Friday, September 07, 2007

Too Masculine or not Masculine Enough?

There is a new journal article out in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice entitled, "Boys and violence: A gender-informed analysis"(Hat tip: Steven Erickson). The abstract reads as follows:

This article discusses the phenomenon of youth violence from a psychology of gender perspective. Although other factors are discussed--including gun availability, violence-related media influence, family and caretaker factors, and effects of teasing and bullying--the intention is to highlight new thinking on the potential relationship between boys' traditional masculine socialization experiences and violence. In this new perspective, traditional masculine socialization estranges and isolates many boys from their genuine inner lives and vital connections to others, which is theorized to heighten their risk of engaging in acts of violence. The authors identify school and community programs that may be helpful in counteracting damaging socialization experiences and supporting boys' healthier emotional and psychological development. Finally, the article discusses approaches that psychologists and other mental health professionals can use to help address this vital issue.

I read the whole article and what I can gather is that boys who "suffer" from the horrors of traditional masculine socialization are more likely to be violent--especially at schools, as in the article the authors mention various school killings. If the authors' theory is correct--that traditional masculine socialization leads to violence--then why was it that in years past, when we had more traditional masculine socialization, fewer guys were shooting up schools?

I suspect that many of the school shooters were looking for some way to prove themselves as men because they did not grow up with any type of "male socialization," not because they did. We do not allow young men to grow up, to engage in masculine behavior without punishment, or to learn the boundaries of violence; in fact, we just generalize and tell them never to be violent at all. Add to this confusion that there is no ritual or passage of manhood anymore and we leave many of our boys to find their own way in the world, without guidance and sometimes, they act out their desperate need for the manhood they are missing in the most horrible of ways. These school shooters are geeky boys trying to find their masculinity, not strong, silent types.



Blogger Cham said...

Helen, I can't read the journal article because in order to do so one has to either be an APA member or fork over cold hard cash, and we all know that isn't going to happen.

But from what you have outlined let me sum up things from a far more practical point of view on why things will never ever change. As of August 30, 2007 my fine city has had 209 murders for the year, most of them caused by young black males who don't have any daddies, and are probably addressed in said article.

My city is also having a local election in 5 days. I have received several felled trees worth of political brochures outlining what each concerned candidate would like to do about the murder rate. All of the claim to have "new ideas", all of them suggest more police officers on the street. Eventually we will have police escort for every man, woman and child in this place, we already have lots of police. More police officers don't seem to have any impact, the young boys are running all over the place shooting anyone that looks at them the wrong way.

Here is the crux of the problem. Those proud single mommies that do such a horrible job raising their boys vote. The boys with the guns can't. No politician wants to run the risk of insulting these ladies, by telling them their boys need better parenting, rites of male passage, and discussions about what to do when presented with conflict.

The politicians are desperate to solve the problem with the heavy handed police approach rather than attempting to implement a few community-based programs that are cheaper and give better results.

Nothing is going to change, ever.

8:53 AM, September 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We do not allow young men to grow up, to engage in masculine behavior without punishment, or to learn the boundaries of violence; in fact, we just generalize and tell them never to be violent at all."

Even worse, they try to tell us that there is no difference between "violence" and "force", and that the only agreeable response to bullying is capitulating, bargaining, or arguing. And if you're assaulted and you use deadly force, well, okay, but that's why we have cops and other authority figures.

They start this at an early age: oh, he said mean things about you? Well are they true? Then don't let him get to you. Be a better person. Try talking to him. Meanwhile, the bully gets "spoken to" about the situation. Afterwards, the bully has learned that he can use force to obtain something (enjoyment of another's pain) at minimal cost to himself, and the bullied has learned that he has no power to defend himself. And it gets worse from there.

Jodie Foster just said something stupid in promoting her new movie: "I don’t believe that any gun should be in the hand of a thinking, feeling, breathing human being. Americans are by nature filled with rage-slash-fear. And guns are a huge part of our culture. I know I’m crazy because I’m only supposed to say that in Europe. But violence corrupts absolutely." Which is nice to read, because it's going to save me $20 and 2 hours of my life.

