Today, friends, I’d like to address my words to the men in the audience, specifically the young men.

See, some among you have developed some strange ideas about the way things are and how they ought to be — particularly as those things pertain to the female gender.

What drew my attention to this subject was the brutal rampage of young Elliot Rodger, who, fueled by rage and a sense of thwarted privilege, stabbed three people to death in his Southern California apartment before taking to the streets, shooting two young women outside a sorority house, then killing another young man in a deli before turning the gun on himself.

Often, when this sort of thing happens, people are left wondering, “What would cause someone to do a terrible thing like this?” In Rodger’s case, however, he left plenty of explanation, including a 140-page written screed and a video recorded from inside his BMW. In both, Rodger chillingly describes the upcoming “Day of Retribution.”

His grievance? Women didn’t want to have sex with him.

His was the cry we’ve heard for years from unfulfilled nerds and other guys whose interaction with the females in their lives exist in that tortured limbo known as the “Friend Zone.”

“I’m the perfect guy,” Rodger says, “and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.” But most don’t go as far into the darkness as young Elliot when he concludes with, “I can’t wait to give you exactly what you deserve. Utter annihilation.”

This horrifying manifesto apparently struck a chord with some males. Some even put up fan pages for Rodger on Facebook. Some, inevitably, tried to put the blame on women.

“More people will die unless you give men sexual options,” claimed the website ReturnofKings.com, a mainstay of what’s known as, God help us, the Pick-Up Artist community (PUA for short). The subscribers to the PUA philosophy claim to use the psychological principles of neurolinguistic programming (NLP) to manipulate unsuspecting women (called “targets”) into sex. The techniques are collectively known as “game,” and they’ll teach them to you for the price of an instructional DVD (or several).

If Elliot Rodger had only had better “game,” some PUA websites insist, none of this would have happened, and did we mention we have a DVD to sell?

PUA claims to be the answer for every guy who’s ever wailed, “I’m a nice guy. I’m a gentleman. Why do all the hot women I know just want to be friends?” I suppose the PUA solution of becoming a manipulative, scheming sociopath is better than Elliot Rodger’s answer of killing people, but that’s not saying much.

Perhaps I can offer an alternative. Understand, I’m not holding myself out as some kind of Love Guru, but my time on this Earth has taught me a few things about life that I’ll just lay on you right now:

First, being a “nice guy” and a “gentleman” is the least that’s expected of you by the world in general. It’s the baseline. It doesn’t entitle you to anything other than the knowledge that you’re not a jackass. It certainly doesn’t entitle you to a woman. You need to bring something else to the conversation other than that bare minimum and your raw need.

If you want people (and hey, guess what, women are people) to be interested in you, then you need to be interesting. Do something. Be something. And by “be something,” I mean something more than a desperate horn-dog who sees every aspect of his life through the lens of “will this get me into bed with a woman?”

Oh, and if you’re being a “nice guy” and a “perfect gentleman” for no other reason than because you think it’s going to get women in bed with you, then I have a bit of sad news: You’re not really a nice guy or a gentleman. You’re just acting like one for advantage. Like the PUA’s “game,” this is the sort of thing sociopaths do.

Years of movies, TV, even video games have taught us the wrong lesson: that if we’re just good enough, nice enough, or persistent enough, every guy can get the hot babe of his dreams. When it doesn’t work out that way (see “not really a nice guy,” above), some get bitter and fill a thousand Internet message boards with misogynistic bile. Some turn to the codified sociopathy peddled to them by the PUA snake-oil salesmen.

Tragically, some, like Elliot Rodger, become violent. That’s not going to change until our attitudes do and we start thinking of women as people, not “targets” or rewards.

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes and practices law in Carthage. Contact him at dustyr@nc.rr.com.

(9) comments

Mark Hayes

SH- Came in for lunch, read your response and was not surprised, I call it like I see it, scroll over my comments if they offend you, I do not attack your idol, I mock his opinions, as they at times are deserving. .

Keith Miller

Mr Rhoades...good article !!

Mark Hayes

A blind squirrel could have seen this guy was a nut, this was avoidable had proper precautions been conducted, from the parents, phycoligist and Law Enforcement all had the opportunity to see this man was not right, the female thing was a small part of this, this guy had been traveling at a high rate of speed to his and others demise for quite some time.

Sally Larson

Francis, I read the whole manifesto and yes it was all about women and how they ignored him and treated him. His anger and rage at women started at a young age along with a super inflated ego and sense of entitlement.

Anger against women, controlling them, dominating them, silencing them, punishing them, kidnapping them enslaving them.... have always been a human flaw throughout history. Just spend some time watching those crime shows on TV and count how many women are the targets; almost every show is about killing women.

This guy was a functioning psychopath and the only red flag that might have tipped the authorities off would have been tracking the number of firearms he was rapidly collecting. I am a gun owner and enjoy guns but I don't see any reason why there couldn't be a national database that could have been viewed by the police when they got the first phone call from his parents. It's no different than using the DMV to search outstanding tickets or warrants.

Mark Hayes

SH- With your superior knowledge of the ways of this world I bow to your lifetime of experience, at 65 I still have so much more that I can learn.

Sally Larson

Really Francis? Is that necessary? I know you're more intelligent than that silly response.

Mark Hayes

SH- Yes I could have chosen a different manner in which to respond to your comment but with your tripping all over yourself like a giddy school girl each and everytime this contributor sends in one of his articles, well it just seems it would have gone over your head, the kid was seeing a shrink, his parents knew he was a half a bubble out and the LE had been to his door prior, just wondering why the only part of all these priors that is remembered is his last act, Mr. Rhoades in his article must be speaking from his own personel experience, not reflective of the total population as he seems to have indicated, if that is how he treated women then so be it, most of us that grew up with a mother and female siblings learned at an early age, respect of the female gender, actually I found it odd that he was so well informed of the inner workings of this individuals views on the opposite sex, many of us never tried or gave much thought along those lines when it came to " baggin a babe", bottom line I just don't agree and think this kid was just a bad seed from birth, it happens, as for TV viewing, well if you have only experienced the dark side of life through the eyes of others then you really have lived a sheltered life. Have things to do but have enjoyed our limited conversation, let's keep it that way.

Sally Larson

Francis? Again with the personal jibes? At least I can enjoy a good story when I hear it and appreciate the diversity Dusty brings to our oh-so-serious audience. It's obvious you jump at every chance to make personal attacks on him in your very smug way which in my book is the final desperate act of someone who can't carry on an intelligent conversation. It especially comes across as poor behavior when you know Dusty can't respond to you. You're clearly are intelligent person but you do yourself a disservice when you sink down into this childish level of behavior.

Frank Staples

Sh, good points from both you and Francis...but I have to side with him on this one. The kid was loony, his parents knew it, the cops knew it, and "collecting guns" is not a crime. A national database of firearms is one thing that we gun owners will never willingly adhere to. It's nobody's business what I own, and that includes the mostly criminal obum administration. I also appreciate the occasional of Dusty's meanderings but I don't tell him that because I don't want it to go to his head. And most of the time he rants about the liberals he so dearly loves to the point that most of us don't bother to read about it. He and Jimmy Heim make a good pair. Another point is that if you said something to him that he didn't like he would threaten to sue you, seeing as he's one of Moore County's best lawyers, I understand. And he knows very well that taking issue with something that he has put out for public consumption cannot be sued over. Well, he may know that but it never stopped his threats.

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