Guns, Sex(ism), and Hugs

What a week.  One shooting at Fort Hood, then a second shooting in Orlando…a bit closer to home (Portland, OR), the 3rd shooting of the week…because she filed for divorce??  And a fourth shooting and a fifth shooting in the Portland-metro area.  In all five cases the perpetrators are men.

UPDATE (11/18):   A sixth shooting

UPDATE (11/30):  Seventh shooting and eighth shooting

UPDATE (12/03): Ninth shooting

UPDATE (02/11): Tenth shooting

In the last three four SIX SEVEN EIGHT local murders in a matter of weeks, it is the same old story…

  1. man believes he has a right to control women
  2. woman tries to escape from abusive man/unhealthy relationship
  3. man punishes woman

There are variations on #2, such as a man feeling he can no longer provide for his family.  All variations involve us men feeling that our family dominance and possessiveness — core identities of our masculinity — are threatened.

Chiquita Rollins, Multnomah County’s domestic violence coordinator, said the majority of domestic-violence related killings occur when the victim is leaving a relationship.

“That really is the most dangerous time,” Rollins said. “When you look at homicides, the victim is very often in the process of leaving, has decided to leave or has talked about leaving.”

Asked why the perpetrator would kill a child, Rollins said such a person might feel that if he can’t have his child, no one can. She advises women in abusive relationships not to discuss their plans to leave with their partner.

When white people (not all white people…) did this to black people we call it “racism and slavery.”   When men do it, we need to start calling it what it is:  sexism and violence against women.  Sexism is brutal.  The men who commit this violence don’t exist in a vacuum.  They learn their sexism from the rest of us.  End sexism, end violence like this.  The women and child who died now serve as warnings to others who are thinking about leaving abusive men.  Women’s resulting fear protects our male privilege and sense of entitlement.

Another side of the same coin:  men suffer under sexism and we turn that suffering into violence.  Our insecurities become fears, and our fears becomes hatred.   Shit rolls downhill.  This is a problem of masculinity, and we reinforce it internally with ourselves as well as with boys and other men: homo, gay, faggot, pussy, bitch, etc.   Women often reinforce it in the men around them.  Communities can achieve an end to violence when everyone participates in breaking open the box.

To summarize, three ways we end the violence:

  1. Engage in bystander intervention (courage)
  2. Explore and develop healthy masculinity (courage)
  3. More courage

Lastly, a technical note:  Free hugs are given and received willingly in the absence of force or coercion.

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5 Responses to Guns, Sex(ism), and Hugs

  1. Allison says:

    Crazy week for violence…so much negative tension spilled over. Addressing issues of masculinity, gender stereotypes, institutions and expectations (ESPECIALLY unrealistic ones) is key for us to do to address violence as a society, but also on an individual level. Many of us can acknowledge societal trends and their ramifications, but it’s still hard to scrutinize one’s own patterns of assimilation and consent. A long road that must be started nonetheless. As a long time feminist I constantly rail against stereotypes and expectations placed on women–how we should act, dress, talk, be, work, play, etc. Sometimes though I think men are limited to even narrower confines in the level of permission society gives them to break out of those expectations. Providing support and encouragement for men to be accepting of themselves as themselves (not some built up institution version of what a MAN is) might be one of the most powerful thing we can do for women too–and isn’t the idea to make things better for all of us? I have been thinking about this lately–thanks for providing a platform for me to put it in writing, Ethan.

  2. ozob says:

    right on! our individual patterns create those societal trends — so for example if I say, “Yeah, racism sucks…but oooh, nooooo, I’m not racist” that’s like me trying to sell you an Oreo without the creamy center.

    “let’s take something primitive and make it intellectual/ the roots of white supremacy? definitely sexual” — Mic Crenshaw

  3. […] or David Pitcher — I can’t tell) echoes sentiments I expressed in response to a local outbreak of domestic violence murder-suicides: Boys are so paranoid about appearing feminine that they adapt […]

  4. […] There is a lot of opportunity for men to be leaders on ending violence. […]

  5. […] women and children in the Portland-metro area tried to leave their abusers behind. As a result, their abusers murdered them. Under the lead of the Portland Women’s Crisis Line, the community responded with a vigil. […]

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