Pastoral and Practical Theology: Evaluation of W. M. Longwood's Claim

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UV607163 Introduction to Pastoral and Practical Theology Level H1

Essay

Outline and evaluate the reasons given by W.M. Longwood to substantiate his claim: ‘I am convinced that these attitudes, behaviours, relationships and institutions are not a result of something that is inherent in men, but are rather a response to a socialisation process that has not served either men or women well.’ Also, describe how the six men’s movements as pictured by Longwood are positioned in relation to his point.

Word Count : 1423

I

Introduction

‘Men’s violence represents one of the darkest features of masculinity’. From feminism and women’s studies, we have learned that males are prone to regard themselves as generic humans rather than gendered persons conditioned by historical and cultural processes. The tendency to view themselves as generic has often led men to assume that their experiences are universal. A mere glance at men’s situations in the American world indicates that success is equated with competitive men who dominate in economic and government leadership, as well as in the sporting and entertainment arena. ‘They show a careless disregard for the earth, control the money that funds art and culture and rule their families with an iron hand.’ Many studies reveal that in general terms Western men, American in particular, are aggressive and violent. Social science research corroborates this in such documents by Berkowitz 1992, Hong 2000, and Marshall 1993. What has also been discovered is the fact that men are not solely violent towards women and children, but towards other men as well. Such a statement is qualified by the figures which show men are far more likely to be the perpetrators of homicide, physical assault, sexual assault and sexual abuse. ‘Violence comes in many forms: the bully in the school yard, the university student raping his date, the soldier at war, the aggressive football hero or the abusive husband/lover/father all point to the commonness of violence.’ It is in this context that Longwood quotes ‘ I am convinced that these attitudes, behaviours, relationships and institutions are not a result of something that is inherent in men, but are rather a response to a socialisation process that has not served either men or women well.’ Longwood uses S. Boyd to compliment his theory saying, ‘we men are not inherently or irreversibly violent, relationally incompetent, emotionally constipated and sexually compulsive…..we manifest these characteristics ….because we have experienced violent socialisation processes that have produced this kind of behaviour.’ It is at this point Longwood explores a possible reason or even justification for violence by saying ‘violence is one response that fits all male pain’. A further explanation for violent behaviour is that as boys, some were forced into being ‘gender stereo-typed’ and were made to repress emotions and any need they felt for love and affection. This resulted in a mixed message of what was expected of them as boys and later as men. A further result is that they view their well-being in competition with others, particularly in the workplace, which can, for some, be a source of identity, and, in that workplace, they not only compete with men but women too. Yet, in their private lives, they display emotional dependence on women. Very few men turn to other men to be nurtured. Men’s talk is not often on a personal level. They may hurt but not cry. Because most men do not consciously acknowledge underlying pain, they sadly, and often devastatingly respond in abusive behaviour. Such violence gives them a position of power and control thus covering their feelings of inadequacy or fear. Socal theorist Dorothy Dinnerstein states that ‘we have been socialised to stereotypical feminine and masculine behaviour that disempowers women in the private sphere. Such male domination will continue as long as women remain primary care-givers.’ Towards the end of the...
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