On February 14th, 17 people were shot at a Florida high school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas high was added to the ever-growing list of school massacres which already included Sandy Hook, Columbine, and Virginia Tech. Obviously these shootings all had guns in common, but the other major similarity is that all of the perpetrators were male. Girls are almost never committing these acts. The triggers are mainly being pulled by boys.
Are America’s boys broken?
The last half a century has seen a major shift in what it means to be female in the US. Girls are being encouraged to live their dreams, do whatever it is they want to do. Females have taken the message to heart, and are now outperforming boys in every school level. Girls today still face more than enough obstacles, but they benefit from several decades of conversation regarding the complexities of being female. Woman are increasingly more equipped to face those obstacles and overcome.
Unfortunately, the same movement that is empowering little girls maybe leaving boys behind. Men just don’t seem to be having the same conversations. Man boys are left trapped in that outdated, toxic masculinity, that the females are trying so hard to overcome, and they are left without the language to even discuss their vulnerabilities because being vulnerable and sensitive is still viewed as being inherently female.
Boys and men likely feel isolated and confused, but any attempt to express their uncertainty leaves them open to attacks from other men and yes, even women. This often makes men feel like their only choices are rage or withdrawal, and as a nation we have watched these males turn to violent and deadly outlets.
That isn’t to say all men will eventually turn violent, statistically, but what if we could change what it means to “be a man?” What if men could learn from the feminist movement and have similar conversations with their boys? Maybe, just maybe, it would lead to fewer boys pulling triggers.