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January 24 2018

Politico Column: Masculinity Is Cause of Mass Shootings

by Charlotte Hays

I guess investigators should just quit looking for a motive in the case of Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter who killed 58 and wounded many others. He did it because he was a man.

Or that seems to be the conclusion of Laura Kiesel, who wrote a column for Politico headlined "Don't Blame Mental Illness for Mass Shootings. Blame Men."

Recalling that President Trump described Paddock as "sick" or "demented," Kiesel writes:

But as we begin a new year, it’s time to have a more nuanced discussion about what might really be to blame for the trend of mass shootings in America—as well as the gun violence epidemic more broadly. No, it isn’t mental illness. It’s gender. If we want to stop the problem of mass shootings, we need to fix the problem of toxic masculinity.

Hmmm. I can't quite see blaming masculinity as a "nuanced" approach to the matter of mass murder, but I found this tidbit intriguing:

Men don’t just constitute almost all mass shooters in recent history; they are also responsible for the vast majority of gun-associated deaths in the country. Men own guns at triple the rate of women in the U.S., at 62 percent compared to 22 percent—and also commit suicide at nearly triple the rate of women. Eighty-nine percent of murder-suicides are committed by men, and most often include an unwitting female partner or ex-partner. (Murder suicides claim 1,200 American lives annually; nearly all of them are committed with a gun.) In fact, more than half of mass shootings (54 percent) are actually domestic violence incidents. And according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which tracks court cases involving domestic violence, 86 percent of the perpetrators of domestic violence documented in court cases are men.

I wonder if Ms. Kiesel would be willing to make the same argument with regard to terrorism--Islamic terrorists are disproportionately responsible for terrorist attacks and thus the term "Islamic terrorism" is the correct term for the most prevalent form of terrorism in the world. Just asking.  

Glenn T. Stanton of The Federalist points out that Kiesel missed a few guy crimes--men commit most rapes, have started almost all wars since the beginning of time, and most drug lords are men (or they would be called drug ladies?). Nevertheless, Stanton explains why Kiesel's argument is reductionism.

Picture a police official being asked by a reporter why the robbery on the north end of town happened. He replies, “We have ascertained that the cause of the robbery, in fact the cause of all robberies, is the perpetrator being male.” Would there be one person who believes this an intelligent reply? It is just as silly for Politico to make the same claim about mass shootings.

First, it is unwise and ill-informed to assign one cause to the incomprehension of mass shootings. In the debate between liberals and conservatives on policy solutions, it’s typically gun control versus improved tracking of mental illness. The Politico article argues mental illness is not the cause and references a number of studies as support. It’s simply men being men.

The “one thing” cause, however, is insultingly simplistic for such a demonic act. Most people realize this. Politicians who want to appear as “take action” problem-solvers reduce it to one thing like clockwork, but reductionism is seldom reasonable or helpful.

Stanton also mentions that,  while women perform countless acts of heroism, it is most often men who rescue people in danger. Perhaps some movement feminists would argue that this is because women are unjustly prevented from serving as fire fighters? Nevertheless, the truth is there: men are more often engaged in dangerous work.

But the real flaw in Kiesel's argument, Stanton writes, is that she doesn't understand what real masculinity is--it's far from toxic:

This is the very problem with the term “toxic masculinity,” whatever that actually means. Masculinity cannot be toxic. Maleness can be. Masculinity is a social virtue. Maleness just means being a male. These rescuers are masculine. Mass shooters, rapists, abusers, gang bangers, and sexual predators are not masculine.

In fact, any male who shrinks in the face of serious challenge or the danger of others cannot be called masculine. Nor can any man who uses his powers to hurt other people or enrich himself. They are merely males. These very bad men are also quite exceptional. That’s what makes them so perplexing to us all.

. . .

The answer to so-called “toxic masculinity” is not to raise our boys to be less like men, but to raise them to be genuine men. To be masculine does not have to be a stereotype. Can a man dance ballet and be masculine? Ask Mikail Baryshnikov. Ask Emeril if a masculine man can live in the kitchen. Ask Pavarotti if masculine men can sing opera and Monet if a manly man can paint flowers and beautiful scenes of cultured women in gardens. Of course they can, just as much as they can play football, race boats, build buildings, blow stuff up, and catch bad guys.

The Politico editorialist did get one thing right, though, while breaking a fundamental rule of progressive dogma. She admitted men and woman are indeed different in consequential ways beyond the bedroom and bathroom. But doing so seems permissible when charging that masculinity is toxic.

It is a shame that large segments of the feminist movement refused to recognize intrinsic differences between men and women and then concentrated on being against men rather than empowering women.

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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