Thursday, 3 June 2010

Murder and masculinity

What can on earth can one say about the awful mass shooting in Cumbria yesterday? I only hope that in all the legitimate discussion of tighter gun laws, the possible influence of violent videos, etc, some attention is paid to the question of masculinity.

Whatever the 'explanation' for these apparently pointless murders turns out to be - whether its origins lay in a family property dispute, a row with fellow cab drivers over status, or taunts about being a 'mummy's boy' (depending on which tabloid you believe) - there's surely something to be said here about male anger, and the easily wounded pride inherent in certain kinds of masculine identity.

As I listened to neighbours and friends describing Bird as a decent, ordinary type, I was reminded not of Dunblane or Hungerford - this wasn't a psychopath or someone already known to the authorities - but of those news stories about men who suddenly and unaccountably flip from being doting fathers to murdering their children. As in the case of Bird (who began his deadly spree by killing his twin brother), their intense male narcissism can't conceive of anyone surviving and thriving without them. If they have to go down, then they're going to take everyone else - including their 'loved ones', whom they actually only love as reflections of themselves - with them.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but despite the currently unfashionable nature of this kind of gender analysis, we need to keep asking the questions...


1 comment:

Minnie said...

Yes,there must be some form of narcissism involved, mustn't there? If only to permit them to reify other people to the extent that what happens to them doesn't matter - they're objects and, as such, expendable.
I also think this kind of thing must be about power, too.
Whatever are the motives, you're absolutely right: we do need to keep investigating these personalities. And without PC blinkers or any other form of preconception: real scientific enquiry,in other words.