Violence and Victimization: Stereotypes of Dangerous Men

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About Christopher M. Anderson

Christopher M. Anderson is the Executive Director of MaleSurvivor the leading not-for-profit organization committed to preventing, healing, and eliminating all forms of sexual victimization of boys and men through support, treatment, research, education, advocacy, and activism.

You are not alone. It was not your fault. Healing is possible.


  1. Fred Barnes says:

    This is a confusing mis-mash of several unrelated points. I’m not sure what the author is trying to convey with these tangential links to violence. Not buying the premise…

    • Allow me to try and simplify then:

      1. Males are stereotyped as inherently more violent, therefore the root cause of violence has something to do with maleness and masculinity.
      2. This attitude does nothing to help us understand the root causes of violence, impedes our ability to address certain causes that can be changed (e.g. poverty, abuse and trauma), and actually causes more harm to males who are victimized.
      3. A new dialogue surrounding violence should be encouraged, one that is gender inclusive. Thus allowing us to move past overly simplified stereotypes and encouraging us to provide hope, healing, and support to all survivors of abuse and trauma

  2. Thank you, Christopher, for a cogent analysis of a complicated issue: how stereotypes of men affect men who are adult survivors of abuse.

    • Justin and Chris,

      If you haven’t read Gregory Martin’s “Stories for Boys” which was published this year, you might want to. Many of the themes you raise here are raised, in a very real context, in that (most unusual) memoir.

      In a nutshell, it recounts what happens when a 40-something writing instructor deals with the attempted suicide of his father, immediately before his parents’ divorce, which is the fallout from the revelation that his father was both (i) repeatedly abused as a boy by his own father, and (ii) is gay and has been having anonymous, cruising sex for decades. It also deals with the relationships among the writer, his wife, their two boys, their grandfather and grandmother, over the several years that the aftershocks continue.

      It is beautifully and tightly written. It is not sentimental. It captures the feeling of this moment in cultural history in uncanny, almost Trollope-like ways. It feels very true to this survivor.

      You might even want to interview Martin and highlight the book. It is right in the sweet spot for this site.

  3. Thank you for this article, Christopher. As a male survivor of child sexual abuse, I hope people read it and take it to heart for positive change to happen.

  4. Well since we’re in the blame something random game, pretty much all of these men who commit mass murder dated women right? Maybe the women are sending them crazy!

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    If we’re staying with mass murders, both the Jared Loughner and the Aurora theater shooter were loonytunes nutcases. Whatever happened to them was on top of having their neurons crossthreaded–as the shrinks say.
    The Sikh temple shooter is a puzzle. Could be a regular guy with racist tendencies, could be a nutcase who got anti-Sikh–racism is kind of weird considering there are lots of folks who look even less like him whom he didn’t shoot.
    Nidal Hasan was taking orders from Allah. Ditto the 9-11 hghjackers, and probably the Trolley Square Mall shooter, and the guy who shot up the Seattle Jewish Women’s center, and the LAX counter shooter, and a number of other cases not completed.
    Tim McVeigh was…nobody knows what. Pissed off by Ruby Ridge and Waco, which is understandable, and didn’t care for the lack of accountability.

    The Columbine shooters were said to have been bullied, primarily because everybody’s against bullying and it seemed a convenient fit, although it also doesn’t seem to have been true. Isolated, too many vid games, nihilists, lousy parenting. Don’t think we’ll know. But probably didn’t fit in this article.

    As a shrink once said to me about a theory, “it explains too much.”

  6. Frank Brugges says:

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  7. Another thing you might want to bear in mind is that even when looking at arrest and prosecution figures, while the rates of arrest for females for violence has gone up over the last decade or so, studies have shown that women still, due to some of the cultural attitudes you describe here, women receive an arrest, prosecution, and sentencing discount for crime: if they’re violent (or commit other crimes) they’re less likely to get arrested, less likely to be prosecuted if they are arrested, and routinely receive lower sentences for the same crimes.

    The stereotype of the “violent male” and the “harmless female” needs badly to be burst. We’ve known for some time now that women are far more violent than is generally believed; a very good book to look to on this subject is “When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence” by Patricia Pearson. Written in the 1990s, everything in it so far as I can see remains valid, except the trend in female violence seems to have only increased since then. Very important reading.

    We need to start seeing violence as a human problem, not a male problem or female problem.

  8. By the way, last I heard, the number of survivors of sexual abuse in childhood who went on to become abusers themselves was about 10%. That should be remembered, as it underscores the need for caution in overgeneralizations. That said, the fact that so many offenders were themselves victims (as much as 3/4ths by some estimates) should tell us a lot about our attitudes, and again tell us we need to change our attitudes, especially as regards to men and women. These are HUMAN problems, not problems for men or problems for women per se.

  9. The think that jumps out the most for me here is calling “the violent man” an “ignorant stereotype”. Too simplistic.

    I’d encourage you to look at all the complexity in all that, including how 30 or 50 years ago, this wasn’t at all the image of men. How do you think this idea became so common as to be a stereotype now? What social groups is it common to and what not common to? It’s very complex and a better understanding helps if you want to try to change something about it.

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