A woman M complained that her neighbour in her residential building, Mr. PC, harassed and bullied her whenever he could get a chance. If she ever attempted to say ‘hello’, he would bark at her and say ‘how dare you say so’! If she tried to give some suggestions in the maintenance of the building it was misconstrued and she was told ‘not to dare to advise him as he knew everything’. If she stood her ground she was threatened with ‘dire consequences’ and statements such as ‘see what I do to you’, ‘you will not know where to run’, ‘madam mind your business’, ‘get your IQ checked’, ‘are you mentally sick’, and all such intimidating statements had become common place. She was victimised no doubt, for reasons best known to him. Even if she was polite and matter of fact she was sure to get a nasty response. This was a classic case of a ‘frustrated aggressive male” (FAM).
Witness another interesting scene. A couple was travelling in a train. In that compartment there were all males and she was the only female. Incidentally, almost all men were gazing at her for whatever reasons known only to them. The fall-out was ridiculous and absurd to say the least. The husband of the woman began to get angry with his wife and began to blame her for the attention that the males were giving her!! It was not her fault at all! It sounded comic to us but for the woman it was tragic and traumatic. She defended herself but he was adamant. This is another case of the frustrated aggressive male (FAM), where he blamed her for his rising anger within against the other men. As he could not direct his anger against them he targeted his wife instead. He was also unaware of his real source of anger.
In psychology it is called a defence mechanism named ‘displacement’. We tend to ‘displace’ our inner hostilities and suppressed anger against the perceived weaker person and commit unjustified aggression. It is a mental health issue as it is an unconscious process of aggression routed through the repression and suppression of emotions related to other issues of childhood. Thus innocent people become ‘scapegoats’ of such frustrated aggressive males. Anger and violence are not the same. Anger is a normal and justified emotion which is felt when one gets insulted, humiliated or bullied with no provocation, whatsoever. Every person with angry feelings, may not engage in violent acts, which may be verbal or physical. Aggression which is retaliatory and defensive is understandable but aggression which is unprovoked is mostly unconscious. Besides ‘displacement’ it could also spring from strong negative cultural and social prejudices and belief systems against specific groups, such as, women, low caste groups, poor people and children too.
A glaring example from history may explain the point. When Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out from the train in South Africa, in spite of him holding a valid ticket, it was a case of white supremacy, called racism. Gandhi spent the entire night on the cold chilly platform, full of anger, trying to understand his deep sense of anguish and how he should manage his emotions and what should he do with it. He resolved the anguish in a creative way by launching the ‘Quit India movement’ on his return to India. He had had enough of the racist aggression he realised. He vowed to take recourse to a non-violent resistance and curb explicit violence. But everyone is not Gandhi and hence not as enlightened as he to use civilised responses and behaviour.
Just like Gandhi’s experience of racism, as women, most of us experience ‘chauvinism and misogyny’. We experience ‘male supremacy and patriarchy’. We experience ‘discrimination and sexism’. These violent acts are based on social cultural beliefs of male superiority which is perpetrated by faulty parental training and upbringing which does not teach control and discipline. Although times are changing and men are being groomed differently, where overt violence is being looked down upon and curbed through pro-woman acts of law, the fact remains that a significant percentage of ‘FAM’s’ do exist.
When men take recourse to violence the first thing that goes out is the sense of ‘human dignity’. The dignity of the aggressor is also damaged as he appears to others as an irrational and uncouth person who cannot control his impulses. He is under-socialised as he thinks of himself in superior terms but actually behaves in an inferior manner. He thinks with false sense of pride that he can prove his superiority with his might of shouting down and dominating the other. His attacks are aimed at the dignity of the other person whom he considers inferior to himself. Thus his attitudes towards his own self, attitudes towards the others, his perceptions about the world and life in general are skewed up and many times beyond rational discussions. This forms the basis of his psychological personality and mental condition, which he reflects in his behaviour at home and in society.
Men may justify aggression as part of natural instincts. But as part of the process of evolution the refinement of the mind and spirit has to go on in a conscious way. Efforts have to be made to get better as a human being where we can uphold good values of equality, justice, dignity and good living. There is no justification for aggressive behaviour if directed against women, children and the weak – it is a weakness of self, a remnant of animalism within us.