Open Thread: Is There a Crisis in White Masculinity?

Would we even talk about it if there were?

AlterNet posted an article in their Visions section on Friday by Chauncey DeVega titled Is a Crisis in White Masculinity Leading to Horrific Gun Crimes Like the Sandy Hook Shootings? And that is a very good question.  Mr. DeVega asserts however, that this is the very question no one is going to ask. He says,

Per our national script, there are several questions which will go unanswered…just as they always do.  As I wrote about in regards to James Holmes , the  Batman movie killer, there will be no soul searching about why white men are committing these violent acts. In the present, mass shootings have  been almost the exclusive province of white men .

In all, there will not be a national conversation–one of our country’s most overused phrases, what is empty language signaling nothing–exploring if there is a crisis in white masculinity, which in turn is driving these types of horrific crimes.

One would think someone in the mass media (or who studies gun violence and public health) would find that a mighty curious fact and want to delve deeper into the relationship(s) between whiteness, masculinity, and gun violence.


Do you think there is a “crisis in white masculinity”, and if so what do you think is the driving force behind it?


Do you think the solution is stricter gun control?


How would you go about starting a national conversation on this issue?


Picture: M Glasgow/Flickr



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About Kathryn DeHoyos

Kathryn DeHoyos currently resides on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She has 2 beautiful children, and is very happily un-married to her life partner DJ.


  1. No one seems to take the simple course of looking at the proportion of whites in the population and seeing if that is equivalent to the race of mass shooters.

    Perhaps this is because in progressive circles it’s fashionable to bash white men.

  2. In all, there will not be a national conversation–one of our country’s most overused phrases, what is empty language signaling nothing–exploring if there is a crisis in white masculinity, which in turn is driving these types of horrific crimes.
    The reason there seems to be no conversation on this is because of three things.

    1. The conversation starts and end on, “He’s acting out because he is afraid of losing his white male privilege.” Mental illness, abuse, economic status, parenting status, drug use, etc…. All other possible avenues for why white guys do stuff like this are actively ignored in favor of saying that he did it because he’s white, he’s male, and therefore thinks the the world belongs to him. And no I’m not trying to say that those other things excuse or justify the violence of said white guys. I’m saying that maybe, just maybe, white guys go over the edge for other reasons than teh patriarchy.

    2. Such a conversation is seen as a distraction from talking about other groups of people. Hell look at the last round of rape posts here at GMP. The mere idea of giving a platform to a rapist sent people into a fury that resulted in people accusing GMP of being everything from rape apologists to misogynistic woman haters.

    3. Such a conversation requires something that even so called progressives are not ready to do. See white guys as something other than oppressive monsters when talking about their whiteness and manhood. Don’t get me wrong about what I said in point 1. If something like mental illness or economic status does come up it would be talked about….and then surgically separated from the whiteness and manhood and things would go right back to, “Why do white males think they own everything?”. Segmentation like that makes it easier to deny them their full humanity. And when their humanity is denied it’s easier to cast them as monsters.

    Also on a slight possible fourth thing.

    Progressives are nowhere near ready to frame this as a “crisis in white masculinity”. Mind I speak from watching reactions to the ideas of a “boy crisis”, “mancession”, and the looming “end of men”. Once a group has been designated as privileged it’s against the rules of discourse to talk about them as having a crisis.

    • Bay Area Guy says:

      @ Danny

      Excellent comment. Took the words right out of my mouth.

      The conversation starts and end on, “He’s acting out because he is afraid of losing his white male privilege.”

      Exactly. Even though these “progressives” are calling for an open conversation, they already seem to know the answer to their own question. Which doesn’t make it a discussion, but instead a lecture.

      Since bashing white people (white men in particular) is so fashionable within the left, I don’t think that they would even try to conduct a serious analysis on why white men are disproportionately behind these crimes.

      They mainly seem interested in scoring points, and subjecting white people to the “white pathology” trope as retaliation for being stereotyped themselves. Sort of a tit for tat, if you will.

      • Yes.

        I’m all for trying to get everyone on the straight and narrow but it’s gonna be a hard go if the only time white guys can even be brought up as a group is when they are being called on for doing bad things.

