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On Masculinity and Blowing Shit Up

Men account for 76 percent of all fireworks-related hospital admissions

On the Fourth of July (and the days leading up to it) we all get to play our favorite game: fireworks or gunshots?

Illegal, middle-of-the-street fireworks shows are a staple in Los Angeles, and they’re fucking unnerving. For example, here’s a taste of the view from my driveway at 11:30 last night.

My Ford Focus had just driven over dozens of empty canisters of spent pyrotechnics, many still smoldering, as maniacal canines howled at the perceived apocalypse.

Here’s the thing: Every single person I saw igniting fireworks last night was a young man. Which isn’t surprising, particularly when you look at data compiled in a 2014 study in the Journal of Surgical Research about fireworks-related hospitalizations from 2006 to 2010: Men and boys accounted for 76 percent of all fireworks-related hospital admissions.

Here’s just a few of the fireworks-related injuries men suffered yesterday, as reported by Newsweek:

  • A man in Chicago was killed Tuesday after being struck in the head by a firework designed to shoot 40–50 feet in the air. The man lit the firework, waited for it to ignite and, when it didn’t, bent his head over the tube. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
  • Just after noon on July 4th, another man in Chicago blew part of his hand off while lighting a firework in the parking lot of a strip mall. That night, a third man was taken to a hospital with severe injuries after a firework exploded in his hand.
  • In Warren, Michigan, a man was injured “by exploding fireworks that lodged glass and other debris into his neck, arm and upper torso.” (He had been drinking alcohol at the time of the accident.)
  • A man in Fargo, North Dakota, was seriously injured after a firework exploded in his hand outside of a bar on Tuesday. The man found the firework in the parking lot and lit it, maiming both of his hands.
  • Near the Muckleshoot Casino on Tuesday, two people blew off their hands in separate incidents. One, a man in his 40s, put a firework on his head and then pulled it down after it didn’t go off (that’s when it did).

Fireworks are just one more way that toxic masculinity poses a real risk to men’s health. But hey—what could be more American than injuring yourself in the name of manhood?

Happy birthday, USA!