“They asked me would I like to debate this gentleman, and I said no. I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him,” former Vice President Joe Biden said of Donald Trump in a speech at the University of Miami.
Trump tweeted back: “Crazy Joe Biden is trying to act like a tough guy. Actually, he is weak, both mentally and physically, and yet he threatens me, for the second time, with physical assault. He doesn’t know me, but he would go down fast and hard, crying all the way. Don’t threaten people Joe!” 6:19 AM – Mar 22, 2018
This socially-conditioned reactive stance of males in our society to thrash it out rather than hash it out results in seriously troubling consequences. Coming as it did only two days following another tragic school shooting, this time at Great Hills High School in Southern Maryland, it would not take a giant leap of imagination to understand why murder is primarily a male act in 90% of the cases when the gender of the perpetrator is known. In mass shootings, 98%+ are enacted by males.
The 17-year-old male Maryland school shooter critically injured his 16-year-old former girlfriend with whom he had “a prior relationship which recently ended,” according to the sheriff’s office. He also shot a 14-year-old boy in the leg.
The following quote by the administrator of the Disarmanut’s Facebook page in response to one of my gun safety commentaries exposes a clear example of something the media rarely underscore in our current climate of gun violence: the gendered character of that violence.
“Look at that. A pillow biting chicken queen, who sidelines as an attention whore. Obsessed with his lack of masculinity, and still trying to work out his rage because mommy and daddy didn’t accept him. Sees guns as a symbol of the masculinity he could never achieve, so he hates them, and the people connected with them….”
The Pew Research Center found that white men own over 60% of the gun in the U.S. Overall, 74% of gun owners are male and 82% are white.
It is no mere coincidence that generally women (63%) favor stricter gun control regulations more than men (45%). According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters, 71% of women supported a nationwide ban on assault weapons compared with 46% of men. The Gallop organization found that men (56%) feel safer with a gun in the home than do women (39%), since women are by far the largest group of victims of domestic violence.
Regulations on firearms challenge the promises of a patriarchal system based on notions of hyper-masculinity with the elements taken to the extreme of control, domination over others and the environment, competitiveness, autonomy, rugged individualism, strength, toughness, forcefulness, and decisiveness, and, of course, never having to ask for help or assistance.
Concepts of cooperation and community responsibility are pushed to the sidelines or often discarded. This connected to the easy legal access to firearms presents a recipe for disaster playing itself out so many times in the United States that it has become routine.
Toxic forms of hypermasculinity require the promotion and use of firearms to keep at bay the intensive psychosocial compulsive fear and dread of penetration: from bullets, from homosexuals, from the female gaze since patriarchy promises males the right to the aggressive outward intrusive gaze, the right of penetration of “others.”
Laws are built upon and reflect the society in which they are meant to affect. Patriarchal individualistic societies oppress and inhibit women’s reproductive freedoms, encourages the inequities in salaries between men and women, establishes and maintains the massive development of wealth for a very few while encouraging the enormous financial disparities between the very rich and everyone else, and many other issues.
When he was running for president, Mitt Romney, in his address on “Freedom” to the National Rifle Association on Friday, April 13, 2012 used the term “Freedom” a total of 30 times and “Free” another four times, all in the span of his few minutes behind the podium. His major thesis throughout his speech was the Obama “administration’s assault on our freedoms – our economic freedom, our religious freedom, and our personal freedom.”
But how free are we as individuals and as a collective nation when on average, 33,000 lives are taken every year by firearms? How “free” are we as individuals and as a collective nation when people can own and use assault rifles, and carry concealed guns into bars, political rallies, and college and university campuses?
And how “free” are we as individuals and as a collective nation as the National Rifle Association claims in its literature that “GUNS SAVE LIVES,” as it fights to dismantle governmental regulations on gun ownership and use?
Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s alpha-male bravado signals the gendered violence permeating our entire society.
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