This one I’m kind of reeling still. It’s not just because we lost 50 lives. It’s because of the lives we lost they were mostly:
In singular form, they are populations I care about deeply. Together, they form a community that is marginalized not only in their own country, but in society at large. Not only that, it was another male that did the killing. Another man killing people who are already fighting an upstream battle.
When I started to dig deeper into this story, it became clear to me that this is the reason why I got into the work I do, helping other males in battling this issue of masculinity. Because believe you me, Omar Mateen would’ve never killed anyone if he was in control of his masculinity, and not given in to what others thought of being a man. The more we hear about Mateen, the more I notice his lack of control in the pull of what he wanted to be. A belief system telling him to be one thing in battle with the reality that was happening in his own heart, and the people around him. I would never understand what he had to deal with internally, because making the decision to kill is not something you make lightly. There was obviously something going on mentally for him to make that choice, and having access to weapons to fully embrace that choice is the issue that is plaguing America right now. But I believe the battle that needs to be fought is the battle of toxic masculinity.
People enforcing their views upon others, especially in the form of masculinity, is not a new thing, and especially is not just a north america thing. It’s forms are prevalent throughout the world, funnily enough, in many different variations. I say funny because all these distinct factions of masculinity (ie. How you SHOULD be a man) all claim that their way is the correct way. Be it the macho jock type, be it the radical spiritual type, be it the Men’s Right Activist, etc. The commonality is the way these men respond when they are not comfortable to question those “rules” and see others who break the rules: violence, hate, and oppression. In Canada alone, 83% of reported hate crimes due to sexual orientation, the perpetrator was a man. And it has been shown time and time again that the one causing violence have had history of domestic abuse, and held beliefs on specific “gender roles.” This is not a huge leap to make, the correlation is right there. We not only saw it with Mateen, we saw it with Elliot Rodger, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Cho Seung-Huietc etc etc.
I have no qualms in saying that once we solve this, this problem of toxic male-hood, a lot of the other problems will go away.
Start talking guys, and start listening. The judging, the piss challenge taking, the power struggles, the qualifications of men in comparison to other males, the question of manhood, and the challenge to find “real men” must stop. All men are not from Mars, we’re from the same shared universe as everyone else.