Hadley Freeman, writing for the Guardian, has articulated the misogyny argument as an explanation for the horror of Elliot Rodger’s actions, with more persuasive clarity than many commentators who simply seem to trot out the “misogyny” line in an attempt to score political points or to make sense of a senseless tragedy.

Freeman writes,

Since news of the deaths broke over the weekend, journalists and commentators have argued vociferously about what, precisely, would make a young man from a privileged and, by all accounts, loving family feel such rage against women that he would end up killing six people and himself. Many writers I read and respect enormously have argued that to say Rodger’s real problem was mental illness is to dismiss his misogyny – and the misogyny that is endemic in western society. To argue that mental illness lay at the root of Rodger’s problem, they write, is almost to excuse him as a lone aberration, as opposed to seeing him for what he was: part of a pattern that is the inevitable effect of a sick society.

I have a lot of sympathy for this point of view. As one of my favourite feminist writers, Erin Gloria Ryan, has pointed out, when a man from the Middle East kills people, the western media immediately ascribes it to terrorism; when a black man kills people, it’s put down to cultural thuggery; but when a white man kills people, it is dismissed, she tweeted, as “a freak mental illnessThe fact that the mostly white media scrambles to remove white, privileged men from blame is exactly why we need more diverse newsrooms.”

But Freeman is not willing to settle for misogyny as an adequate explanation for Rodger’s violent rampage. She goes on to write,

Rodger was enabled in his misogynistic feelings by a culture that exists to validate the feelings of angry, lonely and sometimes mentally unwell men…. Were other factors at play here, too, such as mental health, a financially straitened mental health system and an American political system cowed by the NRA, leading to too much access to guns? Yes, yes and yes. And to say that doesn’t diminish the part played by any of these reasons. In fact, they underline the dangers in one another.

Eliott Rodger hated some women. He also apparently hated Asians; he hated the men who had, in his sick mind, attained the pleasures that to him were denied. It seems, he even hated some members of his own family.

Anger and frustration that tip over into hatred create a powerful force. This force, if unchecked, almost inevitably leads to the kind of horror that erupted on the national scene last Friday and that tragically all too often explodes in private homes without the media attention that accompanied Rodger’s actions.

So, commentators who jump to the “misogyny” argument need to answer a challenging question. What realistic prescription are they offering to help the vengeful hate-filled Elliot Rodgers of the world manage their anger and check their violent impulses? How does the suggestion that Elliot Rodger is simply as sign that men hate women help us as a culture avoid producing more Elliot Rodgers?

What hope does the political designation “misogynist” hold out for the next Elliot Rodger? How does labeling men as “hate-filled” help move society towards a more open life-giving way of being?

What power might there be available to future Elliot Rodgers that might counterbalance the impotent rage they feel in the face of their frustrated desires and their consuming fixation? What force could their be to support these helpless young men in dealing with their despair?

I know my answer to this question. But I wonder what hope commentators who blame misogyny have to offer.