I hate to put thoughts in other people's brains, but this appears to be what "they" think: if you have a gun, if you like violence or displays of aggression, if you use force instead of reason/logic/calling the cops, you're a Neanderthal and a disgusting example of why the world hates Amerikkka, and we're so upset we're going to tsk-tsk you and talk about how much our country sucks balls.

Never mind the staggering disconnect between "violence is wrong" and "I'm counting on the police to do my violence for me".

9:09 AM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger 64 said...

I think a lot of gun worship, overdevelopment of muscles, etc. are caused by a lack of masculinity. Not that these things are signs of that by themselves, but a lot of people use them as unhealthy expressions of manliness.

9:15 AM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Derek said...

Let's face it. Men are just the bad rung on the evolutionary ladder of humanity.

What we were in the past was bad because of our masculine inclinations. So "they" take away our opportunities as boys to engage in them (e.g., banning tag or completely dropping recess). And so what we are now is bad because of our unmet masculine inclinations.

If I was paranoid, I'd swear that some unfulfilled individuals (you know, the kind that were always "it" because they couldn't catch anyone else) have a vendetta against the male half of the species.

If I was paranoid.

9:58 AM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Tim Murray said...

Dr. Helen, I've always believed that youth violence (and drug problems, and a host of other social maladies that hit males harder than females) has a clear correlation to the absence a steady male role model in the actor's life. This seems so obvious to me, but I wonder if this thinking has fallen out of favor bucks against radical gender feminist junk science that claims the father is unnecessary. Am I missing something here?

10:10 AM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

mel beat me to the punch, and with more eloquence than I was likely to have. So I'll nod at that, and add:

why was it that in years past, when we had more traditional masculine socialization, fewer guys were shooting up schools?

Don't forget that in those years past, every boy had at least 1 or 2 toy guns, and real ones were rather easier to come by for law-abiding citizens. Not coincidental.

10:19 AM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Dan Patterson said...

I call bullsh**.

"...traditional masculine socialization estranges and isolates many boys from their genuine inner lives and vital connections to others."

Left to their own devices, boys tend toward violence in order to protect, aquire (food, property, or sex), or eat. Boys don't have genuine inner lives until some knot-head creates one as a PhD project.

Left to their own devices, girls tend toward deception and cunning in order to protect, aquire (food, protection, or babies), or improve social standing. Girls live in an outward and an inner life and mingle the two regularly. Boys do not.

Boys and girls benefit from the advances of civilization that provide outlets for natural displays of aggression or passion. Natural tendencies are governed and channeled as we age toward career advancement, production of surplus, extension of knowledge, etc., but lift the veil and it is a short trip back to mud huts and dung fires.

Boys and girls have very different tools to help them through life, whether they live in a swanky condo or under a thatched roof. It is counter-intuitive that the violent outbursts made famous by TV dramas and real tragedy are because of socialized estrangement from some 'genuine inner lives' just BURSTING to get out: "I want to DANCE, dammit! Watch my performance or, or, or I'll blow your head off with this shotgun!!"

I reserve the future use of the bullsh** card.

And the author of the, um, abstract needs to get outdoors and play football in the coming fine fall weather. Not soccer, that's for sissies. Football without equipment, just a bunch of guys and a ball. Keeping score and being guys. Getting pissed and getting over it, having a good time, then having a beer. Try it.

Dan Patterson
Arrogant Infidel

11:09 AM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger PeteRR said...

Young male elephants experience the same problems:

11:11 AM, September 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Young male elephants don't have to live with an elephant intelligentsia that constantly tells them how crappy they are.

11:29 AM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Once again the heavy bias of the psychology profession raises its ugly head. Helen, it's very nice that you provide a reasonable voice in this mob.

As virtually every commenter has stated what boys need is "traditional masculine socialization" not what some kook desires. I first noticed the link between father absence and crime when I was a juvenile probation officer in the mid-70s. Of more than 70 boys on my case load, only two, who were brothers, lived in a household with their father.

I also wonder what the authors consider "traditional masculine socialization." Are they using some sort of Hollywood stereotype or what? I wish they would start with looking at reality rather than some imaginary notion.

12:03 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Kevin said...

"In this new perspective, traditional masculine socialization estranges and isolates many boys from their genuine inner lives and vital connections to others, which is theorized to heighten their risk of engaging in acts of violence."

