The politicization of the Parkland school shooting continued on Wednesday as right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh used the tragedy to attack women.
Ever since the tragedy in Florida last week, conservatives have been desperately trying to blame anything for the shooting except the AR-15 assault weapon that Nikolas Cruz was easily able to buy legally.
Limbaugh chose strong independent women as his target to blame.
After a caller who thinks women staying home with children instead of sending them off to school and having a career of their own is how America should be, Limbaugh attack women, and then doubled down on the attack. He suggested that men are picking up guns and shooting people because women aren’t making it easy enough for men to have sex with them.
“I think basically feminism is a bunch of people unhappy with human nature. They don’t like their assigned roles — by human nature.”
Limbaugh continued by claiming that feminism has been robbing men of their masculinity for decades after complaining about a USA Today story headlined “Are Boys Broken?” that argued mass shootings are becoming more prevalent because boys are increasingly defining masculinity by violence.
“It’s called toxic masculinity, the stereotypical sense of masculinity that embodies behaviors, such as denying help or emotions, which psychologists and sociologists say are harmful to men and to society. It’s the things in our culture — from toys given to movies watched to messages parents consciously and unconsciously send — that tells boys and men ‘being a real man’ means repressing feelings and consistently demonstrating strength and dominance.”
It’s a fair argument. More and more, boys are being taught that being a man means being aggressive and holding their feelings in and treating women like objects meant to be won or obtained. Guns are just another way boys are being taught to be aggressive. Or when being aggressive isn’t enough, boys turn to guns as a solution.
Limbaugh, of course, disagrees. He thinks the opposite is true.
“I think we’re actually living in a culture which has beaten masculinity out of a lot of guys,” he said. “Remember, men… I get in a lot of trouble for saying this because people don’t understand what I’m saying. Men will do whatever they think they have to to get women, to get relationships. They’ll do whatever they think they have to.
Limbaugh then claimed that there’s nothing “filthy” or “obscene” about being overly masculine and seemed to defend angry guys who use guns to kill people in retaliation.
A bunch of guys who are really nobodies — they’re ignored, they’re laughed at and made fun of — decide they want to be big guys, and so they go out and grab guns and start shooting people. And I think it is the lack of masculinity that makes these outcasts become even more vulnerable. It isn’t masculinity itself. This is 180 degrees out of phase, in other words.
Of course, men are most likely to commit mass shootings. And many of the shooters have written manifestos complaining about women and their inability to engage with them.
But women are absolutely not obligated to have sex with or enter a relationship with men under any circumstances, especially out of fear that they may become a mass shooter. By blaming women for violent men, Limbaugh is giving men who commit these horrendous crimes a pass. He is absolving them of personal responsibility even though they were the ones who picked up a gun and chose to go on a killing spree.
If anything, this underscores the need for more counseling and mental health programs, along with education designed to teach men how to handle stress, how to treat women, and how violence is not the answer to improving their social and personal lives.
Limbaugh’s words are the poison that violent men feed on. Some violent, unstable men could be planning a shooting right now just because they listened to Limbaugh justify their rage. His hateful rhetoric should be banned from the airwaves. And until that happens, Limbaugh and any radio station that carries his show will have blood on their hands.
Featured Image By Gage Skidmore Via Wikimedia Commons/CC-By-SA-2.0.