Teenage Violence Essay, Research Paper
The events that happened in Littleton, Colorado at Columbine High School in
April were tragic. No one will nor should attempt to defend the actions of the two
gunmen, but it is beneficial to look into the reasons that this did occur as a preventive
measure of sorts.
Simply looking back over the past few years of teenage violence a picture become
clear of who the aggressors are : white males. There is definitely a strong relationship
between the violence of late and gender. Better stated, the socialization of white males in
contemporary American society has absolutely lead to the rash of tragic, violent outbursts
in our school systems.
The mechanisms of socialization utilize childrens toys as a ?teaching? tool. There
is a noted breakdown amoung the genders on the toy front. Toys geared towards females
are softer and lead to a calmer climate of civility by their mere nature : dolls to play house
with, Barbie?s to dress up, Easy-Bake ovens to cook with, the list is endless. Toys geared
towards males are rougher and create a climate of more agressive playing by their mere
nature: guns to shoot each other with, plastic action figures to wage battles with, again the
list is endless. ?Comparison shop? down any store?s toy aisle and the gender gap becomes
all too clear. What is to be learned from the great toy divide? If males are encouraged to
play in a manner that is aggressive and ulimately violent, is it, then, not expected for them
to grow up to be agressive and violent.
According to Esterchild (Jan 28,1999), the expectations for masculinity include,
but are not limited to, the belief in the unflappable strength of the male and his absolute
aversion to all things ?feminine?, as in ?no sissy stuff?. ?In this world, the only thing that
is as bad as being a girl, is being a sissy, that is, being like a girl? (Kaufaman 11)
Males are taught from an early age, in no uncertain terms, that there is a huge
distinction between males and females. Females are weak, they have no power. Males, on
the other hand, are strong, aggressive and powerful. The guidelines for a man are clear
and spelled out through a male?s societal functions. Men fight. Men fight wars. Men play
sports, which are undoubtably violent. Men hold jobs. Men support their families.
Movies portray men as the stronger sex. Rarely, though there are a few
exceptions, the male is seen as the smarter, stronger, better sex. Men are action heroes.
Men run countries. Men are sports heroes. And in the movies, women are reliant upon
these strong men.
All of this is expected of your average man. He is expected to live up to the
standards set forth by our culture and evident in our history of colonialism, exploitation,
oppression and imperialism. These expectations are strongly reinforced by the
aforementioned playthings which are introduced to a male at a very, early, tender age.
To reiterate, males are strong and agressive; females simply are not. Through
virtually all the mediums of a didactic nature that we offer as a society (television, the
entire entertainment industry, language, government institutions, public school text books,
and history to name a few) the message is clear.
The two gun men from Littleton experienced ridicule at the hands of the athletes at
their school. ?[They] fought with [the] athletes who ridiculed them.? (Dallas Morning
News) Each?s very manhood was attacked. There were repeated, documented, incidents
of problems between the Trench Coat Mafia (of which the gunmen were a known part of)
and the athletes at Columbine High School. According to the Dallas Morning News, ?a
few months ago, the Trench Coat Mafia and the ?jocks? agreed to fight each other on a
As a man, what recourse do you have to defend yourself against ridicule and
teasing. (The exact nature of the teasing is unknown. I was unable to locate any specific
information concerning what words were exchanged. I suspect, though, that many a barb
may have included assaults on their sexuality through the words fag and gay. I deduce this
through my experiences in high school and the exchanges I witnessed between the athletes
at my school and those they considered different.) The only solution, it would seem,
would be violence, and males are predispose to acts of violence.
At this time, I would like to discuss why some choose violence and some do not.
It is a cumlination of outside affects such as parental influence, econimic situation, peer
group, religiousity and personal diposition. Each situation is different. Each person is
different. The influences that they have and their individual morality may lead them down
These specific perpetrators had the background and framework that made violence
seem like the most obvious option. Their gender sealed their fate. For them, their
takeover of the high school, was a ?natural? choice of retaliation.