“The Crisis in Manhood that Goes Far Beyond Elliot Rodger” is Live on the Shriver Report
June 4, 2014
In the wake of the Elliot Rodger shootings in California, Promundo’s Founder and International Director Gary Barker discusses the crisis of manhood and connection in his latest piece in the Shriver Report.
“In the recent and tragic Elliot Rodger shooting spree we can find nearly all our causes – misogyny, male entitlement, race (he was half-Asian and described feeling like an outcast), the banality of consumer culture, ubiquitous access to guns and undetected mental illness. That he, like all the school shooters in the U.S., is male has long been obvious. That the shooters are angry and disturbed young men is also painfully clear.
“Seldom, though, do we dig deeper. Why are we creating so many angry young men? What can we learn from this tragic incident that makes us look not just at the Elliots, but at all of us?
“First, while we lament the latest of the school shootings and mourn the victims, we must not overgeneralize. The vast majority of killings in the U.S. are not carried out by aggrieved, middle class young men. Most happen in low income neighborhoods where unemployment is rife. Most men who kill in the U.S. don’t leave articulate blogs, and their families don’t buy them BMWs. Their aggrieved masculinity is based in poverty and the toxic childhoods that poverty brings for too many young women and men.
“This too is clear: while 90% of those who commit homicide worldwide are men, biology has little to do with men’s use of lethal violence. What the world’s killers have in common is being socialized into impossible ideals of manhood. Nearly everywhere we look masculinity is constructed as a contest. We constantly measure ourselves against other men and we never feel we live up. …”