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May 30, 2006 - 5:09 am

Reader Patrick sent me a href=”http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/05/29/fight.club.ap/index.html”this article from CNN/a describing a new pasttime for men–fight clubs. Apparently, men from the computer tech industries are proving their manhood by beating on each other in organized fight clubs:br /br /blockquoteInspired by the 1999 film “Fight Club,” starring Brad Pitt and Ed Norton, underground bare-knuckle brawling clubs have sprung up across the country as a way for desk jockeys and disgruntled youths to vent their frustrations and prove themselves./blockquotebr /br /The article obtains these brilliant nuggets from a couple of sociologists (one from a gender studies department, of course):br /br /blockquoteMen involved in fight clubs often carry bottled-up violent impulses learned in childhood from video games, cartoons and movies, said Michael Messner, a University of Southern California sociology and gender studies professor.br /br /”Boys have these warrior fantasies picked up from popular culture, and schools sort of force that out of them,” he said. In these fantasies, “The good guys always resort to violence, and they always get the glory and the women.”br /br /There is also a sadomasochistic thread running through underground fight clubs, said Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor at Stony Brook University in New York.br /br /”Real-life fight clubs are the male version of the girls who cut themselves,” he said. “All day long these guys think they’re the captains of the universe, technical wizards. They’re brilliant but empty.br /br /”They want to feel differently. They want to get hit, they want to feel something real.”/blockquotebr /br /My interpretation is a little different. Violence is the new sex. Sex used to be forbidden and people went underground to do it–now sex is advocated everywhere–even college campuses hand out free condoms. But now the forbidden fruit in our society is violence and it has gone underground. These men never “learned” violence from video games, cartoons and movies as suggested by one of the sociology professors.br /br /The aggression was innate to begin with but it was never channeled, and instead was stomped out of them in the culture as something wicked, immoral and “male.” Perhaps these fight clubs are the new male ritual, like in the olden days when boys went through rituals to become men. The schools and culture have attempted to squash whatever maleness is left in today’s men and all they are left with (besides football which is now banned at my daughter’s elementary school) are a few underground clubs to artificially practice their manhood. Wouldn’t it be better for our culture to accept and teach boys how to sublimate and deal with violence when they are younger so they do not have to grow up to be men so desperate to prove themselves that a broken rib and a thrashing at an “underground” fight club is the only way to prove their manhood?

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