Thursday, July 26, 2012

The mass murders in Aurora, Colorado were not caused by depression or insanity

image is from here
What's wrong with the diagram above? I'd say it pretends that violence is mostly interpersonal.

I've momentarily joined a discussion on Facebook focusing on analysis of the kind of violence James Holmes perpetrated several days ago in Aurora, Colorada in a movie theatre. As I think Facebook is a pretty scummy place, I'm probably already done speaking to this issue there.

I haven't obtained the permission of anyone else in the conversation to use their names, so I'm just putting the text below, minus the names. If the participants let me know they want their names put with their statements here, I'll gladly do so. The text written by me has my name with it. I've modified some of it for this post here, indicated with brackets below.

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I thought I'd get a conversation going about the recent tragedy in Aurora regarding violent male culture and if we think that has anything to do with these mass killings that happen so often in this country. I know it also heavily has to do with the lack of effective gun control but I wonder how much "maleness" has to do with violence and why and if that has anything to do with the patriarchy or is it just normal, biological that men are just the more violent gender. Thoughts?

Why aren't we talking about the one thing mass murderers have in common?

Strange but True: Testosterone Alone Does Not Cause Violence: Scientific American

Hormones don't necessarily make men violent, but they do cause them to seek social dominance

I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression [Paperback]
Terrence Real

Twenty years of experience treating men and their families has convinced psychotherapist Terrence Real that depression is a silent epidemic in men -- that men hide their condition from family, friends, and themselves to avoid the stigma of depression's "un-manliness." Problems that we think of as typically male -- difficulty with intimacy, workaholism, alcoholism, abusive behavior, and rage-are really attempts to escape depression. And these escape attempts only hurt the people men love and pass their condition on to their children.

Julian Real Hi all. I find the analysis by Terrence Real (who is not related to me) to be seriously flawed and politically misguided. Anyone who has endured and survived domestic violence, and anyone who is a survivor of child sexual abuse, or of rape, or of other traumas such as endemic racism and misogyny, often knows the pain and isolation of depression and PTSD. When men are violent towards others, the overwhelming desire in a patriarchy-denying culture is to psychologise this violence, to make it about men's personal histories rather than men's structural power, which manifests in institutionalised force that carries with it many entitlements for men to aggress against others, not just interpersonally, and perhaps more often not interperonally. The institutional violence of patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy, each system ruled and regulated by men, is the layer of violence few wish to discuss. We must understand James Holmes' violent, deadly actions in the context of that.

Julian Real When I first heard the horrible news of the massacre in Aurora, one of the first thoughts, aside from feeling a kind of sick disgust and deep sadness, was "I hope the corporate media doesn't get obsessed with being concerned about him and wondering "what caused him to do this--how did this intelligent, educated [and not stated but there: WHITE] man with such promise become a mass murderer"? What corporate media hasn't been saying is that he could only do this and be alive now if he was white and if he was privileged in a variety of other ways. If he were poor, uneducated, and of color, the police would have shot him dead in an instant and white Amerikkka would have exhaled a collective sign of relieve. I say this because white supremacist police forces murder men and women of color routinely, without consequence. Now, are those police officers "depressed"? Are we to believe that Holmes' violence and the violence of the US military and police are unrelated? That one is only psychological, while the other is primarily political. I think every expression of male supremacist and white supremacist violence is first and foremost profoundly political (structural, social, and reliant on institutions infused with the same values as the violence being perpetrated) and only secondarily a function of personal, individual history. Men are violent because not because of genetic make-up, hormone levels, or depression[, or 'insanity'].

Julian Real Men have various institutionalised permissions and social entitlements to do violence and get away with it. If they didn't get away with it, they wouldn't be that way. If most rapists were held to account, rape wouldn't flourish. If most violent male offenders of domestic and global violence were held to account, men's violence wouldn't proliferate. This isn't to say that some men don't suffer from depression. Men, women, boys, and girls do suffer, a lot. But men don't suffer from it more than women or girls or boys, in case people like Terrence Real aren't noticing. And if depression causes this kind of hostility and murderous violence, why aren't all the survivors of child sexual abuse and rape and battery I know out killing people? [Most of them suffer from depression. So clearly there are other, more significant factors at work.]

Julian Real I find Erika Christakis's piece linked to above [and *here*] to also be misguided. While she notes something obvious: men perpetrate most interpersonal violence and mass murder, she neglects to note that whites and the rich, as well as men, perpetrate most global violence, which is also mass murder, of people of color, of the poor, and of women and girls, respectively. Non-indigenous industrialised people wage warfare on Indigenous people, industrialised or not. This isn't just mass murder, it's genocide. Women are among the rich, even while more men are rich than women. Women are among whites, even [while] white supremacist cultures are run by [white] men. Conservative and liberal media usually only wants to highlight violence that totally invisibilises structural, institutional force: that violence which is done on incredibly massive scales, against whole classes of people, not necessarily indoors but also not generally in view of a public with the clout, status, and institutional power to stop it. Patriarchal violence is one form of it, and many manifestations of that are private, done in the home, in hotel and motel rooms, and in military barracks, to name a few places where masculinist predation is protected. White supremacist violence is another form. And corporate capitalist violence is another form. In my opinion, to only remark about one of these while ignoring the others is to make any one form not fully comprehensible. And, I'd argue, it also makes a world that is set up to assault poor women of color on various levels simultaneously--only partially recognisablie. I'd say that without the more complete view, it is difficult to organise against the multiple forces effectively or to be a useful ally to those who are fighting all of it at once.