‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’

“What’s going on with men why do so many men rape women in our society and all over the world, why do so many men rape other men? Why is that a common problem in our society and all over the world?”

“How can we do something differently, how can we change the practices, how can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?”

Alexandra Madhavan shared this link where Jackson Katz suggests we ask a different set of questions.

Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue: Jackson Katz at TEDxF

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvSfeCRxe8

Let me share some of the points he made.

“What is going on with men and then what is the role of various institutions in our society that are helping to produce abusive men?”
IHM: In the Indian context, would you say the traditional pressure to Get Married Stay-Married (mainly for women) plays a part in ‘helping produce abusive men’?

“The question is what are we doing here and in our society, in the world; what are the roles of various institutions in helping to produce abusive man with the religious belief systems, the sports culture, the pornography culture, that the family structure, economics … at pandemic rates because this isn’t about individual perpetrators –  that’s a naive way of understanding what is a much deeper and more systematic social problem.

Once we start making those kinda connections and asking those important and big questions then we can talk about how we can help.”

“And I’m not gonna shout down people who ask questions about women …but let’s be clear asking questions about… [women] is not gonna get us anywhere in terms of preventing violence we have to ask a different set of questions.”
6:39
“What’s going on? Why do so many men abuse physically emotionally and verbally , and in other ways the women girls and the men and boys that they claim to love? What’s going on with men? Why do so many adult men sexually abuse little girls and little boys? Why is that a common problem in our society?”
10:08
“They’re anti-male?
What about the boys… profoundly affected in a negative way by what some adult man is doing against their mothers, themselves, their sisters? What about all those Boys?
What about other young men and boys who’ve been traumatized by adult men’s violence?
The same system that produces men who abuse women, produces men who abuse other men.
If you wanna talk with male victims let’s talk about male victims.
Most male victims of violence are the victims of other men’s violence … so it’s something that both women and men have in common we are both victims of men’s violence.  So we have it in our direct self-interest not to mention the fact that most men that I know have women and girls that we care deeply about in our families and our friendship circles and and every other way so there’s so many reasons why we need men to speak out.”
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33 thoughts on “‘How can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes?’

  1. Yes women are rarely physically violent. It is because women cannot afford to, when it comes to being violent on men, instead they just manipulate other men to do the dirty work for them. Verbally, women are more violent than men.

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    • Yes, women ‘s aggression has different traits as opposed to male aggression. It is very common to see in agrarian communities the women who have lived timid lives blossom into dominant figures once their sons attain adulthood. They not only emotionally manipulate their sons but also have the ability to instigate the sons against their fathers to avenge the injustices mounted on them during their youth http://girlsguidetosurvival.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/desi-mothers-in-law/

      But the question arises do men lack personal discretion or ability to sift the chaff? If so then why?
      Answer comes back to the inherent definitions of masculinity, reverence of mothers/women related to men and defending their honor.
      Peace,
      Desi Girl

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    • Who says men don’t engage in verbal abuse as well?
      What about all the catcalling and verbal harassment we see on the streets?
      How often do you see women doing that to men on the road? Or to other women for that matter?

      No one is saying that all women are saints.
      All genetics aside the fact remains that social tolerance/acceptance of violent behavior from men contributes to higher crime rates.

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    • Ugh. This young lady is living in some fantasy land, which has probably been shaped by moral homilies from her elders, Bollywood/Tollywood potboilers, and American sitcoms like Friends. Does she truly think that a guy who is conservative enough to marry a girl without speaking to her properly will somehow metamorphose into a sensitive, egalitarian partner?

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      • I’d commented on the piece saying that it is terribly subversive and delusional etc., and the writer responded saying that arranged marriages are a reality and that the piece is not a defense of arranged marriages but “only a rant on how you can make one work”.
        It is clearly a case of wanting to romanticize arranged marriages (and I don’t blame any Indian girl who has no choice for attempting to make lemonade out of lemons) executed in so skewed a manner that the piece can be interpreted in ways she did not mean. I doubt a man who cannot bring himself to speak to her before marrying her with morph into a sensitive partner, but I do hope- for her sake, and for the sake of so many others- that he does.
        The road to hell is paved with good intentions, indeed.

