foolish. The MRM is a strictly non violent human rights movement, and at AVFM we regularly expel commenters who veer in the direction of suggesting the use of force. If feminist organizations ever bothered to oust the gender ideologues who call for mass murder, child killing and eugenics – then maybe MRAs wouldn’t have such a problem with that ideology, or have reason to denounce feminism for it’s foundational violence and hate.

    Regards
    John

    • John, you’re some kind of crazy if you think feminism has anything to do with mass murder, killing children, or eugenics. Kindly find a hut in the middle of nowhere and never speak to anyone ever again.

      Regards,
      All of the non-tinfoil hat wearers on the planet

      p.s. Leah, fantastic post. Keep on rocking.

    • It is safe to say that any organization which is “strictly non-violent” in reality — as opposed to just in the language it uses to promote itself — would blanch at the idea of using a bloody knife in its logo. You should expel the logo, friend; it quite clearly suggests the use of force. In the meantime, those of us who are capable of understanding the difference between words and actions will continue to find it very difficult to take you seriously.

  2. Mass shootings are not committed by only white men. Mother Jones reported before the Sandy Hook massacre that forty four of the last sixty two mass shootings were committed by white men, with one being committed by a woman. That means that seventeen of the last sixty two were committed by minorities, more than likely all men. I think the rest of your piece has merit, but felt the desire to correct the flawed statement that it is only white men who commit these crimes. By the way those numbers come from the last thirty years worth of mass shootings. In case you’re curious I’m going to leave the Mother Jones link.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map

    • Thank you for explaining to the author why she is so very wrong to explicitly state that all shootings ever are all committed by white men always. Thank you for pointing out that the VAST majority of mass shootings are committed by white men.

      …She did say that all mass shootings were by white men, right? You seem so certain that she said that. I’m sure you won’t mind pointing it out to us all.

      • “Aggrieved entitlement is a term used to explain the psychology behind mass shooters, which have all been white males.”

        44/62 is roughly 70% which is also the percent of of the male population that is white. So white males are no more likely to do a mass shooting than a male of any other race.

  3. Your article is okay but insanely vague. You don’t even mention that Adam Lanza was autistic and there was no evidence of him being a “nice guy”.
    I also have a difficult time when reading things from self proclaimed “feminists”. I find it ironic women would create, essentially, a political party that further segregates themselves. Especially in this age when men battle enough bullshit in their personal lives and then we have to worry about not offending people every second. It’s no way to live. Feminism is bullshit. Be socially liberal.. be for equality. Being a woman isn’t a negative or positive trait.
    You may have a point on the Nice guy thing though. People are brought up in homes more likely to be broken then not and bombarded with romanticism in every form of media. It’s no surprise kids get the wrong idea. Its obviously a very uncomfortable existence and I hear ya that that website is going to further humiliate them and bury them deeper.
    Also that monkey meme is absolutely ridiculous and the shock value of it is irresponsible. As a man that truly believes men and women are spiritually equal I really find feminism as a pendulum that has swung way too far and further isolates yourself from good men.

    • Hey, leave autism out of this. I’m an Aspie and have had it up to here with people blaming the autism/Aspergers for his murder.

      As for “feminism as a pendulum that has swung way too far”, considering the still present pay gap, gender inequality, transphobia and misogyny that still plagues our world, it hasn’t swung far enough apparently. Anyone with eyes can see that.

      • Ok I’ll give you the autism thing. I know a few people with autism and most are non-violent but I know a few who are pretty violent. The violence is most likely a cause of how they were raised and not the autism itself. I will also give you transpjobia but I’ve never seen feminism or the mrm try to combat this issue at all. Yes the is misogyny but there is also a lot of misandry.

        The reason why I’m losing respect for most the social sciences is because they study things in very useless ways. Anybody with a basic knowledge in mathematics can see how they calculated the gender pay gap. They take the smaller number (female income) and divide it by the larger number (male income) while ignoring all factors of why the male income may be larger. Things like profession may be why men on average make more than women but lets assume we talk about people in the same profession. Men could make more than a woman due to being in that job longer, asking for raises, doing the job better (not saying that women can’t do a job better than a man), working more hours, taking on harder projects/tasks, taking more dangerous projects/tasks, and taking on projects/tasks that pay more. If feminism can show that both genders are truly equal in the things that I listed and prove there is a gender pay gap (and on more then just a small handful of occasions though those women do deserve to be payed equally), then I’ll support their gender pay gap arguement. However what they’re doing is simple math that any 12 year old can do (no offense but I’ve been doing similar stuff since grade 7).

        Gender inequality yeah that’s perfect for an organization that decides to raise campaigns and rallies on rape awareness but only talk about one form of rape and seem to ignore every other form of rape. Seriously everyone knows about male-female rape, though should you still talk about it? Yes. But how about integrating in some discussion and understanding about male-male rape, female-male rape and female-female rape. I won’t doubt that male-female rape does happen more often then the rest but you can never truly know how significantly the other forms of rape actually happen if none of them are taken seriously and no studies go into how often they happen. As a man who has been raped by a woman, I’ll tell you that it can be pretty damaging, and it does feel humiliating and embarrassing.

        Also there is the shaming of men who just don’t want to get into relationships or married or who just aren’t lucky in the dating world. A woman can reject as many men as she wants for whatever reason she wants and it’s shameful to question her on that (she can also date whoever she wants including guys who are obviously abusive and it’s shameful to question her on why she puts up with it but this is a different story). However if a man doesn’t want to date or get married even for very decent reasons they get shamed and people just think that they’re lazy or just think that they’re immature for not taking on responsibility.