This just reeks of a vision of human nature that Steven Pinker calls the Fallacy of the Blank Slate. That is, in this case, some environmental reason is *the* cause for young male violence.

12:42 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

Speaking as a guy not too far removed from school, I think a lot of these cases are rooted in insecurity. Dr. Helen is right on.

Growing up in the right masculine environment, part of which involves doing risky/adventurous things with a male role model, doing hard work and taking responsibility -- that builds character.

But there are a lot of boys who don't have that experience, many of whom grow up with single mothers or in broken homes. Some of these children end up very insecure and cover it up by being bullies, turning goth or 'emo', or just turning into punks to cover it up.

I'm obviously making a lot of generalizations.

The point stands, though. It's nothing new, most of us learned at a young age: bullies are often the most insecure in the group.

I think juvenile violence, for many reasons, is the result of society's swing towards prizing effeminate behavior in everyone. I think this trend affects more than most people care to believe, and it makes me wonder how history will see this period 75 years from now.

12:57 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Earnest Iconoclast said...

I have noticed for a long time that it seems that we have broken down the traditional roles and social norms without replacing them. This leaves people somewhat adrift in social situations. While the old norms may not have been good, having SOME sort of standards of behavior and default ways of acting in certain situations really helps. Children growing up in broken households suffer from a much worse example of this.


1:04 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger lovemelikeareptile said...

Utter anti- male bigotry and the typical inane psychology blather.
Who pays to read this BS ?
The abstract basically says or implies
1. masculinity is learned-- thats absurd. Ever heard of behavior genetics, evolutionary psych, sociobiology. How can people with PHDs publish such utter drivel. ignoring whole bodies of knowledge that contradict the asssumption at the heart of their "article"
2. " a gender- informed analysis" see 1. Translation-- a "feminist" analysis, an oxymoron, and a group of "ideas" ( basically pot-banging) so ridiculous its hard to discuss it without provoking laughter. What is not a laughing matter is its sole purpose-- degrading and dehumanizing males-- here attacking young boys-- and offering a way to change the male beast to a feminist liking. Males need not consult women on how to be men, much less "feminists' who hate men. Read their books.
3. Is there any empirical evidence presented for the Haight- Ashbury , "Summer of love" statements that "traditional masculine socialization" ( is that defined operationally ) alienates one from one's "genuine inner self" ( PHEW !-- measure that !) and one's "vital connection to others" ( what conclusory bullshit). This is why the social sciences is a haven for political ideology masquerading as scholarship. Is there any empirical evidence showing a CAUSAL connection bewtween 'TMS" and violence ? I'll bet NO... Has there even been an increase in violence ( how is that defined). Anecdotes about school-shootings as evidence of endemic/epidemic male violence are beyond ludicrous.

Unfortunately, more psychobable-- the school shooters were trying "to prove themselves as men", were "geeky boys tring to find their masculinity".

Translation-- if boys are not properly controlled, harnessed , and directed-- all hell will break loose. This is the other kind of anti-male bigotry, exemplified by Christina Hoff Sommers ( Ch 8 in her book about Boys is one of the most vile chapters of anti-male bigotry ever penned ) and conservative women, putative defenders of men . Such women have different self-interests than feminists --they both want men to conform to their desires, they just have opposing desires. The feminists hate masculinty and want men fundamentally altered-- hence, the authors no doubt offer ways for the mental health field of idiots and meddlers to re-train boys, socializing them as feminists desire. The conservative woman sees her self-interest in traditional male behavior-- and wishes to train boys to serve their self-interests. The very heavy hand of socializing the beasts-- inherent rapists, criminals and pillagers-- is effected to yield behaviors serving their set of intersts-- the hard-working breadwinner supporting females vasy array of life choices ( see Esther Vilar, a misoygnous, but she makes some good points-- and very funny if you want to privately indulge your chauvinism).
Neither group of women manage to see that boys have their own nature and need not surreneder their personhood to either branch of self-serving women, who both have contempt for men.
Read any conservative woman's defense of men-- see Sommers-- Sommers explicitly says human males are innately vile, evil, dangerous, criminals -- less human than girls-- and must be heavily socialized to keep their innate evil from coming out, citing the British misandrist Janet Daily , whose comments about liitle boys are so anti-male that they should be actionable-- or at least met with a punch in the mouth.

