Angry Young Men

A witness heard the 19 year old El Paso shooter  respond to the question, “Why are you doing this?” with this chilling response, “I’m really angry.”   He fits  the profile of, the rage-induced young men we first encountered through Columbine and later Sandy Hook, Aurora, Charleston, Virginia Beach, the STEM school shooting in Colorado, Charlotte, the Poway synagogue shooting in California, the Louisiana shootings in two parishes, the Sebring shootings in Florida (those last six this year alone), the Mercy Hospital shooting, the Thousand Oaks shooting, the Tallahassee yoga studio shooting, the Jacksonville Landing shooting, the Art All Night shooting in New Jersey, the Santa Fe HS (Texas) shooting, the Nashville Waffle House shooting, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS shooting — and far too many more to mention, but all with one thing in common.

These killers  all have a specific strain of anger — deep, repressed, biblically vengeful.   — felt most commonly by young men, almost always white, who report feeling alienated, dispossessed, misunderstood, victimized and all too often rejected by women.  The obvious questions are why has this happened and consequently what can we do about it?

In education, in popular culture, in the family and the workplace and society at large we need to examine the way we now raise and regard boys and young men.  It’s a culture that defines boys’ natural rambunctiousness as ADHD and medicates it, that offers few truly positive role models — with TV, painting most men, both black and white, as bumbling and not-too-bright.  In addition, many women believe that all men cheat on their wives because their fathers cheated and that men inherently lie and are not loyal.  

Labeling and targeting “toxic masculinity” as if masculinity were a force to be suppressed rather than redefined as a positive aspect in our society further exacerbates the issue.   Many of our boys who are not at the shooter level but are still confused about what it means to be a man in the “Me Too” era are searching for a model of masculinity that is non-patriarchal but still values masculine energy and allows boys to be ok about being a man.

2 thoughts on “Angry Young Men”

  1. As usual, interesting and thought-provoking commentary. I have more questions then answers, though. Why have these mass shootings increased in the past decades? Haven’t men been angry for centuries? Why so many mass shootings in the US? is it just more available mass-killing semi-automatic attack weapons and large capacity clips, or are US (white) men more prone to these feelings of rage than in other countries?
    Its a sad state that the response from some is that the solution is even more guns. I don’t see a solution in sight. Though perhaps when there are enough shootings that most US citizens will personally know a victim, then perhaps there will be a major shift. I truly hope we don’t need to reach that point to take action. One should not have to be diagnosed with lung cancer to stop smoking. We did have a ban on attack weapons of war previously in our history, though as you point out, it is also a deeper problem to address the anger and the causes of that anger that needs attention.

    1. In countries with very strict gun laws there are mass killings too, with vehicles, knives, bombs, etc. We can’t fix these young men by outlawing the tools they use to carry out their aggresive acts. Richard is on the right track. We as a society have to reach out to these individuals and at least model what it is to be a healthy man.

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