Four males charged with gang sexual assault
Two arrested in sex assault
Film studio owner arrested in sex a ssault
Snake owner faces sex charges
Engineer had sex with underage girl
Man charged in Niagara-area woman's death
Half sex charges withdrawn against Frost
To be clear, I did not include any articles about incidents that happened outside of Canada, I only selected acts of men's violence against women, and I didn't look very hard. While the sheer volume of incidents of male violence against women is staggering and extremely disturbing what seems most bewildering about these stories is not what they are saying but what is absent. The glaring similarity between these headlines and so many of the headlines that fill our papers is that the acts of violence are committed by men.
I'm not writing this because I'm anti-male. In fact, I'm writing this because I believe in men's capacity to be positive, non-violent, respectful human beings. I believe that men aren't the problem but the way we are taught to be men is extremely problematic. And I believe that what's missing from these articles is the truth.
The truth that is not being told is that we have a serious crisis on our hands. That crisis is our current concept of what it means to be a man. With devastating results boys are taught from the earliest moments of their lives how to act in the world if they are to be accepted by the community of men. This strict code of attitudes and behaviours is laid out for us and quickly defines the parameters of our identities.
In the first article I listed above four young men in Toronto raped an unconscious teenage woman while taping all or part of the incident on a camera phone. When I think of these young men choosing to violate another human’s body and soul I think of four people who have chosen to perform this code of masculinity to its ultimate conclusion. Four men who are more bound to masculinity then they are to the moral code our society at large has turned into law. Four men who would rather lose their own freedom to fit into their ascribed gender boxes.
When you read a story about a male hockey player he is referred to as a hockey player. When you read a story about a female hockey player her sex is always mentioned. His gender is not relevant because it is norm, the standard by which others are compared. When the media (the newspaper I used for my examples is not unique) reports stories of men's violence and doesn’t mention gender we ignore the single most important determining factor in who commits these acts of terror. When we speak about violence and don’t talk about masculinity we are erasing the truth and we are not addressing how we, as a society, condone these behaviours by continuing to believe on some level that “boys will be boys.”
- Tuval Dinner, Education Officer, White Ribbon Campaign