MSNBC host Chris Hayes argued on Tuesday that there are parallels between the “alpha male” obsession driving California mass killer Elliot Rodger and the gender-specific threats by “open carry” gun advocates.
“It seems to me, also, that when we’re looking at this horrible thing that happened this weekend and the influences, there is this kind of awful Venn diagram of two subcultures of American life that, in their ugliest form, can be very ugly indeed,” Hayes told guests Jessica Valenti and Shannon Watts. “That is, this kind of gun culture — the ugliest parts of gun culture, and I want to be specific here, the ugliest parts of gun culture — and the ugliest parts of this kind of online misogyny.”
Hayes referred back to the November 2013 encounter between members of Watts’ group, Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, and members of Open Carry Texas, who showed up outside a meeting of Watts’ organization wielding large-caliber firearms. At the time, Watts said she was threatened with sexual violence against herself and her daughters for advocating for more stringent gun safety legislation.
“There are a lot of self-described imagined macho dudes in the open carry movement who’ve called you and the women you’re organizing with every kind of vile aggressive name in the book,” Hayes said on Thursday.
“That’s absolutely true, whether it’s online or off-line,” Watts said in agreement. “There seems to be this idea that, somehow, women are going to take their guns away or take their rights away, when all we’re talking about is something as simple as background checks. So, the kind of anger and hatred that has engendered has been bizarre.”
Valenti, a columnist for The Guardian U.S., told Hayes that commenters on “men’s rights” websites had already responded to Rodger’s killing six people before taking his own life by blaming women for not having sex with him.
“I used to find it really sad, and I used to have empathy towards them and I would say, ‘God, what a miserable way to live, to think this way about yourself and about women and gender relations,’” she told Hayes. “But now it is really scary, because they’re providing this narrative to young people who are unwell, who want a place to put their resentment and they’re saying, ‘Put it on women.’”
Watch the discussion, as aired on MSNBC on Tuesday, below.