Monday, June 14, 2010

Working on being a man pt.2

(This is one of many parts in the ongoing series of working on being a man.)

A week or so ago I did a post on the subject of being a man in today's world. I think it's prudent to revisit this from time to time. Last time I was talking about sexuality (but I may very well come back to it another day) and today I want to talk about violence.

Let me get something out of the way. Yes most violence is committed by men so spare me the attempts at claiming I'm denying it. Now that that is out of the way let's get to it.

The odd thing I notice is that when talking about stopping violence people seem to suddenly go into this state where the only violence they talk about is male against female violence. While it is important to talk about and deal with the violence that men commit against women I think there is a bit of a flaw going on with how it is addressed.

If you look at groups like Men Can Stop Rape, NOMAS, and XYOnline you'll see that they focus almost entirely on the violence that men commit (and frankly I think XY is borderline hate speech against men) to the exclusion of all other types of violence. Sure they talk a good game about how men need to change and how we need to make ourselves better allies to women/girls. You know the usually fluff you would see from anyone trying to schmooze up to feminism. But I think that in all their talk about wanting to get men to change I think they are starting their efforts too late in life.

As I have said in the past if we really want to do something about violent men that one key (well at least I think its key) I think that needs to be addressed is the violence that a lot of these men suffered when they were children.

There are studies out there that show that people who abuse were abused themselves (there seems to be conflicting evidence as to whether most of that abuse is at the hands of women or men but that's not the point the point is they were abused as kids) at some point in their past. This needs to be confronted and dealt with. There are examples of the current literature that not on pays no attention to such thing but actively dismisses them. How do you expect someone who is lashing out to act when you tell them that their past pain is just an excuse? If they have become abusive then chances are they have already internalized their abused and concluded that lashing out in the form abusing others is the only way to "make things right" for what they went through.

When a man comments that he was abused as a child chances are that is a cry for help. And being a man chances are this is a cry for help that has largely gone unanswered due to the horribly misguided and damaging belief that boys aren't abused (part of the messed up myth of masculinity). As I've said before his unanswered cries may manifest themselves in the form of abusing others.

I think for the sake coming to terms with the abuse they suffered and thus ending the cycle of violence they are trapped in and passing on to future victims (not to mention the direct damage to their victims) I think one of the crucial steps to ending the violence that men commit is giving them the voice they never had and giving their pain the attention it never received.

Like I said before we get to grilling men/boys on how they can be allies to women/girls and end the pain some of them are causing them men/boys need to be able to confront, and hopefully overcome, the pain they have been carrying with them for so long. Help men/boys help themselves and then we can go on to help others.

8 comments:

Toysoldier said...

One of the things I have learned over the past few years is that you cannot prevent violence against other people until you address the issues that cause people to be violent. Until we address men's pain -- acknowledge it, validate it, and help men cope with it -- we cannot prevent the few men who commit violence against women from doing so.

As you stated, the majority of people who abuse were abused themselves, most often as children. Women commit the majority of child abuse. They also commit a large portion of the sexual violence against boys. Around 60% of the men who rape women were raped themselves as children by women. It is time that people begin acknowledging that it is likely women's violence against boys and men that breeds men's violence against women. We call this sort of thing a cycle for a reason. We cannot stop the cycle if we ignore the other half of the problem.

That is what organizations like NOMAS, Men Can Stop Rape, and XY Online (which I also think is borderline hate speech) never achieve their goals. Boys and men have their own sets of problems, and they will quickly tune out people who downplay those problems while shifting the focus on to women.

Danny said...

"We call this sort of thing a cycle for a reason. We cannot stop the cycle if we ignore the other half of the problem. "

Precisely. If we hope to ever end the cycle of violence then all parts of the cycle need to be examined not just the ones that are politically convenient.