        From what I’ve seen a lot of these guys had some of the same issues that other people had when they committed acts of extreme violence. Mental illness, drug use, were abused in some way and didn’t properly heal, etc…

        The answer to stopping these shooting sprees by white guys is the exact same answer that it is for every other group in existence. Address the true underlying issue.

        Damn, its like people think that being a white guy actually means that the things that harm other people don’t harm them.

        • Bay Area Guy says:

          Damn, its like people think that being a white guy actually means that the things that harm other people don’t harm them.

          I get the exact same feeling.

          It’s as if they believe “white privilege” is a force field that shields white guys from all hardships in life.

          And of course, the theory goes that since white guys have no real hardships in life, they have poor coping abilities. Therefore, whenever they do experience a hardship, they go crazy. Sort of a privileged rage, if you will.

          I’ve even heard some people argue that white guys specifically choose places like schools or malls because they feel entitled to the world, and therefore decide to commit their craziness in a public space where they’ll make their presence known.

        • The second story out of the archives is just as fascinating – and I’m not pulling any fancy tricks – just setting the news archive date as prior to 2011 to miss the last three heavily reported shootings 2011/12. It is a fast and dirty search, but there are a number of anomalies showing immdiatly.

          An Alabama professor accused of shooting six colleagues was vocal in “”her”” resentment over being denied tenure and the looming loss of her teaching post, though relatives and students said she had never suggested she might become violent. February 14, 2010 – Fox news. Source

          It seems this got a wider media coverage and even national because it was a “White” woman and in an “Eductional” venue – she knew the people she shot.

      • They mainly seem interested in scoring points, and subjecting white people to the “white pathology” trope as retaliation for being stereotyped themselves. Sort of a tit for tat, if you will.

        I have to say that as I’ve been digging for media reports of mass shootings, that is 3 or more people, I keep noticing a set or worrying anomalies as to profiles and levels of US centric news coverage. The first story that got flashed up of the top of the pile to me sums up a number of points:

        At least four people were killed when an elderly woman “went crazy” and started shooting in a family home in Seattle on Thursday, police said.

        LOS ANGELES, September 24, 2010 (AFP) – At least four people were killed when an elderly woman “went crazy” and started shooting in a family home in Seattle on Thursday, police said.

        The woman, described as Asian and in her 50s or 60s, was among the dead, said a police spokesman in the northwestern US city. The others were two women in their late teens, and a man in his 30s.

        “My mom went crazy and shot everyone,” the spokesman quoted the one gunshot victim who survived, a woman in her late 30s or 40s, as saying. The victims are all believed to be family members.


        Female – middle aged – Asian – Family members.

        If you are male white and kill you get news coverage, but there seem to be barriers and fears to reporting the same if the killer is female – from a none Caucasian group – and past teenage years. Also killing family seems to be normal it’s only killin strangers that gets media working – it seems It’s rude and has to be on the news.

        There really do seem to be some very large media biases playing out. Saw the same in the UK with interest groups bringing pressure to bear and screaming racism, sexism, what ever it took to blunt the story. It looks to me as if the US Free press is not as free as some wish to believe.

    • Wow, Danny… that was beautiful.

  3. John Anderson says:

    I’ve seen this topic come up a few times certainly on web sites that discuss gender. I’ve heard it come up during the DC sniper shooting spree when people initially thought he would be a white male because that fit the profile. Some of the conversations drop the white and simply look at males. As long as they’re bashing men or bashing white men, you’ll have the conversation. It’s when you start using the term white men and crisis in the same situation that the conversation stops because then people might discover that men don’t have it all that great and might need help. Society doesn’t want to hear that.

    Where do you start the conversation? You look at motivations and that’s the hard part. Once you find out what was bothering these guys, then you need to address it. If you find out it was mental illness or suicidal thoughts (a bunch of these guys end up killing themselves), is there really the will to provide men (especially white men) the support that they need? I think starting it is easy. Getting it past the how do we help stage is the hard part.

  4. Why do 4.5% count so much? There may be issues with White Masculinity USA and even Masculinity USA – but it’s hard to have any discussion about Masculinity when only a certain group appear to be presented as relevant. There are about 3.5 billion guys on the planet and only 157 million are USA types. 4.5%?

  5. To assert anything at this point, to me, is to be overly speculative. The truth is, for anyone in American culture–man or woman– that loses status and loses identtiy, a crisis can ensue.How said indiviiduals deal with those pressures, in most cases in he court of public oppnion,, is pure guesswork.

