It’s the Men, It’s Always the Men

Shine a light and raise consciousnessBy Estelle Sobel Erasmus of Musings on Motherhood and Midlife

As I pray for Boston, Cambridge, and my friend who left violence in South Africa to find violence in her peaceful neighborhood in Watertown. MA I’m struck by one important thread in all this.

The violence and terrorism was perpetuated by men. Always the men.

We didn’t hear that women were behind 9/11, Newtown, Waco, Oklahoma City. It was men; always the men.


Don’t get me wrong. I love men, married a great, highly protective one, have steadfast, loyal male friends and a wonderful, supportive father. I support the idea of the man as the archetypal hunter gatherer, even as the warrior (as long as its in a protective, not destructive manner).

Men have been there for me as mentors, bosses and yes, helpers always.

Once a man stayed with me at a deserted train station until the next one came. He had a daughter, he told me and hoped someone would do the same for her in a similar situation. A man also picked me up off the floor when I fell nearly on the tracks, years ago, while rushing to catch a subway. He was a six-foot four tall African-American man, and while I was lying there in shock he gently asked me if I was ok (I nodded), placed me on my feet, then gathered up the entire contents that had fallen out of my purse, put it in my bag, and sent me on my way. Another man, a hispanic, called me on the phone to tell me that he had found my pocketbook which unknowingly to me had bounced off the car seat and into the parking lot when I threw it down, after a night out. He was moving that day, but held the move off so that I could get my bag, which he brought right to my car. I could go on, and on and on. So there are good men…lots of them of every race, creed and color.

But, and this is a big but….the question must be asked. Why is it the men? Lone shooters? Men. Mentally deranged mass murderers. Men. Terrorists. Men.

Women may  become violent with others and paramours (Jodi Arias comes to mind), and certainly there are women terrorists, but in general, and statistics will support this, women don’t make plans to violently take out a town and bring a nation to its knees.

So… Again I ask, why is it the men?

I would love to know some answers, because the only answer I can come up with is that as a society we are way off-balanced. There is too much testosterone and not enough estrogen, particularly when it comes to government and power, and the emphasis on true caregiving.

I do think, even in these perilous times, that we can rebalance the energy of this world that most of us want to survive and thrive in.  We can raise our children’s consciousness early by focusing on the importance of them being strong, caring people. We can put the emphasis on character and critical thinking in our schools, and not just on meeting the numbers.

We can stop associating violence with power. Don’t tell or show your children it’s fine to take a water pistol and go boom boom; don’t glorify guns. Don’t glorify action heroes. Don’t buy toys that look like guns for your child to use to feel a false sense of power.

We can raise girls who will lean in early (before they get to corporate america) and have a voice, as I wrote in my post Make Little Girls’ Voices Carry. The stronger the girls, the stronger the women, the stronger the women who will lead. The more power women have the more influence we have to change the world…and yes, to influence men… and each other… the quicker the shift in consciousness that will lead to balance will happen.

Ultimately, I believe that more women in positions of power and authority will result in less wide-scale suffering.

Where do you stand on the ills facing our society today? What can we do now to rebalance our world situation, where it’s mostly the men who commit horrendous acts of violence and wide-scale terrorism?


17 thoughts on “It’s the Men, It’s Always the Men”

  1. I have a son and a daughter, and am often fascinated by how natural is is for my peace-loving gentle boy to make his fingers into guns and shout “I’m going to kill you” when he is upset. We don’t allow toy guns of any kind in our house (we have water squirters that look like animals instead of pistols), and still my son shoots. My daughter, on the other hand, can lash out physically at her brother as well…but she uses much more tricky things like pinching and poking when nobody is looking. Finding gender balance is a whole mess of nature and nurture. I don’t believe that there are any easy answers here, but I don’t agree that it is “always the men” either.

    1. Thanks for your comment Jessica. I love the idea of water squirters that look like animals instead of pistols for a start. I know that women commit crimes, but all the “big” news seems to be about the men, which is why I wrote it this way. I wish I knew the answer, but it now appears that some of these acts are done for men who are “failing” elsewhere to feel bigger and better about themselves, i.e. more manly. It’s a dilemma, on how we as a society define manly, and how it can go askew. Great discussion here.

  2. I have to agree with Doctor G on this one. When I was class parent during my daughter’s nursery school days – you could put two drumsticks in front of a boy and a girl. The girl would start tapping with them…the boy would immediately turn them into guns.

    I also think your premise transcends gender; this is not about being male or female – it’s about believing in a certain political ideology. Remember, there are women who also strap themselves with explosives and walk into busy marketplaces.

    1. Yes, you are right, women are certainly perpetrators, but not for these types of terrorist acts, and not in America. I wish it were different. I wish nobody acted this way, and yes it is about believing in a political ideology, but the news coming out is that was the premise but the men acted that way because they felt it was a masculine act. So there’s that. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  3. Very interesting post. As a mother to both boys and a girl, I do notice how the boys manage to turn everything into a “gun.” Do I think it will turn them into deranged maniacs? No. I don’t think that has anything to do with it. We’re a gun-friendly family, my husband is in the Army, and we send the message that good guys need to use guns sometimes too. Does that work for every family? No, probably not – but I certainly can’t tell my kids that gun are bad when they’ve seen pictures of their dad in Iraq carrying an M-16.

