Archives for posts with tag: Violence

Sometimes I like to peruse opinions that don’t align with my own. For example, I recently searched on Breitbart to see how ardent Trump supporters viewed his glaring and impeachable conflicts of interest. The comments mostly centered on the Clinton Foundation, and how if Hilary did it then it must be okay(?). I guess they forgot that they were chanting to lock her up just a few months ago. It was adorable. However, there is the odd occasion where oppositional opinions can make solid points. It was one such video from a Men’s Rights Activist on Youtube that brought together a lot of issues I have been mulling over into one cohesive package that really stuck out to me. It was the idea of the disposable male.

Men make up 95% of all victims of police shootings. For a point of reference, according to the US Department of Justice, 86% of all sexual assault victims are women. Black Lives Matter should in theory partner with MRAs to address police shootings, but somehow I don’t think they will. MRAs would have to admit that fighting for social equity makes them quite literally “Social Justice Warriors,” and BLM would have to admit that victimhood lies beyond their narrowly-defined spectrum. In any case, as far as gendered crime is concerned, this would seem to be a significant issue. However, in reality, it’s not a significant issue and mostly gets ignored. Men dying is essentially inconsequential.

Think of how we describe war. There are many tragedies in war, and when our side loses someone, it is described as the death of a soldier, or a loss of our troops. When tragedy befalls others, its victims are women and children. Despite their majority presence in war (men make up 98% of military deaths in the US), men seemingly do not exist in conflict. At best, soldiers are defined as boys or our sons, hoping to infantilize them to the point where sympathy becomes possible. Emily Cousens in my first hyperlink there describes the impact of intersectionality within masculinity, as men of colour become more hidden in the language of war casualties. We will at least hear about terrorist attacks in Brussels or Paris, whereas the ones in Arab countries are harder to find… unless of course an inordinate number of women and children are killed.

The expectation for men to be soldiers, with all that implies, carries over back home. Canadian men make up 72% of homicide victims and 87% of homicide accused. Men make up the majority of non-sexual victims of violent crime, and though my source doesn’t specify, I can reasonably assume the perpetrators are mostly male as well. These “bad” soldiers must be dealt with, and so men make up 85% of those suffering under the criminal justice system. Given that they were bred to be disposable in the first place, it is downright encouraged to discard them when they prove to be defective. Or rather, the wrong kind of effective since we’re essentially teaching boys to become this type of man in the first place.

There is more than just the obvious examples of crime and war statistics. In the US, men make up 92% of fatal workplace injuries while in Canada it’s 95%. Even in the workplace, it is just assumed that men ought to die for their employer. Men take up 73.6% of beds in homeless shelters in Canada, the very personification of being discarded. Even absurdities like having to be the one in a relationship to kill the spider or to investigate the weird noise at night shows that when faced with a threatening situation, the man is the one who has got to face it and bear any and all consequences from that encounter. Women typically seek a powerful partner to ensure as best as possible that when he is inevitably forced into a disposable situation, he comes back, but he is still expected to enter that situation.

How does one construct a disposable man? The best way to do so would be to deaden his connection to other people; the less attachment he has to others, the more he is willing to give up. bell hooks goes so far to describe the socializing of men as criminally neglectful, as the world rejects the boy’s emotional advances until he learns to avoid expressing them at all. Platonic human touch, one of the most powerful ways of expressing human connection, is forbidden to men which causes intense psychological damage. Since connecting to others is gradually beaten out of them, male friendships tend to decline as they age, completing their isolation.

Men must put on a mask of invincibility because that is the only way they can be respected as men. They must be seen to be able to survive their disposability. This means avoiding treatment for physical and mental well-being, avoiding help of any kind, even when it is clearly needed. It means acting reckless to prove they can endure any danger. However, feeling disposable and isolated means that a chip in the facade can throw men into a chasm of vulnerability. Vulnerable men join the discarded, and men in this pit make up the majority of drug addicts and suicides. Why seek help when you are inherently worthless? Why be vulnerable when depression is a weakness of character? Instead we must be pretend immortality.

The video that ultimately sparked this article advocated abolishing feminism in order to redress these issues, but fortunately this is where we part ways. Men’s rights have been fought for long before third-wave feminism was even around to be abolished: unions to improve working conditions, prison reform to rehumanize our discarded, or the anti-war effort to stop sending men to their pointless deaths. All of these could be considered examples of a Men’s Rights movement because they all promote the well-being of men against a system that treats them as worthless cogs and cannon fodder.

