Profs blame mass-shootings on 'hegemonic masculinity'

A trio of University of California-Riverside professors argue in a newly published academic article that “hegemonic masculinity” is responsible for mass-shootings.

Christopher Vito, Amanda Admire, and Elizabeth Hughes, all of whom teach or have taught in the UC-Riverside Sociology Department as graduate students, blame “masculinity” and its related “gender ideals” for a rise in mass-shootings over the past decade.

Men, they argue, grow up in a “patriarchal society in which systemic violence against women is normalized,” and are compelled to comply with “hegemonic masculine ideals,” all of which increase their likelihood of committing murder.

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Citing the case of Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old who killed six people and injured fourteen others in Isla Vista, California, the instructors argue that his struggle to adhere to “hegemonic masculinity” ultimately caused him to lash out, inflicting lethal violence on his victims.

“When Rodger does not receive societal confirmation of his masculinity, he experiences a crisis of masculinity and feelings of aggrieved entitlement wherein he directs his anger at racial minorities and women,” they note.

“He eventually adopts a violent masculinity and executes a violent retribution when his experiences do not live up to culturally defined gender expectations,” they conclude, adding that this violence was a way for Rodger to express “his aggrieved entitlement [from having his] masculinity challenged.”

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The professors do not, however, address widespread speculation in media reports that Rodger was mentally ill, which could have contributed to his violent turn.

While Rodger was never formally diagnosed, he was once prescribed an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which he apparently refused to take. The 22-year-old also saw a long list of psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists since he was nine, according to The Telegraph.

Additionally, CNN reports that Rodger was diagnosed with Asperger’s at the age of seven, according to family divorce documents. While Asperger’s has not been linked to violence, the disorder may have also played a role in Rodger’s social development, especially with regard to his well-known trouble with women, which he lamented in his manifesto.

[RELATED: Prof suggests ‘toxic masculinity’ caused Las Vegas massacre]

Ultimately, the instructors claim that Rodger deemed “violence [as] appropriate for reclaiming his place within the gender hierarchy,” and that the “pressure to uphold hegemonic masculinity standards” was his demise.

To help prevent mass-shootings, they argue that society should more deeply consider how young boys are raised, concluding that “dissemination of hegemonic masculine ideals to the younger generations put us all at risk for violence.”

“Thus, from a policy standpoint, the most pressing issue surrounding mass shootings may be to address the ways in which young men are taught to prove or assert their masculinity,” they say, adding that “in Rodger’s case, this had lethal consequences.”

Campus Reform reached out to the professors for comment, but did not receive a response.

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