I was talking to a friend about how American aggression always feels most apparent to me when I go back there after a long absence. He lives in America and couldn’t really understand what I meant since he’s not aware of his country as being more or less aggressive to some other place. It’s simply the world he lives in. I had a hard time articulating how I sense a low-level aggression from people just traveling through the USA–much more than compared to other nations. In several different cities the aggression level might vary, but it is always noticeable: an impatient, self centered disregard for others. At times, this underlying tendency will explode into random acts of violence or verbal abuse between people in public places.
He questioned me but I couldn’t pinpoint the cause of the anger. I can attest to the fact that I, too, am more aggressive when I live in the USA, even having lived in several different states. There must be reasons why other nations, like Canada, can have as many guns per capita and yet far fewer incidents of gun violence. No place is perfect, certainly, but why is a country more aggressive than another? What constitutes a person’s cultural identity? Is it because some places celebrate “feminine” characteristics as superior to what we currently deem a tough masculine ideal? Characteristics like empathy and cooperation are valued as highly as the concept of winning.
Today, I watched this short trailer for an upcoming documentary, The Mask You Live In, about American masculinity and it may be a big piece of the puzzle.
“Compared to girls, research shows that boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s new documentary film, The Mask You Live In, asks: As a society, how are we failing our boys?”