Daily Dot quotes sociologist Michael Rocque on the link between gender and active-shooter events

Daily Dot reporter Beth Elderkin turns to Assistant Professor of Sociology Michael Rocque for a story headlined “Why are almost all active shooters men?”

Michael Rocque, assistant professor of sociology. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Michael Rocque, assistant professor of sociology. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

The story explores the fact that this country’s active-shooter cases “tend not to have that much in common — except one thing,” Elderkin writes. “Almost every shooter has been a man.”

In 2011, Rocque wrote the paper “Exploring school rampage shootings: Research, theory, and policy,” published in The Social Science Journal.

In that paper, Rocque concluded that “few sophisticated or comprehensive explanations have been developed thus far to better understand school rampage shootings…. In general, explanations have focused on solitary, disconnected key factors (e.g., mental illness, bullying, violent media), resulting in an incomplete understanding of school rampage shootings.”

In that vein, pursuing the gender angle alone is fraught, says Rocque. For one thing, stakeholders tend to come at the issue with very different ideas about why a man is a man and a women a woman.

As sociologists and other experts know, biology is only one part of the gender definition.

While Rocque does not discount the effects of biology on gender — in fact, he says, biology may help to explain sociological processes — in large part “the differences we see between men and women are a result of culturalization and socialization,” he tells Elderkin. “I think that there is a fundamental misconception that gender and sex are basically the same thing.”

And in our society, one result of how we have created ideas about gender has been to deny boys positive ways to express deep emotions.

Rocque says that society is “teaching boys that it’s not okay to show their feelings. If a boy is upset or crying, we tend to have a different reaction to that than if a girl is upset or crying. The only emotion that’s socially acceptable for boys to show is anger.”

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