All These Brave Men
We can't be protected by the same masculinity that kills us
For nearly an hour, children in Uvalde, Texas called 911, pleading for the police to come save them. Instead, more than a dozen officers stood in the school hallway, listening to gunshots and waiting for a janitor to unlock the classroom door. Others were outside, tackling, pepper-spraying, and handcuffing desperate parents who tried to run into the school once they realized the police were just standing there.
Eleven year-old survivor Miah Cerrillo—who smeared a friend’s blood all over her body so she could play dead—cried when telling reporters about the police waiting outside instead of rushing in. She didn’t understand, she said, why they didn’t come to rescue them.
Americans have been sold a lie about brave men. A myth that assures us the police are there to help, and that the old men in suits creating laws are simply protecting us. We should be glad, they say, that these very brave men are there to keep us safe.
What they don’t want us to know, of course, is that these brave men are the most dangerous of all.
There’s a reason officers attacked distraught parents in Uvalde instead of rushing in to confront the shooter. This is how the police function—not to protect, but to punish. “The cops do nothing but harass citizens they are suppose [sic] to be serving and protecting,” one Uvalde resident tweeted. They were doing exactly what they were trained to do, what they have always done.
These brave men who use up nearly 40% of the small city’s budget—who dress up in tactical gear and pose with large guns on Facebook—spent more energy attacking their own community members than saving dying children begging for help.
The brave men who run Texas—the men who made it possible for the shooter to buy two AR-15s just days after his 18th birthday—offered thoughts, prayers, and the deadly fiction that more firearms could save us.
This call to “harden” schools is just another masculinity myth—the lie that guns and the men who wield them will make us bigger, stronger and safer. They want us to believe that the lockdowns that traumatize children, the schools that look like prisons, and the limits on our freedom are a necessary tradeoff for the safety these brave men provide.
When the worst happened, though, and the most vulnerable among us needed the protection they’d been promised, these brave men said they couldn’t help because “they could have been shot.”
And with that, the lie that brute masculinity protects us fell apart, unraveling over the bodies of 19 dead children.
We were never, ever, making tradeoffs for our safety—just concessions of our freedom. It was never about protection, but control. That’s why Texan leaders were so furious when confronted at a press conference about the hypocrisy of it all. How dare someone question their authority? These brave men were more outraged over being challenged than they were all those dead children.
We now know that the shooter in Uvalde frequently harassed women online, threatening to rape and kill them. After one teenage girl rejected his advances, he told her he was going to break down her door, rape, and murder her.
On the same day we found out about this history of misogyny, a female protester outside of the NRA convention was being threatened with sexual assault by conference attendees. The morning after the shooting, a Florida representative insinuated that if the president tried to pass gun control laws, he would shoot him, tweeting, “you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.”
All these brave men want us to ignore a truth that has never been clearer: We are never going to be protected by the same toxic masculinity that kills us.
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