Crime, Violence and Masculinity

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Can the nation-state and culture combine forces to reduce interpersonal violence in the West?

Violence is a difficult term to define, but for the purposes of this assignment violence can be defined as a crime or the threat to commit a crime by one person upon another person, and that usually that has negative physical or emotional effects upon the victim. Violence in Western society has been increasing steadily and has become a major concern for many nations. Increasingly, much of the violence is committed by male children and teenagers. Crimes by young people are no longer just misdemeanors, but they now include the major felonies of rape, robbery and homicide. The rise in violent crime in the last few decades has been accompanied by a rise in violence in the media, especially television, movies and music. To protect society, the US government must impose regulations on these media outlets so that audiences are not subjected to too much gratuitous violence that may influence them to commit such acts of violence.

Much of Western society's contemporary behavior is influenced by popular culture, usually by such media outlets as television, movies and music. Arguments exist today concerning the amount of responsibility that the media has to portray such violent crimes as unacceptable. The most popular of such beliefs is one that argues that the media is currently romanticizing the use of violence to gain an audience. Proponents of such an argument claim that if the media displays violence in a less glamorous way, interpersonal violence can be reduced. For this to happen, the nation-state must play the important role of regulating how much and what types of violence media sources can show, and to which audiences.

Some people, mostly men, enjoy viewing or hearing about acts of violence. Some even find it exciting to participate, on one level or another, in violent acts. Television programs, movies and music capitalize on this fact by showing or describing gratuitous acts of violence. Even news programs see the importance in covering violent interpersonal crimes in their broadcasts to gain high ratings. Western society is interested in conflict, and enjoys being a third party audience to such violence. The problem with this is that by consuming too much violence through the media, the viewer can become immune to the effects or consequences of violence and may be more prone to commit crimes, or less likely to respond when witnessing another becoming a victim of a crime.

Many researchers point to the fact that men are "dispensable" creatures as the reason for their affinity to violence. The fact that one man has enough sperm to produce an entire population means that they have to compete for females. This competition drives them to commit violent acts against each other to better their chances of finding a mate. Of course, such behavior is not common today, but sociologists argue that this is how men developed their violent nature towards each other. Another related theory of why men are more violent than women is that historically separate populations have always been in competition. Competition for land, resources and women. To protect their genetic makeup and ensure that their genes will be passed on to future generations, the males of the population acted violently towards the males of any population threatening their own. One example of this is the holocaust, in which the Nazis attempted to exterminate the Jewish population in order for the Aryan race to prosper. The fact that men are more inclined to commit violent acts against one another more than towards women and children reinforces the argument that they act violently in order to ensure their genes will be passed on to future generations.

In the past few hundred years it seems that men have become less violent, supporting the argument that violence is unlearned. To become a more civilized species, humans have adapted to abstain from...
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