Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Cultures and violence

470 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 11 12 13 14 15 19 Newer→ Last

  • BenWilson,

    The gender angle on mass violence does not seem to be a derail to me.

    what's more masculine than taking care of and nurturing your kids?

    I'd love it if I could really feel that, honestly, since that's also my situation. But I don't. I feel very much disempowered by being the caregiver rather than the breadwinner.

    It's up to us men to sort our shit out - individually and collectively.

    Not sure on that one. It seems to me that understanding what's going on is paramount and men don't have a monopoly on that. Rehabilitation of criminals isn't solely the responsibility of the criminals themselves, even if their active participation is vital. Same goes for other broken social attitudes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    It seems at the end of the day, what the NRA & GOA et al represent has little to do with public safety and the defence of a nation, and much to do with a born-to-rule order that's rusting from within - no matter how much razor wire or how many hired guns it takes to preserve it at any cost.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4055 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to BenWilson,

    It seems to me that understanding what’s going on is paramount and men don’t have a monopoly on that.

    Not quite what I meant. There are problems that are specifically male. Men don't have a monopoly on understanding those problems, but we do have the responsibility to deal with those problems. It's getting late and I have other stuff I need to get onto now, so please excuse me if I need to clarify things later, but what I'm saying is that us men need to promote a model of masculinity that eschews violence except where violence is absolutely necessary and unavoidable, promotes peace, love and understanding (and what's so funny about that?), and is truly inclusive and egalitarian.

    As for nuturing, put it this way: I love reading books or telling stories to my daughter. I love watching her destroy towers I build out of her blocks. I love showing her how she can make music on her harmonica, xylophone or toy piano. I love turning on some good tunes and watching her dance, or giving her paper and felts or crayons and watching her draw - whether she draws on the paper, on me, or on anything else. I love taking her to a local store and giving her one of her favourite yoghurt drinks on a Friday afternoon as is our habit. Your statement:

    I feel very much disempowered by being the caregiver rather than the breadwinner.

    I can't interpret because I don't know your situation. I am the main breadwinner in my family, and I do what I can to nuture my daughter. I don't see a contradiction.

    Sorry, I'm running out of time and I have to leave it at that. I'm sure there's a lot I've left ill-explained.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 1941 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Josh Addison,

    Still catching up on this thread so may have also been linked, but if not, here's another one.

    ...we set out to track mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years. We identified and analyzed 62 of them, and one striking pattern in the data is this: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    I don't see a contradiction.

    It's not a contradiction. I'm just reporting on social attitudes. Masculinity is not traditionally associated with caregiving. I can't help but feel that, even though it's most certainly not rubbed in my face by anyone. Quite the opposite, the silence is deafening.

    Sorry, I'm running out of time and I have to leave it at that

    Me too, I didn't say what I wanted to, but the 15 drafts I tried just didn't work. I'm pretty sure I know what you mean. I guess I don't even see the need for a model of masculinity at all. Seems like a control mechanism, to enforce gender roles, something that can easily come unstuck when people don't fit the roles.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    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.)

    False Dichotomy Alert, cap'n! All of these things (race, gender, class, sexuality, disability) play a role in excluding people from power. Wealth is a very important one, and maybe it did play some role in this particular tragedy - Newtown is in a very well-off area of Connecticut. Maybe inequality factored into the shooter's motivation. Who knows.

    But there are multiple levels of privilege. You can be a poor white man and still retain privilege, like, I dunno, the privilege of not being sexually harassed on the street or having workers in the hardware store answer their questions directly rather than talking to their spouse (not that this happened to me recently or anything.) Privilege applies differently in different situations.

    I think the core of the problem is actually that most of the people in power are still old white guys - in America even more so than in NZ. Society tells young white (cisgendered, heterosexual) men, still, that their viewpoints and desires and beings are privileged over everyone else's. They are the baseline, the Normal. But that doesn't make all of them powerful. And the question arises - if success is epitomised and embodied by People Like Me, why I am I, personally, not sharing in that success?

    The problem isn't that young white men are seeing their futures displaced by people who are not young white men. It's that their futures are being destroyed by old white men at the same time as everyone else's status slowly improves, and the old white men can't be the problem, because one day they'll be the old white men and in charge, or will be - if they can only get everyone else out of the way.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2088 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Have been reading and posting semi facetious remarks in the St Louis Times facebook section beneath their article on gun control.

    Basically their views are those stereotyped, what about abortion, won't make a difference, ban cars, and carnival rides too then, UK gun violence went up after bans, arm civilians, in my day... etc...

    Good times ... good luck turning these newspaper readers round sheesh.

    Since Nov 2006 • 862 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, 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?

