“I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.” - Andrea Dworkin
Last Friday, Adam Lanza murdered Women and Children in Newtown, Connecticut with a .223-caliber Bushmaster, a semi-automatic civilian version of the military’s M-16. It’s similar to the weapon used in the 2002 sniper killings in the Washington, D.C., area and in the recent Portland, Oregon shopping mall shooting. Both the D.C. sniper attacks and the Clackamas Mall shooting were perpetrated by Men - as most of these spree killings are.
As most lethal violence is.
Under U.S. President Bill Clinton, Congress, with both chambers controlled by Democrats, banned AR-15-type rifles, including the .223-caliber Bushmaster. Congress enacted this ban in September 1994, shortly before Newt Gingrich took control of the House of Representatives. The assault weapons ban expired in 2004, and Congress, catering to the political clout of the gun-rights lobby, did not renew it. Both chambers of Congress had a Republican majority at the time the assault weapons ban expired, the same party as then-President George W. Bush.
I have been watching – like all of us – the finger pointing over what led Adam Lanza to slaughter Women and Children in an elementary school. Predictably, the Second Amendment people are saying “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Predictably, Nancy Lanza, Adam Lanza’s first victim, is being blamed because she owned the guns (legally) that Adam Lanza used to murder Women and Children (oh and by the way, interpersonal family violence is what we call Domestic Violence). Predictably, the Mainstream Media is looking to find a why for this “extreme violence” – Adam Lanza must be “mentally ill” or have some other defect not present in normal Men that caused him to act in a way normal Men would never act.
Normal Men. Normal Violence.
Abnormal Men. Abnormal Violence.
I don’t know where where Normal ends and Abnormal begins.
It is true that giving Men access to high-powered firearms increases the body count when they decide to act on murderous impulses. It is true that if we as a country decided to restrict access to firearms, we would see a reduction in the number of incidents like those in Newtown and Portland, simply because these Men would not have the firepower to carry out their plans. It might also be true that if we had better mental health interventions for mentally ill “people” like Adam Lanza might have been, we might see a reduction in violence.
I am not convinced, however, that the Male Violence Adam Lanza visited on Newtown is a different kind of Male Violence from the Male Violence visited by Men on others every day, in many ways.
I am not convinced that Adam Lanza is an aberration.
I am not convinced that there is Abnormal Violence and Normal Violence.
Statistics bear out that Men commit most violent crimes, about 87% of all homicides. Males are almost 4 times more likely than Women to be murder victims. Significantly, Men commit 91.3% of all homicides involving a gun, suggesting that lethality increases because of the weapons Males choose. Data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Surveydetails that across all types of violence, Males commit most crimes most often. Statistics demonstrate that Males commit violent crimes at greater rates than Females, and are more likely to use a weapon that will cause death.
And yet, when these incidents of Abnormal Violence occur, and Women (Feminists) point out that, once again, it’s Men doing the violence, Women are told to shut up, that we are sexist, that we are trying to co-opt a tragedy to further our Man-hating agenda.
The Male Violence Adam Lanza visited on Newtown is the same Male Violence Men visit on others – particularly Women and Children – every single day, in every state in this country, in every city in each state. It’s the same Male Violence that keeps Women and Children in fear of death and assault in every country on this planet. It’s only a matter of degree – severe, horrific, incomprehensible degree.
Humans – Men and Women – need to stop debating whether Men are more violent.
Men are more violent.
Men are by far the principal perpetrators of murder (and let’s not get started on rape, war, torture, incest, sexual abuse, and genocide).
Why? What is it about Men and “masculinity” that leads Men as a class to such violent behavior? Is this something Men learn? What can we do as a society to help Men unlearn these “masculine” lessons? Or is Male Violence innate? What if certain “behaviors” (i.e., violence) that we understand as “masculine” can be biologically traced to neurological structures? How do we solve that problem?
We need to have this conversation. We need to ask why.
I do not believe that Men are born violent. As much as this will make radical feminist readers of this blog cringe, I believe there are “good men” who don’t want to give their lives to Male Violence. I know some “good men.” I love some “good men.” And I have to believe this in order to be able to function in this world, because the alternative is a life of unspeakable sadness (I am also willing to acknowledge here that I could be wrong).
Male Violence is a noun. It is a thing that little Boys are socialized into – Boys are taught to be tough, strong, aggressive. Boys becomes Men who are taught to be tough, strong, aggressive. And Boys are taught that they are better than Girls, that their life matters more than the life of a Girl, that their needs are more important than those of a Girl. Boys are taught that Girls should cater to them. And Male Violence is used to reinforce the superiority of Men over Women, to remind Women and Girls that we are here for Men.
Your son, dad, brother or boyfriend may not be violent, but Men as a class are more violent than Women.
Your son, dad, brother or boyfriend may not believe that his life matters more than yours, but he – like all Men – has been raised in a system where this lesson is taught every day, in every way, until it becomes “fact.”
We need to be able to say that Men are more violent than Women, out loud, and have this statement be recognized as true – because it is true. We need to be able to name the problem because if we cannot name the problem, we can never hope to “solve” it.
How do we move this seemingly immovable mountain? Where do we start? How do we change things?
Scum-O-Rama, a radical feminist blog, called for a ban on guns. I agree. As Men are more likely to own a gun (and more likely to use a gun in the commission of a violent crime), that seems more than reasonable, in light of the overwhelming evidence of how Male Violence harms Women and Children.
And we have to do more – we have to do so much more. Because I don’t believe that the violence of Adam Lanza is different in kind from the violence of the Man who beats his Wife, or the Man who rapes, or the Man who molests Children – it’s a difference of degree. It’s the same Male Violence.
Cynics say that any discussion of “change” in the wake of a national tragedy is “opportunistic” and “wrong.” I say, what else can you do, what else should we do, in the face of such tragedies? It would be squandering a moment in time, when the country is focused on the horror of this Male Violence, to not discuss how Male Violence has shaped our society, to the detriment of Women and Children.
And we should be having this conversation anywhere there is a discussion about a Man with a Gun.
Because this will happen again. And again. And again.
We have to keep talking about this until we never hear the words “in breaking news, a man with a gun…”