Gender Violence + Mass Shootings

Violence doesn’t have a race, a class, a religion, or a nationality, but it does have a gender.

Rebecca Solnit, San Francisco writer, historian, and activist


My first reading of the shocking Santa Monica shooting was through a AP twitter post on June 7th, the date of the horrific incident:

Aside from the perpetrator’s brother, father, and groundskeeper Carlos Navarro Franco, all the victims were women. John Zawahri killed a total of 6 people, 3 men, 3 women. Of those injured, 7 in total, all were women.

With so many women targeted, I wondered: Was this intentional? Or simply coincidental? Did Mr. Zawahri think it would be easier to target women in his rampage from home to Santa Monica College? We may never know what Mr. Zawahri was thinking but I thought it was interesting that every article I read after that did not mention gender.

I recall an article in the Huffington Post by Jackson Katz, “Memo to Media: Manhood, Not Guns or Mental Illness, Should be Central in Newtown Shooting,” that asked this same question:

…in the wake of repeated tragedies like Newtown, we turn on the TV and watch the same predictable conversations about guns and mental illness, with only an occasional mention that the overwhelming majority of these types of crimes are committed by men — usually white men. Even when some brave soul dares to mention this crucial fact, it rarely prompts further discussion, as if no one wants to be called a “male-basher” for uttering the simple truth that men commit the vast majority of violence, and thus efforts to “prevent violence” — if they’re going to be more than minimally effective — need to explore why.

So what about gender in mass shootings? What can a discussion on gender lead to in preventing violence and gun control safety? Some other facts from Solnit’s chilling Mother Jones article, “A Rape a Minute, a Thousand Corpses a Year:”

  • One in five women will be raped in her lifetime
  • Rape is reported every 6.2 minutes
  • One thousand male partner-on-female partner homicides

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