Capitol riot ‘triggering’ for women watching white male supremacy

Sunil Kumar

When an overwhelmingly white, male mob rampaged the Capitol last week armed with guns and zip ties, attacking police with metal pipes, and erecting a gallows, the nation reeled in horror. But many women also saw something familiar. 

“It’s a reminder of the everyday stresses that come with living in a world that’s shaped by white masculinity, that there’s still so much more work to do, and that your wellness comes second to their expressions of dominance, which they see as their right,” said Kristen Barber, a sociology professor at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and editor of the journal Men and Masculinities.

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Experts say demonstrations of white masculinity have mental health impacts on everyone, but especially women, creating stress, anxiety and in some cases psychological trauma. 

These displays remind us the threat of male violence always looms. Estimates from the World Health Organization indicate about 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 75% of violent incidents involve male offenders.

Barber said what we witnessed Wednesday should be appropriately named. It wasn’t just masculinity, or entitlement, or supremacy. It was all of it that made the Capitol attack possible and often allows us to overlook the quieter attacks on our everyday lives. 

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