18 February 2008

Okay--this may be a bad thing to say, but why does no one ever talk about the fact that every time someone shoots up a place and kills a bunch of people the shooter is male? I know there are rare exceptions, such as the woman in Baton Rouge a few weeks ago, but almost all of the shooters are men. Why is it that this little fact gets omitted from news reports? They usually tell when someone is black, or white, or latino.

Is it because white males are the default for human in our society? Is it because we expect shooters to be men? I think it is because they are the default, and women and people of color are the "other" in our lovely culture. But here's the real issue--their sex is not mentioned because there is something deeply wrong with masculinity in our society and no one wants to talk about it. Notice that I said there is something deeply wrong with masculinity--not with men. I will acknowledge that most shooters are white males, yes, that is true, but the problem is not with sex--it is with gender--it is with masculinity.

Carol Clover argues in her book Men, Women and Chain Saws that sex proceeds from gender in the modern horror film. What she means is that characters perform gender. No matter what a character's biological sex is, they are coded male or female according to how they "perform" gender. So you are female if you scream; you are not necessarily screaming because you are female. So in the case of all of these shootings, the shooter is male because he is shooting--he is not shooting because he is male.

What I'm saying is that something in our culture--something about how we teach men, primarily, about what it means to be masculine, lets them believe that it is a appropriate expression of anger to buy guns and use them to annihilate a bunch of people.

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