Why Male Violence Can't Seem To Die

As the nation deals with an epidemic of mass shootings, have the problems of gender politics abroad finally come home to roost?

In attempt to explain the recent outbreak of violence, one American reporter suggests that, “For so long, the national narrative has been so bullish about equality of opportunity, so persuasive in its romance of possibility for all. Is it so subversive to speculate, then, that when the engine of possibility runs into roadblocks, people can't cope?” Is there a larger, culture problem afoot? Indeed there is.  

While the pressures of male identity explodes in a hail of gunfire on American soil, in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan the primacy of manhood is being confronted with global pressure to promote and secure women’s rights.

As more women seek basic human rights like access to education and reproductive freedom, the resulting patriarchal backlash has been devastating. A new law in Afghanistan threatens to legalize marital rape, while this video of a teenage girl’s public flogging in Pakistan is a sobering reminder that when under attack, the tyranny of patriarchy will exert itself in increasingly visible and violent ways.

We have come to expect that the majority of violent acts are carried out by men, but in this case, we can’t afford to ignore the connections between definitions of manhood at home and abroad. The pressure to succeed financially, to support a family, and to persevere in the face of any adversity is still very much tied to definitions of manhood in democratic society, just as the oppression of women is inherent to defining manhood in many Middle Eastern countries struggling against encroaching western notions of gender equality. Both models are in serious need of revision.   

In trying to make sense of what seems like senseless violence, the media, commentators, and politicians have an opportunity to do more than provide us with the usual critiques of gun laws and analyses of criminal profiles.  As we express outrage at the clear abuses of power exerted by patriarchal cultures abroad, we should likewise turn that outrage inward and assess a genuine critique of masculine ideologies that continue to inform male identity at home.

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Why Henry David Thoreau was drawn to yoga

The famed author headed to the pond thanks to Indian philosophy.

Image: Public Domain / Shutterstock / Big Think
Personal Growth
  • The famed author was heavily influenced by Indian literature, informing his decision to self-exile on Walden Pond.
  • He was introduced to these texts by his good friend's father, William Emerson.
  • Yoga philosophy was in America a century before any physical practices were introduced.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less
Photo: Shutterstock / Big Think
Personal Growth
    • A recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 80 percent of Americans don't exercise enough.
    • Small breaks from work add up, causing experts to recommend short doses of movement rather than waiting to do longer workouts.
    • Rethinking what exercise is can help you frame how you move throughout your day.
    Keep reading Show less