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Pumphrey 1

Eldon Pumphrey

Professor Pate

English 472

May 8, 2011

The Way Masculinity and Violence are Looked Upon in Society

For anyone who has ever been with or witnessed a violent person can easily tell that it is

a social and health problem. Violence can be broken down into many different forms. A common

violent act is usually within the family which includes domestic violence, and child abuse. There

are numerous amounts of stories in the news and newspapers that tell stories about how women

are victims of domestic violence. Women are victims of this a lot more than men due to the

amount of violence a man has, and the power they think they can have over women. Another

form of violence is peer group violence which typically takes place at a workplace or at a school

ground. Examples of peer group violence are people who join gangs and who bully. Sexual

abuse is another major form of violence. Sexual abuse is usually rape, intimate partner violence

and child sexual abuse. These examples of sexual abuse target women and children the most

because they are less aggressive and less powerful than men, and are labeled as an easy target.

The next violent act a person can portray is abuse of power. An example of how this power is

used is when someone mistreats children, elders and people with disabilities.

People who use abuse of power try to belittle and overpower people who are smaller and

who are less powerful than them. Violence in which fighting, shooting and homicides occur is

associated with community violence. There are a number of hate crimes that are reported each
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year, hate crimes consists of a person targeting a certain race, gender or religious group and

making hateful comments towards them. They also like to commit hateful task against these

groups that causes these targeted groups to hide and feel degraded. Violence is something that is

common in many societies. The main sexes that show the most violence are men between the

ages of 17-24. The reason men have a higher violent streak than women is based on a higher

dose of testosterone as a child in their mothers wound. The high amount of testosterone that men

are born with gives them their high aggressive behavior. Men tend to use their violence as a

power force to dominate things.

“Men are natural born fighters,” says Conrad Lorenz. Men in fight

club tend to have a purpose for the violence that occurs, it gives each

charter an outlet of hidden emotion on their appointed by violence. The

characters in fight club use motivation such as being bullied and

disastrous events in their lives to give them a purpose to excel in the

fights. In fight club every fight that occurs gives them a satisfaction in

life. The charters wear their bruise as awards. Men were loyal to the fight

club, because it brought out their inner passion of warriors and fighter

nature, since they were living in such a plain and routine environment.

I n the novel T h e L a s t E x i t t o B r o o k l y n , t h e s t o r y s h o w s h o w m e n u s e

their power and also violence to dominate over women. One of the stories

was about a young prostitute Tralala. Tralala was a regular, who hung out

in bars picking up young drunken sailors, and sleeping with them for

money. Statistics show that fifty percent of violent acts occur in and near

night clubs, pubs, and bars. Drugs, money, and alcohol were also major
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factors that caused men to act in violent ways (Mulholland). The men in

The Last Exit to Brooklyn often humiliated Tralala, and made her feel

inferior. She sometimes would have sex with them expecting money. but

in return she often got very, little money or nothing. On many occasions

with her sexual encounters violence was used, such as rape, by one and in

the end of the story gang raped by several males, where they took

advantage of the weak, some one less powerful than they.

Rape is a devastating thing. For example, rape involves the total violation of a woman’s

body, mind and spirit, when we listen to women and take them seriously, the effects of rape is

demoralizing. However, battering is more common than rape and is accepted as normal in many

societies. Battering, rape and other forms of violence are debilitating long after the act itself.

Moreover, what is almost as horrifying as battering and rape is how common it is in our culture.

One in 2.5 women is a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime. One in three females is sexually

abused before age eighteen (Kinder).

Aggression is part of a man’s activity” said Searles and Berger. Men

are expected to create dominance towards women. Men dominate so asto

make women please them. This mistreatment is acceptable as a factor of

male masculinity demonstrating dominance and control over women. This

implies that men use rape as a physical force by way of domination and


“Male sexual aggression is believed to be uncontrollable” said

Searles and Berger. When a male set his idea and motion, his is believed
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to be at pity of his desires when come to rape. Rape can be cause

psychological event because they where outcast and was not accepted by

in crowed or a female. These thought or event can have an event that

trigger an instinct of insaneness in a male.

“ Many people explain acts of gendered violence by saying that the perpetrators are sick

individuals. It is true that isolated incidents of violence may occur because of individual

pathologies. However, individual pathologies can’t explain why violence is pervasive and why it

is disproportionately inflicted on certain groups” (Gendered power and violence 285).