I think we need to look at abolishing feminism too. Not as a serious solution since identifying problems in masculinity does not negate any of the problems in femininity, but why people would even suggest that in the first place. I think part of it comes from feminism’s cry for equality, even though that is clearly a bad idea. Do women want to give up their friendships and spend more time in jail? Somehow I doubt it. It shows the picking and choosing of privileges, leading some to believe that women are gaining at a cost to men. This is why I argue that feminism isn’t about equality but about abolishing gender roles. Unfortunately, not everyone is me, so a lot of men who feel isolated and disposable are insulted by women who refuse to acknowledge and occasionally even deny that damaging and dangerous issues could even exist for men. They then become alienated from progressive gender movements, and become radicalized into your typical MRA misogynist.

We must love boys even as they grow into men, and allow them to love us in return. We must allow the mask behind which men hide to come off. We must abandon the oppressor and oppressed binary that clouds how we perceive men’s problems. We must allow our men to be who they are, whoever they choose to be.

Post-Script: I have seen several criticisms that since men are the ones predominantly perpetrating violence against other men, then the conversation must be discarded since only homogeneous collectives can be responsible for oppression, and the social whole is blameless: whites oppress black, men oppress women, and so on. This  mentality would interpret my blog as suggesting that if two men get into a fight, only the one who loses was disposable. The entire premise of being disposable is what started the fight in the first place, and victory is irrelevant. Soldiers don’t stop being soldiers if they manage to come back from the war. That’s not how it works. Social forces drive disposability, and we are all a part of that machine.

Consider the high rate of black-on-black crime that right-wing propagandists like to spout off on. They’re really the only ones talking about it, and they use it as evidence for the inherently violent nature of black people, since, you know, racism. However, the Disposable Male theory predicts this, since intersecting race with masculinity would create hyper-disposability in this population, which, when internalized, would lead to increased violent behaviour.

I figured that since this blog was going to be closer to a summary of some of the points from Resist Not Evil by Clarence Darrow rather than new ideas formed from within my own brain, I might as well plagiarize Megadeth for my title. Working title: the blog where I use meaningless but flowery prose to distract from the fact that this is a wholly unoriginal post.

We typically associate the successful use of the criminal justice system with the implementation of punitive measures used to disincentivize miscreants from following the glamourous and heavily lucrative criminal vocation so many of us are dying to pursue. It’s why many people shrug off prison rape; it is simply considered another variable to ponder over when your friend invites you to toke up in his van. If you didn’t want to be raped, maybe you shouldn’t have inhaled. You were pretty much asking for it.

Perhaps the reason that so many people end up in jail is because this disincentive remains only an abstraction in their minds. Why not have prisoners raped in glass boxes in the middle of the downtown, for all to see? If we want to use punishment as a means for sober second reflection, obscuring it in any fashion is really detrimental to that practice! Perhaps rape isn’t enough of a deterrent, and we ought to waterboard petty drug dealers, or flay them alive, or boil their testicles in hot oil. Quite frankly, if we wish to use punishment as a deterrent, the death penalty ought to be reinstated, brought back in a triumphant renaissance of the medieval period, so we can properly draw and quarter criminals the way that God intended.

We clearly don’t resort to such barbarity any longer. We are far more dignified, and prefer to hide our savagery in humble abashment. We lock people in tiny little boxes, far from the prying eyes of the public who may be quite reasonably repulsed by what they see, because we still prefer to feel self-righteous in our abstractions rather than agape in horror at our reality. The reality is that punitive “justice” has never deterred anyone, even less so the abstractions. People didn’t crowd around the gallows because they were eager students awaiting a lesson from their strict but beneficent schoolmaster. If anything, it was because they reveled in the show and cried out for more. Punitive measures, enforced by a brutal state, doesn’t deter crime; it degrades the value of human life, numbs us to shame, and ultimately dehumanizes us.