No-- shooting up Columbine had zero to do with masculinty or searching for it. Just some deranged kids. Nothing can be concluded from such isolated instances.

Linking masculinity with violence is like linking femininity with prostitution-- women, do it, have always done it etc and any male could do a "gender analysis" showing why sluttiness and 'rainbow parties" have increased because girls aren't being trained to be virginal housewives, like a particular group of men want them to be. Then offer "mental health professionals" ( another oxymoron) tips on how to retrain the little sluts so they want to devote themselves to men. Think that would get published ?

1:14 PM, September 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article sounds like yet another version of, "If boys were more like girls, what a wonderful world it would be."

I happen to believe one can't separate psychologists from their personal biases any more than one can, for example, supposedly objective "journalists". We now have multiple generations in the profession who were and continue to be shaped by the various radical views which have been degrading education since the 60's. The "soft sciences" are particularly noxious infestations of progressive thought. Dr. Helen is a breath of rationality and a clear contrast with those bent on re-architecting society based on their distorted fantasies.

1:19 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Mike said...

Dr. Helen:

I agree with your diagnosis of the situation. When I was in grade school, back in the mid-to-late 1980s, I spent several years living and going to school in a British village (courtesy of the US Air Force). At least at that time, the Brits took a much more relaxed stance towards playground fighting, etc. Generally, as long as no weapons were involved, you weren't going to get much more than a stern talking to. Contrast that with the U.S., where a playground fight almost inevitably will result in suspensions, urgent calls to parents, marks on your permanent record, etc. As a result, American boys are not learning how to resolve adolescent squabbles with an acceptable level and means of violence (i.e., pushing, shoving, shouting, punching) and, instead, sometimes tragically take things way over the line.

Based on my experiences in the UK, I often found that a playground dust-up did much to end bullying (bullies are usually cowards who don't like getting popped in the nose), which may also explain why we didn't used to see school massacres back in the days when American schools provided their students with a more "masculine" socialization.

1:37 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Cham and others:

"Helen, I can't read the journal article because in order to do so one has to either be an APA member or fork over cold hard cash, and we all know that isn't going to happen."

I can't link directly to the article--only the abstract but here is an excerpt from one section "Sex and Gender" for anyone who is interested:

"Although biological factors may play a role in boys’ and men’s
greater propensity for violence, theorists have identified male
childhood socialization experiences that are informed by traditional masculinity ideology as a potential risk factor for violence. A number of writers have hypothesized that socialization practices may predispose boys to violence (Kindlon & Thompson, 1999;
Levant, 1998, 2001; Pollack, 1998, 2006). This perspective, based
on a social constructionist view of masculinity, has been developed
by leading members of the Society for the Psychological Study of
Men and Masculinity (Division 51 of the American Psychological
Association). Clinical and empirical research conducted over the past 2 decadeshas suggested that the socialization of boys to conform to traditional notions of masculinity such as toughness, aggression, dominance, and the restriction of emotional expression may heighten the potential for boys to engage in violence. This is thought to occur through the emotion socialization process by which boys’ sense of vulnerability is discouraged, suppressed, and punished. In contrast to girls, who are generally encouraged to express a broad range of emotions,boys “have been left in a box” (Froschl & Sprung, 2005, p. 7). Discouraged from acknowledging and showing feelings of vulnerability and emotional need, boys organize their inner lives around a “tyranny of toughness” (Kindlon & Thompson, 1999, p. 54), which predisposes them to increased

1:40 PM, September 07, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

cham, I sympathize with you, really I do. But you can't give up. Do you think we're the first generation to have to raise children in a hostile world? That our kids are the first to go out with insufficient protection against the wolves? Or for that matter, that we're the first generation living in a society that creates its own wolves?

Bill Whittle once wrote about three classes of people: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. "Sheep" go about their daily lives and blat about the wolves. "Wolves" live off of the sheep. And "sheepdogs" stand between the two whenever possible. Not just cops and service personnel, but anyone who stands up to a bully, or blows the whistle on his company's misconduct, or calls a litterbug on his assy behavior, or even tells an aggressive drunk to take a hike because the lady's clearly not interested.

