Masculinity in Conflict-#ElliotRodger’s Edition

Another day, another mass shooting by a disaffected, young Caucasian male, and another day of the aftermath.


Not to be flip, but we have blogged about the importance of work, the damaging effects of envy and the nature of male violence before.

Because, unfortunately, this has happened before.

Now, we don’t know the killer’s mental health history, or deep family history, or life history, but a few things are clear:

Conflict occurs when there is a deep disagreement between two sides of an issue about something that matters.

Conflict continues when there is no resolution—or reconciliation—for that disagreement and thus no opportunity for catharsis.

We have blogged before about the solution to all of this, and its men.

  • Not changing the culture.
  • Not blaming the use of guns.
  • Not tearing down our already limited, mental health system.
  • Not taking to Twitter.

Because, as necessary as all of those conversations may be, it is no substitute for grown, adult, emotionally literate, responsible men taking responsibility for their lives, their wives, their children and their communities.

And men must step up and do this, if conflicts (which begin internally and explode externally) such as the one that Eliot Rodger was clearly suffering from, will abate.

Because misogyny, anger, self-righteousness, envy, jealousy all start in the home.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:
HSCT’s website:

Masculinity in Conflict – 2014 Edition

Masculinity is characterized in many ways, and in a country with 92 million Americans no longer in the labor force, we here at Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT), wonder what the impact of that could be on both men and women.

Work gives life meaning.  It doesn’t matter whether you are the Christian and Jewish God of the Old Testament, the scholar consumed with the workers and the bourgeoisie or the creator of a political party dedicated to the death of people, work gives meaning.
Here in this space, we have blogged previously about the issues that men face and the very public methods that they sometimes use to resolve them. Violence is never an answer to a conflict, but unfortunately, it seems as though violent response by men to any and all perceived slight, has been codified in our culture, from video games to the movies.
We believe that each person is responsible for their own level of self-awareness and is accountable for their own actions, and that men are particularly held to a higher standard.
This is an “old school” philosophy that may reverberate with some readers as being misogynistic or narrow, but when men cease committing the majority of violent crimes and the majority of violent wars, then we’ll take a step back.
But, what does this have to do with work?
  • Work creates freedom. It allows for meaning, creativity, growth and fertility.
  • Work fosters connection. It creates the situations and environments that allow for the growth of human beings through connecting with others
  • Work develops character. It creates not only commitment, responsibility, accountability and purpose, but it also incentivizes actions that lead to more character.
But, what if there is no work?
Then masculinity (and by extension, femininity) must be redefined.
We here at HSCT would rather see that happen through the efforts of men who are committed to doing the hard work of work with other men, than through a wandering George Zimmerman or a gun-wielding, angry 14 year old.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

[Advice] Masculinity in Conflict-George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin Edition

“Our fathers were models for God. If our fathers abandoned us, what does that tell us about God?” -Fight Club

“We used to have the church. Which was another way of saying, we had each other.” – The Departed
“The six scariest words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” -Ronald Reagan

The opinions of the media, the social justice community and the black community have been largely monolithic. Speaking with one voice, they have roundly expressed outrage over the result through social media outlets, on the internet and in traditional media.

We here at HSCT have an opinion on the case and the verdict, however, we start with three caveats:

  • We were not in the courtroom and with the exception of details we have gleaned from the aforementioned outrage, have no ideas about the facts of the case.
  • We were not the jurors, the judge, the prosecutor, the defense attorney, the investigators, or anyone else who had direct access to the facts of the case.
  • We were not in the courtroom and did not hear one of the facts of the case, presented in evidence, during the trial, nor did we watch one moment of the trial coverage.

However, from the 50,000-foot up level, we recognize the ripple of conflict, brought on by a confrontation, occurring in a society dealing with difficulties in many areas, including race, gender, power, attention and advocacy.

With that in mind, we reprint here a blog post Masculinity in Conflict that we wrote back in December of 2012 following the Sandy Hook school shooting.

We here at HSCT believe that the same, core issues around misplaced masculine power that were in evidence then, are in evidence now, both in the 17 year olds’ actions as well as the 29 year olds’ response to those actions.

When are mature, responsible men going to start “fixing” other men and young boys so that events like this do not have to happen anymore?

