‘Stand Your Ground’ and the Crisis of Toxic Masculinity

Mallika Dutt – Daily Beast – Monday, 05 August 2013 (originally published 28 Jul)

Lisa Archer marches with other protesters
Lisa Archer, 24, of Atlanta, center, chants as protesters march, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Atlanta the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin. Image: David Goldman/AP

Last week Stanley Fish wrote insightfully in The New York Times about the “implicit affirmation of a code of manliness” with “stand your ground.” The law, Fish wrote, “is more than a declaration of a right; it is an injunction—stand your ground, be a man.”

As a longtime global women’s-rights activist, I see the perils of this kind of injunction every day in my work. I’ve seen over and over how this culture of “toxic masculinity”—the same culture that encourages men to “stand your ground,” no matter the consequences—enables all manner of violence, including violence against women.

Following the tragic death of Trayvon Martin, we have, as a nation, begun to examine how such a killing might have happened and how such a verdict might have been delivered. Race has been—and should continue to be—at the core of most of these urgent conversations. But I believe we should also be talking about how outdated, limited, damaging notions of masculinity lead men to believe they must “stand their ground,” even if it means hurting others, and even themselves . . .

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