A Culture of Violent Entitlement, and the Culture of Silence Surrounding It

[Content Note: Violence; misogyny; sexual entitlement; disablism.]

Ben Moynihan, an 18-year-old British man, has been found guilty of attempted murder after stabbing three women, all of whom thankfully survived his attacks. His motivation for the violence he perpetrated against these women, whom he picked randomly, will be sickeningly familiar:
Ben Moynihan told police "all women need to die" and that he was frustrated with "fussy" women.

Winchester Crown Court heard how in a note he said: "I am still a virgin, everyone is losing it before me, that's why you are my chosen target."

...Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, said the defendant left two letters for police. One, placed on a police van, said: "All women need to die and hopefully next time I can gouge their eyes out."

...He also wrote: "I was planning to murder mainly women as an act of revenge because of the life they gave me, I'm still a virgin at 17. ...I attack women because I grew up to believe them as a more weaker part of the human breed."
Moynihan went on a violently misogynist spree, because he hated women for not fucking him. Because he felt entitled to women's bodies, and he was angry that they were not giving him the access he felt he was owed.

Naturally, we are to understand that Moynihan, whose case included testimony that he "has autistic spectrum disorder," is mentally ill and his actions exist in a vacuum.

We are not meant to recall the name Marc Lépine. Or the name Seung-Hui Cho. Or George Sodini. Or Anders Behring Breivik. Or Elliot Rodger. Or Jaylen Fryburg. Or Mark Dorch. We are not meant to think of this guy, or all of these guys.

Each of them acts in a vacuum, outside of culture. Outside of systemic misogyny. Each of them is a loner, an aberration, a "crazy" person. That is what we are meant to believe.

Because that narrative is what absolves us of our collective accountability to women who are harmed by violently entitled men.

screen cap of tweet authored by me reading: 'Dismissing violent misogynists as 'crazy' is a neat way of saying that violent misogyny is an individual problem, not a cultural one.'

That narrative is what underwrites the "both sides" bullshit indulgence of the false equivalence drawn by media purporting to be interested in "balance" as they treat feminism and MRAs/PUAs/NiceGuys as opposite sides of the same coin.

We are not meant to connect the dots from Marc Lépine (and those long before him) to Ben Moynihan (and those who will come after him). And, if we do connect those dots, we are dismissed as hysterics, as overwrought and oversensitive feminist lunatics who are compromised by our hatred of men.

Every time I write about the culture of male entitlement, I am met with pushback, which inevitably escalates to threats. This Storify on that subject, written after Elliot Rodger's killing spree, contains just some of the public pushback I was getting—and not the worst of it, and none of the threats of rape and death sent privately.

That is the lengths to which men will go to silence women connecting these dots.

And people with power and influence, people who control public conversations, are happy to look the other way. Even if it embarrasses them if someone happens to mention it. Ahem.

If you clicked through to the BBC story, you might have noticed that the article is dated the 20th of January. I didn't even hear the name Ben Moynihan, or anything about his crimes, until a friend posted the link on Facebook yesterday. I thought it was a bit strange that I hadn't come across anything about it before then, but I've been sick, and not reading quite as much news as usual. Still: Not a single reader had sent me an email or a tweet about it, either. And that was odd.

I sent the link to the other contributors and moderators, asking if any of them had heard about the story. None of them had, either. And that is extraordinarily unusual.

We were all shocked that none of us had heard a single thing about a man being convicted of the attempted murder of three women, after writing a profoundly misogynist manifesto.

This is the culture of silence that surrounds the culture of violent entitlement. Surrounds it and abets it.

Survivors of misogynist violence are admonished to tell our stories. And we do. Lots of us. We tell them over and over and over, and many of us are revictimized as a result, and still we keep telling them.

But while we are shouting, there is a cultural conspiracy to not tell the stories of men like Ben Moynihan. And, even when they are told, to tell them couched in caveats about illness, and detached from all the other men who harmed women for the same reasons.

It is a great irony of my life that I am admonished to tell my story of surviving misogynist violence, no matter the cost to me, and then meet with attempts to silence me when I tell the story of men like Ben Moynihan, inside a critical cultural context that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

Ben Moynihan. It is a name on a list that means something. We need to talk about it.

I hope the women who survived Moynihan's attacks find some measure of peace with his conviction. I hope they have the support that they need, and access to the care they need to heal. My thoughts are with them, in every way.

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