A controversial op-ed published in Indiana University’s student newspaper last week made the case that “toxic masculinity” was to blame for the shooting that left 17 people dead at a Florida high school last month.
The Indiana Daily Student article, which examined the history of mass shootings in the U.S., noted that all the shootings had one thing in common, and that’s gender.
“A tally of all the mass shootings in the U.S. since 1982 found only two were committed by women acting alone, with a third shooting — the 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. — committed by a husband and wife working in tandem,” the students wrote. “When such a pattern emerges from decades of data, it’s time to have a conversation about masculinity and male violence.”
Citing data from gun control group EveryTown for Gun Safety, the students argued that mass shootings, in particular, can be linked to “gender violence.” They noted that not only are men more likely than women to commit mass shootings but any crime for that matter.
“There is some evidence for biological factors playing a role, such as a slight association between testosterone an inclination toward violence,” the opinion piece states. “But the notion testosterone causes people to be violent is in doubt.”
Students also acknowledged the social and historical factors that point to the disparity between men and women in regard to violence, such as ” thousands of years of patriarchy.” They also noted a Portland State University study that suggested school shooters were “avenging actions that they perceived were a slight on their masculinity.”
Their solution? Making a concerted effort to teach boys how to express their anger “appropriately and healthily” while socializing them to reject the idea of dominating others to affirm their masculinity.