Mass shooting events are always a touchy subject, and there never really seems to be a good time to broach the subject, but it is a conversation that needs to occur. Studies and comparisons of mass shootings all lead to one conclusion, mental health—diagnosed or undiagnosed—is the main factor. However, Laura Kiesel, when writing for politico.com believes that the underlying cause is “toxic masculinity.”
According to Kiesel:
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.
That is a rather weighty and, I would challenge, unsupported indictment of the male gender! It is true, due to certain cultural mores as well as physical differences (testosterone), men are much more likely to be aggressive. However, to blame the entire gender for the actions of a few mentally ill individuals is a bit far fetched. While testosterone is a factor, it is believed to be more of a result of an aggressive act than a precursor.
However, Kiesel’s argument does not suggest that it is chemical imbalance that drives men to these atrocious acts. Instead, she is hypothesizing that these men are created by society—i.e. you and me, the media, movies, contact sports, ect. I am not sure how one crosses from masculinity to toxic-masculinity, but I am proud to espouse the values taught by my parents, coaches, and through military service including:
- Duty to others
- Physical courage
And we identified all of those traits as masculinity although the same principles apply equally to women. If fact, I can think of lessons my wife and I attempted to instill in both our son and daughter that match every principle on that list. So, how does Kiesel diagnose a few mentally unstable individuals with “toxic masculinity?”
You be the judge. Is it toxic masculinity, mental health, a combination of the two, or something completely different? If toxic masculinity is the cause or at least a factor, what motivates civilians who step into harm’s way to confront mass shooters such as the individuals at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church shooting last year?
What do you believe to be behind the motives of mass shooting events— Toxic Masculinity, mental health, or something else? Share your answer in the comment section.