        Yes women have many problems in todays world too, but men face a lot of problems too. I can’t support feminism now a days because a lot of it does seem hateful towards men. Take note that I also can’t stand the mrm movement because it seems hatefl towards women. I get that not all feminists and MRAs are like this but there definitely are a significant number of both. Just because one gender has issues does not give them the right to stop others from trying to solve issues for the other gender.

  4. I’m not sure about the connection you draw between Nice Guys and mass shooters, I’d have to see some research/data that supports that. There are a lot of inputs in between those two states of being, and I think that attributing mass shootings entirely to rejected/angry white males marginalizes the complexities of mental illness.

    But your point about teaching friendship / engagement is spot on. Actually, it’s fantastic advice regardless of gender. There are plenty of women / cisgender folks out there that could use the same thing, and we all get confusing input about who / how we are supposed to be (case in point, I came here via your article about being single during the holidays from R/R).

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  7. I have never read so much misagnyist bullshit in one page in my life. You’re telling me that because I’m an introverted white male “nice guy” I should be kept on surveillance? Feminazi propaganda like this makes me sick.

  8. In a country of 150 million men, dots can be connected where-ever you please.
    What is being called aggrieved entitlement may be a masculine emotion, but it is certainly not a rare or new one.

    Most men would tell you they resent their manhood being questioned and feel entitled (expected) to restore it. This has been an important ‘feature’ of manhood for tens of thousands of years. Men compete, they challenge, they want to win – to prove themselves, to secure wealth and power. You might call this violence. And who do they do this for? Women. This is nature, not nurture. You must become a man, and it can also be lost. Women are women a priori.

    So we have a small percentage of men who commit violent crimes, and an even smaller handfull of mass murders, but the reality is that violent crime of all kinds is at an all time low in the US. So I take issue with all this ‘on the rise’ stuff. Not to forget that some men are douche bags (esp. on the internet, the one’s on tv, your ex, etc.). Indeed, douche bags have been around since men have been around. But the only meaningful connection between your internet ‘nice guy,’ MRA members and suicidal mass murderers is that they are men.

    IMHO, we need to be careful not to confuse common symptoms of – being a man – with the nuance and pathology of cases like the one of Adam Lanza.

  9. Is it just me or are all MRAs and Nice Guys, more or less, failed, bitter, weaklings? I just can’t help but see the conection to Nietzsche. I know he had some frightening views as well, but MRAs and nice guys fit the definition of “men of ressenitment” to a tee. Further don’t they display classic, text book examples of the “slave morality”? Their own shortcomings and weakness (percieved or real – though largely real)are blamed on any easy targets, and further Nice Guys don’t actually have the native intelligence to figure out on their own that women are not fetishized, “othered”, show pieces kept behind glass (evidence of intellectual weakness). Anders Braivik was definately an MRA and I bet he got his fill of whiny, Nice Guy type stalking in as well (…but I paid for dinner and brought flowers!…even though you’re dropping hints that I should fuck off which are visible from outer space! Hints that a drunken polar bear, shark, or beetle would pick up!). I know this has been pointed out and discussed before, but in connection with being a “man of ressentiment”, much experience with said losers confirms that failed weaklings have nothing else going for them really, and so fall back on the only thing they can for validation – being “a man” (of ressentiment… tee hee!). Never mind witty, funny, intelligent, engaging, interesting or attractive…only those jerky, asshole “badboys” have any of those qualities (I realize there are many ways to define these qualities). One of the reasons there are so many MRA/ misogynst trolls on the internet is because they have nothing else to do and no where to go…sad, sad, pathetic little men wallowing in self pity… Still though, perhaps we could have a contest: Who is the biggest loser? MRA/Nice Guy or the pick up artist?

  10. MRAs are whiny weaklings who want the government to fix all their problems instead of handling their shit on a micro level. Micro is the answer for your daily problems, not macro.

    Nice Guys are boys/men who were brought up being told (usually by women, particularly their Mothers) that if they just “be themselves” they will find a great wife to settle down with. And to be nice to girls. So they live their lives by this advice, just being themselves, buying girls things, listening to all their problems and putting them on a pedestal. Making fun of them, as in the case of that Tumblr, is not helping the situation at all.

    Your advice of teaching men to be good friends and be nice to women is the same crap that created the Nice Guys in the first place. Being nice to women and being their friends puts you in the Friendzone and insures you will never touch a woman in anything but a platonic way. Women do not like “nice”. Women like violence, power, status and not being worshipped. Every serial killer has hundreds of women writing him fan mail and proposing to him. Women, particularly on the Left, are now campaigning against “islamaphobia” which really probes what women like. Muslims beat their women and dictate everything about their wives lives, and are raping/kidnapping women in the UK and turning them into sex workers. Yet Liberals and Feminists both defend them. What does this say about women? They like it. They think it’s hot. Violence and control turns women on.

    I hope you don’t give men advice like “be nice to women” in real life. I am not nice to women. I ignore them, condescend to them and treat them like silly children. I’ve never had a problem getting or keeping a girlfriend since I was 14. That’s the advice men need. Treat women like illogical, silly children and they will flock to you. Be nice and you will be Friendzoned or exiled to the outer darkness.

  11. Leah: “Aggrieved entitlement is a term used to explain the psychology behind mass shooters, which have all been white males.”

    Leah: “If you factor in aggression and the desire for revenge, that Nice Guy™ could be positioned to become an Adam Lanza or Seung-Hui Cho.”

    Leah states explicitly that all mass shooters are white men, then paragraphs later calls out Seung-Hui Cho, who was most definitely not a white male. Curious.

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