Manhood Threatened & Lethal Violence
Dear Friends of MEF,
As many of you know, I’ve been writing and speaking about murderous rampages by disturbed and angry men for more than two decades. My intent — and that of many feminists and profeminist men — has been to help push the mainstream conversation toward a more honest and accurate discussion of the gendered roots of these killings – and, frankly, of most violence.
In his recent rampage killing at UCSB, Elliott Rodger made this conversation slightly easier, by demonstrating quite clearly in his You Tube videos and manifesto that misogynous rage against women was at the ideological core of his horrific outburst, as was his effort to use lethal violence to reclaim his lost and fragile “manhood” and assert his “alpha male” credentials.
If there is any remotely positive takeaway from the tragic incident at UCSB, it is that the killer’s attempts to explain his depraved actions go a long way toward making visible the relationship between cultural constructs of masculinity and our society’s ongoing pandemic of men’s violence against women — and other men. They also highlight some of the many intersections of sexism and racism, as the women he felt “entitled” to and rejected by were blond-haired white women – the hegemonic ideal.
While we as a society struggle to make sense of yet another tragic shooting, I want to point you to Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood & American Culture, an educational documentary that not only shines light on the degendered nature of most media coverage of men’s violence, but also provides analysis of the relationship between cultural narratives of manhood in entertainment culture and the ongoing tragedy of rampage killings, as well as sexual violence, bullying, etc.
Tough Guise 2, the long-awaited sequel to Tough Guise (2000), which was the first film I did with the Media Education Foundation, examines the epidemic of male violence in America — from school shootings to bullying to sexual assault — against the backdrop of a culture that has normalized, and glamorized, violent masculinity. The film is available in full-length, abridged, and abridged-clean versions to make it accessible to a wide range of audiences.
In the wake of yet another horrific shooting — carried out by a man — I urge you to consider the very real connections between our cultural ideas about manhood and the relationship to real-life violence. The stakes are high.