The Conversation We Aren’t Having: What Drives Some Men to Massacre?

With a tragedy like the devastating shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, two things happen:

1. Everyone wants answers.
2. Few want to discuss causes.

Read the rest here

“My friends, love is better than anger.

Hope is better than fear.

Optimism is better than despair.

So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic

And we’ll change the world.”

Jack Layton

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  • Excellent article, but I didn’t see one important aspect: There are too many of these horrendous slaughters being carried out by not men, but “boys.”

    There seems a huge disconnect in some of the young, and whether it be anger at a parent, a boss or girlfriend, the system, life, emotional or medical problems, or some warped need to be known, these are serious issues that need to be identified before they can be stopped…before they can be helped. If drugs are in the mix, complications increase proportionally.

    Since WWII, family dynamics have greatly changed. Too many households are single parent, many grow up without a gender role model. Parents are stressed with work and home responsibilities, and some kids just need more. Add peer pressure, bullies, emotional and mental issues, etc., etc., etc., and we’ve got a lot of young people who may be adults in years only.

    Love the reference to Marvin Gaye. He saw the problem, laid it out, but too few listened.

    • Reading the devastating personal accounts in your links raises even more questions.

      To what extent and how does the violent world in which we live infiltrate the mind of an autistic child? How would the aggression be expressed if our society was peaceful?

      Why do we not hear about autistic girls/women going on a shooting rampage?

      I believe we need more than one discussion.

      What vonbahr said:

      We ALL have to tire of violence, reward caring, and learn to channel these energies throughout our society. As long as there are examples of such rage and insanity all around us, these events will occasionally burst upon ourselves and that is the fact of the matter. Stay safe, everyone; it’s a zoo out here.

  • Why Won’t We Talk About Violence and Masculinity in America?


    The ad for the gun that the Sandy Hook shooter used runs with the tagline: “Consider Your Man Card Reissued.” Young white men have entitlements and privileges that, when combined with disappointment, illness, loss and soul-strippingly unhealthy and common glorification of violence, can lead to tragedy. The only place I heard this discussed this weekend was on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes, when Salon’s David Sirota pointed out that white men are really the only group in America that is “not allowed to be profiled.” We need more white men like David Sirota and Chris Hayes, who disproportionately make up our media experts and political leaders, to step up and talk openly about exactly this. About how ideas about whiteness and maleness are not only our unquestioned norms, but are imbued with an innocence and authority that makes it almost impossible to critically talk about them in terms of a pattern of horrific events like Sandy Hook.

    In 2010, Rachel Kalish and Michael Kimmel, in a paper called “Suicide by Mass Murder” gave a name to this phenomenon: “aggrieved entitlement.” In their paper they describe a “culture of hegemonic masculinity in the US”–one that creates a “sense of aggrieved entitlement conducive to violence.” For young men, especially white men, anger and violence are privileges which others cannot lay claim to and are definitively punished for exercising. Our industrialized prison system is massively, disproportionately, overflowing with young black men. And, whereas men who kill their intimate partners are sentenced, on average, to between two and six years, women who kill their spouses are sentenced, on average, to 15 years.”Getting” to be angry and violent isn’t an equal opportunity. Neither is admitting to mental illness, an area we portray as almost exclusively the reserve of girls and women.

    It’s not racist or sexist to suggest that white men are struggling with a loss of power in this country. I’m not demonizing white men, many if not most of whom probably don’t feel powerful and in control. But the fact remains that in this country white men have long ruled–in public and private life. They continue to dominate government and media even as the nature of families and private life has evolved over time. No one likes to lose power. Losing power is hard and unpleasant, frightening and disorienting.

    But distributing power equitably is important. It’s a change we can seek to understand, openly discuss and facilitate, or we can ignore and exacerbate harm.

    This violence is a public health crises. Other countries understand the vital importance to society of understanding gender constructions, but ours is mind-numbingly resistant. We really, really need to do this if we hope to understand how to stem this hemorrhaging of life. Pretending that hyper-gendered cultural pressures and entitlements that are part of boys becoming “real man” aren’t critically significant to these mass shootings, and to the everyday gun deaths in this country, is the national crime. Source

  • I had the most amazing experience this afternoon. My work is at an elementary school (no, I’m not a teacher but a nurse looking after a little boy with a tracheotomy and a stomach tube), and today, because it was snowing outside the principal decided to show a movie in the gym to the entire school.

    The very short movie threw all the gender stereotypes to the wind. The story was about a young girl coaching a soccer team (none of the girls wore pink but practical shorts with T-shirts from all colors of the rainbow). An attractive young boy was drawn to her – not because she looked “hot” but because of her superior skills in soccer.

    The female coach showed this boy how to play soccer when they played together for fun with a bunch of friends. He fell a few times and she helped him up and kept encouraging him.

    WTF, I couldn’t believe what I just saw … and hundreds of impressionable little girls and boys saw it with me.

    The principal is only a temporary as the regular honcho is on sick leave. His name is Wally, he’s retired and he just fucking knew what the kids needed to see to help change the world after what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Yes, it’s about killing gender apartheid.

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