A sexually frustrated 22-year-old goes on a rampage and kills six people, leaving behind him a screed of hatred for women and the men they preferred to date. Readers, print and digital, grapple with what the violence says about gender fault lines
Why Do Moderate Men Stand Silent? (May 27): To answer the headline’s question, it’s because men’s bad behaviour is either invisible to other men, or women are blamed for it.
If women respond when insulted or bullied, they are told they have to learn to “get along.” The woman, not the bullier, has to change behaviour.
Second, even if held unconsciously, the belief that women’s purpose on this planet is just to please or serve men is still widespread. Just look carefully at advertising if you don’t believe me. When this is recognized as a sign of men’s weakness, the situation might change.
Julie Beddoes, Toronto
From the “Kill All Men” hashtag to SCUM to actively exonerating female perpetrators of domestic violence against males, to the “Hey Baby” game: Don’t kid yourself and assume that it’s only men who use activism as a crutch to thinly veil their deep-seated hatred of the opposite sex.
Charles Raymond Mousseau, Winnipeg
Denise Balkissoon complains that feminists must unfairly answer for an extreme fringe, yet in the same breath asserts that “half the population [male] isn’t being forced to reckon with their own contributions” when it comes to violent crime.
If all sane and just men must, as she suggests, take responsibility for the actions of a psychopath by virtue of shared gender, should all women in turn share in the guilt of the disturbed California mother who recently stabbed her three daughters?
What purpose does this destructive argument serve beyond muddying a tragic incident?
Michael McNamara, Toronto
A prime example of the misogynistic slaughter of innocent women in Canada is the Montreal École Polytechnique murders. There are too many instances of such behaviour. But to take a short piece of fiction – Florianne – and try to build a case for collective responsibility by men makes me wonder if Denis Balkissoon isn’t a fringe feminist herself.
Ashok Sajnani, Toronto
My heart goes out to the father in Daniel Woodrell’s story Florianne who regards with suspicion the men in his small community after his daughter has been kidnapped and raped.
His anguished question, “How much of our world is in on it?” puts me in mind of Edmund Burke’s quote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Jo Meingarten, Toronto
Yes, the guy thought women owed him, but he had it in for men, too. I haven’t named him – names like his need to be edited from history to deny these killers the fame they’re after. I will name those he killed: George Chen, Cheng Yuan Hong, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, Weihan Wang, Katie Cooper and Veronika Weiss. You can’t blame a whole gender.
Danielle Nguyen, Edmonton
It sounds like Elliot Rodger’s primary motivation and obsession was a hatred of women. He lusted after them and hated them because they denied him what he saw as the pleasure that was rightfully his: He even said he “deserved” it. Sounds like misogyny and a giant sense of entitlement.
Where he got the latter, we have no idea. Where he got the former – well, let’s just take a look at the world around us, shall we? No, it did not happen in a vacuum. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Nothing is a one-note song. I think that’s a given.
Marlene Blanshay, Montreal
The reality is that not every person is going to be an activist and not every person is going to stand up and speak out on subjects such as this. Expecting all men to take responsibility for the actions of a few men is nice in theory, but pretty much impossible in practice. Not everyone wants to have a voice.
Chris Bjerrisgaard, Vancouver
Denise Balkissoon castigates “moderate men” for not speaking out against misogyny, since Elliot Rodger’s victims were “all” women. I think she underestimates the importance of his mental illness.
Where were all the bystanders (male and female) when he was being bullied and teased when younger? The collective responsibility here is not defined by gender, but by society’s intolerance of those who are different.
Mr. Rodger was an outsider, whose perceptions of rejection may not have been altogether accurate, and certainly don’t justify killing those who rejected him. But perhaps his trajectory might have been different if his peers had been more tolerant and understanding of his social difficulties.
Marshall Korenblum, chief psychiatrist, Hincks-Dellcrest Centre for Children and Families, Toronto
I have been quite active in the #bringbackourgirls. To me, this hashtag represents not only the Chibok girls, but all the schoolgirls lost to misogyny. I don’t see a huge difference between a 19-year-old girl kidnapped from her school in Nigeria or a 19-year-old girl shot at University of California Santa Barbara.
To me, the “men” of Boko Haram can also be found in Nova Scotia, threatening to kill Rehtaeh Parson’s father. Misogyny is ubiquitous, and too many believe it is their “right” to insult, rape, brag or kill. Too many others remain silent as it happens.
Whenever we remain silent, we accept this behaviour. So please, whenever you see misogyny, whether you are male or female, stand up and speak against the perpetrators. Silence gives assent. Be silent no more!
Eileen Jessop, Ottawa
Ninety-nine per cent of men are disgusted with this slaughter, just like 99 per cent of people are disgusted with every slaughter. Doesn’t matter who the target is, or the killer’s motives, it’s always wrong. Please, can we all stop pretending that not retweeting some inane hashtag is the same as supporting a murderer?
Mike Wiles, Toronto
ON REFLECTION Letters to the editor
Now that the 2013/2014 NHL season in Canada is finally over, what can we take away from this experience (Rangers Oust Habs – May 30)?
That, truly, their Canadians are better than our Canadians? And that, presumably, the high-priced help in the NHL front office – vice-presidents and above – will sleep more soundly now, knowing that no Canadian team will even play for the Stanley Cup, let alone win the damn thing?
Richard Seymour, Brechin, Ont.
Bet my Habs Sweater
Interesting headline on the front page of Friday’s Sports section: Are We There Yet? The Interminable Slog Of This Year’s Playoffs (May 30).
I’d bet my Habs sweater this headline would never have been written had the Leafs made it this far in the playoffs. Hockey fans in the other Canadian NHL cities know exactly what I’m talking about. It is always and it always will be about the Leafs.
Nice run by the Habs anyway.
Spyro Rondos, Montreal
Facts before birth
Re Former Minister Drops Out Of Nomination Race Over Edict MPs Must Vote Pro-Choice (May 30): Future Liberal MPs can have pro-life thoughts, they just can’t express them. Sounds like “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, in the same way that many pro-choice advocates won’t deny a fetus is a human being, they just brush it off.
In the interest of informed medical and electoral consent, Canadians should learn about development before birth, abortion’s health impacts, may-be watch a video of one to see the reality behind the rhetoric.
Denise McComish, Ottawa
Politics in Nova Scotia
Re MacKay Plays Down Link To Contentious Hirings (May 29): My late father was a close observer of politics and jobs in Nova Scotia throughout the mid-20th century. He used to say: “Tories and Grits, no difference, one’s in, one’s out, the road crews change.”
If you were lucky and had better connections, you might get a job in the local government-run liquor store.
And if you were connected to someone in Ottawa – you were really lucky.
M.K. Laurence, Victoria