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gender needs to be a part of the debate

December 19, 2012

Great article by Meghan Murphy arguing that gender, particularly the prevalence of male privilege embedded in our patriarchal society and the negative aspects of socially-constructed, male gender norms (what some call ‘toxic masculinity’), needs to be a part of the gun debate and any discussion about mass shootings in American society:

But what about the men? On masculinity and mass shootings

Unfortunately, the existence of social gender hierarchy itself is something that’s difficult for many of us to see, especially white, heterosexual males since were often not aware of the relative level of privilege we enjoy within American society, primarily because it manifests itself as a lack of discrimination that isn’t always readily apparent until we take a broader look at American society as a whole, or the historically classist, racist, and sexist socio-economic paradigm this country was founded upon, which from the start was created by, and mainly for, white, heterosexual, Christian, male property owners. And while there’s certainly been progress towards a more egalitarian society, the structural roots of social inequalities that create hierarchies of privilege are still buried deep within the makeup of our society and culture, hidden in plain sight.

Whether you agree with the idea or not, I think the article is worth reading and thinking about.

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One Comment
  1. I think things like this provide a rather blatant example of the influence patriarchy and the negative aspects of socially-constructed, male gender norms (what some call ‘toxic masculinity’) have our on society and culture:

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/12/19/1361521/top-conservative-publication-newtown-happened-because-women-ran-the-school/?mobile=nc

    More specifically, it exhibits the kind of mentality that arises when these things are taken to their logical conclusion, illustrated by a woman decrying the fact that there were only women at the school during the shooting, as if the presence of a man or men would have made more of a difference, despite the fact that she noted the principal “activated the school’s public-address system and also lunged at Lanza, before he shot her to death” while some of the teachers “managed to save all or some of their charges by rushing them into closets or bathrooms.”

    Last I checked, men aren’t immune to bullets, so I’m not sure what the gender of the principal or the teachers has to do with how many children were killed. I suppose the thinking is that men are inherently larger, stronger, more aggressive, and heroic; but that right there just goes to illustrate how we’ve been generally taught to view men while simultaneously taught to ignore or downplay the obvious strengths and heroism of women.

    Men aren’t natural heroes capable of stopping bullets anymore than women are weak cowards. While most people consciously understand this, there’s still a lot of unconscious gender biases pervading our society and culture.

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