    Secondarily,without a comparison that stretches across the boundaries of history comparing men and women of diffirent generations and with different cultural expectations, any answers are suspect. In fact, until we, as a society come to grips with the reality of domestic violence in this country that is free of racism and sexism( and other isms as well)I don’t know that we every be able to find answers to this kind of thing–if any exists.
    I was born in 1955 and the America that I know is a violent place and has always been a violent place that, depending upon one’s social status,that violence is dealt with in specific ways. Depending upon’s one status, violence acts that one may committ may or not be viewed as acceptable.Some people get blamed for dv and rape and some don’t. Some people get mentioned in sextrafficking articles as victims and some don’t.
    Ask some Native Americans, or Hispanic Americans( whose land was stollen in a fit of legitmate patriotic inspired violence) if American culture is tolerant of violence. How many inncoent civilians have been killed in our recent wars of freedom? Shouldn’t we be holding candle light vigils for them too? Haven’t our bombs killed children in Iraq,in Afghanistan and in ,in Viet Nam and so many other places? Lastly, this idea that women have not played a role in support of the violence throughout American history,in support of the wars of conquest and expansion and in other ways too, is baseless misrepresentation of the facts.

  6. Is There a Crisis in White Masculinity?

    Why just “white?”

    I know yer not sposta use facts round here, but anyone do a colour spectrum analysis in the prisons lately?

    You said “White” so i think i getsta say “non-white.”

    • Kathryn DeHoyos says:

      We are speaking specifically about the mass murders in the US which in recent years happen to be perpetrated almost exclusively by white men.

      • We are speaking specifically about the mass murders in the US which in recent years happen to be perpetrated almost exclusively by white men.

        I’m sure I just spotted an Overwhelming Trope there! I’ll have to dig out some papers I was reading about media and pushing or rather skewing agendas and tropes. Cos I deal with abnormal Psychology I often compare events with the Beltway sniper attacks – John Allen Muhammad and Boyd Malvo. I even remember the shock in the US media when it was found that there were Black Serial killers …and worse Serial killers are supposed to stay in their own ethnic group and this was not the case.

        Funny how prejudice got in the way there back in 2002. I have to wonder if the reports via media are valid and accurate, cos it often seems that victim profile and media presence are the issues – and some guy walking into a venue where he is known and opening fire on people known to him just don’t get counted.

        Murder friends and family it’s fine, just don’t macaree no strangers?

        “exclusively” is a word that needs to be questioned without question, and not used unless it has something approaching a 100% validity and not less than 99.9999999%. I do fear that there is an issue of Implicit racism and cultural bias here, and that always leaves me very antsy!

  7. Once again all white men are vilified because one crazed shooter does the most heinous thing imaginable and now all white men are held accountable. I for one am sick and tired of being the bad guy and taking the punches for some nut case’s homicidal rage. When will women look around and stop seeing the potential rapist, the drunken abuser, the woman hater in every man. We are not all shooters and we are not all villains. If by the innuendo under the statement that we men are being told to clean up our own house, then I agree wholeheartedly. If this is just another knee to the balls then get off our backs.

    • Mike I do sympathise with your feelings of frustration. The main stream media are known to be lazy in asking questions and reporting. They also feed on advertising revenues and work to share holder demands. You can’t have “a cerebral, new media alternative” if all you do is regurgitate the other guys tropes and revenue biased tropes.

      “..not so much a magazine as a social movement.”. – well moving away from the tropes and tripe of mainstream media may encourage social movement, else your just another middle of the media funding stream magazine. It is frustrating.

  8. There is certainly an upsurge in white guilt and white blame, that is for sure. What always seems so odd to me is that it always seems to come from white women, as if possession of a vagina negates the sin of their white skin. It really does seem to be a big trend in feminist circles lately, doesn’t it?

    It doesn’t really bother me. I’ve dealt with way more vicious discrimination and hate when I was in school, so I built up some armor. It makes me very wary of having kids, though, especially if they were white (doubly so if I had a son). I don’t want to send children into a world that thinks scapegoating them is ok, and that their problems don’t matter.

