Gun Violence: Exposing Toxic Masculinity As a Prime Suspect by Matthew Suarez Pace LMFT
I loved playing Clue as a kid. Winning the game required a player to correctly identify three things: person, location and weapon. After a mass shooting, the debate tends to narrowly focus on two things: gun control and mental health. Inspired by Clue, I want to suggest a culprit: toxic masculinity, in the school, with the semi-automatic weapon.
It doesn’t take a sleuth to figure out that toxic masculinity (TM) has its bloody fingerprints on nearly every revolver or AR-15 that has taken a life. Though the men pulling the trigger often die, toxic masculinity escapes the crime scene unquestioned. TM, which reinforces a culture of male violence, needs to be part of every debate about gun violence, and undermining it a part of any solution.
There are men challenging TM, but aren’t talking about it. Silence is also a symptom of TM and is a barrier for men who are invested in evolving beyond hyper-violent, emotionless creatures. With that in mind, I invited men to share how they challenge TM. Here are just some examples of what they’re doing that left me feeling hopeful:
- Sharing fears and failures.
- Hugging and saying, “I love you."
- Exploring sexism and homophobia.
- Nurturing children.
- Crying openly.
- Letting kids paint their nails.
- Wearing pink.
- Teaching dancing.
Each is a wonderful act of defiance, unmasking an accomplice to every shooting, and is a step closer to finding Colonel Mustard and Professor Plum hugging it out, in the kitchen, with pink nail polish, instead of a revolver!
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