Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Communication Supports Hierarchies

When reading the Register-Guard January 13 article on the county's gang problem, the article used the word "youth" several times, but never the word "boys." One had to read between the lines to know that the problem is with boys, noticing that the word "masculinity" sneaked in once. If we have any hope of ending violence and crimes committed by males, we must begin to define the problem correctly, which means that we say clearly that males are committing the crimes.

In contrast, the Register Guard last spring wrote articles on local sex trafficking/teen prostitution in our county. The word "girl" appeared consistently throughout the article.

The two of us have been researching hierarchies for 30 years, and have seen time and time again that a top group [here it's males] is assumed to represent everyone, but when the subject is a lower group [here it's females], the name calls out that group specifically.

The problem with this language discrepancy is that it keeps problems unsolved. The top group can easily be kept immune from being held accountable for their actions.

In order to reduce crime and violence, we must address how we can make our male culture more healthy. That change can happen only when we name the problem correctly.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Remarkable Progress

In a scene in the movie "Lincoln," the U.S. House of Representatives is debating the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery. The representatives opposed abolition are scared that passing this amendment will contribute to the "coloreds" getting the vote. And then someone says that the women might the vote and the whole room erupts in horror of the thought. The movie was set in 1864, only 147 years ago.

Our grandmother was born in 1894, only 30 years after the end of the Civil War. We're only four generations away from 1864, and it is amazing how far we have come in getting rid of numerous hierarchies. No matter how discouraged we may become about our present, it's encouraging when we focus on the trends of the last 150 years.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Rape - Address Cause not Symptoms

Between December 16th and January 4th, 501 calls for harassment and 64 calls for rape were recorded by the Delhi Police in India, but just 4 were followed by inquiries. Throughout India, of  the 256,329 violent crimes recorded last year, 228,650 were against women. Huffington Post also describes India as having an institutionalized rape culture, with a number of examples to prove it.

After the brutal rape and murder of a woman in India, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the country has to crack down on crimes against women with an "iron hand," and has called a meeting of law enforcement officials from around India to consider how to improve protection for women. He said that each police station will now have women officers at all times.

Police protection of women is obviously important. But in order for the crimes to stop, focus must also be on the source of the rapes - the men. The same is true for the United States, where almost all of our talk on rape-prevention concerns females – how females can defend themselves and lower their chances of being raped by males.

In any hierarchy, it's easier to set up a program that focuses on a lower group, because it's so difficult to hold the top group accountable for the detrimental effects of their actions on lower groups. This is the case with almost all discussions of rape prevention.

In reality, we are only addressing the symptoms and not the cause of the rapes when we focus on the females. The only way to solve the rape problem is for males to stop raping females. Rape will not stop until men stop being violent, and the men in the community stop accepting other men's violence.

The situation of only providing protection to women is analogous to a community who puts it resources, year after year, into cleaning up the river from factory pollutants, but doesn't make the polluting company stop dumping pollutants in the river.