Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Elliot Rodger: It's not Just About the Sex, Christians

Elliot Rodger is kinda a jerk. Putting aside the horrendous actions he committed, he is also a product of a very pervasive cultural lie. He bought into a very radical logical conclusion of something we tell all boys and men. The premise: if you don't have sex, you're not a man. And as a good man, you deserve sex.

Several good friends have posted some great articles about the topic. Here's one about the backlash to the backlash to the backlash: #YesAllWomen. Here's a great one about how nerd culture reinforces this: Your Princess is in Another Castle. (thanks Sabreen). Or another piece targeting the fundamental issue of hyper-masculinity in our culture: Elliot Rodger and the Price of Toxic Masculinity.

However, there's another response that cropped up recently. "If masculinity is defined by sexual immorality then it is a warped definition of masculinity." The allusion is that the way of sexual purity is the answer and correct definition of masculinity. Specifically the Christian one (disclaimer: cis-hetero middle-class Christian virgin male checking in).

I would argue that no, Christian Purity Culture is not the One True Answer for all the woes laid here.

Why? Because here are some of the lines of reasoning that have been taught in churches. I won't cover them in depth, just mention them. And let me be the first to say I still fall into some of these traps.

  • If you aren't married, then you aren't a real mature man yet, and therefore shouldn't be given real ministry responsibilities.
  • If you have pre-maritial sex, you are broken and polluted and used goods.
  • Sex is AMAZING so you should want it. Masturbation is bad. Thus, the only gateway to sex is marriage, so if you want to have sex, better get married ASAP (Ring by Spring is a thing).
  • Since God is taking care of His People, and marriage is good, if you aren't married by your mid-20s -- or, gasp, 30s -- something must be wrong with you.

And, of course, if I followed The Plan, I am a good Christian, and therefore deserve a hot smokin' wife and we will bang our way to Paradise. For serious.

See, it's not the problem that we aren't all sexually pure beings that is ruining things. The real root of what is going on, in this case, is Entitlement.

Elliot Rodgers explicitly mentions that he deserves sex. Since women are the gatekeepers of sex, and have denied him sex, they are the enemy and must be punished. They have emasculated him. And thus his only manly recourse is through violence. See the logic? That as a stand-up gentleman he has suffered the lowly status of not-banging-all-the-hot-chicks and his outburst of violence was punishment and righteous retribution for them denying his mandated birthright as a MAN.


There are many things I feel the individual is mandated as a basic right. Chance to work, good education, basic safety net via either social or governmental means. Sex ain't one of them.

Nerds, just because you've been outcast doesn't mean you are deserved your comeuppance and bang the hot girl who suddenly realizes she's been wrong all along to spurn your advances.

Even in the Bible, God never promises you're going to marry and get steamy times between the covers. Heck, Paul in his letters even mentions his ideal is we all remain celibate (that topic deserves its own post to unpack, but let me leave this here).

And above all, by being denied it, you are NOT required to reassert your masculinity through other means. Especially through violence.

Because sex is not a checkbox. It is not a status symbol to have or lose your virginity. It is a mutual act of submission and intimacy between two fully realized, self-actualizing, empowered individuals. Each with their own agency. Each with their own intricate desires and needs and dreams. It is not something you do on someone. It is not tied to your masculine identity.

Secular or religious, you are NOT entitled to sex. And we should stop tying masculinity to men's sexual prowess. Or, if you're Christian, lack of sexual exploits. Same difference.