Mass media normalize violence – It’s part of our culture

Mass media normalize violence – It’s part of our culture

By Riane Eisler

Via ahtribune.com

• Mohsen Abdelmoumen: Can you explain us the term “domination culture”?

Dr. Riane Eisler: Many people today believe that elections will lead to freedom and equality. But people often vote for regressive leaders – as dramatically illustrated by the recent election as U.S. President of a man who promised strong – man rule, condoned violence, degraded women, and stoked fear and scapegoating.

To understand, and change, this, we need new thinking. Psychological linguists have found that the terms available to us channel our thinking. So new thinking requires new language.

Our traditional social categories – such as ancient vs. modern, technologically developed vs. undeveloped, capitalist vs. socialist, Eastern vs. Western, and religious vs. secular – fragment our thinking. Each describes only a particular aspect of a social system. And all fail to take into account findings from psychology and neuroscience showing that what children experience and observe impacts how their brains develop – and hence their beliefs, feelings, and actions, including how they vote.

Our traditional social categories – such as ancient vs. modern, technologically developed vs. undeveloped, capitalist vs. socialist, Eastern vs. Western, and religious vs. secular – fragment our thinking. Each describes only a particular aspect of a social system. And all fail to take into account findings from psychology and neuroscience showing that what children experience and observe impacts how their brains develop – and hence their beliefs, feelings, and actions, including how they vote.

Although people can, and do, change throughout life, early experiences and relations are critical. If children observe that one kind of person (females) is considered inferior, to be dominated and to serve another kind (males), the acquire a mental map for equating all differences – be they based on race, religion, ethnicity, and so forth – with superiority or inferiority, dominating or being dominated, being served or serving.

If children see in their families that violence from those who are more powerful toward those who are less powerful is an acceptable way of dealing with conflicts and/or problems, they learn to accept this. They learn that it is very painful to question orders, no matter how brutal or unjust. They learn to identify with those in control and to deflect their pain and anger to “out-groups.”

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I have a great deal of passion for this work – not only through my research, writing, teaching, speaking, and organizing, but as a mother and grandmother deeply concerned, as so many of us are, about what kind of future our children will inherit. That passion sustains me, even though, as you note, I probably try to do too much. I also gain energy from the letters and emails I receive from all over the world, from women and men telling me that my work has transformed their lives. And I love teaching, speaking, and consulting. That too gives me energy.

I want people to use this work for both personal and cultural transformation. I would like to have more financial resources so I and the Center for Partnership Studies can reach more people and organizations.

This is ever more urgent. I have been called a practical visionary, and I like that. What my work describes as a partnership-oriented social system is not a “utopia” or impossible place. It is a “pragmatopia” – another new term I coined to describe a better world that we can create.

Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen

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