Posts Tagged ‘social struggle’


Women not getting justice ever, not even in mythology! and the water problem and…

June 15, 2013

Please, watch. “Dancing for a better world” by Mallika Sarabhai. Against violence!!!


So, why is it, that if we think that we all agree that we need a better world, we need a more just world, why is it that we are not using the one language that has consistently showed us that we can break down barriers, that we can reach people? What I need to say to the planners of the world, the governments, the strategists is, “You have treated the arts as the cherry on the cake. It needs to be the yeast.” Because, any future planning, if 2048 is when we want to get there, unless the arts are put with the scientists, with the economists, with all those who prepare for the future, badly, we’re not going to get there. And unless this is actually internalized, it won’t happen.

So, what is it that we require? What is it that we need? We need to break down our vision of what planners are, of what the correct way of a path is. And to say all these years of trying to make a better world, and we have failed. There are more people being raped. There are more wars. There are more people dying of simple things. So, something has got to give. And that is what I want. Can I have my last audio track please?

Once there was a princess who whistled beautifully. (Whistling) Her father the king said, “Don’t whistle.” Her mother the queen said, “Hai, don’t whistle.” But the princess continued whistling. (Whistling)

The years went by and the princess grew up into a beautiful young woman, who whistled even more beautifully. (Whistling) Her father the king said, “Who will marry a whistling princess?” Her mother the queen said, “Who will marry a whistling princess?”

But the king had an idea. He announced a Swayamvara. He invited all the princes to come and defeat his daughter at whistling. “Whoever defeats my daughter shall have half my kingdom and her hand in marriage!” Soon the palace filled with princes whistling. (Whistling) Some whistled badly. Some whistled well. But nobody could defeat the princess.

“Now what shall we do?” said the king. “Now what shall we do?” said the queen. But the princess said, “Father, Mother, don’t worry. I have an idea. I am going to go to each of these young men and I am going to ask them if they defeated correctly. And if somebody answers, that shall be my wish.”

So she went up to each and said, “Do you accept that I have defeated you?” And they said, “Me? Defeated by a woman? No way, that’s impossible! No no no no no! That’s not possible.” Till finally one prince said, “Princess, I accept, you have defeated me.” “Uh-huh …” she said. “Father, mother, this man shall be my wife.” (Whistling)


News: Hurray for Turkish people!

June 3, 2013


So how was your 3- or 5-day hol?

May 6, 2013

I wonder. Did you get a holiday? Did you manage to have a good rest and enjoy yourselves? If unemployed, did you fight depression and made the most of the May Holiday?

I traveled/travelled to the Mujer Palabra planet: locked up in a room I worked like a maniac  in the good company of my adorable cyberfriends. We were getting people’s work published on the site. It’s been really intense, and tiring, but also exciting and interesting. We managed to collect some good ideas for analyses on our “Cuaderno de ideas”, on very tricky issues like feminist NVDA (nonviolent direct actions, like those by Femen), and the “accusations of islamophobia” around the support to Amina, and on how to defend social struggle from ill-focused or distorting ideas that seem to spread like wildfire. But we got more stuff done. Have a look if you like:

We’re way behind in terms of publishing pending materials, but at least we managed a 5-day workload this time, which was good for a change. If only we could win the lottery or something!! Then we would be able to quit our bread-winning jobs and devote all our time and efforts to trying to spread ideas that can make the world a safer, less violent, juster, kinder, more interesting and enjoyable place!

Anyway, back to teaching and learning at the School. Just two months to go. The bad thing is that the whole of June is Exam Month and I do HATE exams with all my might!!

Next Friday we’ll have a Teachers’ Meeting and I’ll find out when the lessons end, exactly. I don’t know if we teachers need to assist the Level 1 exams in the last week of May. But hey people, I’m new in this School. You might know better than me!


15M – Málaga, March 2013 & August 2012 videos

May 1, 2013

Honesty is key. Kindness is key.

On the street we can communicate and think together. That’s what 15m means. Better thinking, collective thinking.

