Some commentators will take almost any event, no matter how tragic, and use it to drive home their argument against ideas with which they disagree and to reinforce their attack on forces at work in our culture which they have determined are harmful.

Devin Kuhn-Choi believes she has uncovered a confluence of cultural forces that she argues is the spawning ground for the terrible killing spree of Elliot Rodger in Isla Vista, California last week.

Eliott Rodger Kuhn-Choi argues is the extreme endpoint of a culture that

as sociologist Michael Kimmel argues, demands an impossible standard of masculinity (and then denigrates all those who do not live up to it—be they women, non-heterosexual, non-cismales, or the men who do not or cannot achieve these impossible standards.)

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/sexandgender/7898/conservative_christianity_s__come_to_jesus__moment_in_wake_of_elliot_rodger_shootings

So, where do those “impossible standards of masculinity” come from?

Kuhn-Choi thinks she knows one answer. She develops her answer by drawing a dubious connection between certain beliefs about men and women held by some Christians and the beliefs held by a suddenly notorious movement of young men called “pick up artists” (PUA). She suggests that the connection she has fabricated points to broader cultural forces

that shape the exaggerated ideas of gender roles that are the foundation of Rodger’s misguided notions of masculinity and entitlement—including most conservative Christian constructions of strict gender roles.

While she acknowledges that “Rodger himself was not directly influenced by conservative Christianity”, nonetheless, in Kuhn-Choi’s mind what she calls “conservative Christianity” bears culpability for creating a culture in which an Eliott Rodger becomes possible because

conservative Christianity defines sharp distinctions between the genders, the PUA movement sees men and women as having distinct characteristics. Even bloggers who claim to eschew “anyone else’s ideal or gender role,” refer to men and women by broadly generalized gender stereotypes, breaking men into “alphas” or “betas” and women into “hoes” or “housewives” (among other clichéd and disparaging gender portrayals).

For in the “conservative Christian” world that Kuhn-Choi has constructed,

the man is in charge: the leader, the head of the household, the provider. In this interpretation of Christianity, this is the natural, God-ordained role and how the world operates…. The counterpart to the male leader is the submissive woman. The model of marriage that positions the husband as the head of the couple/family and the wife as the submissive “helper”.

According to Devin Kuhn-Choi as in the PUA world so in the conservative Christian world the role of women is to be the “gatekeepers” of sex. But here Kuhn-Choi sees a difference between conservative Christians and their close cousins the young men of the PUA movement. In conservative Christianity, the woman’s role as “gate-keeper” of sex is praised and encouraged, while in the PUA world it is vilified as a power women wield making men the helpless victims of women who prevent them from fulfilling their deepest needs.

As she rounds the final turn to wrap up her argument Kuhn-Choi draws with a broader brush and suddenly, “conservative Christianity” becomes “evangelical culture” which apparently portrays

an insatiable sex drive as an innate part of maleness, and the ability to get sex as a defining characteristic of masculinity. In an evangelical worldview, this sex should only occur within the context of marriage, but it is still a defining feature of masculinity.

So, she argues

A culture that frames masculinity as an insatiable sex drive shapes sex as something to which men have a right. As Heather Hendershot warns in relation to evangelical abstinence materials, maintaining “essentialist notions of gender” that portray “masculinity as aggression, and sexual urges and femininity as passive submission,” ultimately leads to a loss of control in which “boys give in to their urge to rape and girls give in to their urge to submit to rape.”

Kuhn-Choi concludes that

the insistence on strictly differentiated gender roles in both conservative Christian and PUA cultures can lead to inequality, a devaluing of women and, in an already patriarchal society, a definition of masculinity that isn’t just a nightmare for men, but a tragedy for all.

For all the differences I may have with some aspects of “conservative Christianity” or “evangelical culture”, most of what I have experienced in that world,  has always seemed to me to aim at nurturing an attitude of utmost respect for all people, especially for women.

It is hard to see how PUA could sign on to the vision, to which conservative Christians would certainly subscribe that are expressed in Ephesians where husbands are instructed to

love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:25)