    Excellent question. What say we take that really seriously and find out what the hell's going on with those men?

    Which would involve taking into account a range of factors and not shouting about whether each one is an "excuse" or not. It might even require some empathy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Megan Wegan,

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

    She’s somewhat confused about who she’s describing. The names she listed at the top, the young men who have actually committed rampage killings, do look like my boys in many respects, except that my boys are not and will never be rampage killers. I wonder what made those other boys so. “Because: Evil” seems a really rubbish answer to me.

    Then she talks about young, poor southern white men with no sense of role or purpose, and that’s a different group. But I don’t think it’s actually an outrage to suppose that they might be adrift because the comfortable roles and social assumptions available to to their fathers are not, for very good reasons, available to them. It’s not a world they made, just one they live in.

    Edit: This CBS video is more explicit about Adam Lanza's apparent Asperger status than any other report I've seen. He was bright but apparently only intermittently able to cope in classrooms. He even looks Aspie.

    Many people on the spectrum suffer in school environments, but of course nearly all of them don't kill anyone. Can you understand that I have a more direct interest in wondering what the hell happened to this kid than shouting at him about his privilege?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    They are the baseline, the Normal. But that doesn’t make all of them powerful. And the question arises – if success is epitomised and embodied by People Like Me, why I am I, personally, not sharing in that success?

    And having privilege doesn't necessarily mean having power. Which is a huge part of the problem. "Everything is supposed to work for me, but I feel powerless. So what am I meant to do? If the world is set up for (white, cis, hetero, able men like me, and I still feel "emasculated", then what alternative do I have but violence?"

    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.

    I don't know. Truly, I don't. I wish I did.

    I will say that I don't think it's just up to men. It's my job, because it affects me and my friends. But no, they're not listening to me. I will say, I think it starts at childhood. (And I am really reluctant to tell anyone how to parent.) For a very basic example, we teach girls - and boys - that a boy teasing her, physically and/or emotionally means he likes her. So, when they grow up and have internalised that idea, what are they meant to do when a girl doesn't respond to teasing they way they want? Hollywood tells women that being 'pursued' is romantic. But in real life, if it's unwanted, it's stalking, and it is petrifying. We teach boys not to have feelings, and then are surprised when they can't articulate them.

    This is where I get all wanky and feminist and talk about how the patriarchy hurts everyone. If we buy into the belief that men are angry because they're missing out on things they used to have (and as an aside, things they've been missing out on, in the case of women's suffrage, for nearly 100 years in the US - so who is teaching them this?), then we ignore the fact that men can and should be better than that.

    To bring it back to shootings, yes, the idea of masculinity is really important. And Wampole is right that we need to have an understanding of that. But I don't think that we serve anyone well when we talk about what men have "lost" to others. Shouldn't we talk about what they have to gain?

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP,

    It might even require some empathy.

    This. Times a million.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2104 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I wonder what made those other boys so. “Because: Evil” seems a really rubbish answer to me.

    And I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that, in large part, because as you pointed out yesterday, they so often kill themselves. I am really uncomfortable with all the speculation (not especially here) on Adam Lanza’s mental state, motive, personality, etc. We don’t know. We won’t know unless someone releases his medical records. I don’t think it’s evilness. I think it is a combination of any number of factors – and not just “the decline of men”, as that article I linked to up there suggest. Mental health, abuse, the gun lobby, God, Fox News.

    The kind of man I thought of reading that article isn’t your boys, from what I know of them. (And there’s a measure of my own privilege in that reading, I’ll grant you.) It’s the boys I grew up with. The stripey shirts, who were led to believe that the world owes them a debt simply by virtue of their maleness, and who are really pissed that people have come along and taken what’s rightfully theirs. The kind of man who can hate a woman because she won’t sleep with him, for example.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Excellent question. What say we take that really seriously and find out what the hell’s going on with those men?

    It's one of the deeply frustrating things about mass murderers (for criminologists) they almost always commit suicide. That leaves the investigators mostly guessing at what went on in the killer's heads. It's made even more difficult because they are outliers, they don't fit inside normal behaviour models they don't have the normal motivations. It makes empathy very difficult, it makes analysis very difficult.

    Most of the discussions here and elsewhere make the assumption that if you can shift the average behaviour towards a less violent and volatile point then you will have fewer of these outliers. But it's really difficult to know if that would be true.

    On a bad day I tend to think that there will always be people willing to commit crimes like this most recent tragedy, on a good day I think we'll understand behaviour so well we will be able to predict and cure such aberrant thinking.