This is what "gun nuts"* mean when they say "you can have my rifle when you pry it from my cold, dead hands": not "hey I love my gun let's go shootin' YEEHAW", but something much more profound:


So tell me, cham, how can you reach out to children in your community and mold them into sheepdogs?

* well, most gun nuts, anyhow

2:04 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

Linking masculinity with violence is like linking femininity with prostitution-- women, do it, have always done it etc and any male could do a "gender analysis" showing why sluttiness and 'rainbow parties" have increased because girls aren't being trained to be virginal housewives, like a particular group of men want them to be. Then offer "mental health professionals" ( another oxymoron) tips on how to retrain the little sluts so they want to devote themselves to men.

This is a good point. Also, the attempt to attribute violence solely to masculinity is another stealthy canard that completely ignores violence committed by women.

2:07 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Roger J. said...

The first warning flag was the term "gender-informed analysis." That said, was this study data based? what were the independent variables, and how were they controlled for? or what this just a bit of navel gazing? If I could get on the APA site without paying I'd read it, but at this point, previous commenters have already poked gaping holes in what appears to be a rather shoddy argument.

My personal belief? increasing prevalence of divorce, single motherhood, and not a lot of positive father-son socialization at home. But I'm not a psychologist, and am strictly doing my own bit of navel gazing.

Thanks for airing this article.

2:13 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Maddad said...

Ever notice that it's never the quarterback Eagle Scout dating the prom queen who pops off and shoots up the school library?

2:16 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Roger J. said...

Apologies to the Judge and Dadadvocate from whom I unintentionally plagiarized their lack of male role model thesis. Note to self: read entire thread before commenting.

2:16 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Synova said...

"Don't forget that in those years past, every boy had at least 1 or 2 toy guns, and real ones were rather easier to come by for law-abiding citizens. Not coincidental."

Don't forget that in those years past many boys brought their real gun to school to shoot various sorts of vermin on the way there and back and stacked their guns next to the back door.

My dad did.

2:28 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

Roger and others,

To be fair, the authors did mention a lack of male role models as a problem for boys. However, the emphasis seems to be on caretakers, therapists and others teaching boys to "challenge traditional male role norms, particularly the restriction of emotional expression." I think using an across the board stereotype that traditional male roles are to be challenged and changed gives kids the impression that nothing about the male role is good or positive, but is pathological.

2:30 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Dan Patterson said...

The bullsh** card is thrown again.

"...theorists have identified male
childhood socialization experiences that are informed by traditional masculinity ideology as a potential risk factor for violence."

So the genders are different from birth only in the reproductive organs, and changes to behavior are either caused or magnified by strict upbringing and, what, shame? Toughness, aggression, dominance, and the restriction of emotional expression are quaint notions and not DNA pre-dispositions?

None of us are formed from a blank ingot; we all share some portion or other of an inner dynamic and vulnerability. The difference is that men don't usually care about other men's inner deamons unless the fellow is in need of rescue; if a buddy is fighting a fire we'll watch and let him handle it until his hair catches, then we'll pitch in. We'll talk about it a little ("Goddam that was HOT! At least I don't need a haircut for a while") but drop the subject after about one minute. We don't like "teams" unless there is a specific function like scoring a touchdown, turning a double play, or bailing a boat. Women seem altogether different. And it can't be helped.

Have the authors of "Sex and Gender" ever talked with a man, other than a soft-palmed teaching assistant?

Dan Patterson

2:35 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger lovemelikeareptile said...

Hard to believe these comments --
1. gun ownership and "overdevelopment of muscles" can be/is often a lack of/unhealthy expression of masculinity. You have a very strange definition of masculinity-- supply it. Pumping iron is great fun--
2. Men are a 'bad rung on the evolutionary ladder of humanity".. and 'boys have no genuine inner lives"-- can you believe an adult man is so immersed in self-flagellation for being male he would utter such things, such nonsense. Its truly pathetic. Ever read a female blog-- they worship themselves-- everything female is wonderful. Men-- who have far more to be proud of-- wallowing in this self-hate... yucch
3. "Bullies"-- are not insecure-- they are tough, hard-nosed thugs who will beat your ass if you aren't strong too. They employ violence becasue they are good at it. Every "bully" I remember was tough as nails who would leave you alone only if he respected you. and-- if you need their help , they would intimidate 4 smaller thugs who were waiting for you in the parking lot, so you could drive off after the dance unmolested.Thanks, Ricky.
4. Men's Rights groups like to cite the association between father absence and a ton of social pathologies. Its not causal however. Fathers who-- typically-- run off and leave their wife/mother of their child or never know their child --have "bad " genes and leave them to their fatherless offspring.
These children would act out the same even if their father was there. Its genetic, not social.

