Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Cultures and violence

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danielle,

    I think those two columns are arguing different things, and no, one is not a “more able” version of the other. The one Megan linked to argues that “because resources are limited, gains for women and minorities necessarily equal losses for white males”. Which is such a bizarrely adversarial way of looking at life that I don’t really know how to respond to it.

    Sorta. The words you’ve quoted, inside quote marks, do not appear anywhere in the column you’re quoting. On the other hand, Chemaly does actually say:

    Losing power is hard and unpleasant, frightening and disorienting.

    And Wampole does actually say:

    Can you imagine being in the shoes of the one who feels his power slipping away? Who can find nothing stable to believe in? Who feels himself becoming unnecessary?

    You wrote (sorry, don’t mean to sound finger-pointy, just keeping attributions in order):

    she isn’t giving these guys carte blanche to rage at everyone around them because women got the vote, which I think the Wampole piece comes dangerously close to saying.

    Except she doesn’t say that, or anything really like it. She also does not say “it’s the girls’ fault.”

    I think the Wampole column is pretty flawed, and dumb in parts, but I also like people talking about empathy, which she does throughout.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4197 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Now the author of the thoughtful NZ blog Autismandoughtisms has been dragged into it all because some of her posts have been taken out of context.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 1901 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1458 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Russell Brown,

    OK, I was going to sit on this overnight, but since I can’t sleep, here goes.

    Sorta. The words you’ve quoted, inside quote marks, do not appear anywhere in the column you’re quoting.

    Um. They really do. The full paragraph:

    For women, things are looking up. We can vote, we can make more choices about our bodies than in decades past, we’ve made significant progress regarding fair pay, and more women are involved in American politics than ever before. The same can be said for minorities. However, because resources are limited, gains for women and minorities necessarily equal losses for white males. Even if this feels intuitively fair to many, including those white males who are happy to share resources for the greater benefit of the nation as a whole, it must feel absolutely distressing for those who are uncomfortable with change and who have a difficult time adjusting to the inevitable reordering of society.

    And therein lies my problem, and why I (possibly too glibly, but it’s Twitter), invoked Privilege.

    There absolutely needs to be a conversation about masculinity and what it means. But if that’s centres around the things that the scary feminists and the civil rights movement took away, it’s not going to get anywhere. And it’s dangerous. Because I agree with Danielle that it pretty heavily implies that women getting the right to vote, control over their bodies, and a fair share of the economic pie means young men get to rage.

    I’m not lacking in empathy, though yes, I struggle to find it for someone who killed 20 children. (And I don’t know if Adam Lanza felt this way, or if he had massive mental health issues, or anything, and I dount we ever will. My response to the article wasn’t about him, it was about the idea of “commodities of whiteness and maleness”.)

    But I don’t understand that in anyone. I don’t understand what makes people violent. I understand it on a theoretical level, and while I may talk a really good game about punching people in the face, I am well aware that I never actually, could, and I struggle with people advocating it on my behalf.

    But I also don’t understand how you can invoke race in a column about gun crime and not mention that young black men are overwhelmingly more likely to die in a gun crime.

    Perhaps if we didn’t teach men that they have to be strong, and macho, and not cry, and a combination of Benedict Cumberpatch, Bruce Willis and Anderson Cooper, they’d have an easier time of it. That’s a conversation that is absolutely needed, and in this country as well. That’s what the Chemaly piece does. By not talking about men being “asked to yield what they believed was securely theirs.”

    Maybe I over-reacted to that piece. Possibly, it’s because when I read about men’s place in the world being usurped, I think about that Fox News Suzanne Venker piece. Possibly, it’s because when I had the temerity to write about masculinity this week, I was told, within about 4 hours, that I deserve to be raped. Possibly, it’s because I just don’t care that men are having to give up their toys to women and minorities, because it’s about fucking time. It’s not up to us to mop the brow of dudes who can’t handle the fact that women are equal to them, and so are men and women of colour. Because doesn’t that put us right back where we started? Apologising for any gains we might have won, and make it impossible to ask for more. Yes, we need to understand that people are going to struggle with the feeling that they don’t fit and that they’ve lost something, but when you centre it on what men have lost to women and minorities, you ignore the very many men who don’t react violently to that. And you make it an easy excuse. And you also make it really hard to wrest any more power away from them.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1268 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The words you’ve quoted, inside quote marks, do not appear anywhere in the column you’re quoting.

    Oh yes they bloody well DO. They are in the middle of the paragraph beginning "For women, things are looking up." As a matter of fact, they're still highlighted on my screen from when I copied and pasted them to write my post. Believe me, I'm not going to construct an argument based on an imaginary quote I pulled out of my ass.

    Except she doesn’t say that, or anything really like it.