        Sorry to have hijacked the thread, IHM!

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        • I totally agree this is a horrible way to marry someone, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised after learning several of my friends married this way. They’d married out of blind faith, or at least gotten engaged out of blind faith, and some find themselves in a pretty decent relationships now, although I’ll agree a majority are misfits.

          The most surprising was my good friend from college who found every girl in college uninteresting – he married the first girl whom his parents brought over (without talking to her!), and he’s built a happy relationship! I stayed over at his place for a couple weeks, and the couple is very happy with their life. I was very pleased to learn that arranged marriages can be this good

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  2. “Why do so many adult men sexually abuse little girls and little boys? Why is that a common problem in our society?”
    Sexual Impulse coupled with lack of self control = Rape. Patriarchy, manhood, subjugation are not related to rape. Rape is a psychological problem; yoga, meditation and a disciplined lifestyle can help. Myopic view of sexes won’t.

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    • How many studies do we need to read to show us that rape is all about POWER.

      If it is about psychological issues, how do gang rapes happen? Even if one those Delhi rapists did his yoga, he wouldn’t have raped, no? So 5 mentally disturbed guys somehow convene and decide to do something like this? Do you see that the possibility of that happening is so low? Lets assume it happened just that one time perfectly randomly. We didn’t go several months after the Delhi rape before we read about the gang rape in Mumbai.

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      • How many studies do we need to read to show us that rape is all about POWER. If it is about psychological issues, how do gang rapes happen?

        If a man is not attracted to the victim in a sexual way, he can’t get an erection and hence can’t rape. In all other cases it can’t be termed rape, it is simply assault propelled by anger and extreme hate towards victim. And men raping little girls and boys? does he want to prove he has more “power” over them. And what about male raping other male, is it also for subjugation and patriarchy?. There are many studies that state rape is a psychological illness. I tend to believe that we already know answers to some questions, but sometimes due to societal pressures we don’t want to acknowledge them.

        how do gang rapes happen? Don’t you want your friends to be like you, and why it is so hard to understand that sex addicted, psychologically deranged men can’t congregate to fulfill their deranged sexual fantasies.

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    • Sexual impulse and no self control could have men availing the services of a sex worker. There don’t have to rape and commit a crime. Rape is crime committed by people led by patriarchy, who see women as lesser beings and who like to assert control. Nothing to do with impulse.
      You don’t have to agree with me, you can read vast amounts of research on his topic by some very knowledgable folks

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      • Sexual impulse and no self control could have men availing the services of a sex worker. There don’t have to rape and commit a crime.

        Or why not use life like masturbatory aids and save money. Rape is about sex and sex is about attraction. Attraction can be defined by appearance and behavior. Male rapists can’t be attracted to trashy talking sexually promiscuous women who will tell him how to have sex with her…he has his own deranged sex fantasies in his messed up mind. He will be more attracted to feminine beauty next door, someone he knew or a random women on the streets who looks feminine (subjective) and acts naive. You can control people by denying them money, food and freedom. Rape as an isolated act can’t accomplish any of this, it only satisfies sexual urges of insane men.

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    • I think it is circumstantial. Depending on the situation it could be a. sexual Impulse coupled with lack of self control and the confidence of not getting caught or b. a way of exerting power over women.

      Example of a: Pedophilia resulting in sexual assault. Children are easy targets – the perpetrator is not necessarily looking to exert power over them – just sees them as an easy way to fulfill his sexual needs and knows that a child may not report the incident (I am almost puking as I write this – that’s how much disgusting this act is). The same applies to perpetrators who rape women when they are easy targets ie: when the woman is in a vulnerable position (ie: alone, or on a dark street etc.) or unlikely to report the crime (ie: someone within the family). These people wouldn’t want to use the services of a prostitute because they see easy opportunities around them.