    1. Hi Nicole,
      This is the dilemma; the Army is supposed to protect us and so guns are ok in that vein; it becomes complicated when in some men’s minds, driven by political ideologies they warp the use and meaning of weapons.

  4. Interesting discussion. And there is no easy, no right or wrong answer. We have used the “warrior male protector” to go to war for us, even wars that did not need to be fought. So in that way, our own government – which we usually think of as peaceful – has contributed to the violence.
    I was and always have been anti-gun, but from working in a day care and watching boys do as Dr. G says, and make guns from everything under the sun, when I had my own son, I allowed water pistols, and toy soldiers. I played with cap pistols myself as a child, and you won’t find a more granola loving peacenik than me! It is the context, the family atmosphere, the attitude that counts. My 19 yr. old son plays video games with his friends that would make my hair curl, but he knows they are games. Maybe for boys it is a form of release.
    I don’t know why most of our mass killers are men. I don’t know that anyone does. And while I applaud having more women in power, they have to be the right women. Women like Jan Brewer & Nikki Haley are governors, but they are all for taking away many of the rights of their own sex. So that is not good for women!
    Hillary Clinton lost my primary vote because of her vote for the Iraq war. Margaret Thatcher was a women who started wars and cut benefits for the poor, most of whom were women.
    Go back in history and read about Cleopatra, who was pretty ruthless, killing her own brother, starting wars, etc. Queen’s Mary (also known as Bloody Mary) and Elizabeth Tudor had an ongoing rivalry that caused death and widespread mayhem. And we could go on and on with women who are not exactly “demure” in demeanor.
    It is a difficult question, and one that does come to mind when we watch our friends and family members forced into lockdown in a major American city. Why always the men? My bigger question has always been: HOW do you cause such destruction and just turn and walk away so callously and indifferently? That I will never understand.

    1. Yes, I agree the context counts when it comes to playing with water pistols and the like; and it definitely could be a form of release-bringing out the spirit of competition that men enjoy. And, yes, the women we need in power need to support servant leadership-leading not with their egos, but in the spirit of service. This is a great discussion and I appreciate your thoughts.

      1. Thanks for getting us thinking on this crazy, awful day for our Boston friends and family! I wish we could eradicate hate altogether!

  5. I think you nailed the answer in your post, Estelle. Men see themselves as protectors and supporting the people in their lives, and for them, sometimes that protection means war. So that’s maybe the starting point, but from there it gets twisted in the minds of individuals who are taught that violence is a good thing, a solution, and whatever else it takes to turn a person’s mind from leading people to a good place into leading them to destruction. I’m not saying anything bad about men, per se, I just know from my husband and other men that they take this whole supporting leadership concept in a way that can completely hurt them when something goes wrong. And some can pass the hurt on to others.

    1. Thanks Gina. Yes, there is a fine line between being a protective warrior (which is actually a great and desired quality in a man) and going to the point where that is all that matters and the idea of protection is warped.

  6. I have to say, Estelle that (though you and I often see eye to eye), we disagree here. Men are often warriors, and I am grateful for that. We’re raising 4 boys and they play war as often as they play family. I respect that they do both. We did not teach them to do either, and would not disallow any imaginative play. More, we use it as a jumping off point for conversations. Conversations about good and evil, about defending vs attacking. We must teach our children right and wrong, but I honor the testosterone that is in our worlds and I’m confident that the nearly 50/50 balance of genders is to the good.

    1. Hi,
      I think I did say that I think men are great and they have been great to me. But the facts do not lie. Most of this type of mass havoc has been wrought by men. I think that we do need more balance in this world, and I do not like socializing children to be comfortable playing with toy guns, via some of the ones I see marketed which is different than rough housing or teasing. I don’t think the power is balanced although the genders may be. I’m glad you commented, and I don’t mind vigorous discussion.

      1. Your respect for men comes through for sure. I did not think you were disparaging the gender. I just do see some value in raising boys to men who will raise arms to defend. And this definitely DOES lead to the current situation in which it is most likely men who will cause violence with those arms. Though as a doctor I do see the physical violence that women wreak – even with weapons – that violence is usually on people they know.

        So I want everyone to learn better impulse control, but there will always be some broken souls in our world.

        1. Hi, Yes, I agree with you that men should be warriors and protective, and of course, raised to bear arms one day in support of their country (I think those are qualities we need in our husbands for instance), and it does make for a more sympathetic man. I think playing with toy guns though, sets up a weird connection in kids mind, so although I don’t have boys, I’m not in favor of it, and actually passed by the water pistols I saw in the store the other day. But, getting back to my original point, men do create the mass destruction, not women, although women off-balance can also be destructive. I actually think we are more aligned than it appears.

          1. The toy gun issue is something my husband and I have given a great deal of thought. We decided that, since our sons will take Legos or sticks (or waffles or baby carrots) and make them into guns, that we were better off allowing them and discussing them than forbidding them. Just as our kids have toy stove, toy (kid-powered, ride in) cars, and other potentially-deadly-when-they-are-real toys, they have toy guns that look nothing like the real thing. The real thing will wait for their time to go to the range and learn to shoot with their Dad.

            1. Well I’m glad you discussed and gave it a lot of thought before making your decision. Each family has to do what makes sense for them, and for you it does. For me, it was ok before the latest events, and then I reconsidered because I feel it’s one way I can make myself heard (buying veto power). My husband grew up in South Africa, where when I visited I saw that everyone has guns. It hasn’t made living there any safer, sadly.

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