115: Control Toxic Masculinity To Control Violence

TL 115 | Toxic Masculinity

Guns in video games have been around since the 80’s. Has this fueled the idea that taking the life of someone at the pull of the trigger is all okay granted they have their reasons? Perhaps, but it all boils down still to the mental health of today’s gamers. Gun violence happens mainly because of toxic masculinity which happens when men aren’t taught how to deal with their emotions. We can all talk about how we can stop people from getting guns or how we can control them, but the focus must still be in teaching men that they a have a space where they can understand and properly deal with their emotions.

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Control Toxic Masculinity To Control Violence

For this episode, I’ll talk about something that’s really important to me, this concept of violence sparked by the shooting in Florida recently that’s been on my mind, in my system, in my soul, causing tears. As with many things based on this platform, I talk about how I think this is all about toxic masculinity. If we go to the core of man’s view around their feelings, a lot of this can be eliminated. If you’re interested, take a listen to the show and if you like it, please head to iTunes and Stitcher and give us a little rating, give us a little review, much appreciated. For more shows, please visit TuffLove.Live.

I was listening to a speech done by a man named Wayne LaPierre who is the NRA Chief. I’m like, “I should do a show on violence and gun violence, and what I think about it.” The Parkland shooting at this high school affected me. It hasn’t stopped since then, and there’s an emotion around it. There’s sadness and fear and tears. I’m not exactly sure what that is inside of me, but it’s definitely there. Now I have a chance to talk about some of these feelings that have been arising around gun violence.

I wrote a post about this where inside this apathy, fear, and what-difference-can-we-make feeling, there’s actually a feeling of hope. The hope was also tied in with the same feeling I felt around Me Too. How are we going to end this power dynamic between men and women? MeToo happened in the early fall of last year, and it’s still going. There are still people speaking out. There are still women standing up. I’m so intrigued by the news in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, women are writing their views about themselves and their bodies as part of the swimsuit issue. The swimsuit issue was done by an all-female crew for the first time. Women are writing “feminist” or “perfect” on their bodies and different things about them, so there’s an effect.

Another movie star spoke out against a director saying she was sexually abused and raped while she filmed a show. They’re still going and there’s still motion. What it has to do with gun violence, what difference is it going make, or what’s going to change? There is a feeling inside this experience of what just happened, that maybe there might be some change in the world. There have been so many school shootings. Columbine was the first one that sparked the media attention. That was eighteen years ago. There’s been so many school shootings and very little really has changed at all since then. There’s a feeling of something that could come of this experience that, like the MeToo, there’s just a possibility, and so there was a feeling of hope.

I’ve been watching the news. I’ve been studying this pretty intensively. I watched Emma Gonzalez’s speech. She is seventeen years old. I don’t know if she had hair before the shooting, but all I saw was after. She had shaved her head and she had this power Joan of Arc, Demi Moore G.I. Jane thing going on. The passion that I felt inside this seventeen-year-old, the eloquence, the enthusiasm, I don’t know what it is, just deeply inspired me. I was so overwhelmed by this seventeen-year-old girl basically saying, “No more. This is it. Never again. Let’s end gun violence now. Let’s do what it takes.” There seems to be a snowballing effect that I’ve never seen in my life in terms of school violence. There seems to be some uprising. The interesting part is the ones who are leading us are the seventeen and eighteen-year-olds, those high school students. They are the ones who are evoking the change, they’re the ones who are inspiring, and maybe that’s the difference. Maybe the difference is that these kids are the ones that are going to change the world around this thing.

I want to go over some statistics that I found that were so interesting to me. Please take all statistics with a grain of salt because I got them off the internet, but they sound right so let’s go with them. From a place called EverytownResearch.org, 96 Americans die every day from gun violence, and seven of those are teens or children. 13,000 per year are killed from gun violence, and 26,000 are injured. From the same research, 62% of this gun violence was due to suicide, which means 38% are not suicide, which means people killing each other with guns. Gun violence per capita, compared to other countries, the United States was 3.6 per 100,000 people incidents. Canada was 1/7th of that at 0.5, Portugal at 0.48, Ireland at 0.35, and Italy at 0.35, so basically US, by far, outpacing every single country in terms of gun violence. This is not surprising but it’s interesting that the US had the highest ownership of guns in the world, 88.8 guns per 100 people. The closest was Yemen, 54.8, and Yemen is a war-torn country. Almost every single adult in the US has a gun. I don’t know exactly how that works, and this is reported. This was a 2007 study that I found.

