By Jason Jowers & Kiarra Morton
Quick, think of your top three favorite action movies. We’ll give you a second to peruse your mental rolodex. It’s highly likely that at least one or two, probably all three, of your favorites, feature a famous male lead participating in a great number of violent scenes. One doesn’t need to be a mind reader to have guessed this correctly. It’s very common in our society to see men playing violent roles in movies and TV. Unfortunately, these phenomena aren’t limited to the big screen. They oftentimes reflect the general societal attitude that men are aggressive creatures and violence is simply an expression of their natural aggressiveness.
This attitude toward violence and aggression has become essential to the definition of masculinity. Subsequently, it is causing men to behave violently toward women and each other, validating this discourse. Michael Kimmel, a well-known sociologist, discusses this in his book Guyland by highlighting the role violence plays in the establishment of masculinity throughout various developmental periods . He shows its prevalence in early childhood through rough play, in high school through aggressive sports, in college through frat hazing, and in adult relationships through dating and marital violence.
So, how do we redefine masculinity to exclude the use of violence as a method for problem-solving in relationships and daily interaction? We suggest implementing intervention, prevention, and rehabilitation strategies that specifically address the definition of masculinity, thus discouraging the use of violence as a control tactic. These strategies can also assist therapists and health clinicians by giving them practical resources to use with their male clients.
We have found several campaigns that attempt to redefine the role of men in society by advocating non-violence. One such campaign is Men Stopping Violence . Through the use of workshops and training like “Because We Have Daughters”, they hope to heighten the awareness of difficulties that girls and women experience in society and help men to deepen their relationships with the women in their lives. Futures Without Violence is another advocacy campaign that seeks the same goal but uses helpful and easily accessible webinars to spread awareness . Lastly, and probably the most proactive of the three, is Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A) . This is a motorcycle club dedicated to ending child abuse and the violent stereotype surrounding bikers. They visit children in domestic violence situations and let them “join” the biker gang. They make the kids feel safe and hopeful during these grim moments. There is even a B.A.C.A chapter, known as the Little River, caters to the Valdosta area.
The implications of these campaigns can greatly impact future clinical work by being tools that easily translate into the therapy room. They can assist a therapist in reshaping a client’s ideals around masculinity and possibly prevent future violent behavior. They also provide exceptional opportunities for community involvement which would promote a greater appreciation for women and establish more healthy relationships. Overall, we hope the use of these campaigns and others like them can facilitate positive change surrounding domestic violence, the perception of women, and the overall definition of masculinity.
#MenCareToo is a rapidly growing internet campaign dedicated to eradicating the false ideal that men are violent, aggressive, and apathetic by nature. We intend to transform the definition of masculinity by supporting and promoting organizations that depict men in a concerned and caring manner. As more men’s organizations take a stand against domestic violence, child abuse, and the overall mistreatment of women, their logos will appear on our jackets. We hope to fill the jacket to the brim and, subsequently, fill the mind of society with an idea of masculinity that more accurately portrays the caring nature of men.
This post was written by Jason Jowers and Kiarra Morton, guest bloggers for OneOp. Their OneOp team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Jason and Kiarra are masters-level marriage and family therapists (MFT) in training enrolled in the Marriage and Family Therapy Department at Valdosta State University. They also work as MFT interns at VSU’s FamilyWorks Clinic, a community-based family therapy clinic. You may find more about the authors, here. Find out more about OneOp on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Blog Image: Photo by Cenabrus from Pixabay (April 12, 2016)