Is Toxic Masculinity Killing Us?
Mass shootings have one thing in common.
If, in light of all the recent news on America's mass shootings, you feel as if we're living in a fucked up dystopia, trust us, you're not alone. Can someone please slap us and wake us up from this nightmare please? Mass shootings may only count for a small fraction of the US's (astronomical) gun deaths, but they are undoubtedly the most terrifying. Taking place without warning in schools, offices and retail establishments, the victims are not chosen for what they have done, but simply where they happen to be.
Sorry, but can we just take one moment here to say, BAN THE FUCKING GUNS.
Anyway, you have probably noticed that all of these mass shootings tend to have one thing in common. It's not that the perpetrators are mentally ill (according to the experts, there is no real connection between people diagnosed with mental illness and mass shootings), or that they are radicalized minorities as shitheads like Trump would have you believe (white men are the biggest culprits). It's that they're almost always perpetrated by men.
As Harper's Bazaar reports, of all the mass shootings since 1982, only three have been committed by women. While women comprise about 50 percent of the victims of mass shootings, female mass killers are “so rare that it just hasn't been studied,” according to James Garbarino, a psychologist at Loyola University Chicago.
It all begs the question, is toxic masculinity killing us?
It's no secret that our culture loves men with guns; those action-hero types who save the world with violence; the ones that always get the money, the status or the girl. The men who commit the mass shootings aren't any of those things, but perhaps instead they feel as if they have been shortchanged on that life; that the world owes them somehow. I've got the gun, so why don't I have the power?
It would of course be pretty simple to compare mass murder to throwing your toys out of the pram because you didn't get to be an action hero, but when you look at the facts, what it ultimately boils down to is a heavy sense of male entitlement.
How dare you fire me?
Of the post office shootings that took place during '80s and '90s, two of them – in Michigan and New Jersey in 1991 – were perpetrated by men who felt like they were owed a job. In the Michigan case, many workers said that on several occasions after he was fired, the shooter had threatened violence if was not reinstated. In New Jersey, the shooter left a two-page note about how he had been wronged by the Postal Service that employed him. According to the prosecutor, “He felt he was treated unfairly. It basically indicated that these people are going to pay. He was doing this as an act of revenge.”
Of all the mass shootings, nearly 30 percent occurred in workplaces, typically by disgruntled male employees. Just last year, a man returned to his former workplace in Orlando to fatally shoot five people. Shooting five people – many of which had no involvement in your employer-employee beef – just because you were fired? I mean, couldn't you just go back to the office and dirty protest your boss' bathroom just like any other three-year-old would do?
Women don't meet my expectations
But it doesn't stop there. Quite predictably, many mass murderers have a history of domestic violence. The ex-wife of Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub shooting, claimed he took her paychecks, forbade her from leaving the house and beat her if she did not live up to her “duties.”
Then there are those who feel the need to kill simply because they're not getting laid enough. Boo fucking hoo. Elliot Rodger, who killed six people near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara before committing suicide, said in his final “Retribution” video, “You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime because I don't know what you don't see in me, I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman. I will punish all of you for it.” Clearly not such a gentleman, then. And have you ever heard something so pathetic, seriously?
But what's even more screwed up is that certain alt-right folks – the feminist and minority-bashing movement which is absolutely heaving with toxic men – are praising his behavior. As the Southern Poverty Law Center explains, “The 'supreme gentleman,' a title Rodger gave himself… has since become a meme on the alt-right.” There are even Elliot Rodger fan pages on Facebook with titles like, “Elliot Rodger is an American Hero.” Worryingly, this only gives these disturbed men a greater sense of entitlement.
Nicolas Cruz, who killed 17 schoolchildren last Wednesday, had apparently been expelled from school for fighting with his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. He was allegedly abusive to her. A fellow classmate said, “He stalked her and threatened her. He was like, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ and he would say awful things to her and harass her to the point I would walk her to the bus just to make sure she was OK.”
Losing a job, feeling neglected, being romantically rejected. Women have to deal with all of these things just as much as men do. Shit happens. That's life. But do women respond by shooting innocent people? As a rule, no. And if you were to put mass shootings down to mental illness alone, the following statistics just wouldn't add up: 23 percent of US women have a diagnosed mental illness, as opposed to only 16.8 percent of men.
What's glaringly clear is that many men just cannot cope with the fact that everyone does not feel that they are special; that somebody doesn't want to give them a job; that every woman doesn't want to have sex with them. News flash: it's okay to not get what you want in life. Double news flash: we women have had to deal with that since pretty much the beginning of time. For the third time in this article, shit happens.
Boys and men need to be taught that resorting to violence, using guns and killing just because you're angry or you didn't get what you want is not powerful; in fact, we're not sure anything could be weaker.
Next up (because you definitely need it after this article), where to buy recreational weed now that it's fully legal in California.