Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is Stopping Male Violence Impossible?

This week's chapter from bell hooks' "The Will to Change" was entitled "Stopping Male Violence." I wasn't expecting an answer but I also wasn't expecting to come away so disheartened. Hooks makes a clear distinction that male violence is not caused by individual men, but is instead a product of the patriarchy. In fact, she argues that women enact this patriarchal violence just as frequently as men. The violence that she is discussing is not driven by the individual. It cannot be attributed to anger. She argues that violence is used in the continuous power struggle that our society has created. One part of her argument that I found interesting and true to my life is the inclusion of emotional manipulation as violence. She discussed instances as in the relationship between a mother and her son, or in the relationship between a man and his girlfriend where emotions are withheld as being just as violent as physical abuse.

Hooks directly links violence/power struggle to rape in the following example: "When researchers looking at date rape interviewed a range of college men and found that many of them saw nothing wrong with forcing a woman sexually, they were astounded Their findings seemed to challenge the previously accepted notion that raping was aberrant male behavior. While it may be unlikely that any of the men in this study would became rapists, it was evident that given what they conceived as the appropriate circumstance, they could see themselves being sexually violent." Reading this quote I thought back to chapter 2, "Understanding Patriarchy." For men, violence is sanctioned, even celebrated in the "appropriate" circumstance. As is evident in the above quote, our society has decided that sexual relationships are an "appropriate" circumstance. This needs to change. 

As I came to the end of the chapter I didn't feel very hopeful. Hooks does not offer step by step instructions for how to stop male violence because it is an issue of changing our society. However, bringing it back home, I am again brought to the culture inherent in the lifestyle of the NANA region. Our culture is a hybrid of American and Inupiaq values. How can the NANA region heal from within, pulling from traditional values to work towards stopping male violence?

-Hannah Atkinson

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