A latent form of male violence is the tendency to side with power – to divide people into two categories, "winners" and "losers", and try to get in with the winners, to get blindsided through reckless identification with the winner and the fading away of one's conscience, and to lose the ability to commiserate as one's power increases. Save for a few exceptions, this is the typical male attitude.
Although I was just a child when I watched Rocky IV (1985, Sylvester Stallone), there was a part in the film I clearly recall finding strange without knowing why.
In the film, Rocky goes to Moscow to fight Russian boxer Ivan Drago. He is on an away game. The entire audience supports the Russian boxer. At the beginning, Ivan Drago has the upper hand. Rocky takes punch after punch from the evidently unfeeling and beastly Ivan Drago as the Russian crowd cheers like wild.
He is at the end of his rope. But after much difficulty, he quickly collects himself and assumes control. A different game has begun.
When Rocky starts to rain down punches, the Russian boxers's ardent fans slowly change their cheer: the hall that just echoed "Drago, Drago, Drago" now goes, "Rocky, Rocky, Rocky".
Finally in full throttle, Rocky addresses the crowd after his victory: "I've seen a lot of changing, in the way you feel about me. ... If I can change and you can change, everybody can change."
In a place with Marx, Engels, and Lenin posters on the walls and a huge red star right above, these words register as surely the basest Cold War propaganda.
However, there is another, darker issue at hand here, which is the will to side with the powerful. This vapid scene that struck me as ridiculous and tacky as a child is much more disturbing to me today.
The deft story of Sivas (Kaan Müjdeci, 2014), when I watched in a couple of years ago, had also served as a solemn reminder to me of this bizarre social phenomenon.
At the start of the film, an elementary-school-age boy named Aslan adopts a Kangal dog he finds left to die after a dog fight. He takes care of it and nurses it back to health.
Aslan becomes friends with the healed animal and calls him Sivas. However, this is no Lassie story. Sivas is a fighter dog. He must take part in fights instead of just sitting around. This counsel, given by all the men around Aslan as though in unison, turns into a kind of societal pressure.
Fearing something happening to the newly healed dog, Aslan approaches this counsel with unease. "I won't put my dog into fights," he says. But the male world that surrounds him gradually makes him change his mind.
Aslan, though tentatively, start putting Sivas into fights. As the dog keeps winning, he starts liking it. Initially on the side of the underdog, Aslan, as he grows up, becomes drawn to the male world that wants to side with the winner.
He is torn between a growing sense of pity for Sivas and the practice of keeping him around as proof of his masculinity. The terror of his dog getting hurt and the desire to gain influence on the way to becoming a man surge side by side in his little body.
If the tendency to side with the powerful is a form of latent male violence, certainly there are also cliché notions that cover up, legitimize and almost ingratiate male violence.
These belong to a rhetoric constantly pushed through mainstream narratives, popular culture and folk sayings. I will try to summarize them by listing the first ones that come to mind:
- Men are like children. There is no telling what they will do and where.
- There is only so much a red-blooded male can take.
- Sometimes you need to resort to violence for a "greater moral principle".
- The task of personally ensuring justice sometimes falls on the men. Illicit protection of order must come into question in these situations, and the individual must seek justice for himself.
- If the men have agreed, if they have reached a consensus, all is well. Otherwise, there is trouble.
- You won't find peace until you get your revenge.
- In some cases you need to trust your emotions, not your mind.
- When in love, there's nothing one won't do! (HB/APA/PU)
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"This campaign has been produced as part of Sivil Düşün EU Programme, with the support of European Union. The contents of this campaign are the sole responsibility of IPS Communication Foundation/ bianet and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
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