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Cisgender men need to intentionally open themselves up to more than just their own perspectives, opinions and experiences. Cisgender men often ask me what they can do as “allies” or “accomplices” to women, femmes, trans and GNC/nonbinary people. I am

Black women are still left out of larger discussions of domestic violence because society at large does not care about their lives.

This essay contains discussions of violence against women Last week, Dr. Tamara O'Neal was gunned down by her ex-fiancé, along with two others in the hospital where she worked. It's reminiscent of when Karen Smith was killed during a school shooting carried out by her husband last year. He was a beloved pastor, though former partners had accused him of domestic violence in the past. Last week, Stefanie Vallery was stabbed to death by her estranged husband, and her sister and daughter were both severely injured while trying to protect her. So was Aisha Fraser, in front of her children. Her ex-husband, a former judge, had assaulted her so badly in 2014 that she needed facial reconstruction surgery. He served only nine months. Both of these instances harken back to when Jeannine Skinner was stabbed to death by her boyfriend last year. They had been dating a little over two months and he had a long history of domestic violence. She’d hoped she could help him. [caption id="attachment_50271" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Dr. Tamara O'Neal (Monte Gerlach Photography via AP)[/caption] Black women—followed closely by Native American women—are murdered more than any other race in the U.S., which means they are at disproportionate risk for death by domestic violence. In 1996, the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, also known as the Lautenberg Amendment, was established to prevent accused and convicted domestic abusers from purchasing guns. However, this ban did not require them to turn over any guns they already owned. Since then, some states have rectified this, effectively closing this gap, but most states have not, and this isn't the only loophole—the ban only applies to domestic and marital relationships and people who have children together, which leaves many people vulnerable within the “boyfriend loophole”. Additionally, abusers have even gone to court in efforts to have their gun rights returned to them, as they feel they never should have been taken away in the first place. Lawyers arguing their case have insisted that there is a hierarchy of violence, where if the violence is planned, it should be considered as a reason to keep guns away from the abuser, but that impulsive violence shouldn’t—which intentionally ignores the millions of victims of intimate partner violence (IPV). A study about nonfatal gun use in IPVs found that almost one million women in the U.S. had been shot or shot at by their partner, and about 4.5 million reported that an intimate partner threatened them with a gun. There is too strong of a relationship between IPV/domestic violence and mass shootings for us to keep shuffling misogyny and patriarchy on the back-burner during our conversations and actions to end gun violence.
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Society must be answerable to the lives of those lost to the ramifications of toxic masculinity, in both the moral and physical sense.

By Olivia Ahn [TW/CW: discussions about gun violence, murder, domestic violence and misogyny.] On Wednesday, at least 17 people were killed when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire using a semiautomatic rifle at his former high school in Parkland, Florida. 14 other students were wounded, with five suffering from life-threatening injuries according to NBC news. The Boston Globe reported that Cruz had shown violent tendencies, was abusive to his ex-girlfriend, and his expulsions were related to a fight in regards to her new boyfriend. Since the shooting, authorities arrested Cruz in Coral Springs. He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. [caption id="attachment_49393" align="aligncenter" width="660"]Nikolas Cruz Nikolas Cruz[/caption] Since the beginning of 2018, there have been 1,827 gun-related deaths in the U.S.. In 2017, The Gun Violence Archive reported 15,590 gun-related homicide deaths, domestically and climbing. Approximately 20 of these deaths received widespread national-level media attention. Of the 20 nationally-covered gun-related homicides last year, 100% of the gunmen were male, with 40% of the motives classified as an extension or direct act of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and/or sexual assault or harassment.   The Violence Policy Center (VPC) reported from 2001-2012 that approximately 11,766 women were killed by their current or ex boyfriends or husbands. Over half of these women were killed using a gun. If we are to critically address the issue of gun violence in the U.S., we must confront toxic masculinity’s foundational role in influencing and perpetuating these outcomes, especially in regards to its explicit impacts on the behavioral and mental health of men that proportionately affect the survival of women. The data above was featured in the 2015 documentary “The Mask You Live In”, which focused on the effects of toxic masculinity on young and adult men in The U.S.. The term toxic masculinity has been attributed to the cumulative work of psychologists and sociologists since the early 1980’s, stemming out of the Mythopoetic Men’s Movement. These men commonly defined toxic masculinity as the harmful, detrimental, and even destructive effects of high, demanding, and narrow cultural expectations of masculinity in society. Examples include socially acceptable male traits, such as dominance, emotional repression, the devaluation and subjugation of women, homophobia, extreme self-reliance, and most importantly, violence.
Related: IT ISN’T ENOUGH TO TALK ABOUT GUN CONTROL, THE ROOTS ARE DEEPER.

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