Hyper-masculinity. Don’t we just love it? Must I count the ways?
[Note re the following excerpt: I do not see the problem as strictly "angry, white," or even "male," as the following excerpt claims. It's the ideology— hyper-masculinity, and reverence for, and valuing of it, that is the problem, which the author does manage to imply.]
...Jackson Katz is an author and social critic. He asks us to “(i)magine if 61 out of 62 mass killings were done by women [or black men]? Would that [their gender or race] be seen as merely incidental and relegated to the margins of discourse? No. It would be the first thing people talked about.”
But because we are dealing with white, middle class men, the most powerful and privileged group in this society, no one dares to ask the question. Not, as Katz suggests, the knee-jerk questions: “Where did he get the gun?” or “Why wasn’t he on medication?” But: “What is happening with white men?” (Emphasis added).
“This is about masculinity and it’s about manhood,” Katz added.
In America, unlike almost anywhere else on earth, the gun, more so than any other icon you can name, symbolizes manhood and masculinity. It is the ultimate phallic symbol.
Katz goes on: “So much of gun culture in the U.S. is about masculinity but it’s unspoken. Femininity simply isn’t constructed in a way that teaches women to use violence as a means to an end. One of the ways we can understand violence is as an external manifestation of internal pain.”
Men are only allowed to experience certain emotions, principally anger. Violence and anger go hand-in-hand as “acceptable” forms of male expression. “Men are rewarded for achieving certain goals and for establishing of dominance through the use of violence,” Katz says.
As men, particularly as white men, “we” are socialized to objectify the world and all its contents. That’s why capitalism is so popular, a virtual article of faith, among most “Western” men. Capitalism requires no concern for anyone or anything beyond achieving strictly individualized, personal “profit.” They are socialized to not just believe but to know that they are entitled by God or by their very essence to financial success, access to women, power. When, for whatever reason, they are denied these “things,” they feel betrayed of their birthright. Many seethe in a lifelong funk of quiet desperation and longing. Others, far too many, turn to the most convenient, reliable and time-tested form of masculine validation available: violence, gun violence.
“As a white man, the assumption is that you are the center of the world. Your needs should be met. You should be successful,” Katz says. They themselves become “victims,” in other words, when they don’t get what they are “supposed” to have. For them, every aspect of life is always a zero-sum proposition. Anybody else’s success is always viewed by them as having been obtained at their expense, as their “loss.”
“This explains the cultural energy on the right in this past generation – so many of these men see themselves as victims of multiculturalism and of feminism,” he adds. “It’s undermining the cultural centrality of male authority.” Katz points out that we can see this worldview manifesting itself in the Men’s Rights Movement. “They are at the front line making the argument that men are the true victims.”
Perhaps we’re just dealing with a form of sociopathy? Perhaps. A sociopath is nothing more than someone who lacks empathy. “Well,” says Katz, “we socialize empathy out of boys all the time. Sociopathy is the extreme manifestation of the way we socialize boys in our society.” ...
But there’s hope: