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”.
This 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 health issues 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 ending gender-based interpersonal violence and violence against women: sexual, emotional, & physical. With this goal, I am dedicated to sharing my story with young people to inspire productive conversations on social pressures and how we cope with them.
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.