"Boys and men have their own sets of problems, and they will quickly tune out people who downplay those problems while shifting the focus on to women."
And that worries me. Chances are those abusive men became abusive because because they never had their own pain addressed. But all of a sudden to those groups their doesn't matter they are just horrible men that want to abuse women. I worry for any man who was abused then became abusive and goes to one of those groups. They would be constantly bombarded about how they are trying to hold on to male privilege and other bullshit.

Toysoldier said...

Groups like that typically do not work. It is one of the reasons why so many attempts at treating sex offenders do not work. The groups that are successful deal with the causes of the abuse first and then work on getting the men to empathize with their victims. If a person cannot feel anything for themselves, what are the chances that they will feel anything for anyone else?

That is the problem with the feminist narrative. It is so one-sided that there really is not any attempt to actually help men. Instead, feminists ignore and deny abuse against males by females just to maintain their political power.

Danny said...

And I really think that power is the reason such programs continue to work despite those very same people constantly yelling that more needs to be done.

With some feminists I really wonder if they want to make the world a better place for all people or just for them and theirs. As I'm sure you've seen they want to totally dominate the discourse even when the subject is actually about men and men need to be the center of attention. But no instead of actually listening to some of us, which would actually help resolve the problem, they would rather control the discourse.

The same goes for the politicians that feed off this cycle. It would be nice if they were as concerned about actually helping men and ending abuse as they were about doing whatever it takes to hold power. It takes less effort to continue repeating the same empty rhetoric, ("I'm tough on crime!", ".....in the best interests of the children", etc..) than to actually introduce new ideas on working the issue. They profit from the rhetoric failing by way of using that as an excuse to as for more (votes, power, funding, etc....).

Toysoldier said...

I think politicians would support men if it politically benefited them. Since it does not, the politicians play it safe. With some feminists, I think the issue is that they are so attached to their position that they are not willing to bend. This happens with every group that entrenches itself in ideology. Try having a rational discussion with someone like Sarah Palin and watch how fast it devolves into talking points. It is so much about the win rather than the issue that I do not many feminists understand the impact their attempts to control discussions has.

Danny said...

"I think politicians would support men if it politically benefited them. Since it does not, the politicians play it safe."

True. Which totally flies in the face of the silly presumption that many feminists make that society is made by men for men. If it was all about men would male victims have so much trouble getting help for their problems?

"With some feminists, I think the issue is that they are so attached to their position that they are not willing to bend."
Yes. The ideology runs deep and some just can't face a contradiction so instead of rethinking their stance they force reality to fit their stance.

"It is so much about the win rather than the issue that I do not many feminists understand the impact their attempts to control discussions has."
There might be a lot of them out there don't realize it but I'm convince there are a lot of them as well who fully understand the impact and, because of their precious ideology, simply don't care.

chava said...

"It is time that people begin acknowledging that it is likely women's violence against boys and men that breeds men's violence against women. We call this sort of thing a cycle for a reason. We cannot stop the cycle if we ignore the other half of the problem. "

While I acknowledge that women commit their share of child abuse against boys AND girls (several immediate family members were abused by women), I feel like this lays the blame for "initiating" the cycle unfairly on women. Being abused as a child does not give you the right to abuse as an adult, or indeed *make* you abuse as an adult. It does make you more likely to. But neither of my family members who were abused have ever, EVER laid a hand on me.

The more powerful abuse the less powerful, is how it tends to go--which is why women abuse children, and men abuse women (and children).

Danny said...

...I feel like this lays the blame for "initiating" the cycle unfairly on women. Being abused as a child does not give you the right to abuse as an adult, or indeed *make* you abuse as an adult.

Oh on I don't mean that by any means. What I'm getting at is it is going to take more than "ending male against female violence" (because frankly that's what nearly all discourse on violence is focused like other types don't exist) to stop violence.

Now in situations in which a man abuses his wife and it turns out he was abused I am NOT saying that his past abuse should let him off the hook for what he did. What I am saying is that if people really want to end the cycle they have to do more than force them through programs that don't actually get to the real heart of the issue. (And this gets even uglier when its mutual violence but the current dialogue blames it all on the man by default.)

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