Sorry, guys-- the presence of fathers is not the crucial variable... But neither parent is really important in shaping the personality AND BEHAVIOR OF THEIR CHILDREN.iTS massively COUNTER-INTUITIVE, BUT THE IDEA IS AN OLD ONE IN BEHAVIOR GENETICS.. hit the caps accidentally.. i think a woman popularized the notion recently.. Rowe in 94 wrote "The Limits Of family influence" which summarizes the behavior genetic research....... T
The presence of a father is not the cause of the pathologies-- psychiatric and social --of his offspring...
East to test-- compare the children of fathers who were killed ( accidentally) or died of natural causes very early in their children's life to those who were abandoned by their fathers. I bet the former have no greater pathology.

Falsifiablity is the standard of scince.
5. The proness to violence and crime of black males is genetic, a well documented race difference-- see Rushton, among many others. Anecdotally, how many Koreans have you seen holding up the liquor store or in leg irons on TV? If you met a Chinese man in a dark alley wouldn't you be relieved ? Ever checked the stats on Asian crime ? Stereotypes aren't cognitive bias-- they are the nuggets of experience.
Crime is not equally distributed between the races, as is massively documented.

Thats why the Duke Rape Hoax was almost certainly a fraud from the start. White men almost never rape black women-- check the stats.. Its vanishingly rare.Rape is B on B, B on W, and W on W , but almost never W on B. Four rich white boys from the NE raping a Southern poor, illiterate black slut/stripper/prostitute-- absolutely absurd. It was the race-class and mostly gender nexus that got the liberal press and feminist mouthpieces on TV ( the ubiquitous female attorney who was rank with anti-male bias and assumed guilt) hot and bothered...

2:36 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Mark said...

As a father of one young daughter and her six older brothers, I agree wholeheartedly with the majority sentiment here. My sons have been raised with an "Ender's Game" view of violence. Simply stated, only when you are acting in defense of yourself, family, etc. can beligerent action be justified. If you find that hitting someone is the only available remedy, make sure that you do it hard enough that they cannot hit you back. As a result, only two of my sons were ever involved in fights at school, and each of those only once. The bullies got the message and the reputation helped the rest of the boys get by on the family reputation. We are peace loving, law abiding folk, but if I or mine are threatened, I reserve the right to take action - even before actual harm is done - when and in the measure necessary.

Boys need the chance to play rough, to learn when to let things slide and when to stand their ground. Rules and values, principles and virtue must be taught and demonstrated.

As much as pop-psychologist may wish it not to be so, boys need fathers - masculine, honorable, strong, men - to teach and support them. A single mother, or any twelve mothers, will not serve as an acceptable substitute, just as a hundred men would never be able to replace one dedicated involved mother in the life of any child.

All the braying vitriol and condescending scorn of the "enlightened" among us will never change what is inherent within us. Our sons and our daughters require what all sons and daughters have ever required.

To claim otherwise is folly.

2:38 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Roger J. said...

Eta: Interesting comments, and thank you. I am gathering you come down pretty hard on the "nature" (genetic) side of the debate, and were I a betting person, I do suspect that influence is over 50% of the explained variance. I do think Phillipe Rushton pushes the envelope a bit too far, but he may be closer to the mark than the "nurture" folks.
I suspect there are many correlational variables that enter the mix, and to ascribe just one, especially absent any data, is a bit of overstatement.

2:50 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

First, just what the friggin' hell are "genuine inner lives"? That sounds totally concocted so as to make what I would call it automatically not correct. Sounds fake, in other words.

For my experience:

I've said before I ran a stunt group. The bulk of it's hundred plus members were teens and I'd have to say upwards of half of those young men and women had bad family lives and were looking for a good one.

