Violence and the Race Card
by GWV25 on March 20, 2016 - 10:04pm
Soraya Chemlay’s “Mass Killings in the US: Maculinity, Masculinity, Masculinity” aims to make sense of why women are more often than not the victims in mass killings and why white men are usually the attackers. She summarizes infamous mass killings such as the 1989 shooting of fourteen women in an engineering class in a Montreal university and the recent shooting that took place in a movie theatre screening of Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck. She then continues to explain how all these shootings were examples of white men feeling threatened. Ultimately, Chemlay’s thesis is that since white men are often seen as the weak beta males, they tend to prove their masculinity through violence towards the women they feel emasculated by.
However, as insightful Chemlay’s Huffington Post article is, it fails to represent the bigger issue when it comes to men and violence. Chemlay falls into the trap of playing the race card as Jackson Katz narrates in Tough Guise 2.0: Violence, Manhood and American Culture. The film aims to state that violence is an issue of men wanting to conform to “the man box” which tells them that in order to prove masculinity they must be aggressive and moreover violent. It shows how when it comes to women and violence, gender becomes the issue but when discussing men and violence, people like Chemlay bring up race (Tough Guise 2.0). In fact, Chemlay uses her authoritative tone and strategized statistics to make violence a white men’s issue and not a men’s issue as a whole.
Firstly, Chemlay aims to use an authoritative tone throughout her entire article. This is evident as she uses professionals’ work and papers to imply that her suggestion that violence is reserves to white men is founded. For instance, she refers to anthropologist Tanya Luhrman and sociologist Micheal Kimmel who’s “extensive research”, as Chemlay describes, finds a strong link between race, masculinity and violence. She therefore uses others’ authoritativeness as professionals in their respective fields to convince the reader of her thesis’ validness.
In addition, Chemlay strategically picked out the statistics she included in her article to back up her thesis. For example, she states, “During the past 30 years, all but one of the mass murders in the U.S. was committed by men, 90 percent of whom were white” (Chemlay). Instead of focusing on how all but one of the murders in that period were committed by men, she goes on by insisting that the fact that 90 percent of them were white men is far much more interesting to analyze. She even ignores statistics such as black people only represent approximately one sixth of what white people represent in the United States’ population (Census). Though not indicative of why white men represent 90 percent of the killings done by men, it is a useful statistic to give the reader, if race in America is being discussed. By her focusing on white men in her statistics and only sharing stories on white men violence, she is further imposing her thesis that violence is a white men’s issue instead of actually making it a men’s issue in general.
All in all, for an article whose title implies it will discuss violence in terms of masculinity, the author missed the mark of doing so. Like media does often, she also suggests that violence is a white man’s thing instead of shedding light on the bigger problem which involves all men. Unfortunately, by articles like this going on tangents about things such as race, it is being ignored that violence is actually a problem men face when trying to conform to the ideals of masculinity and “the man box”.
"Census: White Majority in U.S. Gone by 2043." NBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.
Chemaly, Soraya. "Mass Killings in the US: Masculinity, Masculinity, Masculinity." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.
Tough Guise 2.0: Violence, Manhood, & American Culture. Dir. Jeremy Earp. Perf. Jackson Katz. Media Education Foundation, 2013. DVD.