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Epiphany and George Sodini

"You're polyamorous? That's so greedy!"

I've heard that about a zillion and eleventy-four times, and it's totally baffled me every single time I've heard it. I hae never, ever once quite understood how the notion that my partners are free to form attachments to and relationships with anyone they choose, and how I am free to form attachments to and relationships with, anyone we choose so long as we all choose to treat one another with reciprocal respect and kindness, is "greedy."

Quite the opposite, in fact. To me, "you are my partner, and therefore I forbid you to make your own choices about relationship and I forbid you to have certain kinds of relationships with anyone except me" seems more than a little greedy.

It took an asshole with a gun to make me understand where "You're polyamorous? That's so greedy!" comes from.

This is George. George is, or was, an asshole. In the unlikely event that you're not aware of him, George spent many, many years unable to get any woman to go out with him, so George decided to solve the problem by walking into a women's fitness center, shooting the place up, killing a bunch of women and injuring a bunch more, and then shooting himself.

So, yeah, asshole.

This particular asshole kept a long, rambling online journal just stuffed full of the most boggling array of misunderstandings and misapprehensions one could ever expect to see outside of a Creation Science seminar. His site is currently offline (which I think is a shame; the insight it offers into the mind of a profoundly fucked-up person is worth preservation), but bits of it have been picked up and scattered all over the Net. Those barely coherent noodlings on misogyny and racism are, paradoxically, what gave me the insight into what a person who says "You're polyamorous? That's so greedy!" is actually saying.

George's Web site is kaput, but nothing on the Internet ever really dies. There are Web sites all over the place which have picked up and preserved some of his journal entries, and it's quite a sewer of racism and misogyny...but what struck me is how ordinary his particular flavor of misogyny is. what's really scary is that George's rants are not too far from the sort of stuff you see in places like LiveJournal, OK Cupid, and other blogs and dating sites every day.

Take this, for instance:

Moving into Christmas again. No girlfriend since 1984, last Christmas with Pam was in 1983. Who knows why. I am not ugly or too weird. No sex since July 1990 either (I was 29). No shit! Over eighteen years ago. And did it maybe only 50-75 times in my life.

Or this:

Just got back from tanning, been doing this for a while. No gym today, my elbow is sore again. I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne - yet 30 million women rejected me - over an 18 or 25-year period. That is how I see it. Thirty million is my rough guesstimate of how many desirable single women there are. A man needs a woman for confidence. He gets a boost on the job, career, with other men, and everywhere else when he knows inside he has someone to spend the night with and who is also a friend. This type of life I see is a closed world with me specifically and totally excluded. Every other guy does this successfully to a degree.

Or this little gem:

I was reading several posts on different forums and it seems many teenage girls have sex frequently. One 16 year old does it usually three times a day with her boyfriend. So, err, after a month of that, this little hoe has had more sex than ME in my LIFE, and I am 48. One more reason. Thanks for nada, bitches! Bye.

I spent quite a bit of time talking with my sweetie rain_herself about George; these journal quotes got me to thinking about the nature of interpersonal relationships and expectations, and she's an awesome sounding board for that sort of cognitive noodling.

The things he wrote reek to me of...well, not objectification, precisely, but certainly of a sense of entitlement. There's also a very deep sense of disconnect; I don't know if he ever really thought of women as being quite fully human.

And I don't think he's alone in that.

There are two things in particular that jumped out at me, reading these journal entries. The first is the idea that "getting" a woman is a bit like getting a car: it's a quantifiable process. To get a car, you go into the dealership, the dealer looks at your credit rating, you pick a car that matches the amount of money you have available for a down payment, and as long as you have enough money and your credit rating is OK, you leave with a car. It's an easy, defined process.

A lot of men seem to think the same thing is true of getting a woman. As long as you are not "ugly or too weird" and you have enough money, you can get a woman. You pick out someone who you can afford and are attractive enough to have; she looks to make sure you're not too weird, and as long as there's nothing wrong with you, you go home with her.

