Archive for August, 2009

The medium, the message, the lessons…

August 20th, 2009 Comments off

YouTube is a great tool. I’m jealous of this younger generation sometimes, growing up with the relatively inexpensive and widely accessible means of production right at their fingertips. When I was a pre-adolescent, I used to sit in my room and dream of writing and telling stories that vast numbers of people would get a chance to see. Today, pre-adolescents can sit in their rooms and with the click of a mouse record audio and video and within seconds their stories are accessible to millions around the planet.

Such was the case of one DaPhamily – a screen name; I don’t know his real name, nor his real age (though a colleague estimated him to be about twelve, and that seems accurate enough to me). But he posted a video on YouTube a couple of weeks ago on the occasion of nude photos of Vanessa Hudgens being posted online.

You’d think it was Christmas morning the level of enthusiasm that he exudes. Not to mention the display of blatant sexism and sexuality that would be disturbing under normal circumstances and is even more so on the face what appears to be an innocent, little boy.

His video can be seen here:

YouTube – New Vanessa Hudgens Topless photos!!! over like 10!!! August 2009

There are almost two thousand comments, and many of them are disturbing bordering on reprehensible.

However, YouTube also allows the posting of video responses. Since I didn’t have the luxury of the means of production as a teen, I’m trying to make up for lost time by making use of them in adulthood, and I posted a video reply in which I try to impart some thoughts to this young man that he might not have heard from an adult before.

My response can be seen here:

Stephen Montagna-Men Stopping Rape – DaPhamily Response

Another look at John Hughes’ films

August 11th, 2009 Comments off

We lost a fine filmmaker last week in Mr. John Hughes who had a cardiac event and died at the all too young age of 59. Despite being a big fan – what person who came of age in the 1980’s doesn’t have some affection for Mr. Hughes, who pegged our adolescent angst so perfectly – as someone who does violence prevention work, I’m very glad that Amy Benfer over at has written a postmortem where she takes him to task, rightfully, for being not so good when it comes to matters of date rape…

the barely conscious drunk girlfriend in question is Caroline, the evil prom queen. An epic party at Jake’s place leaves her leveled. (“I have Caroline passed out in the bed upstairs,” Jakes muses at one point, trying to put his finger on what’s missing in his relationship with her, and why he feels drawn to Sam. “I could violate her 10 different ways if I wanted to.”

Ms. Benfer does a good job of upholding respect for Mr. Hughes’ skills in terms of his acumen for dissecting class, while acknowledging shortcomings on how he dealt with gender and sexism. This is the often over-looked aspect of dissecting the popular culture, we often have to take people who we revere in some ways to task for their less-than-perfect behaviors. It’s a well written, and thought-provoking piece.

It makes me want to rent the Hughes canon and view those films again, twenty years later, with an adult awareness, and with the eyes and ears of someone who has worked in the movement for nearly that long.

Masculinity a barrier to good health? “yes” says ASA

August 11th, 2009 Comments off

A new study to be released by the American Sociological Association at their annual conference, demonstrates that holding rigid attitudes about masculinity had a negative impact on men obtaining appropriate preventative health care.

An article on EurekAlert “the news site for the American Association for the Advancement of Science describes the research:

Middle-aged men who strongly idealize masculinity are almost 50 percent less likely than other men to seek preventative healthcare services, according to a study: ”the first population-based analysis of men’s masculinity beliefs and preventative healthcare compliance” to be presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

The research actually has a Wisconsin connection:

Using a sample of 1,000 middle-aged men drawn from responses to the 2004 wave of the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, the researchers reviewed the respondents’ masculinity beliefs, socioeconomic status (as measured by education and occupational status) and receipt of three commonly recommended annual healthcare procedures for middle-aged men: a complete exam/physical, flu shot and a prostate examination. The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study is a large-scale study of the education, careers, health and aging of adolescent males and females who graduated from Wisconsin high schools in 1957. The study was administered again in 1964, 1975, 1992 and 2004.

As we’ve contended all along, examining issues of violence and gender is important for men not just because A) we’re statistically perpetrating the vast majority of these crimes, B) we know that women around us are being negatively impacted by misogynist attitudes and the violence associated with it, and C) we ourselves are negatively impacted by perpetuating gender stereotypes which de-value women and simultaneously cause us to shun our own humanness – including the vulnerability of our bodies. Still, I’m thankful for the heavy-duty numbers-crunching scientific types who put many hours in to come up with the evidence that supports this; I’m also thankful to Mr. Laxman Belbase of Men Engage-Asia who posted the link to this article in the Men Against Violence listserv.


Women at Risk – NYTimes OpEd

August 8th, 2009 Comments off

Very well written piece by Bob Herbert in today’s New York Times (dated Aug. 7 online) regarding the recent, tragic shooting at a Pennsylvania health club and its linkage to a long list of such violent attacks. Mr. Herbert does a fine job of bringing misogyny to the forefront of the conversation “something that is usually buried in stories such as these; he also brings masculinity into sharp relief:

Soon after the Virginia Tech slayings, I interviewed Dr. James Gilligan, who spent many years studying violence as a prison psychiatrist in Massachusetts and as a professor at Harvard and N.Y.U. What I’ve concluded from decades of working with murderers and rapists and every kind of violent criminal, he said, is that an underlying factor that is virtually always present to one degree or another is a feeling that one has to prove one’s manhood, and that the way to do that, to gain the respect that has been lost, is to commit a violent act.

I have no doubts that Mr. Sondini had mental health issues; but let’s not paint this as an isolated incident, but a sign of larger, unexamined patterns of masculine behavior that desperately need to be addressed.

Fine work, worth a read…

Op-Ed Columnist – Women at Risk – [update 2022: paywall]