At one point in life I was studying to be a counselor, and while I never finished that, human behavior has always intrigued me. After sitting through a rough few days in court with a lot of violence of all types, I flashed back to my Gender & Violence course. Two of the concepts that have resonated with me over the years are related to the concept of manhood, and its connection with violent behavior.
1. Manhood, unlike womanhood, is earned and not permanent. That is, a girl will inevitably become a woman, but a boy may not always be expected to become a man. This status can be withdrawn and withheld by others in his social group as punishment or threat.
2. The threat, implied or implicit, of withdrawing manhood is often enough by itself to precipitate violence.
This interests me not only because I have seen it play out, but because I am raising sons. How do you communicate that their manhood does not have to be earned? Do you think it does? If you are a man, do you feel you earned yours, and how, if you feel comfortable sharing?