Ray Rice is now one of the most notorious people in the world. I will not explain why, but if it is possible that you are unaware, I invite you to click here. (The link takes you to the story, NOT the video.) In the next few days, I will provide four reasons why we need to stop demonizing Ray Rice as an individual, and start examining his behaviour as a product of some powerful cultural forces. Today, I begin with reason number one.
1. In a recent story by the CBC, I was asked what I thought about the Ray Rice situation. They quoted and paraphrased me as follows:
"It’s a mistake to say this is a Ray Rice problem," says Nathan Kalman-Lamb, co-author of Out of Left Field: Social Inequality and Sport. "This is a social problem. This is a problem with toxic masculinity and rape culture."
Kalman-Lamb says men are socialized to use violence as a tool to resolve all kinds of situations particularly in sports.
"In sport men are taught that through violence on the playing field they are going to receive rewards, monetary accolades, and celebrity. Violence is consistently validated," says Kalman-Lamb.
The development of these instincts towards violence on the field is what creates a problem off the field, where athletes eventually come to see aggression as normal because they are asked to rehearse these kinds of behaviours over and over again says Kalman-Lamb.
We live in a society that prizes hegemonic masculinity above few other things. That is, we exist in a culture that values characteristics such as toughness, courage, violence, aggression, stoicism, competitiveness, and material success. Men (but also many women) are taught to hone these characteristics in order to achieve social validation and economic rewards. In fact, they are taught that they are entitled to have whatever they are able to take by force or coercion. (Varda Burstyn has developed this idea and referred to it as "coercive entitlement".) ... [read more]