We were hesitant to even comment on the killings in Connecticut this week in this forum, because here at HSCT, we have a core value that all life is precious and that all lives have value.
We particularly hold this value dear for people who cannot defend themselves adequately in the world, such as the mentally ill and children. Both of those groups were impacted by the actions of one mentally ill individual.
We tend to also wait until all the facts are in and then make a judgment about a situation, and over the last six to seven days, with a speed never fully imagined in a world before social media, we have been held breathless and traumatized by the changing facts of the hour on the ground.We here at HSCT take no official position on gun control or assault weapons bans.

We do note , however, that gun-related violence and gun based crimes in places where such bans are in effect (such as Chicago and other major metropolitan areas)  runs rampant, with black on black murder rates, that make what happened in Connecticut look like exactly what it was: random and senseless.

We take no official position on treating the mentally ill. We also take no position on survivalists and people who fear the “End of the World” or economic collapses.

However, we do take a position on conflict and we do take a position on ways to avoid, ameliorate and prevent conflicts form occurring in the first place.

And in this case, the most glaring issue is not access to weapons or mental illness (those have been with us since Abel killed Cain, or two monkeys slew each other over fruit, depending upon your belief system). The most glaring issue is one, which we have spoken little about at all:


What does it mean to be a man?

How does a young child grow into a boy and finally, through the throws of the teenage years to be a man?

How does he honor, respect and protect himself? What emotions is he allowed to show, express and experience?

We have a crisis in the world, and it is with our young men: young men ages 12 to 35 commit the majority of violent crime. Restless and bored young men commit the majority of rapes, murders, robberies and assaults. We watch as young men in this country play video games and consume media that passes along messages that violence and anger are appropriate methods of resolving conflicts with others.

We compound our problem by medicating young men for ADD and ADHD when in the past, they would have been put out to push a plow or work in a factory to wear themselves out.

And then we wonder at their behavior. They lash out aggressively after years of bullying and violence that they have seen: Unable to talk to parents, educators or even each other. They feel alienated from females and from education: Some colleges are almost at 60% female 40% male and the male dropout rate in the first year of college is criminally underreported.

So….who’s to blame? Who’s responsible for all of this? To whom can we point? What government agency or law can be passed to “fix” this so that we can return to our lives?

One group is responsible for all of this and can fix it effectively and one group alone:


Let me restate that in case you missed it: Responsible, mature, steady adult men have an obligation to mentor, coach, advise and raise (yes, I said raise) the next generation of men. And too many fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers and others have failed miserably at that task.

The “why” is unimportant; what is important is that men have abdicated this role for too long in our society overall and in families in particular:

  • They have allowed unscrupulous males to abuse and molest innocent young children;
  • They have allowed the state to step in where they should have years ago;
  • They have not partnered with women; instead they have allowed women to take on more of the blame and the responsibility for the failures of men and boys to acculturate to our new society and culture.

It’s no mistake that the killer in Connecticut was taken to the gun range by his mother and taught to shoot.

Men have to stand up and say that emotions and feelings are real and that they feel them and that anger is not a primary emotion: disgust, fear, worry, betrayal, love, grace, and on and on.

Men have to stand up and be responsible for their own reproductive, mental and physical health: Go and see a therapist and talk about the experience. Go and talk to a religious leader and talk about that. Wrap your tool in a condom and talk about being with one person monogamously and how fabulous that is. Go to the doctor and talk about how that restores you as a man and makes you stronger.

Men have to take their sons, nephews and grandsons and hug them every night of their lives and tell them that they love them and that failure is only temporary and that the world, while scary, can be conquered through hope. Men have a responsibility to teach and mentor the next generation to remember that a child is more than a support payment or a burden and instead is a gift that comes with a price.

Men have to take their daughters, their wives, their aunts, their mothers and their grandmothers and demonstrate that honor and caring are strengths, not weaknesses.

Men have to stand up and say that bullying someone because of color or sexual orientation is cowardice and that understanding comes, not from the media or the pundits, but from talking through differences and accepting them.

Men have to stand up and show that being physical and being strong are two different things.

Men have a lot of responsibility to take responsibility for, before shootings and murders stop, before violence is banished; but if we don’t do it now, more kindergarteners will die, more mothers and parents will wail, more laws will be passed and the problems will continue.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: