Monday, December 17, 2012

Masculinity and violence  

Jessica Valenti posted this on Facebook, and I thought she was bringing up an incredibly crucial point to help us make sense of this whole nightmare that happened in Newton, CT. This is an advertisement for the gun that shooter Adam Lanza used to kill 26 people:

What many people (usually the haters) don't understand is that feminism isn't just about changing the roles of women, it's also about changing the roles of men. And by that I mean breaking down the constraints that men are subjected to simply because of their gender. This is a perfect example of how our society has taught us that being "manly" means engaging in violent acts. I mean, come on, how many symbols of masculinity in pop culture that young boys grow up idolizing are largely associated with guns?

When we're teaching impressionable boys that to be a "man" is to inflict violence on others, how can we possibly be surprised that these violent outbursts keep happening? Often, the shooter is someone who was an outcast and was possibly bullied incessantly. Now think about the fact that while being told by their peers that they weren't worthy of the respect a "man" gets, they're being bombarded by endless societal aspects that say, "being a man = being violent."

So, yes, I do believe stricter gun control laws can definitely help the problem, but we also need to look at the underlying cause: our culture's warped view of masculinity.

I didn't really understand the vastness of this problem until I saw the documentary"Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity." In it, anti-sexist male activist Jackson Katz explains the direct link between the messages we're sending to boys about what it is to be a man and the rampant violence that we're faced with. It is a huge problem. And far too many people are overlooking it.

What next?

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