jessica valenti

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National Review: Newtown could have been avoided if a man was around

Yeah yeah, I know - don’t feed the trolls. But this is just beyond reprehensible. From Charlotte Allen, longtime antifeminist asshole, at the National Review Online: 

There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred. In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K–6 school), all the personnel — the teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, the school psychologist, the “reading specialist” — were female. There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers. The principal, Dawn Hochsprung, seemed to have performed bravely. According to reports, she activated the school’s public-address system and also lunged at Lanza, before he shot her to death. Some of the teachers managed to save all or some of their charges by rushing them into closets or bathrooms. But in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.

In addition to how forehead-smackingly stupid it is to suggest that 12 year old boys rush a grown man armed with an assault rifle - WOW is this disrespectful to the female teachers and staff at Sandy Hook. Allen mentions their heroism as an anomalous aside rather than exceptional bravery that saved lives.

The bravery of the women in Newtown - principal Dawn Hochsprung and psychologist Mary Sherlach who rushed the shooter before being killed, teacher Victoria Soto who died protecting her students, Kaitlin Roig and Abbey Clements who hid their students and calmed them - is remarkable. Not just because they demonstrated incredible calm and sacrifice in the face of terror, but also because of their gender - our picture of heroism in national tragedies like this is most often male. Not this time. 

You would think that these incredible women would give Allen pause before driveling about how the real problem is the lack of a good man. It seems not.

But if it’s fear that drives us to end this culture of violence and death, so be it. We should all be afraid, every day. Because until all kids are safe, none are. Until all children in all neighborhoods are protected - not just from mass shootings, but from all gun violence - we should not feel at peace.

As President Obama said last night, “we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours.” We feel comfortable sending out our children out into the world because the social contract tells us others will step in when we can’t. That’s what the teachers at Sandy Hook did. Maybe we’re afraid because we’re not holding up our end of the bargain.

from my latest at The Nation, "Our Walking Hearts"
This is an advertisement for the gun Adam Lanza used to murder 20 children and 6 adults. We need to talk about gun control and mental health - but we also desperately need a conversation about American masculinity. 
For more on masculinity and mass shootings, this 1999 article from Jackson Katz and Sut Jhally is a must-read.

This is an advertisement for the gun Adam Lanza used to murder 20 children and 6 adults. We need to talk about gun control and mental health - but we also desperately need a conversation about American masculinity. 

For more on masculinity and mass shootings, this 1999 article from Jackson Katz and Sut Jhally is a must-read.

dear babies,

i cannot sleep, thinking of you.

i went and looked at all your pictures, videos, those beautiful faces, hearing your forming voices lifting all of your questions and demands, your expectations and futures bursting off the screen.

i have spent my life wondering about good and evil, heaven, hell, life on other planets, justice on this one. i have sought the cause, the root, the place to put blame. i have spent millions of hours developing theories about all of these things, and building my fury and grief, weeping and wanting to know what could make the world good enough for the possibility of you.

and then you came. from other wombs and other stories, but i knew you were also mine. i held you in my arms for the first time, felt your weight upon my chest, the shape of your whole fluttering life becoming solid in my hands. and i realized my ideas and theories would never come to life soon enough. to love a child is to know the limitations of time, and the horror of being in a particular moment of time, a hollowed out age where babies are collateral damage for borders and egos, among other things.

Adrienne Maree Brown, love letter to the babies/they are all ours