Opinion: A rebuttal, toxic masculinity

Amanda Paniagua is a graduate art history major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Amanda Anastasia Paniagua

I want to thank the members of the campus community who were kind enough to drop me emails in support of my column from Oct. 5.

With regards to Dr. Juilo Cesar Pino’s letter to the editor on Oct. 7:

Pino’s observation that “we need to start teaching youth the ways of men again” utterly erases the historical fact that men of color have attempted to, in Pino’s words, protect themselves, build their families and serve something bigger than themselves.

They do this as a way to push back against the tyranny that is white male supremacy and are labeled as “domestic terrorists.” Even now #BlackLivesMatter is coming under the same criticism.

Let me be frank: There are already plenty of men doing exactly what Pino has suggested.

His name is Dylann Roof.

It is amusing Pino should condescendingly suggest I see “Fight Club.” In fact, it is one of my favorite novels turned into a movie. I’ll agree that the film does explore the notion of the emasculated man who finds his release in cathartic violence.

But consider the context of such violence in a film like “Fight Club”; the men participate willingly with one another and with enthusiastic consent to such controlled chaos on their path to self-discovery and, to a larger extent, their liberation from a capitalist and hyper masculine society that ties their worth as men to their possessions and earning capabilities (so much so that The Narrator has to invent an alternate personality in Tyler Durden to cope.) 

This context is in complete opposition to the kind of violence that characterizes mass public shootings: that of a lone, individual looking to punish whomever he has deemed deserving of such brutality.

For Elliot Rodger, it was the young women who had refused his attention. For Dylann Roof, it was for all the black people “taking over the country.” In both cases, these individuals felt a sense of entitlement to take what they felt belong to them with zero regard to their victims.

Anger and the privilege to express it in a public setting is very much, in the United States, determined by sex and skin color. A film like “Fight Club” explores both private and public displays of violence, but I can’t help but notice that the film adaptation consists of an overwhelmingly white male cast.

In other words, Pino’s argument utterly fails when we begin to explore the racial dynamics of the United States.

Anger and any subsequent physical exertion that comes as a result of this perfectly normal, human emotion is healthy from time to time. It’s all a matter of context.

May I, perhaps, suggest Pino pick up a copy of “Mean Girls” (Regina George channels her harmful and manipulative teenage angst into lacrosse,) “The Black Power Mixtape” (watch as the community programs aimed at protecting and building black communities are dismantled by the U.S. government) and “Dear White People” (black students combat racism/white privilege on a college campus)?

Amanda Anastasia Paniagua is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].