Education Letter to the Editor

Author Responds to Reader Pushback

March 20, 2018 1 min read

To The Editor:

In response to my Feb. 20 Commentary “Not Just About Guns. Male Aggression Is a Serious Problem,” some people commented that my opinion represents some larger “feminization” of men. I think this is misogynistic. Yet, for the sake of argument, I think certain “feminine” characteristics, like showing emotions or being passive and submissive, would benefit men. When we express our emotions in non-threatening ways, we give other people permission to do the same, opening the door for someone to receive help.

When we are passive and stop asserting ourselves onto the world, we hear what the world is saying. And submissiveness is a direct challenge to dominance. When being submissive, we surrender some of our power to those who have less. I am not talking about acquiescing to something harmful, but rather surrendering our need to control or dominate over situations and people.

What I proposed in my essay was simply that men should challenge aggression. I realize it’s not a panacea. We need strong gun laws. We need a criminal justice system that prosecutes and holds accountable violent men. Yet, the criminal justice system only prosecutes a murderer after he murders. So, along with sensible gun laws and a strong criminal justice system, I suggest that we look at how our society has made aggression, dominance, and violence part of what it means to be a man and that we challenge it. Such attention can only do good for men and women. Taking a defensive position, on the other hand, does nothing.

Patrick O’Connor

High School Teacher

Wilbraham, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2018 edition of Education Week as Author Responds to Reader Pushback