Some other interesting things, the people who say that gun is an inalienable right often quote the Second Amendment. The Ten Amendments were added to the Constitution right after the Constitution was ratified to form the country. The reason that they needed to get these Amendments in is to actually get the pass because there was such a diverse field around passing the Constitution. I’m going to read this quote and it says “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of the Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The gun advocates focus on the last sentence, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,” and they tend to forget about the well-regulated militia. It’s not multiple sentences, it’s an “and,” not an “or.” It’s a single sentence. When they wrote this amendment, the fastest gun took about two or three minutes to load rather than these highly automatic weapons now that you can fire 50 to 75 shots in a minute. That’s some of the statistics.

A few more statistics, the NRA, the national society for the right to keep guns, in the 2016 election put in $54 million. 3.3 went to Marco Rubio and $30 million went to support Donald Trump becoming President over Hillary Clinton. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own relationship to guns and what I feel and what I see. I grew up in the 1970s, I grew up to a teenager in the 80s, and I never thought about gun violence. For a moment, I can’t remember a single time in my childhood where I thought about gun violence. I played video games as a kid. I played a lot of shoot ‘em up games back in the 70s and 80s. The technology was minuscule compared to what it is now. I remember though, I was thinking about when I was in college, 1988 to 1992, there was a video game called Cabal which me and my buddy, Paul, would spend hours playing in the freshmen dorm, pumping quarter after quarter, which was basically a shoot-‘em-up game to progress to fight enemy forces, to destroy their helicopters and their trucks to get to the final thing. Then there was another game I played a couple years later which was extremely more violent. It was like a movie video game, like the Running Man genre where you are stuck in this big thing and your job was just to survive, and you would do incredible things with awful weapons with blood and gore. I played those video games a lot. I would go to school and then I would go downstairs of this quad and go play video games and spend $4 or $5 at a time just to entertain myself and trying to get through these pieces. I have mixed feelings about video games.

When I’ve been doing some reading and I’ve seen games, there’s a lot of violence, misogyny, and graphic in video games that I’ve seen and studied. I wouldn’t want to play those video games if I was into video games now at 47. I loved video games as a young adult. I stopped playing them probably when I was 23 or 24. I stopped playing them was because I was more interested in pursuing women. I was more interested in pursuing school. I was more interested in pursuing piano and relationships. Video games, while entertaining, are a lot less entertaining when it comes to building a business and having the ultimate relationship. Video games just seemed dumb in comparison. I know a lot of men nowadays, teens, 20s, 30s and 40s saying, “I don’t want to spend my time learning the skills of building relationships,” are moving to video games.

There’s a lot of research of that. Going back to my favorite book, Man, Interrupted, there’s a lot of evidence that say that video games are taking up more and more time because men don’t want to confront their feelings of inadequacy in terms of relationship and career. Porn plays a piece into it. There are a lot of arguments that say that video games are one of the causes of this violence. I don’t know the answer to that. I do know that I played a lot of video games as a kid and I didn’t have thoughts of bringing those feelings of violence into my real life. I enjoyed them in the fantasy world and I left them in the fantasy world. Not to say that kids today are being affected by video games, I just can’t conclusively say from my own feelings whether it’s true or not. A lot of violence that people feel could be played out in video games instead of in real life. I’m not claiming to know exactly what the truth is here. It is a question to me as much as this probably is for you.

Back to current time, there have been a lot of conversations going on, like the most conversations I’ve seen after a school shooting. It is owning the news cycle. It is on everything. CNN had an open house at the City Hall in Florida that was attended by many thousands of people. Marco Rubio, a junior senator from Florida, showed up. His democratic companion showed up, a representative for the NRA, fifteen to seventeen kids like Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, a few others, showed up to ask questions. The parents of these victims showed up and asked some really pressing questions. The first thing I said was like, “At seventeen years old, I don’t know if I could even put a sentence together on national television.” The eloquence and the maturity of these kids are inspiring for me, just to believe that if the world is going to change, it’s going to come from them.

