Violence and Manliness

So, in the course of the recent furor over mass shootings, gun control, etc, one of the things I’ve been discussing with friends is the role distortions in the modern view of masculinity play in contributing to violence and criminality in our society. I see both 1) skill at arms and the willingness to use them and 2) the wisdom a judgement not to unless really necessary (and to do so justly and responsibly even then) as integral aspects of manliness as epitomized by the gods and heroes of our heathen ancestors. Thor’s strength and Odin’s berserkr rage must be tempered by Tyr’s honor, Baldur’s kindness, and Forseti’s justice.  Both sides are necessary, and always in tension.

I see a lot of well intentioned people who seem to want to do away with 1), but I really think this is problematic because 2) necessarily requires and presupposes 1).  I see this in the irrational fear of firearms that’s been on display over the past several weeks.  But how can one with no familiarity with weapons possibly be qualified to judge how and when they should be used or controled? At the same time I see a fantasy version of 1) absurdly overemphasized in modern pop culture. Not just the glorification of senseless violence in movies, games, and music, but the fact that it’s all so consequence free.  Real life punches and bullets hurt and you don’t get to restart your game or hit pause.  I think that both of these trends contribute to the problem of violence and crime in society, and that perhaps a broader and better understanding of what it means to be a man, as conveyed by heathen tradition, is at least part of the solution.

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2 thoughts on “Violence and Manliness

  1. I would say it is more the glorification of violence than the influence of violent video games and movies. That is not to say that some unstable individuals lacking good grasp on reality are not effected…in fact, they probably are. But many of us also grew upon these same movies and video games and don’t go out and kill. I am Army veteran, so I am very familiar with weaponry and I am also on the anti-gun side. While I am proficient and would be one of those responsible gun owners who would be proficient enough to effectively use a gun in a confrontational situation, I choose not to because I do not want to be in a situation where I will kill another human. I wasn’t trained to injure…I was trained to kill. The glorification of the cowboy, the outlaw, the gangsta, etc is what is behind the gun violence. We have WAY too many John Wayne types who think that they would be able to come out, guns blazing, and kill all the bad guys,while all the good guys stay out of harms way. That, unfortunately,is a myth. A look at the shootout in NY a few months ago and most of the casualties in that situation were struck by bullets fired by police…not the bad guys. The police have WAY more training in this than 99% of the civilian population does. There was an experiment that was done at a university,in conjunction with an ABC news program, where they put the concealed carry myth to a test. They took several students, ranging in gun experience from novice to experts…and not one of them took out the shooter. While in “classes” to teach them how to properly wear the safety armor they were wearing, instructors had someone charge into the class and start shooting their gun (a paintball type of gun that sounds like a real gun when fired). Every single student tested with this failed to kill the gunman before they were killed themselves. Most of them had issues getting their gun out since it was concealed under their shirts. In one instance, to demonstrate how your field of vsio0n compresses, one of the students (actually an instructor) was set up as an associate of the gunman) and started shooting students. The student that had his gun never shoot the accomplice as he assumed that the accomplice was helping him and not shooting other students. This can be found in a 2 part video on youtube.

    There is a lot of misinformation and jut plain false information being spread…much of it comes from feelings of bravado and false images of what males are supposed to be. This idea that guns can be used by under trained civilians for defense really needs to be smacked down. Even soldiers and police, who have a lot of continuous and deep training, still freeze up when put in that situation. The only person you are fooling is yourself. You are more likely to survive a situation with an armed assailant if you are not armed, simple due to the fact that the situation will,more than likely, not escalate to the point where the assailant actually uses his gun. If you have a gun, you can guarantee that the situation will escalate. You are also less likely to have the false bravado that a gun gives you and thus less likely to get into a situation to begin with.

  2. Thanks Erik. I’ve sen the ABC simulation also and it isn’t at all a realistic portrayal of the way guns are actually used to deter and respond to criminal violence. Kind of pointless to simulate self defense with guns anyway when this is something that we already have documented happening thousands of times every year all across the country. That guns can be and in fact are used successfully for defensive purposes all the time really isn’t debatable. I’ve personally witnessed it myself more than once. You’ve got a lot of facts wrong, but that’s not really what this post is about anyway.

    I do like your point the problem of most civilians being under trained, though not in the sense of were you go with it. This is something I’m trying to get at but also something we’ve lost just over the past several decades. In our rich, privileged modern society we’ve repressed actual, participatory violence to an extent that I believe ultimately encourages things like mass shootings. When I was growing up, we played games that are now banned as too rough and dangerous, every kid hunted and grew up knowing what it meant to kill something, our high school had an indoor range and offered classes in rifle and pistol marksmanship. We did these things in real life, and learned how to do them safely and responsibly, and weren’t left wondering at the mystery of guns as if they were some kind of forbidden talisman of manliness as so many boys end up doing today. However well intentioned, this is an extreme unhealthy trend.

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