The problem is getting worse, and debating over guns hasn’t made a difference. Twenty-one-year-old Asia Womack was murdered by a male friend in Dallas because she beat him in a basketball game. “But this is so senseless,” said Rev. John Delley. “You become embarrassed basically because a female beat you in basketball.” According to the family, the shooter took his kids and brother home and came back to the park, shooting Asia five times.
Thirty-year-old Nestor Hernandez was in Dallas Methodist Hospital’s labor and delivery area about 10:20 am on Saturday, October 22. That’s when Hernandez entered the hospital room where his girlfriend had given birth the day before. While in the room with his girlfriend and newborn child, Hernandez began to act strangely and accused his girlfriend of cheating on him, according to documents. Two hospital employees were shot and killed by Hernandez as they entered the room to do their job.
Both of these men are not the exception. There are countless incidents that we can all reference that point to the increase of mass shootings and domestic abuse. Much of this is steeped in a warped view of manhood. I must admit that I’m blessed to know some amazing men who defy what we see in the news. Yet we must acknowledge that there is a problem. Quite often, it starts in the home.
It’s how we are taught to think about what makes one masculine. Often, it’s a view that includes power, violence, and dominance. According to the New York Times: “toxic masculinity,” or “traditional masculinity ideology,” is defined, in part, as a set of behaviors and beliefs that include the following:
- Suppressing emotions or masking distress
- Maintaining an appearance of hardness
- Violence as an indicator of power (think: ‘tough-guy’ behavior)
Please know that it doesn’t mean that all men are inherently toxic. I want to make sure that we also understand that there are women with anger issues who attack and fight men—all of it is a problem.
I’ve discovered that many of us are struggling because we do not have an emotional vocabulary. We go from 0 to 100 because we don’t understand our feelings. We often mistake anger for betrayal, disappointment or neglect. We don’t take the time to process how we feel and move from feelings to reacting negatively, ignoring the consequences of our behavior. It’s critical that we normalize therapy. People need help!
It’s important that we understand the magnitude of this issue. Our views of both women and men are limiting. This perspective is a matter of life and death. PlanStreetInc states: “More than one in three women and one in four men have experienced either physical violence, rape, or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Victims are commonly abused by those who are closest to them.” We’ve become desensitized and accepting of this behavior.
Something must change and soon.
It’s important to establish God views both men and women as important:
- “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them,” Genesis 1:27, ESV. It’s also important that we recognize the value in one another:
- “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves,” Philippians 2:3, ESV.
- When we value others, we will treat others well. Unresolved anger is dangerous.
- “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God,” James 1:20, ESV.
- It’s also important to realize that the way we see others is tied to how we feel about ourselves. When we don’t see our own value and the way God sees us, it’s easier to dismiss and even hurt those closest to us.
- The Bible gives us the knowledge on doing things differently:
- “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” James 1:19, ESV.
The solution can’t be legislated. It requires a change in our thinking and in our behavior.
(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the CEO of Soulstice Consultancy and the founder of R2Foundation <r2fdn.org>. She is the author of four books including the recently published, Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy and the host of The Tapestry podcast.)