This might not be objectification per se, but it's awfully close--it seems, I think, to see women as an undifferentiated mass, rather than as a group of individuals, each of whom has her own ideas about what she wants.

The second part that struck me is "A man needs a woman for confidence. He gets a boost on the job, career, with other men, and everywhere else when he knows inside he has someone to spend the night with and who is also a friend." It reeks of an entitlement perspective; I need you for the things you do for me, and I deserve to have those things. A man needs a toaster to make toast, a coffee maker to make coffee, a computer to get connected to the Internet, and a woman for confidence. As long as he has money and is not too weird, he deserves to be able to have these things.

And seriously, I see this kind of thinking just about everywhere. "How can I get a woman to have sex with me?" is a popular refrain on the Internet. (To a person who thinks it's a question of "getting" a woman to do what he wants her to do, I suspect the answer is likely to be incomprehensible; you don't "get" a woman to sleep with you, you become a person who is interesting to other people, and those other people will then...er, find you interesting.)

"You're polyamorous? That's so greedy!" The statement is loaded down with exactly the same sort of world view that I see clearly in George's writing. There's an entire world of preconceptions and assumptions bundled up in those five words.

It starts, I think, with a group conception of women that sees the world's females as an undifferentiated mass resource; there are about as many women as men, and women expect certain things in exchange for companionship and sex--it's simply a question of giving women what they expect and you, too, can walk off the lot with a woman of your own, whose attractiveness depends on how much currency you have to spend. Each man is entitled to a woman by right.

Polyamory upsets the balance. People with multiple women are somehow walking into a dealership with no cash and no credit but still driving off the lot with a bunch of cars; they've discovered some kind of way to hack the system, to upset the economic exchange, leaving fewer women for the other men who deserve them.

And men shouldn't be allowed to have a woman if they are too weird. You accept social norms and adopt normative behaviors in exchange for having a woman. That's the way the system works. (In a very literal sense. I actually had a person tell me recently that he couldn't figure out how a weird, creepy-looking guy like me could even "get" one woman to sleep with him, much less several. How do you "get" a dealer to give you a car when you don't have credit? What manner of black magic could persuade a woman to have sex with a man who is too weird?)

Okay, so maybe there's a bit of "well, duh" going on here. But seriously, I was so busy being baffled by the "WTF is selfish about allowing a partner to make her own choices about her lovers?" to see the "women are a rationed commodity and if you keep taking all of them that leaves fewer for me; I'm not too ugly or too weird, so you're taking away something I am entitled to have a share of myself."

Honestly, I do think there has to be just a pinch of objectification and more than a little sense of entitlement to make a statement like "polyamory is selfish." It would never occur to someone who doesn't see women as some kind of amorphous group; a person who sees women as a collection of individuals would be more inclined to say "A woman who wants a polyamorous relationship would be a poor match for me, so a polyamorous person isn't taking anything away from me; I wouldn't choose these women even if they were single, because we have different relationship goals."

George believed that he was entitled to have a woman, because he wasn't too weird and because every man needs a woman for confidence. I imagine that the smell of misogyny probably oozed off of him; he wasn't rejected by women as a group, he was rejected by each individual woman unlucky enough to cross paths with him.

So thank you, George Sodini. You're an asshole who exemplifies a certain kind of misogyny so clearly that you make other misogynists more comprehensible.

But you're still an asshole.



( 136 comments — Leave a comment )
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Aug. 17th, 2009 10:14 am (UTC)
Situation normal
And he looked so clean cut, too!

I worked on a research project on the subject of "evil" in order to satisfy the editor who had a been in his bonnet and thought it would be a jolly story.

