[ This article was originally published at Masculinities 101 ]
AMC’s award-winning and groundbreaking drama Breaking Bad is, although complemented by a number of highly intriguing and well-played characters, primarily the story of its lead protagonist Walter White, a disillusioned high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer, who turns to cooking crystal meth in order to provide for his family’s financial security after he will have passed away. Thus, Breaking Bad is a reflection on the destructive potential of masculinity in our society.
Last Spring, during a Colorado State Senate hearing on gun control, a rape survivor testified that she believed she could have prevented her victimization if she had been allowed by the state of Colorado to carry a concealed firearm. A female state senator then rebuked her claims by citing statistics regarding defensive firearm use. In response to the exchange in the Colorado State Senate, Fox News brought together Zerlina Maxwell, a writer and political analyst, and Gayle Trotter, senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, on The Sean Hannity Show to “debate” the issue. In the course of the discussion, Zerlina Maxwell made the bold claim that “we can prevent rape by telling men not to commit it”. For the remainder of the segment Sean Hannity and Gayle Trotter belittled Maxwell’s argument and scoffed at the very idea that reeducating men is an effective method for preventing sexual violence. Indeed, her comments clearly struck a nerve. In the aftermath of her appearance on the show, Maxwell received a slew of racially and sexually charged threats of violence.
But the reality is that there is a lot of truth to Zerlina’s claim whether we as a society are ready to hear it or not. Organizations ranging from the local (i.e. Oregon Men Against Violence and the Mobilizing Men Task Force) to the global (i.e. Promundo and MenEngage) have invested considerable time and money into violence prevention work with men and boys. Not only do these organizations, and many others, work to change the beliefs and behaviors of men and boys, but they do so with a strong theoretical and empirical foundation thanks to decades of work in social and behavioral science. A continuously growing body of research indicates that the perpetration of sexual violence is far more common among men whose beliefs about masculinity and femininity are rigid (see Gallagher and Parrot 2011 and Reed et al. 2011). When men believe that it is their role, as men, to be dominant in interpersonal relationships or that they are entitled to access to women’s bodies they are more likely to perpetrate coercive and/or violent sexual activity. (more…)
A few weeks back, I contributed a post highlighting possible explanations for the rise of criminal justice based practices within schools. Although these strategies have become popular for managing school crime, growing evidence suggests they are often overly excessive and may produce a host of unintended consequences. Serving as a sort of a Part II, this essay outlines the effects of what has been termed the “criminalization of school discipline” (Hirschfield & Celinscka 2011). As discussed below, the evidence stands against the school criminalization when considering its effects on: social equality, school performance, school crime, and other disciplinary strategies. (more…)
Over the past two decades, schools across the U.S. have adopted a host of punitive practices and policies to prevent and respond to student misbehavior (Kupchik 2010). These practices include the use of security cameras, metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs, and the full-time presence of police officers. Consequentially, the distinction between school discipline and criminal justice has become highly blurred. For a host of reasons, there has been an increase in surveillance over students and a tighter link between the education and criminal justice for a host of (Hirschfield & Celinscka 2011). The purpose of this post is to provide, from the extant literature, explanations for the rise of criminal justice based practices within schools. (more…)
In recent years, there has been a push for research to focus on prisoner reintegration. In response, researchers have begun investigating a number of important topics such as how to use theory to inform policy and practice, how to determine which prison programs work best to aid in reintegration, how to minimize the impact children face from having an incarcerated parent, how to acknowledge the important link that exists between sentencing and release, and how to take a holistic yet individualized approach when it comes to prisoner reentry. In this post, I will briefly summarize five recent research articles that deal with prisoner reintegration before briefly discussing which directions appear to be especially promising. (more…)
Within the last thirty years the presence of adolescent offenders tried in criminal court has become increasingly commonplace. Scholars critical of this growing phenomenon have documented that the number of youth transferred to adult (criminal) court has gradually risen since the mid-1970s. Whilst the ability to transfer young offenders from the juvenile to adult court has long been an option, recent literature notes that the emergence of legislation facilitating the transfer of youth offenders to criminal court is a microcosm of a “penal turn” in criminal justice practices (Kupchik 2010). That is, laws that expanded the ability to transfer youth to adult court fit within a larger social, cultural, and political movement which sought to “get tough” on crime. (more…)
Sociologists frequently note that individuals – in effort to understand the social world – construct boundaries and make distinctions (Zerubavel, 1991). That is, in efforts to make sense of the world and its reality, individuals cut up, carve out, and make meaningful distinctions. Distinguishing one from another, that is “masculine” from “feminine”, “affluent” from “deprived”, “strong” from “weak”, and “right” from “wrong” provides an avenue for meaning and reality materialize.
However, the same boundaries that construct a reality for individuals, groups, and cultures, also establish points of conflict. Consequently, the social world endures ongoing transformations as it encounters friction and opposition between sources of authority. Individuals, much like culture, “struggle over what significant symbols mean and who has the authority to project public definitions” (O’Brian, 2008). Whilst boundaries help individuals define their social environment and navigate its complex terrain, they often create areas of contested space in which contradictions and power play out. (more…)
While venturing around today’s modern city-scape, it appears new design principles have been employed. Perhaps the construction of the contemporary urban environment has been increasingly swayed by social, economic, political, and environmental factors. Scholars, also recognizing the changing face of urban environments, have noted the rise of “New Urbanism” (Bohl, 2000). Consider the following:
New Urbanism has been described as the most influential movement in architecture and planning in the United States since the Modernist Movement - Bohl
New Urbanism is the most important phenomenon to emerge in American architecture in the Post-Cold war era - Muschamp
Aside from becoming a new object of study for the academy, New Urbanism has firmly staked a position for itself within the planning community (Calthorpe, 1993). In addition to explaining the major design principles of New Urbanism and discussing its popularity, this entry will reflect on how New Urbanism attempts to curtail social, economic, and environmental issues through better design strategies. (more…)