I have been overwhelmed by the number of stories in the past few weeks about the horrors brought about by men who did not feel like they were “men.” On Thursday, a man stabbed a woman and slit her throat, killing her, on a train in Chicago because she turned down his advances. The Republicans voted to allow people on the No Fly List to continue to access guns unabated. And of course, Orlando.
I know, you may not see the obvious connection between these events and men feeling that they are “men.” Follow me for a minute.
Men, Women and Rejection
In the case in Chicago, a man’s advances (admittedly crude according to reports of other passengers) were rejected by a woman. Reports said she shook her head “no.” As far as investigators have reported at this point, there was not a prior connection between the two. A man was turned down. He kills a woman.
Unfortunately that is not the first incident like this. In the most upsetting Tumblr I have come across, When Women Refuse (whenwomenrefuse.tumblr.com) there are dozens of posts of articles about women being killed when the refuse a man’s advances. It includes articles from the past 60 days about a teen being shot to death for refusing an invitation to prom, a woman getting a glass smashed into her face for saying no to a man’s invitation to accept a drink, a girl burned to death for breaking up with her boyfriend, a mother shot to death for breaking up with her child’s father, and a woman shot to death in a bar for telling a man she wasn’t interested. And that is just this spring.
Guns and Gonads
In a strong article by Salon (http://www.salon.com/2016/06/13/overcompensation_nation_its_time_to_admit_that_toxic_masculinity_drives_gun_violence/) the author examines the link between the need for men to be “masculine” in American culture and gun violence and ownership. Guns are now like trucks with ridiculously oversized tires and truck-nuts. Guns are something men buy to make them feel “manly.” Using a gun make a guy who is not confident in his “manhood” feel like a “man.” And people end up dead.
There are several reasons elects voted against gun control. One reason is based in the the knowledge that if a male elected on the Republican side votes to restrict access to some guns he will be portrayed as “weak,” and “feminine,” and “unworthy of leadership,” in his next election.
Masculinity and Online Bullying
In a widely reported article originally published in PLOS (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0131613) scientists found that men who felt emasculated in video games (namely losing in Halo 3) were more likely to bully and harass women online. They did not feel like “men” so to get that feeling back, they were very nasty to women online (where their risk was low of being confronted or interaction).
This lead to a great skit on Inside Amy Schumer where Twitter introduces the “I’m going to rape and kill you” button because that phrase has become so common on social media. Yes, so many people (mostly men) get angry and threaten to “rape and kill” a woman that there is a skit about it.
Masculinity and the Orlando Massacre
Reports are stating that the Orlando mass murderer was himself gay. He did not feel he could be gay and that being gay was “wrong.” He shot up a gay bar. This self-hate and homophobia is rooted in hating what is not seen as “manly.” A “real man doesn’t take a dick.” A “real man” doesn’t cry. A “real man” doesn’t love other men.
It is rooted in masculinity. The shooter did not go to a lesbian bar or event. There were no reports of him being upset by two women kissing. Women loving and having sex with other women is more okay in the United States than being gay. Gay men were the target in Orlando because this is a masculinity problem.
We, our culture, feed men these lines about what is “manly” and what is “okay” if they are men. We are creating killers.
What Do We Need To Do?
We are the ones raising sons who are not confident in who they are. We are creating the next generation of killers and bullys. We need to stop this. And in the kink world, there are special considerations.
I think everyone, any gender and any sexual orientation, should feel comfortable in who they are. Being attacked for something that is innate to your existence can be very painful. We all want to be accepted at some level for who we are.
First, we need to expand our idea of masculine. Lots of things are masculine. They include things like loving, being verbal, hugging, needing to be cared for, being open, care taking, and protecting someone. We don’t allow our men to cry enough. We don’t allow them to be touched in a non-sexual way enough. We don’t let them care for others enough.