One thing that sticks out in tales of mass murders and some of the real monsters of history is that they appear to be so normal - especially to themselves. They feel justified in what they do because to them it is normal. Every twisted thought is normal -- and when someone stands in the way of their normal, that is when they do their despicable deeds. So the racist fees justified in killing someone of an other ethnic group because it keeps his normal safe; or a religious fanatic kills his sister because she has been raped and he feels he must in order to keep his normal neat and tidy. I think it is the rationalization in their heads that makes it so right for them to do these things, it is not aberrant to them, it is not perverse or misogyny or anything of the sort. It is being normal. So George, being a normal and clean smelling guy who uses toothpaste and cologne can't get laid and can't have sex with more than his right hand and he wants to make the girls around him normal and give him what he is entitled to for being normal. I'm sorry for the women he killed or injured. I'm not sorry for George taking his own life. It was the normal thing to do in that situation.
Aug. 17th, 2009 10:38 am (UTC)
Just when I thought the Sodini story couldn't chill my blood any further...this chill, however, was worth the discomfort. May I quote you?
Aug. 17th, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! :)
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Aug. 17th, 2009 12:31 pm (UTC)
I see what you're saying, but I think part of the point is that there's a misconception that poly is about men having multiple women, and that leads to the greedy debate.
maybe worth a reread - dicea - Aug. 17th, 2009 12:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aclaro - Aug. 17th, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 17th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC)
eeeek. It's sort of like what divalion writes about in her rant "Nice Guys". But writ super extra large,ugly & violent.


one of the reasons I've *never* found romantic possessiveness attractive in a partner is that it seems to me to be just one end of a spectrum, the other end of which is : "If *I* can't have you *nobody* can! *BANG*"


Aug. 17th, 2009 11:14 am (UTC)
You may want to check out the stuff on this page http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/niceguys/ng.shtml - a series of rants and articles I found a month of two ago about the mindset I've referred to as 'Nice Guy Syndrome' since some point in my teens.
Sadly the page I wanted to point to on misogyny seems to be out at the moment, but this one is saying something alongside what you just have.

Ironically, my one Serious Mistake (who claimed to be poly) towards the very end of our relationship accused me of being 'greedy' and wanting a 'stable of men at my beck and call' (quite the opposite of what i was looking for at the time, in fact, since I was going through a submissive phase) - there are some guys who do in fact seem to use poly as a tool for acquiring more of those desirable objects, women, and will claim the moral highground while doing so whilst subtly isolating their newly acquired possessions from their other partners.

Shudder... I guess Mr Sodini wasn't possessed of the psychotically high IQ and manipulation skills of Mr Mistake though, since that photo is actually quite attractive, he really must have oozed misogyny to put women off so consistently.
Aug. 17th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)
i love Heartless Bitches International!
(no subject) - emanix - Aug. 17th, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 17th, 2009 11:49 am (UTC)
I saw something else in his writings that tells me exactly why he was like he was and did what he did.

He is completely narcissistic and self-centered. He signs up for a matching service and can only think that 30 million women reject HIM. He talks about teenagers having sex and the only thing that resonates with him is that some random teenage girl would have had more sex than HIM.

His obsession with how he perceived women viewing (or not viewing) HIM would eventually breed bitterness - and bitterness would turn women into the enemy. Once you have an enemy, then you have something to defeat - however poorly you do it.

So yeah - George... he's an asshole. My husband would like to add that those people that do what he did - they need to start thinking about shooting themselves first.
Aug. 17th, 2009 03:01 pm (UTC)
He is completely narcissistic and self-centered.

That was what stood out more to me than his misogyny (which is there, but not much more than you'd see in a significant number of non-violent, "balanced" men, when one thinks about it). Had he been gay, I've no doubt his tendency to see others as a means to sexual pleasure/self-reaffirmation would have been just as strong. Perhaps where gender played the greater role in this specific case is the propensity in men to see violence as a viable solution to any given problem.
(no subject) - vortexae - May. 14th, 2010 07:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tacit - Aug. 17th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 17th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
The more I hear about this guy, the more of a morbid fascination I have with his disconnection from reality. I think winterlady has the right of it - this guy was so narcissistic that not only did he consider women less than people, I would lay dollars to donuts he didn't really think of anyone other than himself as a person.