Darrow references the medical profession as a somber contrast to the legal one, “If our physicians were no more intelligent than our lawyers, when called to visit a miasmic patient, instead of draining the swamp they would chloroform the patient and expect thus to frighten all others from taking the disease.” When we consider how many illnesses and mental conditions were ignorantly attributed to demons and wild spirits back when we believed that public hangings were good for social order, and then compare how we perceive criminals today as being possessed by equally malignant souls, Darrow’s metaphor is quite apt. This is especially illuminating in regard to the contemporary research that shows striking resemblance between violence and a contagious outbreak. Vilifying the criminal element ignores the social, economic, and environmental conditions that lead to its spread, and is just as dangerously obtuse as a doctor not washing their hands after finishing up in the washroom.

The thing is, to continue my theft from Darrow’s work, “The parent who would teach his child to be kind to animals, not to ruthlessly kill and maim, would not teach this gentleness with a club.” At what point did we decide that abuse was the best option toward rehabilitation? By clinging to this obsolescent relic, we maintain an irredeemable and futile paradigm that fails in every task it sets out to achieve, and succeeds only in destroying the foundations of our moral legitimacy.

I believe the root of violence to be an expression of power, typically exerted as a response to some kind of challenge to it. The domestic abuser beats his wife because he believes himself to be the dominant partner, and if there is a perception of a question to that authority, then a violent response rectifies the imbalance. School shooters are almost exclusively those who feel that their power has been chipped away by the belittlement of others, and excessive violence is their attempt to regain it. A bar fight is a dick-measuring contest between apes, seeing who is the greater alpha male, or, more simply, who is the more powerful. There are of course exceptions, but most of the journals and articles I’ve read regarding violence explain it as an assertion of dominance and control. It’s not even that difficult to project the intentions behind interpersonal violence onto international conflicts, as countries vie for control over resources, subjects, or territory, seeking only to expand their stately power.

The perpetrators of violence, those who feel the greatest need to exert power, are almost all men. There have been several inquiries into the link between violence and masculinity, and one that is easily accessible, succinct, and informative is the documentary Tough Guise which I am obviously suggesting you watch due to my linking of it here. As easy as it is to dismiss violence as solely within the deficiencies of interpersonal relationships between men forcing conformity onto one another, it is critical to realize that social pressures are universally applied.

Ice T, in his infinite wisdom, imparted this gem, “If women didn’t like criminals, there would be no crime.” While charmingly naive, Ice T may well have gleaned some element of truth surrounding the desires of women impacting the nature of masculinity to a certain degree. Remember Elliot Rodgers? He committed an unforgivable act of violence, not due to excessive bullying from his male peers, but from the ostracization he suffered from the hands of women. To the horror of many feminists, message boards lit up in the aftermath saying that the tragedy could have been averted if Rodgers possessed a greater degree of “game.” Progressive conversations raged against this wash of men who sympathized with Rodgers’s rejection as they believed, correctly, that there is no excuse for targeted violence against women. However, the conversation tacitly ignored the reality to which the message boards allude: conforming to the desires of women is significant enough to male needs to a degree that violence is seen as a semi-understandable response to its lack.

It’s pretty easy to understand the muscular definition of male bodies that is often found attractive is a representation of power, but even height, which so many women demand in a partner, is also a sign of physical dominance. Watch any fight on TV, and the man who can tower over his opponent is almost intrinsically seen as the likely winner. Financial success, most commonly seen in the tradition of men paying for the first (and usually subsequent) dates, is not difficult to see as a marker of economic power in a culture driven by the necessity of wealth. Women who wish to feel “safe” with their man are expecting that he possess enough power to provide that security for her, almost as if she needs him to be able to commit violence on her behalf if a situation calls for it. Even confidence is not so benign, and the characteristic women claim to find the most desirable is really the extension of power over one’s self and one’s surrounding environment.

I do not mean to suggest that any degree of power is going to cause a firestorm of violence if left untempered, and I still maintain my Yin Yang approach to desirable human characteristics. For instance, confidence is an easy attribute to defend, but when considered among all the other desirable traits it does not stray from the general trend. If every stipulation of manhood required by both genders, either for romantic interest or peer conformity, necessitates power, then it is of no wonder that detrimental expressions of that power will be unleashed when a man is unable to meet that requirement. Even though violence is a decisively masculine problem, we are all responsible. We cannot point any fingers. Social pressures are indicative of the norms and traditions of a whole society, infused in us, regardless of gender. If we wish to make changes, we must begin with ourselves.