Culture is based on values (not on the market): the value of freedom, of justice, of solidarity.

If something is inmoral, it doesn’t matter it’s legal. We have to fight for improvements.


On Social activism and Achievement

March 12, 2013

Today Rubén (Avanzado 2 Martes) asked me what had we achieved when I was volunteering as a pacifist in a project in a country at war. This question is complex and deserves and analysis I have no time or mind to make just now! And the answer is as complex!! It’s like a few galaxies put together!

So I’d like to hint at possible answers with an analogy: what does a teacher achieve in a school year? Do we measure their achievement in terms of number of students who pass their finals? The teaching-learning experience is like an amazing journey. Wouldn’t this kind of measurement be far too poor? The teacher-student relationship is a very particular and amazing kind of relationship, when it actually has chances of developing. Do you believe that people passing exams would mirror achievement?

Helping people pass an exam if a very small part in my work as a teacher. My work is precious, far more complex, and this does not mean I ignore “the problem” (exams), and it doesn’t mean either all I do is well done. So I cannot measure my achievement as a teacher just by thinking of how many students passed their finals. If you ask me, as a teacher, I mean, I have to say I don’t know how to measure it because teaching is a very complex activity. But I do have a guiding star — I always try to offer the best of what I’m capable of, and this does not exclude paying attention, interacting, listening, and making mistakes, for mistakes are opportunities for discovery and exploration — and therefore for unexpected learning! When the year comes to an end, as a teacher, I’m exhausted and heartbroken because all of those very rich connections you have enjoyed throughout the year end. But then, a new stage begins: the new learning that holidays bring about, and this time you’re not in charge! And next, a new exciting school year, full of people to meet, to work with!

As a social activist, the first area of my achievement is myself. I profit from all my work for society, because I dissent and give myself the chance to grow, to pursue ideals and learn to live inspired by them! And how can I measure the rest? Should I say, “In Guatemala, our work helped many people not be kidnapped by death squads, tortured and murdered, and these people in turn, worked their lives out to bring a betterment to their society.” As you can see it’s getting harder to nail down… I could also say, “In Guatemala I learned about how to work through nonviolence for the betterment of society in the face of Low Intensity Warfare.” Hard to nail down, right? I could say, “X is alive because we helped,” much more specific, but — is this a self-contained description of my (our) achievement? Is this it? No, it isn’t. There is so much more! But I simply cannot explain comprehensively!

Here there is / was my first attempt to think in terms of achievement, and as I can see, I totally failed anyway! (oh, and here is Asking Questions in Church, btw!)

In a nutshell, I am my only “achievement,” a human being in interaction with other human beings, and the struggle never ends! 🙂

AFTERTHOUGHT: Perhaps, the deep reason is that actions in social activism are not about “convincing people to follow a certain ideology”, but “helping us all to build a less violent and unfair world”!


Vulnerability is the source of balance

February 9, 2013

Life is about living.

Living takes up a great deal of struggle.

What prevents struggle from being war is self-respect, which is to say, empathy towards other earthlings.

What keeps struggle healthy is balance.

Balance is like air, a fundamental need in every step. Like air, it is physical, you cannot see it, but you can feel it all the time. You can feel it weighs different, it feels different, its different glows of warmth, moving in ample space, breathing, like an animal, alive, living.

What breeds balance, and here is what I wanted to say (at last), is vulnerability.

Self-portrait, by Caroline Folkenroth (2000)This is what I’m beginning to realize.

Living is such a journey.

So I protest destruction. I equal that to idiocy and disease — the human disease.

I refuse to harden up.

I am not a stranger.

I’m a reminder.

Dream at michelle’s (2013)

Self-portrait, by Caroline Folkenroth (2000)


Man Prayer

January 27, 2013

by Eve Ensler


Nonviolent Resistance (edited on the next day – in italics)

January 16, 2013

(Written with a feminist intelligence, this is, not like Gandhi or Martin Luther King would have.)

