Two recent news items are related to an aspect of the femininization of America, an outgrowth of radical feminism allied with toxic dependency. The radical feminists pathologized all forms of "unacceptable" (ie male) aggression and the nanny state promulgated an increased passivity among those who were maintained in a dependent position.
A third leg of our cultural antipathy to appropriate aggression arose from the culture of Narcissism (which includes entitlements and fear of aggression except in the pursuit of one's own limited pleasures.) A thesis I have been developing on this blog (Demographics & Narcissism) is that a unique combination of sociological and historical trends intersected in the early 1950s (and have persisted, with some blips, through the 1990s) which have had the effect of accentuating the development of Narcissistic character traits. Our material ease, the diminution of the threat of early childhood loss from infectious disease, and the relative peace which has been the norm for the post-war Baby Boomer generation, have all combined to make my generational cohort more likely to develop such character traits. Further, this development has left a large cohort of my peers unable to recognize, and with a decided preference to a cloistered denial of, the current existential dangers facing our civilization. Such trends threaten to disarm us at crucial moments.
Robert Jensen has a decidedly silly piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Men being men is a bad deal
Guys should evolve beyond masculinity (HT: Cinnamon Stillwell) which presents an even sillier thesis, based on an inane caricature of masculinity:
We need to get rid of the whole idea of masculinity. It's time to abandon the claim that there are certain psychological or social traits that inherently come with being biologically male. If we can get past that, we have a chance to create a better world for men and women.
This fits perfectly into the radical feminist notion that gender is a social construct, shortly thereafter followed by the idea that anything considered traditionally masculine must be a priori, bad. The logical end point of such thinking is the kinds of pacifism and passivity that the Left would recommend for the culture as a whole.
[I suspect a great deal of their opposition to war and aggression is merely rationalization but that is for another post.]
The ubiquitous and indispensable Larwyn referred me to this article by way of Blue Crab Boulevard:
BURLESON, Texas (AP) -- Youngsters in a suburban Fort Worth school district are being taught not to sit there like good boys and girls with their hands folded if a gunman invades the classroom, but to rush him and hit him with everything they got - books, pencils, legs and arms.
"Getting under desks and praying for rescue from professionals is not a recipe for success," said Robin Browne, a major in the British Army reserve and an instructor for Response Options, the company providing the training to the Burleson schools.
That kind of fight-back advice is all but unheard of among schools, and some fear it will get children killed.
Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard comments:
Just as advice has changed on what to do on an airplane if a hijacking is attempted, the rules are changing for schools. Not everyone is happy with this training - although the complaints are not coming from parents of the children in the school:
Hilda Quiroz of the National School Safety Center, a nonprofit advocacy group in California, said she knows of no other school system in the country that is offering fight-back training, and found the strategy at Burleson troubling.
"If kids are saved, then this is the most wonderful thing in the world. If kids are killed, people are going to wonder who's to blame," she said. "How much common sense will a student have in a time of panic?"
Joanne Jacobs has further thoughts on the wisdom of such a strategy:
Experts are nervous about the advice, but admit that complying with gunmen isn't a great strategy either.
William Lassiter, manager of the North Carolina-based Center for Prevention of School Violence, said past attacks indicate that fighting back, at least by teachers and staff, has its merits.
"At Columbine, teachers told students to get down and get on the floors, and gunmen went around and shot people on the floors," Lassiter said. "I know this sounds chaotic and I know it doesn't sound like a great solution, but it's better than leaving them there to get shot."
Eventually, the training will include elementary students who probably will be told to run away screaming for help.
I suspect Burleson students feel less scared. The training gives them the sense that they are not helpless victims. I wonder if the prospect of being bombarded with books and tackled by a teacher and five students will make attacking schools seem less appealing to potential attackers.
With the memory of Columbine, Beslan, and United 93 still too fresh in our thoughts, it is not at all clear what the best strategy would be for minimizing death and injury to our children. However, those who have traditionally counseled a passive response to an attack (advice given to airplane passengers, rape victims, and others) have allowed their fear of aggression to support a reaction that we will produce much more distress in the survivors. Often, the statement is made that anything you do that allows you to survive an attack is the right thing to do, but taking a passive stance can worsen the psychological trauma of an attack.
When people are traumatized, their ability to cope is temporarily overwhelmed by both external and internal forces. The external forces are obvious. Someone pointing a gun at you and your friends and loved ones is likely to evoke terror, often paralyzing terror. However, the internal reaction is what takes the terror and makes it traumatic. The combination of terror and impotent rage is a particular combination guaranteed to destabilize a person's ability to cope. Often, in emergencies, taking action, even if it in retrospect is not the best possible course of events, is almost always less traumatizing than doing nothing (ie, remaining passive.) Passivity is the stance of a dependent child, not an active agent who may not be able to control a frightening environment but at least can have some control over his internal environment and his own behavior.
In response to the same article, Dr. Helen has some trenchant thoughts on the subject and comments on part of the same quote from the aforementioned Hilda Quiroz:
My guess is that most experts will err on the side of caution and denial such as this:
"If kids are saved, then this is the most wonderful thing in the world. If kids are killed, people are going to wonder who's to blame," she said.
So, it is better to let children die while hiding under a table just so no one will later be blamed. Isn't that a little heartless?
Helen makes an excellent point by directing our attention to a particularly insipid kind of cowardice. Apparently, those who counsel caution recognize that they cannot be criticized if by inaction disaster occurs. Only those who take decisive action warrant criticism. Isn't this the core of the Iraq War debate? Isn't this the issue with North Korea and Iran? The preferred approach to any conflict in the world is to be passivity and appeasement; no one should criticize the Clinton administration for the North Korean bomb; after all, they spent years talking to Kim and he agreed to be nice. Now the big, bad Bush administration, with thier hyper-masculine aggression, has made Kim frightened and angry and he exploded an atomic bomb. The only fault lies with those aggressive men. This is nonsense. When danger threatens it has always been the men who stepped to the front and confronted the danger. Our civilization is at risk, despite our most fervent wishes that everyone should like us, and we require the services of brave men and women who are ready, willing, and able to fight for us. The least we can do is begin to prepare ourselves and our children for fighting back when and if it becomes necessary.