Older White Men: We are the Danger
The archetypal old white dude once screaming “get off my lawn” at the neighborhood kids is now opening fire on innocent people. How did we get here? We got here because of a toxic mix of fear-inducing right wing media, gun culture, and our dominance-based culture of masculinity, which isolates older white men following a lifetime of training us to bully and dominate others.
Yes, far too many older white men are afraid, not only of the unarmed people in our driveways, but of something that frightens us much more. Loss of our status in Man Box culture. In our dominance-based culture of masculinity, boys and men are trained to validate their masculinity by dominating those around them. Failing to do so comes at a high price. Among those prices are ever increasing levels of insignificance, invisibility, failure. But here is the real fear, lose enough status as a boy or man in Man Box culture and you become a target.
This culture of dominance includes the mutual enforcement of the rules of Man Box culture. These rules include things like don’t show our emotions, always be tough, never ask for help, have lots of sex, have control over women and girls, make tons of money, talk about sports or cars, never anything deep.
These rules of Man Box culture set men up to compete for power with each other to prove a version of masculinity, which can’t actually be successfully proven. So every day, we have to prove it all over again, our toughness, our dominance over those around us. But Man Box culture is and always has been a young man’s game.
Older men like me age out of being able to successfully compete with other men in dominance-based masculinity. We get too old to pick up women in the bars, to win at sports. Maybe we don’t get that raise, maybe we get sick, lose our jobs. And this is all happening within a culture in which we we blocked from learning how to form community or care for friendships.
As Niobe Way’s decades long body of research shows, by late adolescence, boys and men are trained in our masculine culture into giving up our close childhood friendships, thereby condemning ourselves to lifetimes of loneliness.