In the wake of the Littleton CO shootings, once again the issue of violence in the culture comes up for debate. Everyone has leapt on this tragic event as evidence for their pet theory of utopianism. Most pathetic and ridiculous are the gun-control fanatics who ignore the fact that there are already pipe bomb and other explosive device control laws which did nothing to prevent such a pre-meditated act of mayhem.
Overt violence is like the volcanic eruption which is the result of the buildup of stresses over a long period of time. Isolating the violent act itself from the events and forces which created it, make it impossible to understand.
Our culture's relationship with violence is schizophrenic. As long as we don't have to confront it directly in reality, it is fine. But when it happens in our faces we act shocked. US culture, and any culture which imports US entertainment, is saturated with a steady diet of violence. Movies are violent, television commercials are violent, comedy and cartoons are violent. Yet, when real violence instead of fantasy violence erupts in our culture, some people act shocked. "Where could this have come from? HOW could this have happened?"
Those people will never find the answers to those questions until they confront the issue that violence is a chain. Any overt act of violence will have been preceeded by a long slow buildup of pressures which finally erupt in the same way that a volcano erupts to let off the immense tectonic pressures which have built up. Attempting to deal with the eruptions alone, while ignoring the forces which preceed them, assures that understanding of violence will be limited to assessing the carnage after the fact. These people will become very good at assessing carnage, and will be quick to offer solutions which "could" have prevented this particular eruption, but they will offer nothing to prevent any other eruption in the future.
Violence does not just suddenly come from nowhere. Violence is passed along from person to person in many forms until it reaches such a concentration in one person that it erupts. Two people prone to violence can dance each other into it in no time. Culturally we live in a sea of violent images and still seem surprised when those same images are turned into reality in front of us. We seem to deny violence until it escalates past any ability of denial, then to get angry at those who forced us to recognize it.
One characteristic of the Littleton shootings distinguishes it from the other school shootings: it was obviously suicidal in intent. The primary focus of the violence turned out to be themselves: they just decided to take a few of those who had acted violently toward them along with them.
Until the cultural denial is broken regarding just how much violence had been poured onto and into these two boys, they will just be another in a series of pressure relief valves which allow the pressure cooker to keep simmering without blowing up. As the picture of these boys emerges, the word "marginalized" continuously comes to mind. These boys are inheritors of the legacy of marginalizing men which has been going on since the late 1960s. More than a society of haves and have-nots as many have been predicting, there is also a division brewing between what might be termed "ins" and "outs". The boys in CO were definitely "outs".
What will compound this tragedy is if no one points out that these boys were acting like lenses and focused the violence in this culture to the point of ignition, like a magnifying glass can focus the sun to start a fire. Why should people be surprised when these boys take all the "You have no place in this world" messages and believe them? The term "War on boys" is constantly being used for the wholesale medicating and berating of boys which happens in the public education system. Maybe these boys didn't have all that happen directly to them, but they saw it all the time everywhere. They lived and grew up in an environment which was hostile to them because they were boys. That is cetainly Sexual Harassment. It seems remarkable to have to point out to someone who has talked about the "War on boys", the simple fact that this is what it looks like when boys fight back.
The answer is so simple that I'm not surprised that it has escaped the bureaucrats: decrease the violence against boys and men, if you want to decrease the violence BY boys and men. Men have been saying for years that hate bounces. Yet, men today get man-hatred shoved in their faces no matter where they look. All popular entertainment, and particularly the commercials that support it, reek of man-hatred.
Breaking the chain of violence will involve quitting expecting anyone to absorb constant and focussed hostility for a long period of time without returning in kind. It involves seeing the assassination of men's characters as a form of violence and understanding that violence can be hidden and covert just as well as it can be overt. Until all involved take the responsibility for their own participation/contribution to violence, each violent act will contribute to eventual retaliatory violence.
In order to break the chain, ALL parties must stop.
The issues of men's anger and men's violence have become central to the angry rhetoric of the gender war. Men face an absolute seemingly unbreakable wall of denial regarding female violence and participation in feeding events of violence.
The answer to everything seems to be for men to suppress their anger even more. All that will do is assure that the next time an eruption occurs to let off pressure that it will be even more explosive.
On one of the discussion lists, the one maintained by backlash.com, there is a great deal of discussion of male anger and violence. How and why men are suppressed in their expressions of anger, and how and why this makes the problems worse, are frequent topics - as is what form the "backlash" will take if there ever is one.
One man stated the situation particularly eloquently. I have his permission to quote it here.
"And now there's Littleton, Colorado to add to the list of American towns where the end result of this has brought death and violence. Janet Reno and the gun control lobbiests are already preaching tighter restrictions, etc. Why don't we ask if Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold gave a FUCK about gun control laws? I'm not much one way or the other on the issue of gun control, but I do know that people have been killing each other for a lot longer than guns have been around.
"The current body count is 15 total -. 11 males, including 1 adult and the two shooters, and 4 females. One of the victims was black. I wonder how long it will take the VAWA promoters and the Hate Crime people to draw on this tragedy to promote their agendas ? Will we just bury the other 11 victims and call them "Colaterial Damage" in the war on women and minorities ?
"You all are probably sick of hearing me rant about the Socially Forced Supression of male anger, and how we are taught from day one to "Be a MAN, and EAT it.". Then when it explodes, ALL men become violent murdering wife beating rapists. These young men were pushed over the edge, and no less victims of the same urge to kill that drove them to commit this atrocity.
"Goddammit, we need to face this issue of anger ourselves. As Fathers and male role models, our children NEED US to teach them how to deal with it by example. That's why I put my web page back online after it disappeared two years ago, although sometimes even I think it's a pathetic cry in the wilderness. If we who know and feel the pain don't start to deal with it, NOBODY WILL !
"The "authorities" were alerted a full year before these two kids decided to self-destruct, and take 15 innocent souls with them, now they're wondering how they missed it. I see it every day in every person I meet, and it scares the shit out of me."
Another man tossed in:
"The state says my kids only need their mother. They don't need me for anything but money."
To which the first man responded:
"I understand how you feel, and God knows that there are thousands of other men just like you who are just as angry and have every right to be. I think it's time we made an issue of this, a BIG issue. It may be too late for us, but maybe we can shake some sense into the future leaders of our children's world. I've already decided that anyone who even mentions this story to me is going to get my "WELCOME TO THE BACKLASH !' speech. 'The Fun has just Begun...'
"Welcome to the Backlash. This is the direct result of the legacy of socially surpressed anger that men in Amerca have been sitting on for the past three generations. I call it the "Big Boys Don't Cry" syndrome. If greater effort is not put forth to encourage men to deal with their inner hostilities, and to allow them to become the Fathers and positive role models that our children need, it's going to get a lot worse. "
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