Monday, February 18, 2008

Are Recent Shootings the Result of a Crisis of Masculinity?

In the past few weeks, shootings at Northern Illinois University, Kirkwood City Hall in Missouri and of course, the death of gay teen Lawrence King in Oxnard, California, are raising disturbing questions about guns and violence in our society. UCLA Professor of Education and cultural critic, Douglas Kellner (pictured) in his new book "Guys and Guns Amok: Domestic Terrorism and School Shootings from the Oklahoma City Bombing to the Virginia Tech Massacre" argues that "The school shooters and domestic terrorists examined in this book all exhibit male rage, attempt to resolve a crisis of masculinity through violent behavior, demonstrate a fetish for guns or weapons, and represent, in general, a situation of guys and guns amok." In other words, our society is having a crisis of masculinity. Kellner discusses the pervasiveness of male rage, glorification of hypermasculinity and how violent imagery permeates the media and is tolerated in today's society. Although there are no quick fixes here, Kellner does recommend stricter gun control laws; improved campus and workplace security; better guidance and mental health care on campuses and in communities; a reconstruction of education to promote programs advocating peace and social justice; and projecting new and more constructive images of masculinity. One can only hope that the right people read his book and put his suggestions into practice.

Bullied Gay Teen Declared Brain Dead
UPDATE: Gay Teen Lawrence King
Lawrence King Memorial Held
Ellen Speaks Out On The Murder Of Gay 15-Year-Old Lawrence King, With An Impassioned Message About Tolerance
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
'Lawrence King was on a collision course with a culture that found him repulsive'
Lawrence King Murder: A Deadly Clash of Emotions Before Oxnard Shooting