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

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.


One thought on “Why Won’t We Talk About Violence and Masculinity in America?

  1. Laura Tully

    Looking at mass shootings through a Mad Pride lens is really interesting. The major buzz about many of the recent mass shootings is about how these white men are all mentally ill and on psychiatric medication. We look for signs of illness when a violent act is committed by a white person in order to justify their behavior. We erase the fact that the perpetrator is a white man because after all, the white man is the unexamined body.
    I also took the class Men and Masculinity last year where we were having a lot of these conversations about the construction of masculinity in our culture. I found a quote last year by Jackson Katz, a theorist on masculinity, which was quoted in an article by Megan Murphy that really helped me tie together my thoughts on intersection masculinity and mental illness: “Are these shooters psychopaths or sociopaths? Maybe. But what’s a sociopath? It’s a person who lacks empathy. “Well,” says Katz, “we socialize empathy out of boys all the time.” If we aren’t allowing boys to experience and express vulnerability, pain, and fear because that’s somehow connected to weakness (a feminine quality), then how are they going to be able to relate to the experiences of others? “Sociopathy is the extreme manifestation of the way we socialize boys in our society,” he says.” This quote identifies the fact that we are socializing men out of empathy and then pathologizing their actions as mentally ill when they are literally enacting what our culture teaches is masculine.
    White masculinity is increasingly threaten by feminist movements, People of Color, and LGBTQ people gaining rights and visibility and that means that white men have to reexamine their power in the world and increasingly give up that power and eventually reexamine what it means to be masculine.


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