I have met many angry people throughout my career and I still can’t understand why the male humans have so many issues controlling their temper. We teach children to use their words and to cry but at some point the men stop being children and start to bottle all their feelings in. This pent up frustration and anxiety escapes like vapor from a pressure cooker, resulting in displays of force, violence and aggressive behavior. At work, my collegues and I have seen chairs fly through rooms and fists slammed on tables so hard that they crack under pressure. It is an international problem that is not confined to the mainstream white/caucasian culture. Men around the world are violent in nature. Why does anyone think male violence is normal or appropriate social behavior?
We could get rid of all the guns in the world and the men would find a way to fight each other with brains and brawn. Heck, that’s why boxing, the martial arts, and wrestling are so popular. Rape, war, murder, bullying, assault, battery, kidnapping, trespassing, animal cruelty, arson, driving under the influence and road rage, to name a few, are all mostly committed by men aged 18 to 45. The core of our reproductive and maturing years are spent fearing and expecting violence from the men around us. I always walk fast and look over my shoulder when a group of guys is near me or my party. I’ve never been told to trust a man fully because of his destructive nature. Be it bullets or cat calls, I don’t want to be worried I will get caught in the crossfire anymore.
I have a theory: The hunter/gatherer myth that is propagated through religion and social norms is what fuels the anger inside these men. Just like we tell women that looking thin and dolling up for their men is the only thing that matters, we raise boys to be entitled to success, sex and power. Instead of nurturing our sons to become nurturing fathers and devoted husbands, solidary to the struggles of others, we fill their heads with the need to be the best, the strongest and the most revered/feared. We portray romance as a transaction where you give the lady in distress assistance and she is supposed to put out and love you forever. We never give our children the opportunity to discover that love is an action that doesn’t have to be reciprocal; we give love to the world and should expect nothing back! You can’t take what is not yours. Plain and simple. You can only give from your table and share the bounty. If others don’t want to partake there is no need to call them names, attack or ridicule them. No means no. Respectfully move on.
Whenever I get angry, I recall Yoda’s words to Luke: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” When we give conflicting information to our sons, nephews, husbands and fathers about civil liberties, civil rights and women’s place in society we create dissonance in their thoughts that lead to confusion. This confusion starts to generate frustration. Out of that frustration fear can be born. The rest escalates into a situation where violence is sought to end the pain and suffering of the emotional turmoil inside the person. The ire starts to seep through. It starts as a small snap back, an exchange of dark humor or racist/sexist joke and turns into an all out tirade about how the offending parties should be eradicated. Road rage is a prime example of how something innocuous can turn deadly because it opens the floodgates for all of the bias and violent behavior to be unleashed. The hard day at work anxiety is unleashed on an unsuspecting 3rd party that will, in your mind, form a stereotype of whatever they represent gender, race and belief wise. This is what then prompts the rethoric of taking action against a particular group of people. Usually starts with a misunderstanding of customs and values. How many people have to die before we address the innate need or men to use violence to solve their problems?
If you ask me, I’d design a course similar to the one Yoda designed to train Luke and I’d have each human face their fears, get educated on how to address them, and how to start a dialogue when something bothers them. Clear communication and attentive listeners can help diffuse so many situations before the people involved become a threat to others and to themselves. If we all had crisis and anger management skills we could detect possible offenders faster, saving their lives and the lives of their future victims. Now more than ever we need people that can successfully talk their peers off the proverbial ledges and edges. It baffles me that we don’t teach this in school or in the home. Like manners, most of the common sense stuff has gone by the wayside. Parents don’t even know what rules are to be respected, much less followed. They teach their kids to do as they please or see right. When everyone doesn’t what to do what they want or what they think is right, this is what happens: Chaos. Violence. Suffering.
To those of you with boys and teenagers in your life please take the time to teach them how to be human, how to apply kindness and compassion to every situation, and how to empathize if not understand where their peers are coming from. Teach them patience, resilience and perseverance while at the same time emphasizing that frustration is normal and has to be dealt with in non violent ways. It is okay to cry, to show vulnerability, which is a strength and not akin to weakness. Exercise and meditation are even more effective and cause less damage. Make sure they understand that we are all unique, different but equal under the law and that you must assume good intent before assuming intentional malice. No one is out to get us. And although it pays to be vigilant and prepared, it is not the same as attacking first or being on the offensive. Learn the difference between fight and flight before passing on your biases. Not every war was won with guns and firepower. Not every war was fought either.
The pen is mightier than the sword, which is why words hurt just as much as punches and blades. Mind what you say and how you say it, especially around children. Abstain from judging those who are victimized by violence and hold the aggressors accountable. Don’t lose track of the fact that women don’t ask to be raped, children don’t ask to be sexually and physically abused, Muslims are not all terrorists, guns are dangerous when in the wrong hands, poor people didn’t choose to be poor and that immigrants and Black Americans are not here to take your women, contaminate the gene pool and take your jobs. Refrain from making decisions and comments in a fit or anger or emotional distress. Once you release your thoughts into the world you can’t take them back, and the damage cannot be undone.
If you are a man and you read through this and thought I was being sexist or biased, please consider that you don’t necessarily feel you have to look over your shoulder when walking the street alone to be “on the safe side”. You may have never been told your clothes and behavior were signaling you out as a possible target or victim of rape. Most likely you were never told your behavior didn’t match your gender or that your aspirations were above your standing. However, if you have been told any of these and still think male violence is not the problem, we need to discuss this further. No member of our society should live in constant fear of being attacked by their counterparts, their neighbors and friends, because they expressed themselves and chose to live free of your biased rules. I sincerely hope you are part of the solution and not the problem. I cannot wait for the day I can truly bump into a strange male on the road and not assume they want to hurt me. Don’t you?