After the Toronto attack, there should be a debate about toxic masculinity, says Guardian columnist Gary Younge
From the Oklahoma bombing to the massacre in Norway it is always the same. In the immediate aftermath of mass murder, the initial hypothesis is that it must be a Muslim. And so it was on Monday that, within minutes of a van mowing down pedestrians in Toronto, a far-right lynching party was mobilised on social media looking for jihadis. Paul Joseph Watson, of conspiracy site Infowars, announced, A jihadist has just killed nine people; Katie Hopkins branded the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a terrorist shill.
But there is a far safer assumption one can generally make. For while a relatively small proportion of mass killers in North America are Muslim, across the globe they are almost all men.
There will be, though, no appeals for moderate men to denounce toxic masculinity, no extra surveillance where men congregate, no government-sponsored schemes to promote moderate manhood, or travel bans for men. Indeed, the one thing that is consistently true for such incidents, whether they are classified as terrorist or not, will for the most part go unremarked. Obviously not all men are killers. But the fact that virtually all mass killers are men should, at the very least, give pause for thought. If it were women slaying people at this rate, feminism would be in the dock. The fact they are male is both accepted and expected. Boys will be boys; mass murderers will be men.
This weeks atrocity in Toronto, where Alek Minassian stands accused of killing 10 and wounding 14, gives us yet another chance to reflect on the destructive capacity of masculinity not least because it may have been the principal motive for this attack.
Minassian is not known to have any strong religious affiliations. But according to his Facebook feed, he identified with devotees of incel (short for involuntarily celibate), which is for straight men who cant have sex despite wanting to and splits the world into Stacys (attractive women who wont sleep with them) and Chads (men who are sexually successful).
It seems innocent and adolescent that blend of pathos and priapism that helped get nerdy boys through high school. Only, Minassian was 25 and hadnt grown out of it, but into it with a vengeance. His last Facebook post read: The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!
In 2014, 22-year-old Rodger wrote a screed against, among other things, women and couples (particularly inter-racial couples), before killing seven people, including himself, and injuring 14 in Isla Vista, California. I dont know why you girls arent attracted to me but I will punish you all for it, Rodger stated in a video uploaded before the rampage. Its an injustice, a crime because Im the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.
Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six and injured 19 in a mosque in Quebec City last year, identified with Rodger and had been Googling him not long before the crime.