Chris Brown and The Sounds of Young Men in Free Fall

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About Jeff Perera

Jeff is a facilitator for the White Ribbon Campaign, the world’s largest effort to engage men in ending violence against women, and founded a chapter at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada to further a gender-inclusive environment. Jeff is also co-director and curator of the annual discussion-focused ‘What Makes a Man’ White Ribbon Conference having organized, facilitated and spoken at numerous events from Toronto to Taiwan. In 2010 he delivered the TEDx talk ‘Words Speak Louder Than Actions’ discussing gender roles, the power of words and the impact we all can make.


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Chris Brown is one thing. The reaction of some, perhaps many, women is more troubling. We can all say Brown’s a butthead, whatever excuses his upbringing provides. What can we say about the women? And what can we say about men who hear those women and wonder which of the lessons they’re supposed to learn are valid?

    • I thought the author did a good job discussing how the issues that plague both genders come together to foster and reward a culture of violence. I agree it is certainly worth critically talking about why women feel deserving of and tolerate that type of abuse from men (sexually, physically, or emotionally). However, you seemed to dismiss a large part of that equation. “Chris Brown is one thing. The reaction of some, perhaps many, women is more troubling”
      The fact that there are men who turn to violence first against woman or against other men, is just as troubling as the reaction of some woman. I wonder if the reason so little ground has been made on some of these issues is because we often isolate one problem from the other and treat it as a woman’s issue or a man’s issue, when they should be looked at together as well.

  2. The lessons that men learn first hand from women is that nice, polite, and caring doesn’t turn them on. It is good for friends, but not for a boyfriend. No one wants a “nice guy.” They want a “man.”

    • Jasmine says:

      That’s rather a generalization. I happen to love polite, respectful men. Abusive men, men who mistreat women, misogynist men do not interest me in the slightest (other than perhaps to elicit my interest in bringing their attention to the inappropriateness of certain behaviours). And it isn’t just women who reinforce these ‘masculine’ behaviours. Gender is greatly policed by other males, as well.

      I think it’s really dangerous to perpetuate the notion that women don’t want ‘nice guys’ or that ‘nice guys finish last’, because it reinforces the idea that relationships with women require ‘not niceness”. If we continue to have discussions about the gender binary and the manners in which constructions of masculinity and femininity are restrictive or oppressive, if we continue to resist hegemonic masculinity perhaps we may obtain cultural acceptance of men who are nice, polite, and caring. But, rest assured, there are women out there who already appreciate such qualities.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Except that that’s 100% true 100% of the time. This is what drives men batty. If I say I like my nice man, whom I’ve been with for 18 years now, who was nice, polite, funny, charming, cute, geeky and so forth, it’s either that I”m lying or I guess I’m just not alpha enough to snag a “man.” I’ve seen these “men” of which you (and others) speak and they don’t seem very appealing. They seem to cheat, treat people at best casually, and place an inordinate amount of emphasis on the physical rather than the whole picture.
      So..either there are outlier women who really enjoy the kind men we’ve found (sought!) or we are all lying/ugly?

      Unless there is something that the “nice guys” you reference are doing that is offputting in such a way that the women aren’t attracted? I’ve met many an otherwise attractive man in my day who was bitter and unpleasant to be around.

      Or maybe the nice men you speak of are looking for women that are similar to those alphas above and are only interested in money or looks (in a superficial way)? I’ve never lived in cities like LA or NY, and I’ve been in the arts/academic communities. I’ve really never seen people have a hard time finding mates. Maybe it’s the kind of cities/groups of people too?

      • Julie,

        I remember reading a great piece (I thought it was on here, but I can’t seem to find it now) where a woman argued that part of the great misunderstanding between the sexes dealt with how impressionable most people are during their formative years.

        The gist of her point was that women in their twenties are still living off the experiences of their teens. So when a woman in her twenties expects a man to be insensitive, thoughtless, and to cheat on her, this says more about her experience with her high school boyfriends/crushes than it does about the men in the dating pool she is actually facing. We make our decisions based on personal experiences, not objective survey data.

        To borrow that idea, you have to think about what is going on in the minds of men in their late teens and through their twenties. You get rejected. A lot. And many of the girls will think it’s funny you tried at all. Some will laugh openly. They will then all pine after the quarterback. They are not doing this because they are inherently terrible, they’re just young. And you went through this for years. It starts to moderate in college, but you don’t notice because the change is gradual and your opinion has already been built up over years of personal observations.

        By the time a man is 25, most women in his age bracket probably do behave exactly as you describe. But they’ve been behaving this way for perhaps 3-4 years, which were immediately preceded by 5-6 years of wanting to date guys because they played football, had received a car from their parents, or knew how to get beer.

        You want to do the right thing, but it’s become ingrained. You know you should given women the benefit of the doubt, but the memories really are fresh.

  3. And that in order to be perceived as a worthy man, one must have looks, power, status or $. Lacking that, a man must become a sociopath in the mold of Chris Brown in order to not be perceived by women as gay or worse, as their kid brother.

    Do we live in a f****ed up world, or what?

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Jasmine. What you like is not the point. The point is the lesson to be drawn from the fact that some women are turned on by Brown’s misbehavior. The point is the contradiction between that lesson and the other lessons out there.
    The point is the cocky, careless sometimes abusive butthead who seemed to get the girls’ attention starting in, maybe, junior high, and continuing right up until some guy’s present when he sees the same thing at age twenty or thirty.
    Not “all” women, but sufficient to make you wonder about the other things guys are supposed to be, which we are told by the best authorities.
    Personally, I can’t stand guys like Brown and women who do like that sort of thing–I’ve met a few–give me a bad feeling. Not the point, either.
    If what we’ve been told endlessly here and in a million other places is true, no woman, or only a couple of outliers who ought to be institutionalized, would have a good word to say for Brown and others like him.

  5. This has less to do with women being attracted to jerks and more to do with the collective low self-esteem of women, and feeling that is all we deserve. I have been objectified, devalued, and cat-called since I was 12. Statistics show girls self esteem plummit in their adolescent years. It takes a lot of unlearning to finally feel deserving of the nice guy. Please direct your frustrations elsewhere and not at women, again.

    • Zé Mané says:

      The elephant in the room however, is that women not only tolerate, but reward, bad behavior. And as such, encourage it. Until you collectively exercise your free will and make it apparent that you will not tolerate sociopaths of Mr. Brown’s ilk, we will continue to produce them.

  6. Interesting article. I also suspect there’s a biological factor. The male of almost every species is the “protector” or defender of the female. This is why male physical strength (e.g. big muscles), power and aggression are sexually attractive traits to women. It’s hardwired into their DNA and has been for millions of years. Add a society that rewards rebelliousness, violence and people with the ability to get what they want by whatever means necessary, ESPECIALLY in historically oppressed communities, and it’s no wonder that men like Chris Brown get girls no matter how many they beat. It’s tragic. The system runs deep. There’s no easy answers.

    As for Tupac….

    That man was the world’s biggest narcissist. Tupac was an egomaniacal, vain chameleon who would do or say anything to increase his fame and keep himself at the center of attention. He was a complex individual who was an incredible artist. He may have been the best rapper ever. But, the more you know about Tupac, the more you realize that basically, homeboy was FULL OF SHIT.


  1. [...] In the meantime, join us as we continue the discussions at Higher Unlearning, a new online blogspace features discussions of men and masculinity! Some of Jeff Perera’s older pieces are up including his latest ‘Chris Brown and The Sounds Of Young Men in Free Fall’ (This article is also up in the Good Men Project magazine) [...]

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