Tuesday, April 24, 2007

johnny get your gun: on violence, inadequacy and the crisis of masculinity

via truthout: Bob Herbert | A Volatile Young Man, Humiliation and a Gun

one topic that i've been posting about lately has been the increasingly apparent connection between male inadequacy and violence against women, girls and 'girly' Others. (see joe francis, the soldiers in iraq who killed an iraqi girl and members of her family, and the Amish schoolhouse killer; now we can also add the V-Tech shooter.) herbert makes a fine argument:

More than four decades later we still profess to be baffled at the periodic eruption of murderous violence in places we perceive as safe havens. We look on aghast, as if the devil himself had appeared from out of nowhere. This time it was 32 innocents slaughtered on the campus of Virginia Tech. How could it have happened? We behave as if it was all so inexplicable.

But a close look at the patterns of murderous violence in the U.S. reveals some remarkable consistencies, wherever the individual atrocities may have occurred. In case after case, decade after decade, the killers have been shown to be young men riddled with shame and humiliation, often bitterly misogynistic and homophobic, who have decided that the way to assert their faltering sense of manhood and get the respect they have been denied is to go out and shoot somebody.

Dr. James Gilligan, who has spent many years studying violence as a prison psychiatrist in Massachusetts, and as a professor at Harvard and now at N.Y.U., believes that some debilitating combination of misogyny and homophobia is a "central component" in much, if not most, of the worst forms of violence in this country.

"What I've concluded from decades of working with murderers and rapists and every kind of violent criminal," he said, "is that an underlying factor that is virtually always present to one degree or another is a feeling that one has to prove one's manhood, and that the way to do that, to gain the respect that has been lost, is to commit a violent act."

it makes me think about the imus firing, the conversations about racist and misogynist language in popular culture, the movies of quentin tarantino/robert rodriquez (and the Rapist No. 1 action figure that makes me go 'gick') and how all of these things are connected.

and once i'm home, i'll write more about it.


Joy said...

I had to share this with you, Ding.


See, sooner or later people get what they deserve.

ding said...

thank you, joy.

while i've refrained from overtly gloating at the passing of jerry falwell (gag) i WILL totally gloat over the jailing of a douchebag like joe francis. this alone convinces me that there is justice in this world and we don't always have to wait for it in the next.

on behalf of every duped girl who's been plied with liquor only to wake up the next day and realize that she was taped giving a blow job to a total stranger i will gloat and laugh and ridicule this asshat until my gut busts.


couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. (and the tax evasion stuff? classic. hope he rots in jail and his detoxification creates a nervous breakdown.)