Masculinity is at the root of Male Violence. When boys are shamed out of their emotional vulnerability they often grow up as aggressors vis-a-vis women. The number of people killed on 9/11 was a pathetic day of male violence. It was almost identical to the number of women murdered by their male partners that year in the US. In one case there was an aggressive military response that changed the world politics. In the other case, it was life as usual. In the subject book, the British literary scholar and cultural critic Jacqueline Rose, examines, the thrust for and experience of violence, especially against women. She explores and examines the nature of this violence against women and its deep roots. The title draws generously on literature, psychoanalysis and philosophy to show the male fragility at the centre of male violence.
Rose sees patriarchal violence at the intersection of many forms of violence – the ‘impotence of bigness’ and fraud of masculinity which is at work for many authoritarian leaders around the world, and their ardent followers.
The author discovers an erotic charge, an obscene pleasure in the license to violence. No man comfortably possesses masculinity, and it is this discomfort, with one’s own human vulnerability that raises its head as the delusion of mastery, as contempt for weakness. The effects of this brutality are baked into how some men act. The book deals with the trafficking of women, with rape as a weapon of war, and the surge of domestic violence during the pandemic, with the connection between racial brutality and violence against women. As Rose puts it, “reckoning with the violence of the heart and fighting violence in the world are inseparable.”
Many forms of supremacist thinking, domination and hierarchy are linked to it. But men are not the sole problem. The problem is our collective investment in masculinity as superiority and prowess. Men and women both internalise patriarchy because we live within that system, even when, both men and women can resist it. In The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love, the activist and thinker Bell Hooks explored how we can get past the logic of predator and the prey, and imagine partnerships rooted in mutuality.
Warfare and aggressive masculinity are mutually reinforcing, and it’s no accident that the slogan ‘make love, not war’ took off in the US at a time when men were most conscious of the need to resist patriarchal masculinity. In dominator cultures, family are no safe haven: intimate violence and dysfunction stalk us at our homes and haunt us across generations. It is vital to resist this logic in families, schools, sports teams and military units. Everywhere boys are indoctrinated into manhood that denies them emotional wholeness. Boys are shamed out of their emotional vulnerability, and they cover up this suffering with rage, with the mask of masculinity. The violence they enact later mirrors the early violence done to their own selves.
Challenging patriarchy means changing the images that make up our imagination. Mass media and popular culture can show us more affirming models of male identity. It may seem disturbing at first, but both women and men can learn to redefine strength. Men could see how systematic male privilege blocks the truth about themselves and the world. They could intervene in other men’s misogynist behaviour and challenge their own. By reclaiming and redefining masculinity, men and women can find their way to equality and mutuality.
Casting a wide net, the author considers sexual predation and harassment; violence against transgender women, including by feminists who engage in “the coercive violence of gendering”; violence depicted in literary fiction; South Africa, where a woman is murdered every three hours and Cape Town is known as the rape capital of the world; and violence against migrant women and children. Although Rose focuses mainly on male violence, she argues that violence is not inherent in masculinity, and she takes issue with feminists who see women “solely or predominantly as the victims of their histories.” Nevertheless, she calls sexual harassment “the great male performative, the act through which a man aims to convince his target not only that he is the one with the power, which is true, but also that his power and his sexuality are one and the same thing.” Though she does not believe “that all women are at risk from all men,” she concedes “that a woman does not say she is scared of a man without cause and that when she does so, we must listen.” Drawing on Freudian psychoanalytic theory, Rose sees violence as “part of the psyche,” characterizing violent behaviour as “a crime of the deepest thoughtlessness.”
It is a sign that the mind has brutally blocked itself. Feminists, she asserts, must reckon with “the extraordinary, often painful and mostly overlooked range of what the human mind is capable of.” Like Hannah Arendt (German born American historian), Rose sees violence as “a form of entitlement” inflamed by “illegitimate and/or waning power.” The abuse of refugees and asylum seekers, for example, reflects “the violence of colonial expansion” as well as a “fight to preserve the privilege of the few against the many.”
It’s an intellectually probing analysis.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
Share it please
Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:
NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION
Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)
IFSC code: BKID0006805
GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE
(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 8 prestigious libraries of the US that includes Harvard College Library; Harvard University Library; Library of Congress; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill University Libraries. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in libraries and archives of Canada, Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai; Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida; India. Shoolini University, Yogananda Knowledge Center, Himachal Pradesh and Azim Premzi University, Bangalore).
ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY
(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi; Available for reading in Indian National Bibliography, March 2016, in the literature section, in Central Reference Library, Ministry of Culture, India, Belvedere, Kolkata-700022)
AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES
(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K; Herrick District Library, Holland and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, USA; Black Gold Cooperative Library Administration, Arroyo Grande, California).
REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD
(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)
TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN
(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his way through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available on Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
RHYTHM … in poems
(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day-to-day life. The book is available on Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)
AWADH ASSAM AND DALAI LAMA … The Kalachakra
(The story of the man who received His Holiness The Dalai Lama and his retinue in 1959 as a GOI representative when he fled Tibet in 1959. The book was launched on 21st November 2022 by His Holiness The Dalai Lama at Dharmshala. The titled is archived in the library of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) Government of Tibet, Tibet Policy Institute (TPI) and the personal library of His Holiness. The title is also archived in The Ohio Digital Library, USA).
Short stories, Book reviews and Articles published in Bhavan’s Journal: 1. Reality and Perception, 15.10.19; 2. Sending the Wrong Message, 31.5.20; 3. Eagle versus Scholars June, 15 & 20 2020; 4. Indica, 15.8.20; 5. The Story of King Chitraketu, August 31 2020; 6. Breaking Through the Chakravyuh, September 30 2020. 7. The Questioning Spouse, October 31, 2020; 8. Happy Days, November 15, 2020; 9. The Karma Cycle of Paddy and Wheat, December 15, 2020; 10. Power Vs Influence, January 31, 2021; 11. Three Refugees, March 15, 2021; 12. Rise and Fall of Ajatashatru, March 31, 2021; 13. Reformed Ruler, May 15, 2021; 14. A Lasting Name, May 31, 2021; 15. Are Animals Better Teachers?, June 16, 2021; 16. Book Review: The Gram Swaraj, 1.7.21; 17. Right Age for Achievements, 15.7.21; 18. Big Things Have Small Beginnings, 15.8.21; 19. Where is Gangaridai?, 15.9.21; 20. Confront the Donkey Within You 30.9.21; 21. Know Your Strengths 15.10.21; 22. Poverty 15.11.21; 23. Top View 30.11.21; 24. The Bansuriwala 15.1.22; 25. Sale of Alaska 15.2.22; 26. The Dimasa Kingdom 28.2.22; 27. Buried Treasure 15.4.22; 28. The Kingdom of Pragjyotisha 30.4.22; 29. Who is more useful? 15.5.22; 30. The White Swan from Lake Mansarovar 30.6.22; 31. Bhool Bhulayya 15.9.22; 32. Good Karma 30.9.22; 33. Good name vs Bad Name 15.10.22; 34. Uttarapath—The Grand Trunk Road 1.12.22; 35. When Gods Get Angry 1.1.23; 36. Holinshed’s Chronicles 15.1.23; 37. Theogony 15.2.23
SUNDAY SHILLONG TIMES
POEMS AND ARTICLES: 1.POEM: HAPPY NEW YEAR 8.1.23; 2. POEM: SPRING 12.3.23; 3. POEM: RIGHT AND WRONG 20.3.23, 4. THE GUSH OF EMOTION—WRITING, 26.3.23;
(ALL THE ABOVE BOOK TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE ON AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)