    If you don't interpret the column that way, OK. I think there's a definite argument to be made that it's an elaborate excuse-away-the-heinousness exercise, though.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Sorta. The words you’ve quoted, inside quote marks, do not appear anywhere in the column you’re quoting.

    Um. They really do. The full paragraph:

    Gah. I humbly withdraw and apologise to you both. I'm not sure what I did there when I thought I searched for that text on the page.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Tristan,

    I've been shooed out of a previous thread by Danielle and Megan while trying to have a respectful discussion on the same issue. It would be nice if we could chat about something else for change. Anyway here goes...

    It’s not up to us to mop the brow of dudes who can’t handle the fact that women are equal to them

    No you shouldn't have to do that. And you shouldn't have to justify your self to men or anyone else but someone has to engage these men and bring them along because some of (a lot of them) have fucking bushmaster semi automatics

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 187 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    There is a lot of effort going into a focus on imagined and irrational arguments - that have not basis in reality - the inquiry into the shooting is still underway and a conclusion is a long way off.

    It would be good to see the "debate" move onto how to prevent the widespread impact of gun violence on life in America. A solution to this problem will make the world a better place.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1157 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    But if that’s centres around the things that the scary feminists and the civil rights movement took away, it’s not going to get anywhere. And it’s dangerous.

    Yes, it is.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 724 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    someone has to engage these men and bring them along because some of (a lot of them) have fucking bushmaster semi automatics.

    OK, and I ask this sincerely, because I really do want to do something about this, and I genuienly don't know what, but why does it have to be me? Why isn't it you guys.

    Because the guys carrying weapons, aren't very likely to listen to me.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1268 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danielle,

    If you don’t interpret the column that way, OK. I think there’s a definite argument to be made that it’s an elaborate excuse-away-the-heinousness exercise, though.

    It would be fair to say that we are reading it differently, yes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Tristan,

    It doesn't need to be you like you said why should you have to its not your fault they dont get it. Just we gotta get someone on to it quick

    and apologies the word but in my above post implies that your cant have both equality and engagement that's not what I ment

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 187 posts Report Reply

  • Ana Simkiss,

    Can I just say this. This is an intense and serious and emotional discussion, carried on with respect and aroha by you PA peeps. Keep it up & well done you lot.

    Freemans Bay • Since Nov 2006 • 113 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I’ve been shooed out of a previous thread by Danielle and Megan while trying to have a respectful discussion on the same issue.

    I'm sorry, I don't remember this at all. The PAS feminist thread-shooing cabal *is* kinda busy, though, and it's a volunteer organisation, so...

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3582 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    You know, when you talk about the power of white men, you make the baby Marx cry.

    Most white men are hugely disempowered in the context of an American society primarily structured around massive wealth disparities. You can either buy into a model of taking power off white men (and end up with a hugely unjust society that has some different people at the top) or you can talk about taking power off the hugely wealthy and empowering most white men (and most black men, and most black women, and most queer people, and so-on.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1251 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    I read the first 4 pages of this thread so apologies if this popped up anywhere after that (which it may well have, I'll trawl through and find out shortly).

    But I agree with this person:
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/01/owning-a-gun-the-way-the-constitution-intended-you-to/

    Allow for the unrestricted ownership and use of guns and ammunition as they existed in 1789, when the Constitution and its first ten amendments were written. This would conform EXACTLY to the intent of the framers. It would satisfy the 2nd Amendment freedom to “bear arms,” without allowing for any deviations from ‘strict interpretationalism’ that would excuse the weaseling in of ownership of semi-automatic and automatic guns, and anything beyond ball, shot and black powder for ammunition: no full metal jackets, no nitrocellulose propellant, no late 19th century cordite-filled cartridges, not even percussion caps (from about 1830). Just flintlocks.

    If it was good enough for the Founding Fathers, it’s good enough for you

    .

    Since Nov 2006 • 855 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    (Personally speaking though I'd just go for a massive compulsory buy back programme at this point in time and if the angry white men didn't like it they can talk to the G-Men. On the other hand that's super not Obama's style, so.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1251 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    OK, and I ask this sincerely, because I really do want to do something about this, and I genuienly don’t know what, but why does it have to be me? Why isn’t it you guys.

    Megan, I am not only the parent of young men, I am the parent of young men whose very nature puts them at the centre of this discussion, fairly or not. I’ve had to develop a strong and literal sense of empathy in order to do that job, because their experience of the world is profoundly different to mine. I understand that difference well enough to be touchy about definitions of privilege.

    But I also don’t understand how you can invoke race in a column about gun crime and not mention that young black men are overwhelmingly more likely to die in a gun crime.

