The student editorial board for the Indiana University student newspaper argued that “toxic masculinity” was behind the recent Parkland shooting.
In an editorial published on March 5 in the Indiana Daily Student, the student editorial board at the Indiana University Bloomington argued that “toxic masculinity” motivated the Parkland shooter to kill 17 people on February 14.
Social and historical factors can probably explain much of the disparity between sexes when it comes to violence. Thousands of years of patriarchy have led to a world in which males are conditioned to have a need for dominance.
Contrary to popular claims about men and boys being unable to express their emotions, they express anger much more overtly than women and girls. Women tend to internalize their anger, while men externalize it, taking it out on the people around them.
The editorial board makes a major misstep, even by social justice standards. Advocates of “toxic masculinity” theory argue that women are better at expressing their emotions externally. They are more likely to keep a diary or vent to a friend about their emotional issues. Men, gender theorists argue, are prone to violence because they internalize their emotions. To “toxic masculinity” theorists, male violence is often the product of internalized emotions that should have instead been let out over time.
The editorial board goes on to suggest that the path to preventing school shootings centers on ensuring that future generations of men are not raised into a similar state of “toxic masculinity.”
This suggests part of the solution to our country’s gun violence epidemic is a cultural shift. We need to make comprehensive efforts to avoid reproducing the same masculinity in the next generation of boys that increases the likelihood of these atrocities.
Boys need to be taught how to express their anger appropriately and healthily. Additionally, boys shouldn’t be socialized to pursue dominance over others as a way of affirming their masculinity.
Although the board argues that “boys shouldn’t be socialized to pursue dominance over others as a way of affirming their masculinity,” they link in their piece — in defense of their own argument — to a study that claims that natural testosterone causes men to seek social dominance.
So which is it? Are men being criticized for their inevitable nature? Or because they fail to reject Western socialization that encourages them to seek social dominance?
On this topic, the Indiana Daily Student editorial board offers more confusion than clarity.