Why do American men love violence? American males, regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class, etc. are “baptized” into violence.
American males, regardless of their ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class, etc. are “baptized” into violence. Within our political, cultural, and historical context, it is the air we first breathe upon as we exit the womb. Birth is a violent act filled with pain. The residual violence that lingers in our hearts is our wholly unholy Birthright as American males. This violence keeps killing us, and those around us. Men, our women, our children.
Statistics show that males are responsible for 90% of the violence that occurs. This includes both male on male violence, and male on female violence. Though violence against women is at epidemic levels both in the States and globally, male on male violence is statistically higher. Over 70 % of the victims of male violence are other males. I often tell women that is safe for them to assume that the males in their life; their fathers, brothers, lovers, and friends are victims of violence.
It may be more tempting to assume the opposite—that they are perpetrators. Indeed, that may be a sound assumption, but it is not as common for men as being a victim. Before the age of 10, the percentage of sexual assaults of boys and girls are nearly the same. 1 in 6 men have been victims of sexual assault, versus the usual statistic given of 1 in 3 for women. Bottom line is everyone, women, children, and men—make up cumulatively the seemingly endless line of victims of male violence.
Does it not seem strange to you that 90% of the perpetrators of a particular crime would come from one gender, who only makes up about 50% of the global population? It has always dumfounded me as a violence prevention specialist and trainer. I took the time to get a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding to learn how to combat community violence. I am a 2nd Degree Blackbelt in a deadly martial art (Jujitsu) and have put in 30 plus years of training, so I never personally experience violence again—without putting up a fight (with violence, of course).
I focused my professional life and career around violence prevention for women (in both domestic and sexual violence) and men (mostly gang or youth violence). The vast majority of the victims whose stories were recounted to me, too numerous to number, recounted a story with a violent male as the antagonist. The aggressor. The rapist. The conqueror. The “MAN.”
As an experienced martial artist, I have taught women’s self-defense for years, as well as classes specifically for men, and co-ed classes. My own commitment to Martial Arts of course, came from being a frequent victim of violence—mostly gang and community violence. Yet, the questions still plaques me—Why do men (and most specifically, American men) love violence?
Is “love” too strong of a word? No. We love it. Within the atmosphere of violence, we American males “live, and move, and have our being,”(to cop a line from Paul the Apostle.) Why do we love it? Because, within the American context, violence is the overarching paradigm for defining masculinity and self-respect. A man unwilling to use violence to defend their home, family, and nation, is emasculated. They are less than men. Worse than “faggots,” as many of the far-right, gun toting, “pro-American” White racists males would say.
Homophobia is driven by violence. There is an intense correlation and intersectionality between sexism, homophobia, racism, and violence. In the case of American male violence, these groups which can be loosely lumped into the “other” are defined by their demarcation of being separate from the “all-holy brotherhood.” That historically and “divinely” appointed group of White American males—those lofty one’s given the mandate from heaven, the “White Man’s Burden” of needing to exercise so-called “righteous” violence.
We seem to know (as only God can) when to dispense the vial of the plaque of violence. Only when our group lets loose the “hounds of hell” of violence is it then considered just and right. Within the eyes of our Glorious White God (who looks like a masculine cross between a Viking and Jesus). We are the champions! Of sacred sacrament of violence.
There is no escape for American men, regardless of color, class, or orientation, from this demon who grasps our hand upon birth, and escorts us to the grave in our end. We are closer intimates of this demon of violence, than we ever are to our lovers, children, or even our mothers. Because the threat of violence, or the need to exercise violence, hangs by our side as our constant companion. It whispers into our ear as boys and men, “Sleep well, we always have an action plan ready. You and your loved ones can rest assured—if anyone dare treads into the domain of your castle, or ‘treads upon your rights,’ you have me to rescue you. If you are willing to kill another, your existence is safe.”
Our beloved American Action films, which are watched by all to the ends of the earth (the most popular media we export) are all based upon the premise of “righteous” violence. The “MAN’s” family member is murdered. To protect all that is holy, turn wrong back to right, and protect any remaining “innocents,” —we unleash our sacred sacrament; violence.
This message is communicated so well internationally, that those many African’s who do not speak English as their first language, can quote all the best lines from the Action heroes in movies. The violent gangs of Johannesburg, South Africa, clone themselves (down to their groups names) on gangs from South Central Los Angeles. Our greatest export is our greatest national treasure—our rapidity to pull the trigger of our beloved guns—-those glorious tools that “Won the West.” John Wayne smiles upon us all from heaven as American males.
A nation whose influence and economic power is based upon three centuries of state and economic violence against kidnapped Africans violently forced into labor, the extermination of Indigenous people for their life-giving lands, and the exploitation of war—have no alternative other than to become infected with an adoration (conscious or unconscious) with violence.
I believe on a macro-level, there is no cure or solution for this love affair American males have with their nursemaid, violence. It runs too thick, too deep. Rather, it is up to each individual man to save himself from the collective madness. That takes a lot of courage. It takes the courage to explore and challenge one’s own personal and family history of violence, as well as their individual connection to it. Save yourself, for no one else can.