Hegemonic Masculinity and Mass Murderers in the United States
Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 8(2), 2013
13 Pages Posted: 27 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 26, 2013
This exploratory study examines the act of mass murder as an attempt by the perpetrators to lay claim to a hegemonic masculine identity that has been damaged or denied them, yet that they feel entitled to as males in American culture. Biographical information was gathered for 28 men who have committed mass murder in the United States since 1970 and examined for evidence of stressors to the perpetrators’ masculine identities. The majority of the sample demonstrated financial (71%), social (61%), romantic (25%), and psychological stressors (32%) and other stressors (18%) that indicated a failure to attain the hegemonic masculine ideal in American culture. There were co-occurring stressors such as financial-social, financial-psychological and social psychological. These stressors suggest that the motivations for mass murders are numerous and complex. There is no psychological profile unique to mass murderers and many authors have speculated on their motivations. However, in this study, the range of interrelated stressors experienced by the majority of mass murderers threatened their hegemonic masculine identity and these men engaged in violence to protect their identity.
Keywords: Mass Murderers, Hegemonic Masculinity, United States, Stressors
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