I generally strongly dislike sociology. Its study of people is often slanted by poor understanding of statistics and a vision of the world that I disagree with – namely that people are perfectable if the system chosen to contain them is correct. Aaaaaanyway, I was sent this video a few months back, mainly because someone thought I would disagree with its theses:
I don’t disagree. This video was great, other than a few small points. The psyche of the youthful male is fascinating on terms of an understanding of toughness and peer expectations. Even at my age, I can see peers who fall prey to the tough-to-be-cool dynamic, where no value is more important to a male than to be tough, invulnerable, violent at times, and above everyone else.
The sexualization of violence also was something I had never given too much thought when it comes to horror films. It is a truism that we see women take off their shirts right before the killer comes on screen, you could even see it in Psycho years and years ago. Thus we associate violence with being turned on, and it becomes a part of our sexual relationships if we are not careful. This theory was an excellent one at explaining the abuse of women by men, and how disrespect of women comes almost naturally to young males.
And as far as Howard Stern and “rejecting traditional values,” the video is absolutely right. It isn’t a new way to treat women with contempt or sexism, but it has been repackaged in a way that makes it appealing to males. Which really makes me question (not that I don’t have a million other questions about the ideology) if feminism is getting their enemies right…
I have always been very interested in personal power dynamics and rejecting them in my own life. I definitely qualified as an overcompensating teen, who was tough because I was weak. That seems to be the modus operandi of the testoster-ized young male, and I was no different. It takes a long time to realize that control is a prison, and that invulnerability is the quickest road to being alone and even hell. No man is an island, and we will not find strength from within, no matter how hard we try. Christ was an exceptional example of male vulnerability, and he redefined power in a way that no concern with self could ever generate. Of course the video didn’t mention that. But it is worth reflecting on…
The video also reminds me of a book I read a few years ago by Bell Hooks called We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity (surprised I would read such a Lefty?). In this book, Hooks examines the toughness of black males as a response to the power dynamics between colored and white males over the last few hundred years. And over-masculinity as a type of self-hate or overcompensation. You see it in rap, movies, and even real life. Fascinating topic.
At the same time, there is a balance. Nowadays, you can see a complete rejection of the whole masculine standard for the “emo” one, where teens are whiny, self-centered misers, whose only value lies in their vulnerability and complaints about how horrible life is. So of course the perspective offered in the above segment is not absolute. But it is a start of fixing one side of the scale.
At the same time as all of this, there is a big difference between past generations and today’s. Some mental strength in men of yesterday that was rooted in self-sufficiency and hard work. Now, hyper-masculinity is rooted in insecurity, fears, and peer pressure. The old standard was a good thing. The new one is terribly detrimental.
However, as a final thought, it is not violent videogames or TV that result in violent behavior. It is ALL TV or videogames. Watching a screen decreases blood flow to the frontal lobe. When this occurs, the mid and hindbrain functions are much more pronounced, leading to instinctive and visceral animalistic behavior less dictated by the intellect and will and thus violence. It’s science.
That’s about all of the random thoughts I have, for now…