Assistant Professor of Criminology, Le Moyne College
- The same feelings of failure, status deficiency, and shame that lead some emasculated men to commit intimate partner violence are also the driving forces behind mass murder.
- When looking back at the lives of mass murderers, we see many with a history of violence against women (VAW). Typically unable to cope with achievement failure, male mass murderers often they turn to hyper-masculine means to overcome feelings of powerlessness and improve their perceived social status.
- Mass murder perpetrators are rational, yet frequently insecure men, whose animosity is inextricably tied to personal failures defined by gender scripts in violent, patriarchal cultures that pave the way for these tragic events.
- Recent proposals for change have advocated for mental health support, closer parental supervision, security in public places, gun control, and the regulation of violent media, but gender-oriented solutions are rarely offered yet urgently needed.
In the article, “Making a murderer: The importance of gender and violence against women in mass murder events,” Marganski explores sex and/or gender and its relation to mass murder as well as an offender’s violence against women prior to and directly associated with mass murder events. Marganski reviews previous literature about mass murderers, the role of sex and gender in mass murder, the extent and nature of mass murder and connections of mass murder to other types of violence; namely, violence against women. She highlights the role of men’s violence against women preceding mass murder events and argues that mass murder is a way by which some individuals “go gender,” an expression of aggrieved entitlement and representation of toxic masculinity resulting from the collision of individual, relational, community, and cultural forces that impact perpetrator attitudes, decisions, and behavior. Her findings suggest that sexist beliefs or norms that stem from gender role expectations in patriarchal cultures are reinforced by male peer support and institutional failures that fuel violence against women and mass murder events. To further understand the role that gender and violence against women play in mass murders, Marganski suggests examining risk at the individual, relational, community, societal and cultural levels in an attempt to understand how offenders are made prior to contemplating solutions. In addition to punishment for mass murder events, Marganski recommends implementing proactive, rehabilitative and restorative approaches that aim to identify potential problems and “cracks” before it is too late.