TL 115 | Toxic Masculinity

Toxic Masculinity: The eloquence and maturity of these kids are inspiring, to believe that if the world is going to change, it’s going to come from them.

Marco Rubio, who received $3.3 million of NRA money showed up, and while he didn’t answer all the questions that were asked, he showed up with class and said, “I want to confront this,” and nationally also said that he’s wanting to think about these things and make some changes in his position against the NRA, which I thought was gutsy. President Trump is doing his normal dance of not really saying anything, saying things would be great, and there’s emotion without giving any specifics, besides saying things like, “Maybe we should arm teachers and we should lock down schools,” which is just the most ridiculous thing I could think of. It totally makes sense that people would think, “We’ll just give a teacher a gun because they are the people there,” but this is the dumbest idea I’ve heard in a long time. These intercity schools are used to gun violence and they have metal detectors and ways to try to avoid guns, and there’s still violence in there.

The question is will removing guns or gun control stop violence? Are we paying enough attention to mental illness? Let me segue a second for mental illness. I’m again looking for more statistics. One article from Politico said that in mass shootings from 1966 to 2015, mental illness was only 14.8% of the mass shootings. Mass shooting is being defined as four or more people being shot or dying in one experience. Another study said it was 23% of mass shootings is about mental illness. Will gun control stop violence? My answer is no, because there’s always going to be a way for people if they want to acquire guns. It’s just the way of the world. There are gun shows and there are gun show loopholes. In the majority of the states in the country, if you go to a gun show, you don’t have to do a background check. The main way to stop guns ending up in the hands of the wrong people, background checks can be bypassed at gun shows. You can basically go to gun shows in these states and you can buy an automatic weapon, you can buy an AR-15. You can get a bump stock and extended magazine which increases the killing power.

While the majority of these conversations are going to help in terms of stopping violence, better control in guns, better conversations about mental illness, better security at schools, all these external things, but we’re attacking the smoke and we’re not attacking the fire. What is the fire? We come back to the same fucking thing, that we’re not handling men. I found an article that said gun violence and violence is connected to toxic masculinity. Of all the things I’ve read, this is the most spot on and definitely what I agree with the most. We’re going to go back to the same thing that I’ve been talking about since day one. The reason that this is happening in my humble opinion is that men are not taught to deal with their emotions. We can look down the line and try to stop them from getting guns, but let’s actually focus on what’s happening in terms of men and their ability to have a safe space to learn and deal with their emotions. An article talked about a great deal of gun violence and mass shooting have to do with men not succeeding in business. They try to build a business, they lose their business, and they take that feeling that they can’t handle inside and take it out in aggressive ways of harming other people.

One article talked and reiterated that women will tend to internalize anger and men will tend to externalize and bring out anger. What we see is that men don’t do the work to handle the internal feelings. They spew it, they vomit, they let out what’s inside because they don’t know how to handle it. Other reasons of mass shootings have been some woman broke up with the guy. The guy couldn’t handle his wife cheating on him and so he brought it out. There’re a lot of office and workplace shootings and violence in offices where the guy got fired from his job and he comes back with a gun to take his revenge. That’s because he couldn’t handle the emotions. Of the mass shootings since 1982, three have been done by women according to one article. That means all these are men, because men are not well suited. They’re not talked about. They’re not given the space to handle their emotions.

I can’t help what’s happened in the past. All I can do is feel my feelings around it and see. We can start to take the action to teach young men and young boys how to handle their feelings. This is the thing that tends to be missing, and this is the reason that MeToo happened, why there’s catcalling, while there’s violence towards women, why there’s power dynamics. It’s because men aren’t being trained to handle their emotions. Let’s go to the root of it and let’s not castrate men, because there’s a call for that as well. Do you end violence while you chop off their manhood physically or emotionally or energetically, and then the violence will go away? We don’t want to shut down men’s power, passion, and desire. We want to build that up. We just want to train them to have an ability to handle it in a healthy and sustained way so that they don’t have to take what’s inside out on the people.

