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Society must be answerable to the lives of those lost to the ramifications of toxic masculinity, in both the moral and physical sense.

By Olivia Ahn [TW/CW: discussions about gun violence, murder, domestic violence and misogyny.] On Wednesday, at least 17 people were killed when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire using a semiautomatic rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida. 14 other students were wounded, with five suffering from life-threatening injuries according to NBC news. The Boston Globe reported that Cruz had shown violent tendencies, was abusive to his ex-girlfriend, and his expulsions were related to a fight in regards to her new boyfriend. Since the shooting, authorities arrested Cruz in Coral Springs. He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. [caption id="attachment_49393" align="aligncenter" width="660"]Nikolas Cruz Nikolas Cruz[/caption] Since the beginning of 2018, there have been 1,827 gun-related deaths in the U.S.. In 2017, The Gun Violence Archive reported 15,590 gun-related homicide deaths, domestically and climbing. Approximately 20 of these deaths received widespread national-level media attention. Of the 20 nationally-covered gun-related homicides last year, 100% of the gunmen were male, with 40% of the motives classified as an extension or direct act of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and/or sexual assault or harassment.   The Violence Policy Center (VPC) reported from 2001-2012 that approximately 11,766 women were killed by their current or ex boyfriends or husbands. Over half of these women were killed using a gun. If we are to critically address the issue of gun violence in the U.S., we must confront toxic masculinity’s foundational role in influencing and perpetuating these outcomes, especially in regards to its explicit impacts on the behavioral and mental health of men that proportionately affect the survival of women. The data above was featured in the 2015 documentary “The Mask You Live In”, which focused on the effects of toxic masculinity on young and adult men in The U.S.. The term toxic masculinity has been attributed to the cumulative work of psychologists and sociologists since the early 1980’s, stemming out of the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement. These men commonly defined toxic masculinity as the harmful, detrimental, and even destructive effects of high, demanding, and narrow cultural expectations of masculinity in society. Examples include socially acceptable male traits, such as dominance, emotional repression, the devaluation and subjugation of women, homophobia, extreme self-reliance, and most importantly, violence.

We live in a society where empathy and compassion is limited for Black, Indigenous, and children of color and it is instead reserved to white children, who only have agency due to their white privilege, period.

It’s hard not to look at the viral video of Keaton Jones, an elementary school boy, looking straight into the camera, completely distraught over the kids who bully him at school. In first watching the video, my initial instincts were those of pain and understanding, I too was a victim of bullying throughout grade school. Within days, Keaton’s video had gone viral — from celebrity invitations to a GoFundMe page that currently has over $56,000 in donations. Yes, it seemed that America’s compassion for Keaton was strong, but that’s just the way it seemed. It didn’t take long before the real story surfaced. A Facebook post, by Keaton’s mother, Kimberly Jones, showing family members posing with a confederate flag as she scathingly insults opposition — in short, supporting white supremacy as she bullied black people. The story of how the Jones family finessed the country began to unfold. But is it really finesse? Or another example of white supremacy supporting itself? You may just now be hearing about the story of Ashawnty Davis, a 10-year old black girl who was the victim of bullycide. But Ashawnty’s story came almost two weeks before the faux-bullying of Keaton Jones and a GoFundMe page set up by her family to cover funeral expenses, has exceeded its original goal of $10,000, but only after the wake of Keaton’s story. When you compare the coverage between Ashawnty and Keaton it reveals a lot: Ashawnty’s GoFundMe currently stands at $36,000 of its $10,000 goal, while Keaton stands at roughly over $56,000 of his $20,000 goal. On the surface it may seem  as if this is only about money, but it’s far more than just about how many donations have been received — there were no celebrities pleading for justice, there were few funds raised, there was little coverage, and no viral video for the funeral of Ashawnty Davis. We live in a society where empathy and compassion is limited for Black, Indigenous, and children of color and it is instead reserved to white children, who only have agency due to their white privilege, period.

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