    Again, I suspect it depends on your approach. If you treat these killings as suicide-by-massacre (and they are arguably that rather than conventional gun crime), you’d perhaps dwell on the fact that the suicide rate of males in the US is four times that of women, and the suicide rate of white males is twice that of African-American males. There may actually be some substance to Wampole’s suppositions:

    The suicide rate for African Americans reached a high in 1990 at 12.8 suicides per 100,000 people, but immediately began to drop a year later, with an average decrease of about 0.47 each year for black males.

    “Self esteem is higher in African Americans,” said Dr. Amy Weisman, a psychology professor at the University of Miami as an explanation to the differences between minority and white suicide rates.

    “African Americans score higher on measures of both individualism and collectivism than do whites. Individualism may give them more self esteem, and collectivistic values offer more community support in times of distress,” Weisman said. “Both of which may play into the lower suicide rates.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    or you can talk about taking power off the hugely wealthy and empowering most white men (and most black men, and most black women, and most queer people, and so-on.)

    Any chance we could squeeze a few differently-abled in the back there?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17938 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    And I have been the victim of violence at the hands if the kind of men she's describing. Can we agree to politely disagree, please?

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1268 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    but why does it have to be me? Why isn’t it you guys.

    It shouldn't be you, for two reasons. Firstly, as you rightly point out, the problem guys aren't going to listen to you. Secondly, it's one of those rare issues where it really is a guy thing. It's up to us men to sort our shit out - individually and collectively.

    The question is what can we do?

    As a father I can teach certain values and model certain behaviours. But I don't have a son (well, yet.... who knows...). And I have been called a 超级奶爸 (chāojí nǎibā - really hard to translate, like a father who takes a lot of care of his kid) and I think, what's more masculine than taking care of and nurturing your kids?

    As a teacher I police how my male students treat their female classmates - and I do see behaviours that worry me, like men playfighting with women, and I say, "What kind of man are you, hitting a woman?" "But she hit me first!" "You're a man aren't you?" And yes, I could improve on that, so really, suggestions welcome. And again, modelling appropriate, respectful behaviour. And letting them see my love of languages, literatures, cultures... learning - yeah, dudes can do books and still be masculine.

    As a friend, peer, colleague... That's where it gets difficult. See, the problem men are just as likely to not really listen to me as they totally won't listen to you. Here where I am the problem is more often racism than mysogyny, but the two often go hand in hand. I can, and do put my ideas out there. "All Chinese are.... " "Righto, but have you considered this aspect of Chinese history/society/culture and how it may affect behaviours that you don't fully understand" "Well, ok, umm, but all Chinese are..." Or: "Women belong in the home! I'd never take orders from my wife the way you do!" "Ummm... right.... why is it you aren't married?" "Because I'd never let a woman control me!" - and yes, that is a summary of several real world conversations I have found myself in. And I do what I can to put ideas of equality and mutual respect out there but I find myself butting my head against a brick wall, because at least that way I feel better when I stop, whereas trying to argue with these guys just leaves me infuriated. And I find myself giving up because I can't persuade them to even listen to me let alone consider that there might be other possible ideas of how things should be because they have this fixed idea of how the world should be and how it is, and how it is is wrong and that's that. I can't persuade them to consider other ideas, but I can live my life by my values.

    And really, I don't think it's your place to sort these problem men out. I really do think it's up to us men to sort our shit out and put an end to male violence against women, children and each other, and it's up to us white men to put an end to the myth of white male supremacy. And I don't think we lose anything by doing so - I really think we gain. But if you have any ideas for what I, personally, or men, collectively could be doing better, do share, because I have a daughter and I know what future I want for her.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1725 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Exactly.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1251 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Russell Brown,

    (And I don't read that piece as though she's describing your boys. I'm sorry if I implied that it did.)

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1268 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis, in reply to Danielle,

    Here’s my problem with this idea: let’s say we all agree that testosterone is partly “why” men are more violent than women. Yet we also agree 99.9% of men can squash the urge to go around beating the crap out of things and shooting a bunch of people because: reason; socialisation; humane qualities; not being monstrous. You know, average pleasantness. If most men can do this, why not these men?

    I think that this suppressed violence isn't actually that far from the surface. I have never struck another human being but I will admit to kicking the fuck out of inanimate objects such as watering cans, pieces of timber etc when I've lost the plot.

    I don't know why, maybe because men have had to run around killing shit with weapons so their family could eat for thousands of years and if you didn't return home with the goods your genes fell out of the pool quick enough.

    Maybe in a few thousand years this won't be an issue. If we're still around.

    I still despise DV and can't understand how anybody can systematically hurt their partner and kids. Maybe once you crack and blow it. But if you don't go get help for you and them straight after that then that is screwed up and that obviously happens in far too many cases because of pride, fear, or something down right nasty.

    Peace.

    Since Nov 2006 • 855 posts Report Reply

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