by lrl on March 20, 2016 - 7:46pm
In this blog post, the author chose to deal with masculinity and violence by analyzing the case of Adam Lanza, the man responsible for the death of 26 people during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that occurred on December 14, 2012, in Connecticut.
She argues that Adam Lanza was indeed a troubled child, but that the blame should be put on our culture which promotes violence, and that media should not talk about the issue of mass shootings in gender-neutral ways, for that the perpetrators are predominantly males.
This first paragraph is cleaverly crafted, for that she directly interacts with the readers by pointing out that our misconceptions are related to the wrong questions that we, as a society, tend to ask when faced with the issue of masculinity. For instance, instead of asking "Why did this happen", the question should be “Why did another angry, young, white man act this way and kill these people?” (Chemaly). Her thoughts makes it more personal, and renders the issue more relatable to readers, as they can already start to question themselves. Furthermore, by easily shifting the attention towards her main point, the blogger is able to make the text flow logically and coherently.
As part of her thesis, the author also singled out a specific class of males in her argument: the privileged, upper class white men, which is something that Jackson Katz overlooked in his film "Though Guise 2.0". She makes the assumption that in our society, men are conditioned from birth to conform to the "man-box", behaving in ways that promotes control and violence. In her article, Chemaly states that these "[E]xpectations, when not met and combined with illness, loss, depression and more, explode into uncounted tragedies every day", and claims that this issue especially affects white males because their loss of power as a more privilegded class is even more humiliating.
Her opinion is different from the way masculinity is being portrayed by the media. She aknowlegdes that mental illness and problematic gun control are indeed causes of massive violence, but that contrary to popular belief, she claims that we also have to include these problematic ideals promoted by society in order to understand this issue.
She also defends her argument by using comparison. She uses refutation to disaprove common misconceptions, such as the rarity of mass shootings. She also mentions observations that another blogger pointed out, which is definitely biased, but nonetheless veridic. For example, she points out that "Switzerland and Israel have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States” since "of the 25 worst mass shootings of the past 50 years, 15 took place here" (Chemaly). These counter-arguments make such strong statements that, in my opinion, leave the reader with no choice but to nod in agreement.
To emphasis on this conclusion, the author tried to include and disproof as much misconceptions as possible, since her thesis was so precise. She uses statistics and comparison to solve the issues of gender and race, as well as gun deaths, in this problematic. For instance, she mentions that women were sentenced for 15 years, and that men killers, which are mostly found to be black males, were sentenced to between two and six years. By that she insinuated that violence and hegemonic masculinity were more "accepted" when it came to white males like Lanza, to whom we have deemed his actions to be caused by his mental illness, which, really, does not give much room for the reader to argue.
For more reticent readers, she uses her last paragraphs in a more global way to disproof the racist or sexisist opinions that she may face for claiming that white men are the major perpetrators of mass shootings. She uses facts and literary devices such as accumulation to reiterate the fact that white males have ruled for a long time in American history, and that it is clearly "hard and unpleasant, frightening and disorienting" (Chemaly) for them, let alone anyone, to lose power.
Overall, Chemaly wrote her post in first person, which made the matter much more personal and convincing. Since she was very throughout in her analysis, it also made her thesis very hard to disagree with.
Chemaly, Soraya. “Why Won’t We Talk About Violence and Masculinity in America?” Ms. Blog. Ms. Magazine, 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 18 March 2016.
Jackson, Katz, dir. Tough Guise 2: Violence, Manhood, and American Culture. Media Education Foundation Production, 2013. Film.