I've kept in touch with a number of them and to a person, they say that the group provided an atmosphere where they learned to control themselves and give a crap about the other members. Had to, dangerous otherwise. Hmmm.

3:01 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Stacy McMahon said...

Well aside from the racist comment above, people seem to have hit the nail on the head. Really, this is the important part of the abstract:

"In this new perspective, traditional masculine socialization estranges and isolates many boys from their genuine inner lives and vital connections to others, which is theorized to heighten their risk of engaging in acts of violence. "

There's a little bit of code being spoken there, but what they mean is that boys should act like girls. I would say that that shows intellectual sloppiness and lack of scientific training, but the reality is more likely that the researchers' politics make them assume no hardwired difference between boys and girls, leading to the conclusion that what's wrong with boys is that they are "missing" the mostly female attributes of a strong inner life and dependence on relationships with others. Of course almost all boys are missing those things, just like most girls are "missing" the attributes of competitiveness, sportsmanship and risk-taking machismo.

We are not likely anytime soon, though, to see a study blaming female social pathologies on girls being forced into the mold of self-absorbed inner thoughts and staking their self-esteem on how others value them.

3:02 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Derek said...

etahasgard1986 wrote...

2. Men are a 'bad rung on the evolutionary ladder of humanity".. and 'boys have no genuine inner lives"-- can you believe an adult man is so immersed in self-flagellation for being male he would utter such things, such nonsense. Its truly pathetic. Ever read a female blog-- they worship themselves-- everything female is wonderful. Men-- who have far more to be proud of-- wallowing in this self-hate... yucch

As the person who wrote the comment about the evolutionary ladder, I'd like to humbly suggest that you might need to realign your sarcasm filter.

3:10 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger David Foster said...

DrH, there's a new book out called "Boys Adrift," by Leonard Sax. Haven't read it yet, but it looked very interesting.

5:32 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Douglas said...

Was it you or Ann who had the thing about not liking the word "pussification?"

This is a statement that validates the drawbacks of "pussification."

I'm just sayin.

5:48 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...


"Never mind the staggering disconnect between 'violence is wrong' and 'I'm counting on the police to do my violence for me'".

No kidding. Or, for the long version, see Jeffrey Snyder.

6:54 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

My guess is that the people who wtite this nonsense are so out of touch with reality that they probably honestly believe that the crap which they see every day in the movies & on TV really is an accurate rendition of "traditional male socialization."

7:18 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...


I haven't read "Boys Adrift" yet but here is a post I did on Leonard Sax last year if you are interested:

7:26 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Good points Dr. Helen.

Let me add that Klebold, Harris, the Pearl MS shooter, the Oregon Shooter, Cho, all had one thing in common:

Miserable to non-existent ability to form relationships with girls.

This is also the case with the majority of suicide jihadis.

The old masculine models focused young men on achievement through which they were able to form relationships with girls. This included sports, apprenticeship in trades, churches, the military, and so on. Fathers and father-figures being critical components of models of success.

What the article doesn't get is that men are engaged in competition for women. Competition that unless mediated produces winners and losers (and more losers than winners). We seem to have young women more willing to share a fewer high-status Alpha men and forgo the betas. The losers might substitute with porn and/or video games, etc. A few will react violently to losing.

The flipside is the VT shootings. What stood out for me like a sore thumb is the young men found their female classmates unworthy of sacrificing their lives. It was an elderly professor and a middle aged prof who attempted to do something. No one tried to assault Cho even as he was reloading -- a passivity IMHO related to their loser status (probably cemented around age 13-14).

A few lucky early maturers among men who also possess high social status will have great success with women, most of the other guys bounce somewhere around the loser guys of "Superbad" -- hoping to be a girl's "mistake" that she regrets.

Matthew -- guns make any woman (who can practice to develop a modicum of skill) the physical equal of any man. Within certain caveats. In a violent world with dangerous men who enjoy killing I would call that sensible. Europe's gun-controlled environment is awash in violence, rape, murder as criminals operate with impunity and the police focus on ordinary middle class people (who won't assault or kill them). Women who have the least physical strength benefit the most from concealed carry.

Bottom line: male life is unending competition for women (or status which gets men women). A small subsection of losers can be relied upon to react violently. Women are fundamentally different because they pay comparitively little penalty for sharing men, reproductively speaking. Simple as that.