      Example of b: Someone who just sees women as lesser beings, is insecure about their independence, wants to control them, ‘teach a lesson’ for trying to have mind of her own etc. Someone who is strongly conditioned by patriarchy to believe that sexually assaulting a woman is a fitting way to show her her place.

      Until we begin teaching gender sensitization and respect for both genders at a very young age to both genders, this problem will not have an easy solution.

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      • “Until we begin teaching gender sensitization and respect for both genders at a very young age to both genders, this problem will not have an easy solution.”

        Ummmmm…
        As a big mouth American female who really has a problem with this aspect of Indian culture-
        How about we all learn to grow up & respectfully treat each other as human beings?
        “Indians are curious people. With them, all life seems to be sacred except human life”.
        -Mark Twain

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    • Ok, if yoga and meditation helps then why didn’t it help Asaram Bapu? He is also a sexual predator.
      Patriarchy = women are less equal than men = women are sexual objects FOR men = worthless
      Rape = humiliation/dominance – sometimes it is not even sexual urge

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      • Ok, if yoga and meditation helps then why didn’t it help Asaram Bapu? He is also a sexual predator.
        Asaram bapu is also a opium addict, these type of people don’t practice what they preach. One can’t call himself a saint and still have a sex and drug addiction problem. A person who meditates, knows what negative thoughts affect him and doesn’t let them cloud his morality and logical thinking.

        Patriarchy was male obligation to provide and protect his family, but that was before technological age. In modern times men are not required to play that role. In an ideal patriarchal society their would have been no women in law, teaching, as CEO’s or any social sector, but as we know that’s not reality. So patriarchy is just a theory now, almost non existent in today’s world. Regarding rape, if a man rapes a women; he does not tells his father,brother or society to be proud of him because he has raped a women. He doesn’t want anybody to know that he has committed such an heinous act. why is that? doesn’t he wants to show off his male dominance and manhood to the society. Male rapist have several screws loose in their mind, they don’t know how to handle their sexual feelings. They have no idea that rape ruins a women’s life.

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        • I usually do not comment. But this comment is stressing me out because it is such a typical statement made by the people who think we live in a post-patriarchal society. So I am going to take this on point-by-point

          1. “Patriarchy was male obligation to provide and protect his family, but that was before technological age. In modern times men are not required to play that role.”

          Response- Patriarchy is a social system where power is disproportionately vested in the hands of men. Outside the home, it manifests in leadership in social, legal, political, scientific, religious, military and many many other realms that impact everyone including men and women, Inside the home it manifests as “provider”. To be a provider is intrinsically a role of power. The provider has agency! The provided for have to abide by the “leader/household head” diktats to remain provided for. Basically, a position stripped of power or agency. So, No- patriarchy is not just male obligation to provide. It is subjugation of women and children and privileging of male interests and power. Patriarchy is unfortunately not dead.

          2. “In an ideal patriarchal society their would have been no women in law, teaching, as CEO’s or any social sector, but as we know that’s not reality. So patriarchy is just a theory now, almost non existent in today’s world. ”

          Yes. Indeed there are women who are breaking into leadership roles. Because of “feminism” and the fight for women’s rights. Considering women are 50% of the population, do you think at the highest levels of power in social, political, legal and economic sectors, 50% of the leaders are women? The answer is NO! Women continue to come up against the “old boys network”, good old fashioned sexism and many male privileged social constructs in their ascent. Let’s forget leadership, even when men and women work at the same job, across the wolrd women are paid lesser than men. In the US, women are paid 30% lower than men for the same job. Across the board. Even a woman doctor or woman PhD is paid lower than a similarly educated and experienced male counterpart. So again, I say NO. Patriarchy is not dead.