Widespread violence reflects social definitions of femininity, masculinity, and relationship

between women and men. (Gendered Violence: Gendered power and violence 286).

stewrtMore and more research suggests that aggression and physical violence are

prevalent in our society. Mack (1989) reports that therapists have identified spouse abuse as near

the top of the list of area in which people desire treatment information. Depending on one

defines abuse, it affects anywhere from 25 to 60 percent of the population (Straus).

(notCommunication and gender chap 6) lea Stewart.

Her words. In the book Fight Club male aggression is the main idea.

T h e m a i n p a r t o f t h e s t o r y i s w h e n t h e c h a r a c t e r s , t h e n a r r a t o r, a n d Tyler

Durden meet up outside the bar and Tyler Durden start a fistfight and draws up a crowd. Later

after they return to the bar for another fight and draw another crowd they start up the fight club.

The aggression in this book relates to how men “ a r e n a t u r a l b o r n f i g h t e r s . ” T h i s

book shows how men use their strength and dominance over each other by

c h a l l e n g i n g e a c h o t h e r t o a f i g h t . H e r w o r d s ( I n a m a n ’s w o r l d a g g r e s s i o n
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defines their manhood. the more aggressive a man is than the manlier he

is ( ). Maybe sexton).

Fight Club is about how a group of young men “literally beat each other senseless in an

effort to endow some kind of meaning to their lives. The very idea of willfully engaging in

violence to create a meaning to one's life may seem horrendous, but in fact the fight club is

merely a metaphor for how war has defined generations.” Violence is a fundamental aspect of

how men view themselves as heroic. Fight Club presents how men are not able to solve a heated

problem without a fist fight or violent act (Sexton).

In the novel American Psycho the main character portrays what

author Julia woods mention in her book gendered lives what it means to

grow up masculine. The first step of growing up Masculine is do not be

female, which means “early in life boys are taught not to “think, act or

feel like girls and women.”171 According to Kantrowitz, Kalb, and

Pollack, “Any male who shows sensitivity or vulnerability is likely to

be called a s sissy, a crybaby, a mama’s boy, or a wimp (qtd. in wood


According to Wood, the next step is being successful. Men are

taught as young as their teen years to be successful in sports or in other

activities. Be aggressive is the next step of what growing up

masculine. “This is a third injunction for masculinity”(Wood172). In

childhood and adolescence, boys are often rewarded for being

daredevils and roughneck. According to Newburger and Pollack, “They

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are expected to take stands, be tough, and no run from confrontations”

(qtd. in Wood 172).

Be sexual is the fourth thing in growing up masculine. Men should

be interested in sex all the time, any time (Wood 174). They are

expected to have a number of sexual partners; the more partners a man

has, the move of a stud he is the final stage of growing up masculine is

being self–reliant. This last stage means that a “real man” doesn’t need

others, particularly women.” He depends on himself, takes care of

himself and relies on nobody.” (Wood 174) Now that growing up

masculine is covered, it’s easy to see how it relates to American

Psycho.The first step was don’t be female which represents how the

main character acts though out the story .He shows no signs of

weakness and is always on point with everything especially when it

came to his murders . He was not female in any way he never felt sorry

for any of his victims and was never vulnerable towards anyone or

anything. The next step was “Be Successful” which was really relatable

because the main character in American Psycho was a successful man

with a lot of power and money. . American Psycho depicts the life of a

26-year-old male and his life as part of the New York elite society.

Through his narrative thoughts he describes his day-to-day activities

ranging from hanging out with his colleagues, going to nightclubs, and

committing murders. He also encounters many women in which he has

sexual relations. Over the course of the book, his murders become more
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extreme and violent ranging from stabbings to outright sadistic

behavior such as cannibalism and necrophilia.

He used his success and power to open a lot of doors for himself as

do a lot of men with great power. Usually men who are very successful

use their success to dominant over people under them. They feel the

power to be able to belittle others especially women. Successful men

belittle women because women are vulnerable and less aggressive than

men therefore men feel that they can overpower and get there way with

women. The third step and most relatable to American Psycho is be

aggressive. The main character in American Psycho is very aggressive.

He is most aggressive with his murder victims because they are helpless

and weak. Just like success he uses his aggressiveness to get his way.