    But for now we can't predict and treat so it seems to me that the only thing to do is limit the harm they can do when they appear. Evidence suggests arming the population en mass does not help reduce the harm so I'd suggest we don't do that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3209 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    I think it is a combination of any number of factors – and not just “the decline of men”, as that article I linked to up there. Mental health, abuse, the gun lobby, God, Fox News.

    I'm beginning to wonder if there's a real problem somewhere in American schools, tbh.

    Also, see the edit on my last comment above. It seems Lanza did have an Asperger diagnosis.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    the patriarchy hurts everyone.

    It does, and it really is time people stopped buying into it.
    And yet we still celebrate the birth of a man/god annually who supposedly died for something(I'm not quite sure what). It kind of ensures the patriarchy continues.
    But I still like giving gifts...

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1155 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Numbers and numbness...
    At a biological level, considering humans much the same as bacteria or viruses, and with a world population over 7 billion it doesn't surprise me that we get rogue cells, social cancers and collapsed colonies, at all levels...
    On our road to post-humanity a large percentage of us appear to be eschewing cellular evolution in favour of mediating reality through devices, while operating in a seething tide of constant electromagnetic fields and ill-considered chemical combinations...
    Most people thought Dr Strangelove* was a comedy, when it was a window on a world at a tipping point, reaping the sown seed of its own downfall, a path we have followed since the first hominids tasked sticks and rocks as tools , and then as weapons... ( 2001* )
    It seems to me that no matter what we do, there will always be sports, mutations, and the odd bad apple or disconnected (for whatever reason) social unit - limiting the tools of mass death-dealing we have access to, and being a more open and inclusive society would go a long way towards keeping these incidents smaller, if not any less tolerable.

    *Hmmm, I think I'm going to watch all of Kubrick's movies again over this holiday season, I sense a visionary humanist thread running through them all...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Many people on the spectrum suffer in school environments, but of course nearly all of them don’t kill anyone. Can you understand that I have a more direct interest in wondering what the hell happened to this kid than shouting at him about his privilege?

    Of course.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1273 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Russell Brown,

    not shouting about whether each one is an “excuse” or not

    Hey. I’m not shouting. I actually think you’re being pretty unfair to Megan too, FWIW.

    ETA Now that I don't have a screaming baby on my lap I'd like to note that the column I think is better *also talks about empathy* and, in fact, no one is denying the importance of empathy in these situations at all. It's just going to be a little difficult for people, I imagine. It is for me.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3623 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    Of course.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to sound so terse there. But I’ve had discussions about that word with people who didn’t seem to grasp the immense privilege of being neurotypical in a world designed by and for neurotypicals. It’s just vast.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg, in reply to Megan Wegan,

    The stripey shirts, who were led to believe that the world owes them a debt simply by virtue of their maleness

    But these are not the boys who turn to mass shootings.

    Lower Grey Lynn • Since Jul 2009 • 789 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    You know who I've thought about quite a bit? Bailey Junior Kurariki.

    By all accounts, he was a bright kid. I wonder what he might have done had his options and luck been better. How did it get to the point where he's a tragic man who exposes his genitals to a visiting journalist?

    I think about that in part because I also think about what might have happened to our younger boy if we hadn't held the line in various ways.

    I thought about Nicho Waipuka, who was acquitted in the Philip Cottrell case. At the least, he was present at a murderous hate-crime. But you look at him: he has clear signs of fetal alcohol syndrome. He started a long way behind everyone else.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Danielle,

    ETA Now that I don’t have a screaming baby on my lap I’d like to note that the column I think is better *also talks about empathy* and, in fact, no one is denying the importance of empathy in these situations at all. It’s just going to be a little difficult for people, I imagine. It is for me.

    Yes, they both talk about empathy. I tried to say so two pages ago. And the one you think is better, I think is better too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I tried to say so two pages ago.

    Yes, I saw that, but since you were so busy accusing me of making shit up it got a bit lost in translation. ;)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3623 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Martin Lindberg,

    The stripey shirts, who were led to believe that the world owes them a debt simply by virtue of their maleness

    But these are not the boys who turn to mass shootings.

    No, and they're not the lost poor white trash either. I didn't see the stripey shirts anywhere in the Wampole column, which is why I read it differently to those who did.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18503 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    But there are multiple levels of privilege. You can be a poor white man and still retain privilege, like, I dunno, the privilege of not being sexually harassed on the street or having workers in the hardware store answer their questions directly rather than talking to their spouse (not that this happened to me recently or anything.) Privilege applies differently in different situations.

    I'm just going to link to this post that my friend Dougal McNeill wrote earlier this year about (against) privilege theory. I think it's highly relevant here. Carry on.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 11 12 13 14 15 19 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

This topic is closed.