On Male Violence: Arendt, Violence and Dark Times

By Matthew F. Filner.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

The problem of male violence has been thoroughly described and condemned as a pervasive and dangerous presence in democracy. The World Health Organization estimates that across the globe, men will murder, rape or physically abuse or assault one in three women. These are indeed dark times. Yet social scientists who routinely investigate key concepts in sociology and political science (e.g., violence, power, and agency) have failed to turn their lens adequately to male violence. It is critical to understand the relationship between power, agency, and freedom on the one hand, and male violence on the other, because the continued presence of male violence represents a threat not only to the women and men who are directly victims—but also a threat to democracy itself. Employing and extending Arendtian theory, this article describes male violence as a kind of mythologized system where men acting violently is a well-accepted norm. Presenting specific tools that the author has used to reduce male violence via a local anti-male violence program, the paper connects a theoretical understanding grounded in the social sciences to a practical violence-prevention experience.

Keywords: Male Violence, Hannah Arendt, Democratic Theory, Agency

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.35-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 553.825KB).

Dr. Matthew F. Filner

Assistant Professor, Department of Social Science, Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Matthew F. Filner is Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Social Science Department of Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. His expertise is applied political theory, with a special focus on the connection between violence and democracy. His research explores the ways in which specific components of democratic theory are incorporated (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) into actual social and cultural contexts. He has worked in US politics since 1992, working to elect candidates to office who are committed to enhancing democracy and reducing significant social ills (including violence and poverty). He has also been active in the anti-male violence movement in the United States, serving on the Board of Directors of the Minneapolis Sexual Violence Center. His publications include a chapter in Democracy's Edges (Cambridge, 1999) and the article "Grassroots Harvest" published in Polity (Winter 2003).