Lest We Forget: Marilyn Manson, Narcissism and Misogyny

I’m not putting his picture in this article, there are women in this world who are terrified and traumatized. Look him up if you want to see his face.

Sometimes a narcissist will reveal who they are in plain sight. Marilyn Manson (born Brian Warner) is no exception. Somehow, in spite of the content of his music specifically detailing murders and abuse, his autobiography describing multiple instances of violence against women and multiple women coming forward to share their truth, we still made a messiah of the Antichrist Superstar.

What We Know

Currently, over 13 women have come forward with eerily consistent stories that detail the horrorshow they endured in his presence. Some detail rape, drug abuse, forced ingestion of alcohol and drugs, physical violence, stalking, racism, homophobia and abject sexism, sleep and sensory deprivation, isolation, financial abuse, gaslighting and a host of other elements in what each thought was going to be a consensual relationship with a guy who was “the perfect boyfriend” at first.

Huffpost is keeping an index of the women who have come forward with details in their stories, others are still fearful for their lives, some fearful of interfering with litigation. The stories echo a grave cultural and social construct, globally, but in the United States in particular. This lesson is much greater than getting away with things because of celebrity, this is a deeply rooted and devastating truth about our society. Rape culture is very real and narcissistic abuse is often a prelude to violence and other forms of abuse. This is constructed directly by and to benefit misogyny.

What Does Narcissistic Abuse Look Like?

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

The earmark qualities of this malignant form of abuse can sometimes signal that other forms of abuse are brewing. Narcissism is a red flag independently, but often devolves into physical violence, sexual assault and other forms of domestic violence. Psychology Today outlines what to look for.

  1. Verbal Abuse, often the most subtle and largest indicator of victimization. Abusers will bully, shame, interrupt, criticize, threaten and undermine their victims. This can, over time, feel casual and conversational but it is insidious and serves to break down the self-esteem, independence and sense of reality of those subjected to it.
  2. Manipulation is used to further an agenda. Often, there is a honeymoon phase with narcissists where they seem perfect. After their victims are comfortable and feel stable, the abuse starts, it can be subtle are first or it can be explosive, followed by apology and honeymooning again. Narcissist exploit this power dynamic but using it to keep their victims unsure of themselves, unstable and unbalanced.
  3. Emotional Blackmail, or emotional abuse, creates fear and distrust of self and can include punishments that are not directly physical such as time outs, sensory deprivation without consent, locking someone in closets or specific areas, withholding affection not out of consent but in order to isolate
  4. Gaslighting which has become a buzzword, and for good reason, it is often subtle but very impactful. Gaslighting is the act of manipulating someone into mistrusting their perception of reality. Once you convince someone they cannot trust themselves you make yourself their world and create reliance on you for even simple measures.
  5. Negative contrasting occurs when the abuser unnecessarily makes negative comparisons between you or your actions and events, objects and others to debilitate self-esteem.
  6. Sabotaging behaviors are disruptive and remind the victim you can effect them anywhere and in any element of their life by sabotaging key events or relationships, objects or interactions.
  7. Exploitation and objectification occurs when the abuser uses you for personal gain, attention, fame, validation, popularity and other gains without your consent or regardless of your needs.
  8. Lying
  9. Withholding measures that meet consensual and healthy needs in a relationship such as affection, basic shelter, basic nutrition, money or communication.
  10. Neglect, this often happens with narcissist parents, but it can also happen in romantic relationships, especially if the narcissist has developed a relationship where the victim has to depend on them to survive
  11. Invasion of privacy occurs when your boundaries are ignored and your privacy is violated. Physical privacy can be violated, denied or compromised. Stalking and non-consensual voyeurism can fall into this category.
  12. Violence, of any kind, that is non-consensual (we aren’t trying to kink shame anyone) is abuse, this can also include physical destruction of your property
  13. Financial abuse can look like wealth dominance, spending your money, theft or gathering items or debt in your name without your approval. Financial abuse can also look like placing someone in a situation where they are unable to work, creating sole reliance on the abuser for financial stability (think children in a home that can’t afford childcare, so one parent has to stay home and remains obligated to the children out of fear or responsibility, sacrificing their ability to establish financial solvency)
  14. Isolation can mean separating you from friends and family, spreading lies or damaging your character so that other will not want to associate with you, abusing you in such a way that you cannot be seen publicly and denying outside support.

Rape Culture is the Product of Misogyny

Topple rape culture with transparency
Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

Misogyny is fairly simply defined but a complex part of every day life in many countries, America is certainly no exception, nor is it a beacon of women’s rights and safety. Misogyny is the “hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women”. But it is a bit more complicated than just hating women. Misogyny builds places into society for women to be at a disadvantage, openly abused without reproach and doubt into the audience of accusation.

The reaction to these allegations, to some degree, has been “well, what did you think would happen?” when reading through Manson’s interviews where he openly admits to murder fantasies, abuses, self-harm, stalking, manipulation and violence. Dismissing the reality of a person by writing off their capability to be exactly who they’ve bragged about being while victims publicly reinforce that his persona is actually who he is in reality ensures that victims remain in abuse cycles, feel silence and ultimately ignored.

Knowing someone is capable of horrible things and still supporting them by booking shows, enabling these behaviors, financially supporting them and ensuring they maintain fame is how we send the message to victims that this is acceptable behavior and it invalidates their experiences. By not rejecting Marilyn Manson and ensuring he cannot hurt anyone else, we’ve repeated the same old, tired, bullshit response of “she was asking for it” while completely separating the abuser from the responsibility for and consequences of their abuse.

It is probably time to let your smug, conservative parents have their “I told you so” moment and cancel Marilyn Manson. Learn to see the warning signs and red flags early in interpersonal or romantic relationships. Accept nothing less than your own safety and well-being, support others who have endured abuse and remain a safe space for them.

If you or anyone you know is being abused or at risk for abuse, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1–800–799-SAFE. Seek resources through listings with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Finally, seek assistance through RAINN for sexual assault and violence. Never be afraid to be a voice for others and seek asylum from your abuser. Never live a life of fear.

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