We Need to Start Calling Gun Violence by White American Men Terrorism
According to Human Rights Watch 2017 World Report, in Pakistan there are approximately 1000 women and girls killed every year for going against cultural values of love and marriage. In such cases, the reputation of the family was seen as being in jeopardy, with only one solution: murder of the reputation spoiler in order to restore honor to the family.
The killings were not desired – not exactly. No loving parent or sibling really wants to kill their daughter or sister. But when rules are broken, and the family name spoiled beyond repair, what is a family to do? In particularly grisly cases, these indiscretions potentially led to revenge killings – tit for tat – leaving a bloody trail through families. The grief of losing someone was so great, the pain of honor being damaged insufferable, naturally, the only way to address the issue was killing.
But what does this have to do with white American men? Everything.
Male Rage Has Become an Excuse to Mass Murder
After the shooting in Florida, the only thing I could think was “honor killings.” I kept going back to my Peace and Conflict Studies undergraduate classes where we learned about the incredibly strong motivation of male rage; rage that could only be satisfied with death as in the Pashtun area along the Afghan-Pakistani border.
Americans associate this male rage with terrorism. Many white Americans tell themselves brown people do monstrous things to their girls because they’re monsters. They ask, “What can we expect from a people whose culture fosters terrorist actions?”
But what is a “terrorist action”?
Surely, a mass shooting, which rips apart a community’s sense of security in its public spaces counts as terrorism. If that is true, white American men shooting up public spaces are terrorists, and possibly more monstrous than the brown men they continue to vilify, as white men kill indiscriminately with higher body counts.
American culture is breeding domestic terrorists. Thus far 30 people have died in 2018 as a result of mass shootings, according to the non-profit organization, Gun Violence Archive. When hearing this number, the knee jerk reaction of many on the left is to argue for gun control – that making it harder to obtain guns will somehow address the problem. While it’s true that making guns harder to get will lower the body count, it doesn’t address the fact that mass shootings by white men are a uniquely American problem. No other country has this issue. Which begs the question, what is going on that white American men feel like they need to go shoot up public spaces, killing people that may or may not have anything to do with their lives?
The Origins of American Male Rage
Imagine if you would, the incredible fear and hopelessness of a fragile, white American man. Society is changing. Power dynamics are shifting and being questioned. Gender roles are shifting and being questioned. Old institutions no longer have the same sway. Job prospects are questionable. On the one hand, men are told by entertainment and society at large they are entitled to sex, and any number of privileges by virtue of having a penis (and in this case, white skin). On the other hand, there are people and forces asserting the opposite, like the #metoo and #timesup movements, often shaming men when they try to get what they think they deserve.
To add insult to injury of the male ego, according to Psychology research, boys are more vulnerable to environmental stressors from birth than girls. According to Dr. Allan N. Shore’s report, “All our sons: The developmental neurobiology and neuroendocrinology of boys at risk,” boys need a securely attached parent in order to have similar positive brain development to girls. In short, the tough love that has been pushed on boys for generations has detrimental effects.
Combine this with the fact that men are encouraged to physically externalize their anger, and things get messy.
Mass Shootings Are a Social-Cultural Cry for Value by Toxically Raised Males
Often it’s said that when someone tries to commit suicide, it’s not actually an attempt at death, but rather a cry for help. Things get so bad, the only way the person can imagine addressing the issue is through extreme measures.
In a world where the social noise is so loud, and any single voice can be drowned out by the vastness of data created on a daily basis, people have taken to getting louder with their actions. We see it with kids asking out prom dates, young men proposing marriage, and even with news outlets promoting click-bait headlines. The louder and more sensational, the more likely the thing is to be seen, get more likes, and have perceived value.
But what if someone felt so invisible, worthless, and helpless they had no idea how to be seen? To feel heard? What kind of extreme measures might they take? There’s precedent in America to take a gun out and shoot up public spaces – which as disturbing and upsetting as this might be, because of the lack of social and political response, has proven to be at least marginally socially acceptable.
So what’s a hopeless, angry man to do in order to increase his visibility and, therefore, social value?
This is not an argument for white male fragility. It is a look into how American culture is supporting fragility and violence.
Yes, maybe gun control will lower the body count, but the fact is, we have a bigger problem and taking away guns is not going to solve the issue – mass shootings have become socially acceptable paths for white male rage in America. Until we accept this as true and confront the cultural circumstances that have allowed this to fester (i.e. rape culture and toxic masculinity), we will never solve this issue.
Alexis Donkin is a woke woman, and Christian intuitive life coach fostering breakthroughs and authentic living through love. She is the creator of The Woke Note weekly newsletter, as well as host of the Woke Woman’s Hearth and Intentional Writers Facebook groups. Alexis regularly leads workshops and gives talks on spirituality and self-love. She has authored over 20 books in various genres.
Alexis lives in Southern California with her family. She is a classically trained artist, with a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies and an MA in Global and International Studies. Between writing, coaching, and chasing her kid, she paints, sings, and dances. Sometimes she does it all at once. Find her on Twitter [https://twitter.com/alexisdonkin], Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/authoralexisdonkin/], Instagram [https://www.instagram.com/alexis.donkin/], Pinterest [https://www.pinterest.com/alexisdonkin/] and her website [http://alexisdonkin.com].