8:35 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

I did not take the time to read all the comments (losts of them) so if I missed a similar response please forgive me.

I was what you might call a target. Every kid with something to prove wanted to cut their teeth on me. I had always been taught (by fairly conservative parents mind you) that "it takes two to tango" and "just walk away."

I admire my parents and teachers who tried to install this attitude in me but it was far too soon. I wish I had been given the understanding that one must be one's own best defender before one can defend others and that freedom is the beginning and peace can only be built from there on. Bullying can only be completely conquered by ending victimhood. When this lesson is not taught the victims long for an opportunity to be the bully and Columbine and Virginia Tech incidents result.

8:40 PM, September 07, 2007  
Blogger Unknown said...

The article appears to use a feminist theory of gender. I would think that inappropriate as there are more and ever more reasons to believe feminist theories of gender are deeply flawed.

Dr. Helen: I'm not at all sure that masculine archetypes are part of the thing. I grew up with limited connection to boys/men. I was far too booky for such connections. I've never been violent.

As I think and talk with men on the 'net I see large numbers of men with exactly this background. The shooters do not match us, not even a little bit.

There's something being missed here, something BIG! I'm not at all sure what.

3:50 AM, September 08, 2007  
Blogger B. Durbin said...

I worked at a Boy Scout summer camp for four years, and there's certain things you notice about boys in general when you do this.

Gice them a chance to sneak around in the dark and they'll be on it in a heartbeat. Twilight "Capture the Flag" games were so popular that we had to designate times and areas for them.

Same thing with cliff-jumping (carefully located each week to accomodate dropping lake levels.) And riflery and archery. And just about every adventurous activity you can think of.

Contrast that with my time in Girl Scouts. I was all over the adventure stuff— the hiking and camping and campfires and all— but many of the other girls would suggest art projects, service things, or bringing blowdryers along when we went camping. (!) The percentage of us who liked the outdoor stuff was running around 40 or 50 percent, as opposed to 90-95% of the boys I saw.

There's something innate in boys that makes them want to do the borderline aggressive activities, but as the examples above show, borderline aggressive is not in any way equivalent to harmful.

Give a boy the proper type of outlet, and the male role models, and he'll do just fine. I'd much rather have a boy follow "traditional masculine roles" such as Scoutmasters than grow up to be a long thug surrounded by solely feminine models who think that there's just something inherently wrong with him.

1:47 PM, September 08, 2007  
Blogger John Wake said...

My theory is that young men need a hard challenge (school, job, athletics, helping support the family, whatever). Eventually when they succeed they justifiably feel like a man.

Otherwise, they'll create their own self destructive challenge. Can I drink x beers and still be cool. Can I smoke that and still function. Those challenges are masculine but self destructive.

2:50 PM, September 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

john - Maybe this is what the initiation rites in "primitive" societies are about. You have to earn your bona-fides as a man, otherwise you never feel quite legitimate.

Abandoning traditions may have given us more individual freedom, but at the cost of leaving many psychological needs unfulfilled.

12:01 PM, September 09, 2007  
Blogger Alcibiades said...

As a self-proclaimed geek, I am somewhat insulted by that allegation. Geeks have structures and models that they aspire, otherwise they would be loners (they aren't, though they may not associate with everyone).

Most school shooters are not geeks, they are Anarchists. From a historical viewpoint, anarchists tend to be a bit mentally and emotionally unstable.

7:25 PM, September 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure they're anarchists, either. A lot of them seem to be just average kids with crappy social skills who are miserable. I get the impression that Harris & Klebold - the Trenchcoat Mafia stereotypes - are the exception.

I think true Geeks have a social network. They may be more or less non-mainstream, sometimes not treated fairly by other kids, but they have social networks and a set of values that help keep their self-esteem intact.

Anarchists, while often maladjusted, also have a social network and values. Anarchy allows them to be cool in some way.

It's the loner nerds who don't belong anywhere and don't know what to do about it that have the most problems.

That's just my impression based on reading the news, of course. When I was in school, loners wrote bad poetry and felt sorry for themselves. They didn't shoot people.

12:12 PM, September 12, 2007  
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