I wonder how much of his problem was bio-chemical, and how much of it was bad socialization.
Aug. 17th, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC)
I have a friend who used the greedy argument about poly to me, and I had never heard it before and gave her (I'm sure) the weirdest look. She felt better about it when I told her that in most relationships both partners are allowed to have multiple partners, that it's not just one guy with a whole bunch of girls or anything. I wonder how often that misconception exists and plays into the greedy argument.
Aug. 17th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
While your breakdown of this particular view is intriguing, I feel that some people simply view intense sexual and emotional intimacy with people outside their relationship to be, necessarily, a negative factor to the health of their relationship.

That's obviously subjective and people have reasonably different views across the spectrum, but if we begin with that as a somewhat normative view, it could be seen as "greedy" to pursue what is probably seen as primarily more personal gratification at the potential expense of the relationship.

The essential difference seems to be that what you say is allowing your partner freedom is interpreted as choosing to want more partners for yourself.
Aug. 19th, 2009 10:24 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - vortexae - May. 14th, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 17th, 2009 01:15 pm (UTC)
The second part that struck me [...] reeks of an entitlement perspective; I need you for the things you do for me, and I deserve to have those things.

seriously, try reading Schnarch's "Passionate Marriage", especially the parts where he talks about Other-validation as a driving need for people to hook up in relationships: i need you to do these things for me because they reflect back on me what I hope is an accurate sense of value for *me*, of my worth." or simply, "I need you to show me I'm the good person I think I am".

i think you're bang-on in the sense of an entitlement to having a woman as an adjunct to his own needs, rather than for a complicit partner who stands as a free-thinking entity unto himself. Schnarch talks about that too, in te idea of a relationship's possessive idea of "communal gentials", in which one partner's genitals become solely the property of the relationship or the other partner — not in any kind of D/s context, but in that "entitled" or greedy sense of "None Shall Pass! (but me, of course)" that often defines monogamy... and sometimes defines boundaries even within poly structures (as some define "poly-fidelity", for example).

george, as you describe him, wasn't looking for a partner, it seems more like he was looking for a mirror. people who go hunting with that subconscious motivator give off subtle signals that this is always going to be "all about them". clearly george was less subtle than most in that regard, if he'd been turning women off more almost two decades.

everyone else in the world had a partner, why didn't he? therein lies a pervasive and powerful sense of *societal entitlement*, absolutely; we're taught, men and women both, that we're "incomplete" without a partner. and depending on messages instilled in his childhood and teen years, that message may have been driven in deep by family/peer circumstances, what candidgamera above describes as "bad socialization". it may not have been greed to start with, and it may not ever have actually been greed in the end, but a lot of pain: insurmountable, indescribable, inarticulate pain.

and while that rarely results in mass-murders in the poly community, i can guarantee it's still there in its own ways.
Aug. 17th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC)
Great analysis of this situation Tacit-- well put and thoughtful. yes, Sodini is an ASSHOLE to the utmost of assholes.

I've not had sex in over two years. I might*** get a date only once a year. Never been in a relationship of any kind. Dabbled with poly lifestyle for a couple of years and it did not work out (I came to discover that I'm a monogamist by heart). However, would that justify me going to a fitness club and shooting men because I hate men and have not been laid in 2 years? Absolutely not. What's helping me is (1) going to weekly therapy (2) learning to undo my codependent behavior and cope with an abusive childhood and (3) learning to love once again becuase I've been an ice queen now since my early teen years.

Sodini is an ASSHOLE. In fact, his name should mounted onto the top of the Hall Of Assholes whereever that hall may be located.

Great analysis on this morbid topic!
Aug. 17th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, our mega-monogamous culture enforces this viewpoint all the time. How often have you heard:

There's someone for everyone.

He/She is *the one*.

Mr./Ms. Right.