          3. “Regarding rape, if a man rapes a women; he does not tells his father,brother or society to be proud of him because he has raped a women. He doesn’t want anybody to know that he has committed such an heinous act. why is that? doesn’t he wants to show off his male dominance and manhood to the society. Male rapist have several screws loose in their mind, they don’t know how to handle their sexual feelings.”

          I am sorry to burst your happy bubble. But man who rapes does not feel instat remorse or shame! Infact quite a lot of rapists think it is their victim’s fault. Please check out the Steubenville rape case or the New Zealand rape club “roast busters” (and so many more..that I am too depressed to recount). In these cases, the rapists were popular, the victims were blamed and photos of assault, videos trashing the victims were widely circulated via social media. There resulted in the victims being doubted and ostracized..not the men..not until larger media got involved. Even today, there are many who hold the view that the Steubenville rapists were not to blame. Go figure! Unfortunately, this idea that rapists have a few screws loose lets us-the society- that created them off the hook. We don’t want to examine our prejudices, our views, our behavior that could beget such monsters.
          IHM- I apologize for my long rant!

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  3. The Jackson Katz video is a thought-provoking talk. Yes, a lot of abuse goes back to how boys are raised, how masculinity is viewed by society and culture. As a culture, we must start valuing certain qualities in men – sensitivity, intelligence, kindness, sense of humor, gentleness, rationality. We must start rejecting (traditionally glorified) qualities such as macho-ness and arrogance. This is a problem not just in the Indian culture but all over the world. But it is changing gradually. Now we see a little more of men in the popular media with sensitive intelligence, wit, and rationality and a little less of the cowboys.

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  4. “Why do so many adult men sexually abuse little girls and little boys? Why is that a common problem in our society?”
    In the indian context – because of lack of consequences.
    A person is less likely to act in a certain way if they think about possible outcomes.
    How often do you see women sexually harassing men in public places? Or throwing temper tantrums in public?
    Is it because women never get angry? Is it because all women are saints with no sexual urges?
    Or is it simply because of the overwhelmingly negative response and potential threats of violence they will receive if they indulge in such behavior?

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    • I do agree that rapes go on in this country at this rate because of the complete breakdown of the criminal justice system, but I think the questions Katz is asking goes a step deeper into the issue. Undoubtedly, if the police and the courts were aligned in implementing the law as is, men would probably think twice before indulging so carelessly and callously in sexual violence, but a more important question that needs to be addressed just as importantly is why men, in general, tend to lean towards sexual violence in the first place. This becomes doubly important in a patriarchal society like ours because even assuming that rape and other women centric laws are implemented strictly, there will be still be that shadow of sexual violence committed against women within homes and private spaces where the law does not enter.
      Many above have brought up very valid reasons for such socialization of men. One more reason I believe contributes to this is this ridiculous taboo-isation of sex and the human body and these artificial distinctions drawn between boys and girls, men and women. Sex is not considered a natural impulse, something enjoyed by both men and women, but something almost dirty, and something to be enjoyed by men alone. Nirbhaya was reportedly raped cus they wanted her “punished” for being out at night with a man- because they thought sex was punishment. Remember the recent report of the man who raped his daughter cus he thought she eloped cus she :”wanted it”? It’s almost as if “wanting it” is wrong or dirty or somehow unholy- for both men and women, but women bear the brunt of it cus of the already patriarchal framework.

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      • “Or is it simply because of the overwhelmingly negative response and potential threats of violence they will receive if they indulge in such behavior?”
        Clearly , I am talking about social responses here, not the legal system.
        How society responds to our actions has a huge bearing on how often we will repeat those actions.
        As a woman , if I make aggressive, unwanted sexual advances , I draw more censure and judgement than a man indulging in such behavior.
        Violent tendencies and aggression in men is considered “natural” for reason – it is never looked on as something to be suppressed. When a man indulges in wife-beating or lewd behavior, he rarely receives negative feedback, but women who try to assert themselves in any manner are labeled shrews, whores etc.
        Aggressive tendencies in men receive positive reinforcement. (associated with “manhood”). Women are expected to adapt themselves to this condition,
        and not “provoke” them.

