GARY F. JENSEN
Sociology of Deviance:
A Personal Assessment
When I was a teenager, I often attended Saturday night dances sponsored by the city recreation department at the Veteran's Hall in my hometown. Most of my time, like that of most of my friends, was spent standing on the sidelines trying to get up nerve to ask a girl to dance. One of those Saturday nights a casual acquaintance was taking on all comers in finger wrestling: interlocking middle fingers and twisting until someone gives. I hoped he would not get to me since I had watched him beat several other people and it looked like it hurt. However, after defeating several other boys he turned and challenged me. As a teenage male in American society I felt I had no real choice but to accept. Even though I had numerous alternative sources of pride (high grades, student leadership, track, etc. ) I could not back down. The match ended in a draw although, secretly, I would have declared the opponent the winner since he had cracked my finger without knowing it. At least I had not been humiliated.
While the incident seems trivial in a society perennially plagued by crime and serious violence, it reflects certain common experiences in the adolescent male world. Boys live in a world of pervasive competition, challenge, interpersonal aggression, and violence. To hide from it, to try to talk one's way out of it or to show fear is to risk being called a "wimp," a "pussy" or, even more recently, a "wussy." A mere verbal response would compound the problem and further justify such labels.