The growing problems of mass shootings is occurring in the United States because we, as men, are taught to show power to get what we want. We are also taught that, to prove ourselves as men, we need to be breadwinners, get women, and have big muscles. More often than not, the shooters in suicide-by-mass-shootings were called emasculating names in high school, such as ‘pussy’ or ‘gay’, consequently never having the opportunity to prove themselves as men, in a hegemonic sense. Thus, the shooters compensated for their perceived lack of manhood with a hyper-masculine display. Inspired from my experiences at a mass shooting, and other tragedies like these, Dr. Victor Rios and I began “Boys ‘n’ Guns: Masculinity in a Culture of Violence”.
“I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.” Marilyn MansonThis issue is two-fold: 1) The lessons that we teach our boys and 2) The way that our boys apply and carry out those lessons. Our conversations around mental illness and gun control have been productive in dealing with the latter half of the issue. However, we also need to come forward on how we all partake in perpetuating the negative lessons our society teaches these shooters. Boys ‘n’ Guns is the platform to have that conversation: Boys ‘n’ Guns is an initiative to improve our communities by understanding the way that society places pressures on our friends. With this goal, I am dedicated to sharing my story with people to inspire productive conversations on issues such as masculinity, feminism, sexual assault, etc.From this tragedy, we can recognize the potential effect of truly showing that we care about each other. Here is to expanding the discussion and holding ourselves accountable on how we play a role in this issue. This is not just to ending mass shootings, this is about learning better ways to love and show support to our friends.
Invite me to speak.