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September 07, 2007

Interesting Take on the Horrors of "Male Socialization"

Dr. Helen notes a false connection drawn between male socialization and violence:

If the authors' theory is correct--that traditional masculine socialization leads to violence--then why was it that in years past, when we had more traditional masculine socialization, fewer guys were shooting up schools?

I suspect that many of the school shooters were looking for some way to prove themselves as men because they did not grow up with any type of "male socialization," not because they did.

Basically she pegs such types, properly, as almost always losers acting violently due to their (quite accurate) feelings of inadequacy and impotence.

This is true, but I do think there is an innate male thing going on which urges them towards such behaviors. Most serial killers are of course male, are more specifically frustrated members of "anxious class," from middle class families which expected them to do better than their fathers but fell well short of that goal. Why don't women feel to impose their frustrated wills on the world through serial killing as often?

And in high-pressure cultures like Japan, isn't it almost exclusively men who resort to suicide in response to career path disappointment? Isn't Japan's high suicide rate due to additional men committing suicide, not additional people of both sexes?

There may well be an element of "male socialization" that leads to various bad outcomes, but this element seems largely one of competition and score-keeping (comparison of one's achievements with respect to others in one's cadre, etc.) not about a culture of violence per se.

Do we want males less competitive? True, it might resort in less Columbines, but it also might result in less vaccines. Males respond to frustration and lack of achievement very poorly on occasion -- with sometimes deadly consequences -- but that doesn't seem like a good enough reason in itself to devalue achievement.

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posted by Ace at 05:19 PM

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