Guns don’t kill people, men kill people

Masculinity is what men think it is….There’s going to be a time in your life, if there hasn’t already, when you are going to be asked to betray your own values, your own ethics, your own idea of what it means to be a good man, in order to prove to others that you’re a real man.  – Michael Kimmel
michael ian black
Michael Ian Black

Since it has finally been mansplained by the New York Times, it must be true.

We have already had numerous articles, mostly by women, with endless links, statistics, and analysis of toxic masculinity, America’s culture of death, and conforming to gender stereotypes.

But when Michel Ian Black sent out a tweet on Feb 14, the day of the latest mass shooting in Florida, saying

“Deeper even than the gun problem is this: boys are broken.”

it touched a nerve.  To date, the tweet has received 65,000 likes, 17,000 retweets, and over 2000 comments.

Four days later, Black was interviewed by NPR, ” I know that I only started feeling comfortable in my own skin as an adult man in my 40s when I stopped trying so hard to – and this is going to sound counterintuitive – but be a guy and started trying to live in my own skin the way I felt most comfortable.”

Finally today, the NYT op-ed by Michel Ian Black :”The Boys Are Not All Right

What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes.  But also, boys…

The past 50 years have redefined what it means to be female in America.  Girls today are told that they can do anything, be anyone. They’ve absorbed the message….

Boys, though, have been left behind…

Men feel isolated, confused and conflicted about their natures.  Many feel that the very qualities that used to defend them — their strength, aggression and competitiveness —  are no longer wanted or needed; many others never felt strong or aggressive or competitive to begin with.  We don’t know how to be, and we’re terrified.

There has to be a way to expand what it means to be a man without losing our masculinity.  I don’t know how we open ourselves to the rich complexity of our manhood…

I’m not advocating a quick fix.  There isn’t one.  But we have to start the conversation…



11 thoughts on “Guns don’t kill people, men kill people

  1. As far as I can find out, in the US, some 90% of murders are committed by men, and men constitute about 77% of the victims. So an alternative version of the title would be “Guns don’t kill people, men kill men”.

    Here in the UK, where the gun murder rate is about one thirtieth of that of the US, and the overall murder rate about one fifth (adjusted for population), about 64% of murder victims are men, and about two-thirds of murderers are men. I leave it to you to decide whether this is a direction you would like the US to move in. But I agree with you that I have no quick fix, nor do I know what one would look like.

    1. Also, your claim that 81% of those killed are women and children …

      70% of those killed are children who are killed by their mothers and of those killed 60% are boys.

      Why did you leave that out?

  2. Let’s be honest … women kill more people annually than men and boys. Women have just figured out a way to call it something else and get away with it. It’s called abortion.

    Not to mention that almost all perpetrators of child murder are women.

    If there is anything wrong with this country it’s that women consistently refuse to take responsibility for anything.

  3. Yes, let’s do be honest, that is a lie.

    The study (and no it’s not “my” claim) says no such thing. Do you really think no one will click through and catch you on your lie?

    And abortion is not “murder”, not even the Catholic church is using that kind of rhetoric these days. So that means you are either a shill for the NRA, or for the Trump reelection campaign, or both. But way to change the topic away from mass shootings and the men who perpetrate them.

    You are evil.

    Did you read my piece on killing women?

    (from Jessica Valenti):

    Any time I have written or spoken publicly my abortions, I have been threatened with death — and I’m far from alone. Women are terrorized about their reproductive decisions — whether it’s threats online or the increasingly frenzied violence against abortion providers and clinics. And, of course, it was just over two years ago that a shooter killed three people and injured nine others at a Colorado Planned Parenthood, screaming about “baby parts” — rhetoric directly taken from conservative writers.

    You are the one carrying water for these people.

    There is blood on your hands.

  4. To-day the deliberate increase in the chances of death,
    The consious acceptance of guilt in the necessary murder;
    To-day the expending of powers
    On the flat ephemeral pamphlet and the boring meeting.

  5. This confuses two issues. Masculinity is about violence in general, not guns. Gun violence, as distinct from violence in general, really is an American issue. We here in Britain look across the pond and think you’re all quite mad, even the moderates look like crazy gun advocates to us. It’s hard to see how this situation even came about, if it weren’t for the obvious fact millions of American woman as well as men happily buy into the tropes of American gun culture. Why is that? It cannot be explained in terms of gender alone, there has to be something specific to America that is behind it.

  6. IME the American gun culture is a male thing, maybe because you pretty much have to own a weapon if you want to fire it, and very few people will let someone else fire their gun, maybe for target practice if that.

    Also IME it is more a southern thing, although there is some hunting for sport in the north and guns were pretty common on farms, as you would need them for protection against wild animals and thieves, at least in theory, although the thieves sometimes got the upper hand there, as someone who knows you well enough to know when you have just sold an animal and are likely to have cash would also know where you hide your gun. In the city there is police department and animal control department, both more effective than DIY, unless you are engaged in illegal activity like drugs. (“Ordinary” shootings in a city are usually a drug deal gone bad or rivalry between gangs for territory to sell drugs.) In addition, if you are not physically stronger than your assailant, a gun can be taken away from you and used against you, so some women prefer to carry pepper spray or illegally-acquired mace. Also some women do not like to fire larger weapon like a .45 because of physical strength and the possibly of being injured by kickback, so they would choose a smaller and possibly less effective weapon. I suspect the proliferation of cellphone cameras has changed / is changing this equation somewhat.

    But beyond protection issues, there is a pressure to “be a man and kill something” mentality surrounding hunting, again in the more southern deer-hunting areas, fortunately this is not something I experience personally.

  7. Like I said, these are not things unique to America. We have rural areas, and tiny defenceless women who don’t like loud bangs. And Canada has bears, and a strong hunting culture. Maybe it is exclusive to the South, then again that sounds like speculation. Perhaps we can draw inferences from the fact that in Canada, gun violence is seen as getting worse, by the standards of developed countries not named the United States, and this seems to be because American gun culture is seeking across the boarder (leading to increased imports and more profits for Big Gun).

  8. Further, the only times I’ve ever heard woman argue they need guns for protection, even small female friendly ones, because they live in scary places far from police, is from Americans. There is something about American culture which has taught people to think the widespread presence of guns is just normal, and so rather than deal with that, they feel they need to accept it and come up with other solutions, including arming yourself to protect against everyone else who has armed themselves. It’s an American problem, most likely stemming from the 2nd Amendment. Only in America does it make sense, out of sheer pragmatism, to arm teachers. That’s crazy. But I suspect it has significant support even amongst women.

  9. No it is not “just normal”, it is hidden, and in some places illegal, or not licensed, you will not even know they have a gun until a teacher retires and tells you, or a rabid skunk comes around a farmhouse and the farmer produces a gun from nowhere and shoots it, or your terminally ill neighbor shoots himself. This is not the manhood thing, it is more an appliance they know is dangerous and keep hidden from children.

    My observations about the South are based on visits and conversations with people who have a foot in both cultures.

    There are photos of these mass shooters displaying collections of guns on their beds before going on their spree. They have a history of domestic violence. Over and over. There is definitely something going on there.

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