Everybody’s pondering how to stop mass shootings, including tightening gun restrictions, and of course nobody has a solution. Here’s one offered by Phyllis Chesler, whom I hadn’t heard of before. She’s apparently quite a well known second-wave feminist, and (relevant to this piece) strongly “pro choice”. Here’s how Wikipedia describes her:
[Chesler is an] American writer, psychotherapist, and professor emerita of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island (CUNY). She is a renowned second-wave feminist psychologist and the author of 18 books, including the best-sellers Women and Madness (1972), With Child: A Story of Motherhood (1979), and An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir (2013). Chesler has written extensively about topics such as gender, mental illness, divorce and child custody, surrogacy, second-wave feminism, pornography, prostitution, incest, and violence against women.
Malgorzata, who sent me this link, says that Chesler has been somewhat demonized because she’s a defender of Israel as well as a a critic of the misogyny of Islam. But these aren’t the topics here: it’s gun violence (she brings in abortion at the end). Chesler has a novel solution to the problem of mass shootings. It may be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but given Chesler’s history it’s not that likely.
Here’s her piece from the New English Review (click on the screenshot to read):
Here are some quotes from her piece, which some will claim is anti-male, but really, you can’t argue with the data. Her quotes are indented and the bolding is hers):
President Biden focused both on the Gun Lobby and on God in his speech at the White House in response to the latest horror—the mass shooting of nineteen children by an 18-year-old Hispanic man/boy who, we’ve just been told, had failed to graduate from the Uvalde High School. That was what he was allegedly arguing with his grandmother about when he shot her down.
I guess our President did not read my piece about the single most important variable which is invariably always missing, never mentioned, when it comes to mass shooting, namely, that 99.9% of mass murderers are all male.
. . . President Biden: Where is the funding for mental health that our country needs so desperately? Chirlane McCray: What did you do with the three billion dollars allocated for mental health services? Clearly, nothing much, given all the epidemic of shootings on New York City streets and in our subways allegedly by mentally ill men.
The male ego. The supposedly male thin skin. The inability of some men to absorb abuse, frustration, failure, or disappointment without violently turning it against someone else. Yes, it is a real problem.
Now I tend to bridle when I see men lumped together and dissed as a group (one rankling example is the “old white male” trope). But Chesler isn’t saying that all males are potential murderers: rather, that there’s something about the male psyche that leads to a higher proportion of mass shooters (and, I suspect, all shooters) among males. And she’s right, whether that “something” be evolutionary, cultural, or both. (I suspect the risk-taking behavior of males, combined with their innately higher aggression are some evolutionary aspects of this situation. And of course “macho”-ness is culturally encouraged in men.)
And here’s her solution, which is funny because of the parallel with anti-abortion activitists:
Sometimes a very good idea crosses my desk. Written by an unknown genius, and passed along by one Nev Schulman, please allow me to share this with you.
Our Anonymous Genius suggests the following:
“How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion—mandatory 48-hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from a doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence…Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.”
Of course this is sarcastic, but Chesler has a point.