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        • You’re missing the point. I agree with you completely, yes, skewed social reactions definitely contribute to men’s ideas of entitlement and aggressive behaviour.
          BUT social response or legal response, the question Katz is posing is why a response is required in much larger degree in the case of men than women. What TRIGGERS the sexual violence in the first place, which is then further reinforced by a terrible legal system and an even worse societal response.

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        • No Igirit , YOU’RE missing the point. Read the part about boys and men who are at the receiving end of sexual violence from other men. Obviously the taboos associated with female sexuality do not come into play here.
          Sexual violence is more about violence than about sex. Aggression is accepted as the default mode of communication for men. Most perpetrators of non-sexual violent crimes also happen to be men.
          Even though one may argue that men are genetically predisposed to violent behavior , the nurturing and acceptance of such behaviour as “normal” significantly contributes to its frequency.

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  5. men rape cos there is something wrong in their lives and they take it out on those weaker than themselves. They are frustrated about things in their lives that are out of their control, they feel rage, they want to show that rage, show that they are powerful in some way… and choose rape to do that. They are brought up to believe that they can get away with anything cos a woman is something beneath them and expendable. Society makes us believe that getting married and staying married are the most important things in the world FOR A WOMAN, so they are forced from a very young age to put up with everything that a man does simply because they lead you to believe it is necessary to have a man in your life at all times.

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  7. A lot of violence occurs because it is allowed to occur. Women are as responsible for the sexual crimes on boys and girls. They are responsible because they keep quiet and allow it to happen.
    This post reminded me of an episode on Satyamev Jayate about sexual crimes against children. In that, a young boy was assaulted by his mausi’s husband for many years. He even confided in his mother. But her answer was a helpless, “What can I do?” . So in spite of knowing that a person was preying on her child, she kept mum because because
    a) it was a male relative.
    b) The male relative was her sister’s husband.
    Obviously, the lady cared more for her sister’s well-being than her son’s.
    I tried really hard to be non-judgemental but cannot get my mind around to accepting that a woman kept quiet while her child suffered😐

    Thankfully, more and more women are gaining the courage to speak up against their molesters. With young men, I feel there are still reservations. I don’t think any boy/youth would like to admit that he was frisked/assaulted/harassed by another male.
    More’s the pity😦

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  8. I think this requires a deeper understanding of The culture as well, One of the dimension which plays an important part in cultural conditioning is Masculinity (MAS), vs. femininity which is defined as “The distribution of emotional roles between the genders”. Masculine cultures’ values are competitiveness, assertiveness, materialism, ambition and power, whereas feminine cultures place more value on relationships and quality of life. In masculine cultures, the differences between gender roles are more dramatic and less fluid than in feminine cultures where men and women have the same values emphasizing modesty and caring. Sexuality this becomes a taboo in many cultures. India and a lot of other south eastern countries have extremely high score on this index – which reflects in overall behaviour. So its not just men- but women also who are conditioned like this. i don’t think i need to write more about conditioning of women.
    Even the educated men and women indulge in such nonsense which is hard to be decoded by plain simple mind. Logic seems to not work and society plays a larger role than individual.

    I have grown up in a joint family and rules were different for my male cousins – about what time to come back home, where to play, whether to go for school trip or not, when to drive a vehicle, when to talk on phone, who should be your friends, watching movies with friends…. the list was endless….Though females in my family are much more fierce but within the boundaries set by this entire conditioning. Men in my family have refused even to stand up for their female counterparts in times of abuse!!! because of only thing that they feel their roles are so clearly defined and and they do not interfere in how the elder female of the house will run household matters….. i am apalled at some of the shit that even educated females take from their parents/ in-laws/ husbands/ boy friends as they are so used to seeing this around and they end up blaming themselves……

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