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.