Author Topic: Adulthood rites  (Read 3146 times)

Mandos

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Adulthood rites
« on: October 19, 2010, 02:31:20 PM »
Here's an appalling tale of Yale pledges at this absurd frat thing conducting their hazing ritual by yelling rape threats at the entire female population of Yale:

http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2010/10/17/the-men-and-women-of-yale/

There isn't much more to say, but in the comments to the Ms. article, someone suggested that part (not all) of the problem is that modern society does not provide any obvious symbols of transition to adulthood for males. Someone named Allison says:
Quote
 
     Kimmel asserts that these men are "among the most privileged  20-year-olds on the planet...And yet now they feel one-down, defensive,  reduced to impotent screaming–and all because of women’s equality."  However, I do not agree that this is solely about women. Because our  society lacks any coherent ritual that demarcates the passage into  manhood, there is a chronic insecurity, desperate need for validation,  and sometimes sadistic cruelty in an attempt to obtain validation.  Thus, guys improvise with hazing and other initiation rituals (such as  having DKE pledges chant obscene remarks) that assert their power over  others, in an attempt to prove their manhood. This follows the point  that hazing is not so much for the initiates to prove something, but  for the hazers who are proving their popularity and power over others,  and thus their masculinity. With this, we see that this incident is not  solely about women and men; it is also about men and men. The men  chanting in the video are pledges of the fraternity, instructed to  chant these obscene remarks by the already-established "brothers" as  part of the pledges' hazing/initiation. The power that the older  members assert over the younger pledges by having them chant "no means  yes" serves to simultaneously put down women AND the male pledges.  Though "man up" is definitely not the wording I would have chosen, I  think we definitely need to encourage men to reassess their masculinity  in order for true reformation and change to come about, not only for  women's sake, but for men as well.
This is an old argument (and the unspoken corollary is that women automatically have one through menarche), but one that has often made me wonder.  I never, as far as I know, had any obvious sign of adulthood-membership foisted on me, nor felt the need for one.   Is this a general feeling?  Where does this feeling really come from? 

Perhaps I never felt it because I had many marks of an outsider when growing up, and simply assumed that I wouldn't ever have a special membership card.  I've always sort of felt that this claim was more of a rationalization than a reflection of a real need. 

Mandos

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Re: Adulthood rites
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2010, 02:34:39 PM »
And yet, I should add, we see examples of this sort of thing cross-culturally and historically.  Hunter-gatherer type tribes frequently had special men's clubhouses with special membership rituals, suggesting that it may be psychologically important, but so are all kinds of practices that we no longer need.  Even if it is something "natural" in some sense, it is one of those things that we now lack that leads to problems, or is it one of those things we simply have yet to already outgrow?

Herr Magoo

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Re: Adulthood rites
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2010, 04:13:07 PM »
Quote
Perhaps I never felt it because I had many marks of an outsider when growing up, and simply assumed that I wouldn't ever have a special membership card.

Interesting comment!
 
When I was a young guy, I quite genuinely assumed that no woman would have me, I wouldn't marry, and would have to throw myself 100% into my work.  :)
 
But similarly, I didn't expect the crystal on the back of my hand to glow a new colour when I "turned to a man".  Though I confess, I did feel somewhat urbane after my first sexy times.
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Antonia

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Re: Adulthood rites
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2010, 10:25:57 PM »
I blame porn for this one. Many frat boys, especially rich frat boys from Princeton, have almost always acted like assholes. The difference here is that they think anal is normal.

I have noticed a number of discussions along the lines of ""Should you do anal on the first date?'' on young women's blogs, including those that identify as feminist. Many men I know in their 20s and early 30s -- ir. the ones who grew up with the Internet -- think anal is just regular sex, along with cuming on a woman's face.

Now I am sure these activities have their place in a relationship but a line has been crossed.

Maybe I'm just getting old.

It is when we all play safe that we create a world of utmost insecurity. It is when we all play safe that fatality will lead us to our doom. It is in the "dark shade of courage" alone that the spell can be broken.
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Mandos

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Re: Adulthood rites
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2010, 11:29:37 PM »
Well, its place in the chant suggests that it is specifically being singled out as above and beyond "regular" rape.

brebis noire

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Re: Adulthood rites
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 08:27:04 AM »
Even if it is something "natural" in some sense, it is one of those things that we now lack that leads to problems, or is it one of those things we simply have yet to already outgrow?

I think it's natural in the sense that humans are intensely social and need to build a sense of community. Maybe it's a way of dissimulating anxiety? But another part of ourselves recognises that a lot of it is wrong-assed (sorry, pun not originally intended, gah) and damaging to individuals. When I went through vet school, we had the obligatory hazing week, which I found godawful in too many ways to mention - including sexual humiliation of both boys and girls. (Mature students were mostly untouched by that special kind of attention.) But many students really got into it, it helped them form bonds, and by our fourth year there was a committee gleefully planning their own elaborate hazing of the first-year students. But my faculty was young compared to most others in North America ; age was undergrad level (early 20s). In the other provinces and the US, I'd be very surprised if students in their mid-20 with a BSc or BA would put up with that kind of nonsense.

Mandos

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Re: Adulthood rites
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2010, 09:20:21 AM »
It bears particular note down here in the USA, where Going To College serves a social function over and above Canadian universities.  Even at lower-ranked state schools, fraternities and sororities are a pretty big deal, with official university sanction and regulation.  The university often owns the properties on which the frat houses stand.  But at any school of significance, hardly a year goes by when there isn't some scandal, particularly in the all-male fraternities.  This often leads to sanctions and sometimes disestablishment---allowing some other up-and-coming fraternity organization to take its place.

There are some of them which serve a sort of identity-affirmation purpose, as in ethnic-minority ones.  But the whole things seems more trouble than it's worth---I mean, you can always start your own service club, and students rent group houses all the time. 

arborman

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Re: Adulthood rites
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2012, 03:48:38 PM »
Well, for most of the men I grew up with 'manhood' was closely associated with 'getting a job' and slightly less closely associated with actually paying one's own expenses.  There were other markers as well - moving out, having a car (ugh), having a girlfriend/sex, having a non-gas station/fast food type job.

There was no ritual or process, which may or may not be a good thing.  On the one hand, a properly structured ritual that defines the new status in the context of responsibilities and respect could be a very good thing, especially with the understanding that failure to live up to those responsibilities would result in a loss of whatever status has been gained.  On the other, it would me nigh impossible to apply any ritual to more than a neighbourhood sized group without becoming overgeneralized or culturally imposing.

In the US I think many men, and a few women, see military service as a step to manhood.  Less so here, thank Cod, though we are not immune (and I came very close as an 18 year old).
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