by Gabriel Valdez
I went to look up more information on the Maryland school shooting, and the shooter’s motives in relation to an ex-girlfriend.
What came back was a host of articles going back the last year of men shooting ex-girlfriends. This search was limited to Maryland.
So I looked up Massachusetts. Mississippi. What about states with less population? Vermont. Wyoming.
Again and again, pages and pages, of men murdering girlfriends and exes. Pages and pages going back through time for each without even reaching incidents prior to 2017.
There is a significant, unaddressed problem with toxic masculinity in this culture. This is hardly the first time I’ve said this and I’m hardly the first person who’s said this. It’s been said for decades, and in different language for centuries across the history of our culture.
It doesn’t change unless men expect better from the men beside us. It doesn’t change unless we talk with men about this, even men we agree with, because it has to be normal for us to talk about it. It can’t just be something we bring up when we think there’s a problem.
It has to be something we bring up because it’s important and core to our culture and core to who we are as men, and who we want the men beside us to be as men, what we want our community and culture as men to value. When it’s a problem, it’s already too damn late, and somebody’s already getting hurt because our silence and complicity and avoidance of the topic has already been interpreted as license.
Higher expectations of other men doesn’t mean a damn fucking thing if we don’t voice those higher expectations, and make doing so a normal part of our lives, a normal part of their lives.
Otherwise our expectations are empty, and we only speak them to remain perceived as safe by women in our lives – and that kind of subtle politicking is so you can interpret the performance of ally-ship as your own license, as your own excuse, as your own fallback.
This is common with every privilege – whiteness, straightness, being enabled. If you don’t go out to other men and do the work of it, and vocalize your expectations of them, you’re simply politicking to the people around you so you can keep safe a harbor for your own privilege.
As men, we need to do so much more. We need to not just feel safe because we have a moral expectation, but we need to risk feeling unsafe because we’re willing to hold others up to the same. People are literally dying because too many of us aren’t willing to step outside the realm of ally-ship that’s most convenient and comfortable. We need to fucking get over that.
The feature image is from the ABC News story on the shooting here.