Men use aggressiveness to scare off their opponent and try to be top

dog. “The masculine code tells men to fight, defeat others, endure pain

stoically themselves, and win.” (Wood 173) “Dr. Michael Miller (2003)

says that many men don’t seek help when they are depressed because

their gender identity is “tied up with strength, independence,

efficiency, and self-control” (Wood pg 173) In the American Psycho

he uses the masculine code because he defeats and endures pain on

his murder victims.

In the book Beloved, The main character shows his dominance by

means of force and violence. The main character School Teacher shows
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his power and authority by beating his slaves. One occurrence is when

is School teacher beats Sixo, one of his slaves. School teacher beats

him to show him that School teacher is authority and that the definition

is defined by the definer and not the defined. School teacher beats Sixo

to show complete control and dominance over the lower class male such

as a slave. School teacher views Sixo as equal to an animal and he feels

that he can beat him to obedience.

Through examination it can be seen that the acts of masculine

violence such as rape is degrading and forceful. According to Catharine

Mackinnon and her agenda for theory she refers to “rape as an act of

violence not sexuality, the threat, which imitate all women"

(MacKinnon, 286). Her views, being mostly feminist, exploited the

expression of male dominance through sexuality. This implies that men

use rape as a physical force by way of domination and power. In the

book Beloved by Toni Morrison she portrays this act in the scene where

Sethe is held down by two men and has her milk taken from as she

is watched by the school teacher and

The conclusion from the novels and articles is that men prove their

masculinity by strength and violence to secure their authority and status

in society. Violence is look upon as a source of weapon for men to

o b t a i n t h e i r m a s c u l i n i t y a n d p o s i t i o n i n l i f e . Men’s masculinity defines other

people, such as to put fear and sets their ranking in life. Violence is more than physical abuse;

it may be physical, sexual, mental, or emotional. And throughout the stories, we see how
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men’s masculinity and violence has evolved. For example, in Beloved, male masculinity was

used as an instrument to enforce dominance and structure toward slaves. In Fight Club, male

masculinity defines their purpose in life.

Masculinity and violence define their purpose in life when they get up each time they

fight to endure another. But in the Last Exit to Brooklyn, male masculinity is shown through

rape as a dominant force and acceptance to females. In American Psycho, masculinity is

shown as dominance in society as power, self-identity, and aggression. When each male in

each of the novels lost his masculinity because there wasn’t a threat to his victim, they lost a

part of themselves. Men are born into their mindset of violence in life through sports, video

games, music, and media. But when men use this into effect in reality, it is looked down upon.

Masculinity and violence go hand-in-hand with each other in that they give men their security

and identity in life, which men are told that they have at a young age.

After reading the books Last exit to Brooklyn, Fight Club American

Psycho, and Beloved, it is clear that all of these stories relate to how

m e n u s e v i o l e n c e t o d o m i n a t e t h i n g s . “ Masculine violence and masculine abuse of

power are undeniable facts of our lives” said Kinder. The effects of violent are majority

suffered by women and children because they are not looked as equal when compared to

males.“Males who dominate females and this often manifests itself as violence against females,

traditionally has been resolved in favor of men. This happens because males are able to control
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power so effectively over females”. Said Kinder. Male battering of women is one of the most

devastating forms of violence, but not the only form. Most experts agree that a battered woman

is one whose life is thoroughly, extensively, and completely controlled by a man and her

behavior is changed to suit a man’s desires while they have a relationship with each other


In the past few years, there has been an increased awareness of the violent acts that have

been committed against women and are still taking place today.

Men batter women because, in the short term, it works; i.e., the violence temporarily

stops a woman from doing what threatens or challenges men’s authority. Men batter

women because they can get away with it. Until recently, men could batter women

without experiencing consequences, such as her leaving or their arrest, prosecution,

conviction and sentencing. Most men know that no matter who starts the fight, they can

generally overpower a woman. And finally, men have been socialized to believe they

have the right and the privilege to dominate and control women. Physical force (battering

and rape) are the extremes to which men resort, if necessary to maintain that control.

When it is said men batter because they can get away with it and it “works,” this is

describing some of the workings of patriarchy, a system of male control over women, and

a system of male privilege. (Kinder)

In reference to male privilege, it is “talking about one’s self from the perspective of the other.”

Boys “in particular may feel a socio-cultural pressure to act tough and not express their feelings

in a calm way.” Often men may not even realize that they are acting in a way that is unfair or
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harmful. Men sometimes “take their dominance for granted and their use of violence as natural”


Works Cited

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Morrison, Toni. "Critical Analysis of ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison and ‘Native Son’ by Richard

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