  9. PerfectGentleman says:

    Shootings are so common in America because we are way more stressed out than the rest of the world. If we lived in a supportive society where we could quit our jobs if we didn’t like them and not have to worry about paying the bills, having food and shelter and health care taken care of, we’d be happier and less stressed out and less likely to commit these kinds of despicable acts. In my opinion, if it is white men committing these acts more often it is because they are experiencing the highest levels of stress of anyone in our society. The pressure to earn at meaningless corporate jobs is highest on white men. They have privileges but also have burdens. “reverse” discrimination is real and very harmful.

  10. @MediaHound: What’s up?I agree with most of your assessment,to a point.The racial divide that tells some that only this group of men versus that group has it better is based on a ruse.The dismantling of the white male asthetic is actually the samething that happened to all men in America. White males,in general, are only marginally more privileged than men of color in America.The language of the Constitution and the intent of the Founders are clear on these points.”All men are created equal,” didn’t mean ALL men…not even implied. The equality faultline dividing haves from have nots is class not gender.Always has been.

    • @OgWriter – There is nothing up. I have just been amazed at the Propaganda that some are pushing with such badly constructed language – They see patterns – they use the royal WE to indicate personal views and attempt to make it Universal. Odd How advertising Oriented such bias language is. All I have been doing it looking outside of the Time Frames and events that some are attempting to capitalise upon through both emotional, psychological and cognitive manipulation …. and as I look back at just mass shootings, I find no White Male Dominance in the role of shooter. There are women, all races, all income demographics and all ages slaughtering what seems to be mainly family members – and people they know such as work colleagues. That all seems fine and gets under reported,

      It seems that if you have a connection to place and go there to commit carnage it’s terrible. Slaughter your family no problem, but random slaughter is not the US way? It’s so Bixxaro as to be clinical. If people wished to go nutty and off the edge of an Unhinged and Purging Catharsis why are they not highlighting the risk of family death over pizza – or mass murder cos granny and her pasts sauce is not seasoned right?

      Looking at so many facts it comes up that some – in fact it would appear a great many – are jumping on a band wagon, making great public displays – using these events and the deaths of others to make points – and in fact from where I’m sitting It’s hard to see the difference between some and those people over at Westboro Baptist.

      I’m NO MRA, Just a Meddling Rational Archivist, but I’m starting to see why MRA’s are of the view that there is a conspiracy against male and white males in-particular. The biases that are being thrown about are quite shocking and from supposedly Intelligent people who are supposedly emotionally well balanced and supposedly rational. All I keep seeing is social dysfunction, knee jerkitis and dishonesty… and that’s from the people who keep claiming that are the good guys!

  11. John Anderson says:

    “The language of the Constitution and the intent of the Founders are clear on these points.”All men are created equal,””

    Wasn’t that the Declaration of Independence?

  12. @John Anderson:Yes, the reference is from the DOI,but I used it because it has been misunderstood to mean all men,when it doesn’t.

    • @ Ogwriter – Yup – the all men are created equal didn’t include slaves and quite a few others. That does get forgotten when people rely upon words to justify Militias and Guns. And I see we have drifting comments again.

      • @MediaHound: i understand why John was confused with my meaning , which I could have been clearer on. Writing extemporaneously poses challenges for me. My pint, I thik, is consistent with your analysis of the importance of and impact of language on perception and the need for precision in certain, if not all, occasions. That men are not included in the UN dialogue about sex trafficking and other issues pursuant to human rights is directly related the absence of men in the fundamental cultural dialogue of the same. Policies tend to reflect, at least to some degree, what a culture values, any first year political scientist knows that. Again, I understand why white guys are upset and feel the way they do, but at the end of the day the fate of white guys and black guys and guys etc, etc, are linked.

  13. @MediaHound: Just wanted to amend something I wrote. I believe that until men and women of all stripe can agree on some basic principals whereby everyone has a voice that can be heard when necessary.As long as these groups give in to the temptation to grab power only for themselves, unaware that the system controls how one must acquire power there will be unnecessary strife, among the disenfranchised, over basic human rights.

    One can witness this played out throughout American history. For instance, during women’s suffrage, white women sold out black women, also suffragettes, to the powerful and famously racist Southern Dixiecrats, in an unholy alliance to secure for themselves the right to vote. This how politics works. And few things, related to power, work outside the realm and influence of politics.

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