I don’t know that I can go along with this:
High school boys are trying to prove their masculinity to each other by humiliating younger boys because that’s what they think manliness is all about, said William Pollack, associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
“We keep saying to the boy: ‘Be a man,’ and a boy is not a man, so that’s not possible,”
This seems wrong to me on so many levels. For one thing, this is not what causes boys to rape. High school boys have been wanting to prove their masculinity to each other for as long as we’ve had high schools and boys – but this behavior is not normal.
It’s not particularly masculine, either. Not unless we’re defining rage, abuse and dysfunction as “masculine” traits (although one could see how boys who grew up hearing masculinity equated with rage, abuse and dysfunction might become rapists, if they want to be masculine and have never been presented with a healthy vision of what masculinity is like).
Nor is it true that high school males are “just boys”, too young to understand what it is to be a man. High school graduates in America are legally adults, old enough that they are required to register in case the nation ever needs to draft them into involuntary military service. Just how does William Pollack imagine boys become men? The night of their 18th birthday, a miracle happens?
“Masculinity” is not to blame. Individual toxic situations might be:
In at least four cases of sodomy hazing last year, the coach or supervising teacher was alleged to have known about it, ordered it, witnessed it or laughed about it, according to police reports and court filings.
But I also think that if we really want to look at “the larger picture”, we should look at a culture that views sexual boundaries of any sort as unhealthy and immoral, while viewing rage as a healthy, normal feeling that one should express without reserve.
We were promised that the “sexual revolution” – the deliberate destruction of sexual boundaries – would be harmless. Instead, we encounter evidence that harm is indeed done, but we are told it does not matter because “you can’t go back”, because apparently there is some law of nature that makes it impossible for a society to recognize an idea as harmful and change its mind about promoting unhealthy rules. Meanwhile, the social dysfunction is real, and social pathology is painful and rage-generating. People are angrier, less respectful, and less inhibited.
Combine this with the intergenerational custom – the belief, if you will – that says each new generation “ought” to push the boundaries a little bit more: “if you aren’t shocking your elders, you’re not doing it right” – and how can it not eventually lead to trouble?
As I wrote here:
An argument I’ve been hearing with increasing frequency:
Impulse control issues.
Is disruptive, reckless, or otherwise out-of-control behavior inevitable?
Whether we intend to or not, we are teaching our children that no behavior is really unthinkable, and we’re also teaching our children that there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
The world we are making our kids grow up in is what Pink might call “F****n Perfect”….