I am writing in response to Alexander Wong’s Nov. 13 Forum letter, “Gun Violence, victimhood, and the abject failure of American masculinity.”
One of Wong’s arguments is that the “problem of violence is a problem of masculinity.” In contemporary parlance, this coupling of violence and masculinity is often dubbed “toxic masculinity.”
But is masculinity, in general terms, toxic? For example, was the masculinity, i.e., the courage, the brawn, the heroism, of American and British soldiers storming the Normandy beaches toxic? No, it was redemptive.
In fact, masculinity has redeemed societies, cultures and countries in countless conflicts against maniacal tyrants, including Hitler.
Wong also argues that masculinity produces mass shooters. He references the Sandy Hook killer as an example. Yes, the Sandy Hook murderer was a man (a young mentally unstable man) but his actions show he turned “against” normal masculinity, which is by and large the quality of a man to protect self, family and society, and he turned his mental illness outward in a rage-fueled killing spree. His psychopathology was in control of his personality, not masculinity.
Wong is correct that many men develop a hyper masculinity that can be too aggressive, that can become harmful. But to carte blanche blame masculinity for violent acts where multiple factors, like mental illness, home life, substance abuse, low self-esteem, anger issues, among other factors, influence the perpetrator is to create a logical fallacy.
Men should be praised for their ability to build civilizations, to sustain order, to protect family and country, and yes, they should be called out when their natural desire to protect is used destructively.
No question that Wong brings up certain points that deserve discussion. But many of his ideas are extreme and unpalatable. For example, he brings U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh into his purview and says that the judge “reeks of the same fundamental aggression borne of entitlement . . . that characterizes all of Western civilization.” This is nonsense. There “is” a group today that reeks of entitlement: the identity politics advocates, including toxic feminists, who foster hatred of men and masculinity, while couching their hatred in pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook like most of the ideas and language that appear in Wong’s letter.