Shooters are Predominantly Male: Why? What Can We Do to Help Foster Healthy Masculinity?

Today, I am thinking about the philosophies and aspects entrenched in society that led a man to go on a shooting spree in which he killed five people in Denver last week. The overwhelming majority of people who are mass shooters are men. But that is rarely pointed out. In 2017, when a man in Vegas shot and killed 61 people, Jackson Katz, anti-sexist educator and author pointed out, “If the Vegas shooter had been a woman, everyone would be talkin [sic] about gender as the critical factor. Cause it’s a (white) man, not so much.” (Katz, 2017.)

The Denver shooter identified by police as, Lyndon McLeod spouted violent, hateful things in posts and books he published on the internet.

“Lyndon McLeod, who police say killed five people during a deadly rampage in the Denver area, was an author dedicated to alt-right philosophies, including masculine supremacy, contrarian COVID-19 beliefs, and targeted violence against the ‘weak’—including those he killed.” (The Daily Beast, 2021)

It is predominantly men who commit violence against women and school shootings as well. Jackson Katz, in his article titled Coverage of ‘School Shootings’ Avoids the Central Issue, states,

“For us to have any hope of truly preventing not only extreme acts of gender violence, but also the incidents of rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence that are a daily part of millions of women’s and girls’ lives, we need to have this conversation. And we need many more men to participate. Men from every level of society need to recognize that violence against women is a men’s issue.” (Katz, 2006.)

Why is it always men committing these acts of violence? I think, in large part, it is due to society prioritizing men over women. This has led some men (like Lyndon McLeod) to believe they are more important than women. (This is where getting rid of patriarchy comes in and to instead institute a system that works in balance for everyone. But that is certainly not going to happen over night…)

I also think we see so many male shooters due to our society’s failure of our men. Our society condemns men to only being allowed to express certain types of emotion: Happiness and anger. This is perpetuated not only by fellow guys but also women and people in general. But men, just like all humans, are complex people with a wide range of emotions and we should be encouraging their whole selves.

If then, as Katz says, it is a “men’s issue,” what can we do? Well, for starters, we can encourage men to express their emotions in ways outside of anger. We can help redefine masculinity.

We can also support the men that are doing good work, like Jackson Katz.

Who else can we support?

Evolving Man, is great Instagram account to follow created by Ben Goresky. He does Men’s Work clinics and promotes healthy masculinity. I love me some good, healthy woke men! Here is a sample of Evolving Man’s message:

[Editors note/update 2/3/22-Evolving Man just posted a few anti-vaccine videos and I am NOT about that…If you decide to support him, be cautious about some of his viewpoints. When I messaged him about it, we had a calm conversation, but he is very much misinformed in this aspect.]

Follow Fight Toxic Masculinity on Instagram too. Here is a sample:

I find it silly that I should even have to state specifically that masculinity is not inherently toxic: There is only a type of masculinity that is toxic, which is harmful to men themselves and results in things like violence. But masculinity is important and wonderful!! We just need to nurture parts of masculinity that are not harmful to the self and to others: To develop masculine attributes like nurturing, strength, accountability and empathy, those key parts of men that are amazing. That is why I am so glad there are men out there, like Jackson Katz and Ben Goresky.

I would like to leave this blog with the open ended questions: What can we do to support men so they can express themselves before the breaking point? Who are more men who are doing the work to create healthy masculinity?

Send me a message or comment below if you know more!

Quote sources: In order of Appearance (For Convenience)

Katz, J. [@jacksonkatz] Oct. 2, 2017 “If the Vegas shooter had been a woman, everyone would be talkin (sic) about gender as the critical factor. Cause it’s a (white) man, not so much.” [Tweet] Twitter

Bolies, B. (2021, December 28). ‘The Weak Better Buckle Up’: Denver Gunman Left Online Trail of Hate. The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 1, 2022, from https://www.thedailybeast.com/sixth-person-dies-after-deadly-denver-killing-spree-police-say

Katz, J. (2006, October 13). Coverage of ‘School Shootings’ Avoids the Central Issue. Jackson Katz, PhD. Retrieved January 3, 2022, from https://www.jacksonkatz.com/publication/pub_coverage/