I guess I’m a man-hater, writing a title like that, using my keypad to fire a shot across the bow of an entire gender. #NotAllMen are violent, and some women are, and we all know that, but this conversation is still the Internet equivalent of strapping on a suicide vest and detonating it with the click of a mouse.
There is history. It is recorded and remembered and recounted and it repeats itself. There are studies and there are eyeballs—they reveal the same information. The media is replete with stories of war and genocide and rape and police brutality and mass shooters and ISIS and domestic violence. All of these articles are chock-full of hotlinks that act as supporting data to what is patently obvious. I’m not going to link to a single news story or piece of academic research because anyone who actually needs “proof” has Google, and I’m not doing anybody’s homework for them.
Male violence is the worst problem in the world because it is both catastrophic and undiscussable. For some reason there is plenty of handwringing and arguing over the religion of violence or the race of violence, as if those are the most salient or defining predictors of the brutality occurring on a global scale since the dawn of time. That the most common denominator of all violence — from a single beating to the murder of millions — is under-researched, rarely written about, and aggressively denied is hideous.
Look at me, taking cover under a feminist blog’s masthead, so I won’t be ripped apart by unmoderated male commenters on the vast digital ocean, bleeding out for a circling, hungry man mob. That’s my prerogative, and one I may someday relinquish if I become a glutton for punishment or simply decide that my one little voice is acutely needed…out there. For now, I huddle among the sane and the rational. I speak in a tent as high as the stars, around a fire glowing in the faces of those who wrap that canvas around themselves against an indifferent world where male aggression would tear it all down if left unguarded for only a moment.
This will not be solved in my lifetime or my daughter’s lifetime, or ever, without a serious come-to-Jesus reckoning among ourselves as a species. Until “male-pattern violence” can be spoken and written about openly, nothing will change. After all, if we can’t have a direct and public dialogue about who is committing the lion’s share of human atrocities, how can we ever hope for a kinder and gentler world?
I once read that when we mention “male-pattern baldness,” no one screams, “But not all men are bald!” Of course they’re not. But most people who lose their hair as they get older are male, even though a few are female. I suspect that most of the medical research going into preventing or treating male-pattern baldness is not running up against #NotAllMenAreBald trolling campaigns or accompanying death threats. There’s this thing called statistics, and for some reason men can acknowledge the relative prevalence of baldness among males as compared to females, and they can support research into a medical solution that is based on studying men’s hair loss. And for a lot of them, solving the male-pattern baldness crisis is much more important than solving the male-pattern violence problem. They parade their self-absorption without an inkling of their own shame.
I know a lot of men who care deeply about men’s violence against women and against other men, and I’m so very grateful for them. But too many men consider this a “women’s issue,” and oh my lands, what on earth does that mean? Do these men think we women can stop male violence on our own? If you want to be generous, you could say these folks are clueless or you could say they’re optimistic. Either way, you must also say they’re detached from reality.
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent. Don’t ever forget it, and don’t ever underestimate it. It’s ruining the world. But I can’t end on that note, so I’ll end on this one:
“Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.” ~Plutarch
So little by little is how we shall take them.
Lori Day is an educational psychologist, consultant and parenting coach with Lori Day Consulting in Newburyport, MA. She is the author of Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More, and speaks on the topic of raising confident girls in a disempowering marketing and media culture. You can connect with Lori on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.