A million fish in the sea.

and other such phrases which encourage such single minded thinking?

And as for the numbers game, when I was in sales there was a story used in training about greater quantities yielding greater chances of success. If I remember correctly, it was something about a study being done that two groups of sales people went door to door selling insurance. One group gave a positive spiel and the other simply said, "Hey, you don't want any insurance, do you?" and that even with the negative wording, 5% of people approached would still say, "why as a matter of fact, I *have* been wanting to buy insurance." The whole point of this is that the more people you expose your product to, the greater the chances of making a sale and that it is a numbers game. The Internet has done that to dating to a certain extent. However, one of the bright flashing blinking emergency lights of George's viewpoint is that I'm sure he didn't personally talk to or approach 30 million women. He did see partnering as a numbers game, but in addition to major fail in his thought process, his math was incorrect.

Incidentally, I came across this link (http://www.gamegrene.com/node/447) in a friends LJ last night, and I was floored. The insidious misogyny of some gamers in gaming groups in light of the George manifesto (who as far as I know wasn't a gamer, but I see some similarities in the "social awkwardness" category) is just mind boggling. Never once would any of these things crossed my mind. Of course I'm not a gamer, but I am a sci-fi geek and I know tons of guys (and girls) to whom this might be business as usual.

Sorry for rambling. My mind is still processing it all and I'm trying to make sense of things I've never once before thought about.
Aug. 17th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)
I know a (male) GM who had one of his (female) players' characters raped. I wouldn't say it was because he was socially awkward. I'd say it was because he was a misogynistic asshole who'd proven over and over in a variety of situations that he considered women to be things that needed to be controlled by him. I don't play with him. I don't speak to him. I don't know anybody else who's done that.

ps. "One True Love" pisses me off too.
(no subject) - delphinea - Aug. 17th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
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Aug. 17th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
This was really thought provoking. Thanks for posting.
Aug. 17th, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
It's about not being so damn picky
Turtle, do you remember Crystal? You two used to share a place over on 301 down in SRQ, about a hundred years ago.

When I first met you and Donthen (who's name escapes me right now--is it Watts?), I was not impressed at all by your looks (or his, for that matter). I was even less impressed by Crystal's looks. At the time, I was much more interested in your brains, as I had an old 8M Winchester drive (big as a suitcase, remember them?) which I wanted your assistance in hooking it up to a TRS-80 Model IV.

But yeah, you did look wierd. I'm no judge of "ugly", and probably in no position to throw stones anyway. May I say, in a non-gay way, that you are not a bad looking guy?

But if you remember Scott Steele (who by the way, has succumbed to religion, poor bast***), after he met you and Crystal, had the gall to come back and brag to his friends that he thought Crystal had a thing for him. For the life of me, at the time, I could not figure out WHY he would brag about that...having seen her. (Who was a BBW, minus the "beautiful" part...quite the opposite.)

I guess what I'm saying is that I believe that the reason you're so successful in your "greed" is not just these things that you posted above...it's a given that lady should be able "to make her own choices about her lovers"...but that you are not tremendously picky about partners.

But I do think you're spot on about George. I'm not ready to despise him (though I do despise what he did) because I've been in that position. I also think that he's a product of our society, one which is not as "enlightend" as your little sect. People really do believe this "car" analogy, and I'm sure that the compliment of that is a woman who believes that a man should be able to support her with all the money he makes. The difference isn't that some crazy woman (redundant, sorry) will go ballistic and go shoot up some gym.

(Deleted comment)
Re: It's about not being so damn picky - jonnymoon - Aug. 17th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: It's about not being so damn picky - tacit - Aug. 17th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: It's about not being so damn picky - joreth - Aug. 17th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: It's about not being so damn picky - xaotica - Aug. 19th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: It's about not being so damn picky - pierceheart - Aug. 19th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: It&#39;s about not being so damn picky - jonnymoon - Aug. 19th, 2009 04:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 17th, 2009 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks, and welcome aboard!
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