Tag Archives: Male Violence

White, Male Violence

[U]ntil very recently the fact that mass murder is an essentially all-male phenomenon got almost no attention.  Ironically, we are so accustomed to the idea that violence is gendered male that we don’t even notice that it is — unless we force ourselves to focus on something that seems so natural that it’s normally invisible to us.

As feminists have pointed out, if we define “human nature” as “what men do” we will treat male violence as merely violence, as opposed to a very gender-specific behavior.  If, when considering violence in our society, we were to turn being a man into a marked category, we would not ask questions like “why is America so violent?” but rather questions like “why are men so violent?”

From Paul Campos’ “Why is the shooter always male?

[W]hen poor folks or people of color engage in criminal activity — including, in general, a disproportionate share of lethal street violence — everyone has a theory; and not just a theory but an analysis that in one way or the other implicates something cultural. For the right, it’s the culture of poverty, or perhaps some specific aspect of “black culture” — about which they know nothing but about which they also feel utterly qualified to speak — while for the left it’s the culture of systemic inequality, of economic marginality, or the cumulative weight of institutional injustice.

But when white people, and especially those from stable and even well-off economic backgrounds lash out in a manner often more bizarre, indiscriminate, and apocalyptic than even the most determined street thug, it is then that the value of broader cultural critique vanishes faster than ethical judgment on Wall Street, to be replaced by a far more individualistic analysis. It’s the guns in that kids home, or the video games he played, or the Asperger’s, or the bullying, or he was a loner, or watched violent movies, or whatever. Because we cannot bring ourselves to ask the questions, let alone countenance the possible answers that we would ask and at which we might arrive were the vast majority of these mass killers black, or Latino, or God forbid Arab Muslims. In any of those cases — and everyone with even a shred of honesty would admit it — we would be talking not about the individual killer as an aberration, as a disturbed and disordered soul who had lost his way. We would be talking about the group or groups from which they hailed. About their cultures, their religion, their pathological communities.

But Adam Lanza was not Muslim. Not black. Not brown. Not poor. He was a white man, just like about 70 percent of all mass and spree killers in American history. And no one seems to think this is very interesting or worthy of comment.

From Tim Wise’s “Race, Class, Violence and Denial: Mass Murder and the Pathologies of Privilege

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