After this past week’s school shooting, I was talking to a coworker about it and she mentioned mental illness. As you may guess, I am TIRED of everyone throwing mentally ill people under the bus whenever any act of terrorism (particularly white terrorism–notice people are always willing to jump to this conclusion if terrorists are white, but don’t necessarily attempt to find an “excuse” or “reason” like this when it’s someone not white) occurs. Stop stigmatizing mental illness. Are some of these people possibly mentally ill? Sure. But so are TONS of people who don’t grab guns and commit absolutely appalling acts. Here is a quote from a New York Times article:
Overall, mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent 1 percent of all gun homicides each year, according to the book “Gun Violence and Mental Illness” published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2016.
Anyway. We all know I am host to many mental illnesses and don’t particularly enjoy the constant stigmatizing of mental illness, so I’ll spare you that rant. Where this post is going is here: After my coworker brought up mental illness, I VERY EMPHATICALLY said that of course this is about guns, and gun culture, and mental health, but more than ANYTHING, this is about toxic masculinity. This is about male entitlement. I said the three things I never, ever stop talking to my son about are consent, white privilege, and toxic masculinity. Until our culture somehow revamps how we raise and treat boys, until we look hard and correct our views of masculinity and aggression and violence and teach boys/men how to deal with emotions, how to value women, how to seek and accept help, until we stop excusing a whole host of bad behaviors with “boys will be boys,” this will never change. Ever. She said she’d never thought of it that way, which shocked me. Don’t get me wrong—it is guns and gun control that is to blame, but just as much to blame, tied up intricately in this mess, is toxic masculinity. It’s killing us.
If you are someone who has never thought about it from this angle before, if you are raising a son, I implore you to please learn more about toxic masculinity and what you can do to help counteract its negative, deep-rooted, and terrifying grasp on our culture. Here are some recent articles to read up on. And if you’d like to defend guns or tell me how wrong I am, how it isn’t “all men” or some other garbage, go away. I’m not looking for your input.
Overcompensation Nation: It’s time to admit that toxic masculinity drives gun violence. Our national attachment to dominance models of manhood is a major reason why we have so much violence By AMANDA MARCOTTE (Salon)
Toxic Masculinity Hurts Us All. Here’s How We Can Fix It.
Annie Reneau (Scary Mommy)