Tuesday, June 28, 2016

OMG! Another mass shooting that was committed by a woman?

A couple of years ago, when visiting the old country, I overheard one middle-aged father remark that his son and his friends were spending time in the internet places in order to watch "dirty stuff."  It was not even a comment that was addressed to me, which all the more became easy for me to ignore it.  I would have liked to tell him that it is only natural for boys and young men to respond to the signals from their internal biochemistry, and that as a parent he ought to teach his son how to deal with that biology, and about respectful treatment of the female.

Over the years, I have come to understand that it takes enormous effort to overcome the role of biology and the hormones.  Women have to deal with their hassles, while we men have to work against testosterone.  When they complain about their PMS and menopause issues, women have no idea how tough it is being a man ;)  It is only through a conscious and challenging effort that we can tame the testosterone within.

The old country was getting away from the terrible practices like child marriage just as Victorian ideas of sex got embedded within the culture.  Later, with the emphasis on higher education, it is not a surprise anymore that while girls and boys are biologically ready for sex even as they turn twelve--or even younger--marriage, unlike with my grandparents, gets awfully delayed.  In a culture where premarital sex is practically taboo, is it any surprise that boys and young men seek the company of the internet?

The good thing is this--owning a gun is difficult for Indian males.  Why is this important?  Almost always, the mass shooter in the US "is socially alienated, and he can’t get laid":
The facts of toxic masculinity are rarely discussed after mass shootings, as we beat the usual drums of gun control and mental health. Or toxic masculinity is blithely attributed to some patriarchal conspiracy that is unconsciously educated into boys. But consider the bigger, evolutionary picture. Social life requires the domestication of men. This is not some contemporary political interpretation of maleness. It’s a biological generalisation that applies to most social mammals. Intermale aggression must be turned into guardian instincts, if primate societies (such as ours) are to attain stability. Males must transform from little tyrants, competing for females, to selfless bodyguards and potential providers.
In the old days, we had wars that provided an outlet for the testosterone.  We sent the hormone-raging young men to go kill others.  Of course, the wars also led to raping the females--young and old alike.  Thankfully, that kind of killing and raping is in the past.  But, it means that we need to work that much harder to make sure that the testosterone-filled young men are being tamed, or are getting laid, or both.
Without a partner or sexual fulfilment, many men remain emotionally juvenile – aggressively impulsive, self-serving and potentially violent.
Young men who cannot find a place in the socialisation process will often take up a disdainful hostility towards domestication itself. The terminal rebel takes shape.
 In the old country, rapes and "eve teasing" are certainly tied to this dynamic.  Here in the West?
in the contemporary West, natural sexual frustration is intensified by a culture that throws sex in your face at every turn, reminding you that you’re not getting any. These are existential issues because they resonate – rightly or wrongly – at the core of how many men see themselves. The problem is that many of our social norms and cultural narratives increase rather than defuse resentment. And resentment is the psychological fuel that gets the fire of violence going, whatever the ideological justification.
So, any concluding thoughts?
Male desire and craving are not intellectualised away with some didactic lecture about how the brain or the economy works, or some sermon about what Jesus or Muhammad want from you. Desire must be redirected into some form of non-destructive expression, or defused, not just talked about. It’s the job of culture to help with this redirection, and the Abrahamic cultural traditions have outlived their effectiveness in doing so. We need to get working on some new cultural inventions to domesticate resentment and the hydraulics of hate, or the growing pack of weaponised losers will make political terrorism look tame by comparison.

One of the old jokes about the higher education system is that nobody cares about the education itself as long as the young men are able to have sex and if the alums and the public are happy with the ballgames.  The ballgames are also outlets for the testosterone; anybody who watches team sports--or better yet, been to a meet--knows well the war-like parallels.  Which is also why the author quotes my favorite intellectual, George Orwell, who "referred to international sport as ‘war minus the shooting’."

I have been saying all these for years; but, hey, who listens to me!  If only the wuss that I am had enough testosterone for me to beat the crap out of people who don't listen to me ;)


Ramesh said...

Agree Agree Agree.

I was waiting to read what you would offer as the alternative. But then you ended the post abruptly.

Next post - lay down your thoughts on what the outlets could be.

Sriram Khé said...

The essay to which I made references includes three routes:
1. The old method that the religions advocate, like asceticism and meditation. But that won't work. Many of the mass shooters and the jihadi killers are evidence.
2. redirect the potentially toxic energy into something else. But, that is the very challenge, right? No amount of violent sports and violent video games can distract the testosterone-filled youth and neutralize the hormone.
3. engineering actual libido satisfactions--from legalizing sex, to VR porn, ... but, all those will take years to happen.

Which means, we are stuck. Meanwhile, we will also see even more an acute tension--more and more images of sex everywhere we look, and these young men in any part of the world don't get laid, which frustrates them even more ... We can expect to witness (or experience!) rapists, mass shooters, and jihadists for a lot more years :(

Mike Hoth said...

I think one big step we need to take as a culture is to admit that sex isn't a suitable end goal. Male media is saturated in the idea that getting laid is the point of dating, and therefore women are there to have sex with. The base urges of men are a powerful force, but we have made them stronger by surrounding ourselves with sex. We need to surround ourselves with better distractions, like baseball. Or perhaps cricket, since you're from the old country?

Sriram Khé said...

Everywhere one turns, it is all about sex, sex, sex. This has increased over time, and will continue to increase even more. So, it is wasteful trying to imagine a world where we are not inundated with messages about sex.
Interesting you should bring up baseball ... baseball is a lot more violent, and basketball provides a lot more speed--both appeal to the testosterone, compared to baseball where every once in a while something exciting might happen. Guess which sports are more popular in the US now? ;)
Cricket used to be a gentlemanly game. Now, far from it.
BTW, as women have become more educated and beginning to kick butt, it has made sex even more easy for young men. In college campuses, women outnumber men and, therefore, men can literally walk around like juveniles and they can still get laid. You can, therefore, imagine the angst of angry, lonely guys who like guns ... the mass shooter and the jihadi is like the reverse scenario of the Greek play, Lysistrata :(