I don’t know anything Nicolas Cage. They said he was mentally deranged. They said he had mental illness. He said he had violence. He said that the FBI knew about him. People bordering him said he was weird but not violent. If the people had the chance to feel all the feelings and have a place to learn to process them, then so much of the world can change.

There’s this march that one of the students arranged called March For Our Lives in DC. It’s in March 24th in DC and they started a GoFundMe raiser. They raised $1.7 million in a week to put on this march. There are celebrities coming up and donating $500,000 each, George Clooney, Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg. In a week, they’ve raised $3.7 million to bring awareness. I’m just hoping somehow that they won’t focus that $3.7 million and the march on the gun control, that they’re not going to talk about how to build schools more safe, that they’re not going to talk about how to deal with mental illness, but that they’re going to talk about how men can learn to feel the crazy depth of their emotions and not have to take it out on other people. How do we build in the schools more space? The schools my stepdaughters go to has a counselor. We’re watching the benefit of the counselor in aiding our older daughter’s range of emotions so she could deal better with school. Morgan spends a lot of time communicating and talking to them and meeting them and informing them about what’s happening.

When our older daughter comes back and says, “This is what happened in school,” Morgan will send an email to the counselor and email to the teacher and saying, “This is what I’m noticing.” The coolest thing is they’re listening and they’re saying, “Thank you for the information. We’ll look out for that.” What if that was the norm? What if the schools had systems so kids could learn to deal with their emotional intelligence, boys could learn to deal with their emotional intelligence? How much violence can we stop? Since Columbine, all these violence has happened and all these kids have made it through safely, but what are the steps we can take at the base of the problem, the fire, not the smoke, to take the steps so kids can learn to deal with the pain inside, the pain that’s caused by the family? What is the father teaching the son? What is the grandfather teaching the father to teach the son? What is the mother teaching the son? Where is the family dynamic that’s not healthy in growing empathic, sensitive young boys? Where can we look at the family dynamics to enable more and more fluidity and flow?

I’m not a politician. I’m never going to be a politician. I am going to be a writer and a speaker, and I’m going to hopefully have a large impact to go out there in the world so we can start to look at this. I don’t want you to get the impression that I don’t think gun control is a good thing. I actually do. It’s an amazing thing. It’s the right step. Increasing awareness around mental health is the right step. I’m saying “Let’s go to the root though. Let’s make it an ad. Let’s really spend the time and energy.” 14,000 downloads per month. Each episode will notch up over time. If you have a son and you’re looking at that son and you’re seeing some of the rage and the feelings of what it means to be a boy. You’re looking at yourself and you’re thinking, “I can do better. I can do better to welcome and have his feelings be right. Maybe I’ll invest in creating a space where that kid can come to me and talk about his rage rather than taking it out on the playground as an adult.”

TL 115 | Toxic Masculinity

Toxic Masculinity: Men are good. Boys are good. They just need more space to be right in their emotions.

What is your impact on the world and what are you going to do? I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do this damn show, and I’m going to write about it, I’m going to think about it and I’m going to propagate it. What are you going to do to change the root of the problem? A heavy Tuff Love, as things tend to be. It’s because this is the most pressing question we have in the world currently. How do we create a space for men to have their emotions so they can move towards what’s called divine masculinity rather than what’s called as toxic masculinity? Men are good. Boys are good. They just need more space to be right in their emotions.

That is this episode’s rant. Thank you so much and if you feel so inclined, please share it. We must get this message out there. Thank you for my regulars showing up, cheering me on. I am so grateful for my health and happiness. I feel for those seventeen students who died and their families. I feel for all people who are affected by violence. I hope peace for you. Thank you so much for joining me on this very emotional, very real, very important show around gun violence. I appreciate your attention. Please spread the word, like it, go to TuffLove.Live and share the podcast. Thank you so much for all the people. Enjoy. Be safe and take care.

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