Recently, I read an article in The Guardian written by Zach Stafford which put forth the premise that masculinity and violence are intrinsically related, and that the concept of masculinity itself is an outdated idea which we should do away with. He supported this war on masculinity on the grounds of eliminating violence from our society. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, violence is “exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse”. To imply that violence is a human male problem is not only naive, but also sexist and counterproductive. It also presumes to ignore that every aspect of life involves violence: in fact, our universe itself is a creation of violence. It also serves to isolate a section of the population, and cast blame for societal problems on that segment.
Throughout history there are many examples of women who rank among the most violent leaders of the world. A short list of examples would be Catherine the Great of Russia, Mary I Queen of Scotts, Isabella I of Spain, Regent Empress Dowager Longyu of China, Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary, and Queen Amina of Nigeria just to name a few. That alone should be enough of an example to disprove any notion that violence is solely a problem of masculinity. However, if you continue to widen the view, you see that violence persists in all levels of life. Even the smallest microorganisms live in an incredibly violent arena. All animals engage in some form of violence as demonstrated by this video. Even the generally benign plant kingdom has its own violent members which kill and consume other plants and animals.
We should also consider that violence exists even without the influence of life. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and meteor impacts are all incredibly violent events, but they were also critical to the development of life on earth and the rise of humanity. Almost all of the matter on Earth is the product of some kind of violence. The heavy elements which are critical to all life on Earth such as carbon and iron were forged in the furnaces of long dead stars which ripped apart eons ago spreading these materials across the universe in great, terribly violent explosions. Arguably our universe would not exist without the violence which is such a critical part of nature.
To imply that violence is exclusively a man’s problem is simply ludicrous. The very suggestion of it is to ignore nature and openly admit to living in a fantasy world. As regrettable as it sometimes may seem, violence is a critical part of the natural world. Ignoring the issue of violence in our society as a whole and focusing in on one demographic to place the emphasis merely serves to avoid the responsibility we all share as human beings for the violence in our world. There are many non-violent men, just as there are many violent women. It is a gross oversimplification to propose that men are violent due to the notion of masculinity and imply that women are not. The sooner we stop labeling each other and placing blame on each other, the sooner we can come together as one species and begin to really address the underlying issues which affect us all.