I want to preface this post by inviting anyone who wants or needs a free query critique from me to make a donation, no matter how large or small to The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence. You can then contact me via this blog to arrange your critique.
Christmas season is rough on many of us. Life in the modern world is hard at the best of times, but for some reason, the end of the year with all its failed resolutions and shattered hopes, is especially hard. While the sentiment of Christmas, for those who partake, can be a source of solace, the mad consumerism for some is considerably less so. So yesterday when I encountered a man screaming at the top of his lungs in the Metrotown Shopping Center parkade, I really wasn’t surprised.
The poor man had lost his car. Metrotown has more than 8000 parking spaces and he had no earthly idea in which one he had parked. At the best of times, this busy mall is a zoo (my family affectionately calls it “The Planet of the Apes”) but around Christmas it’s an old school lunatic asylum. This hysterical man was screaming profanities and walking around yelling into his cell phone, almost in tears. I wanted to help him (I nearly couldn’t find my own car) but frankly he scared me. What his anger did to him scared me. It made him dangerous. It made him lose control. I was worried that he would assault anyone who asked him to please calm down. There were many children, women on their own, and elderly people getting in and out of cars as this man raved and swore. I was scared for him too. He was moments away from being arrested.
All about a missing car.
Who knows what slight caused the Sandy Hook gunman (he was barely a man, only 20 years old) to snap. At least some of his anger seems to have been directed to his mother, a school teacher, who is presumed dead. Who knows what pre-existing conditions contributed to this horrific tragedy. I have previously said all I need to say about gun control in this post, and this one, so I won’t repeat myself here. I only want us to try to understand the anger of men and boys. Why is it so often directed outwards rather than inwards as women’s and girls’ anger mostly is? Why does male anger to frequently lead to destruction both large and small?
So much is written about women and girls and how hard it is for us to live in a world where we are not safe from abuse, exploitation and assault. It’s true, it IS hard. But how much harder must it be to be a man? Men commit ten times as many murders a women, but are also the victims of murder at four times the rate as women. Their victimization rate for ALL violent crimes is higher than women, with the exception of rape. That said, one in six men is sexually assaulted before they reach adulthood. Men are incarcerated at rate 95-99 times that of women. One in four incarcerated men is sexually assaulted.
Men suffer disproportionately from almost all serious illnesses, including mental illness and addiction. They are more likely to have almost all cancers (barring reproductive cancers of course), strokes, heart attacks, accidents, and many viral and bacterial infections, including, in some countries, AIDS. Worldwide they commit suicide on average at more than three times the rate of women. Not surprisingly their life expectancy is lower, considerably lower in some populations.
In some countries, young men have no choice but to serve in the military. In others they are targeted by drug cartels, warlords or gangs. Most young men know that it’s wrong to rape, but many are afraid to admit they don’t fully understand what constitutes consent. Most are never educated about this. Many spend years angry and confused about the mixed messages and manipulation they get from female friends and from the media. Meanwhile their sex drives are stronger and more preoccupying than women’s. They are never advised on how to live with it. They just know that have to.
In progressive societies, sexually active women have a choice whether to become a parent after a contraceptive failure. Men have no such choice. The condom breaks and their whole life is in the hands of the woman or girl. THEIR WHOLE LIFE. They have no say in the matter. Their choice is become a good father, become a shit father, or hope that the girl chooses with their future in mind. There is no resolution to this unhappy fact by the way. I only want to point out how hard that must be.
Girls and women outperform men in nearly every academic setting. In the USA female enrolment at universities is 20-30% higher than male. The conferring of degrees, both undergraduate and graduate, INLCUDING the sciences, is higher for women.
Some countries policies and traditions (I’m looking at YOU China and India) have led to a gender imbalance that means that up to 10% of men have no chance of ever marrying. In practice this mean they will rely on sex workers for intimacy, and the state, such as it is, to care for them in old age. Ironically these are societies that value parenthood above almost all else. It is the lowest status males for whom this fate awaits.
I know what some of you are thinking. “Oh boo hoo, you control the world. Who cares how much you suffer?” The point is, these mass killers, the rapists, the suicides, the drug addicts, the gang bangers, and any number of other miserable men feel have no control at all. That’s why they are angry. They are told they should be and are be the masters of the universe, yet that’s not how they feel. They feel cheated, confused and bitter. No one has helped them accept a lesser position. They feel they need to fight for it, or die. Often both.
Maybe you still don’t care. At what point do we start to care how pathologically unhappy and angry some men and boys are? Can it not before BEFORE the violence?