In the Avanzado 2 textbook, unit 4 is devoted to Warfare. Being a pacifist feminist, I suppose I should try to balance things a bit, posting here about nonviolent resistance, because History books, until the 20th century, like Science, and so many other areas of knowledge, have always been populated by men and wars, and men’s wars against other men. To make matters worse, they have always silenced Man’s war against women, for instance, never including in the description of casualties in war the fact that women were always raped – trophies or rubber dolls for the men that prevailed.

Humankind has been much kinder, throughout its History, but not until the 20th century did we start trying to find out evidence of this. Universities started setting up Women Studies and Peace Studies, both doing research to restore what was obliterated by men in power – kings, people with tons of money or richess, warriors, the clergy or religious reps. And then, we got the Internet, where zillions of people are leaving track of their existence, which makes it harder for manipulators to keep tricking us all. Consumerism is the new war to divert our attention from real life and real people, but it is obvious we have options, we have innumerable sources of information. We, the Jane Doe’s and the John Doe’s in/on the planet, have access to information and means of communication that allow us to travel around the world.

Nonviolent resistance is a method of social change that employs strategies such as strikes, sit-ins, boycotts and civil disobedience. In unit 4 we find some info on famous movie scenes and Spartacus is mentioned. This is an example of one of the most empowering and powerful actions human beings can undertake together without replicating the violence that tries to annihilate them. In class, I mentioned a similar example, much closer to our times: nonviolent resistance against the nazi occupation in Western Europe. People are so beautiful and powerful when they use their imagination and kindness, which is to say their intelligence, to learn to solve conflicts without generating more violence and more injustice!

Women have used nonviolent resistance constantly. But women have always been invisible in patriarchy, so they have not been acknowledged as rolemodels (and certainly not as “people who struggle”). (I don’t believe women are “natural” pacifists. The fact that women cannot use violence is part of the patriarchal rationale. I believe that if we overcome the patriarchal gender role system, we’ll develop our intelligence more, in a good way, and any kind of person will then tend to use nonviolence.)

Fortunately, the time has come when we are finally realizing that any human being is capable of using their intelligence, and that any of them should be treated with respect. Human rights is as new a notion as 1945, so it’s taken us far too long to get to this good idea. But we made it. And if we uproot the patriarchal dogmas that we have been brought up in, if we overcome them, we’ll have a chance of developing more civilized societies.

Here’s a video, “Women, War and Peace,” linked to in this Peaceful Protest Lesson Proposal. It’s just an example of all the nonviolent struggle going on that is not considered “struggle”, because patriarchy has taught us that only violent struggle is struggle, and honorable. And this is false.

564393_289129831196530_26175878_n(1)With our social movement on the streets in Spain, which we call 15M (mostly, I suppose, because “indignados” yet again just made men visible and this was unfair and feminist women and also less machista men protested — not necessary feminist, but some starting to understand or develop a feminist intelligence), and which is called the Occupy movement in English speaking countries, we have a very clear example of how good it feels, how right it feels, how intelligent it is, to use nonviolent struggle. The means should be an example of what we strive for, of the ends. Nonviolent struggle is non-hierarchical, every one can take part, from kids to the elderly, men, women, intersex people, hets, homos, bis, trans, all kinds of people, believers and people who do not believe in any kind of god (it’s not only believers like Gandhi or Luther King the ones fighting for justice through nonviolence)… not only what happens in armies around the world, right? Haven’t you seen how many things are happening where people are helping each other to protest home evictions, and also using nonviolent direct action?, this is, occupying the house, to defend the people being evicted? Or the street markets set in many neighbourhoods, where people are going back / rescuing “trueque”, bartering!

There’s the Arab Spring, too — and I know women were raped in some demos in Egypt, for instance, and we have to denounce that, but women were there fighting, too, they were taking part in this revolution, called nowadays social change, or the social movement.

On TV, have you noticed that when the demonstrations are just by young men, they’re full of violence and that when there are women, and other kinds of men (not only the Brute Force type), and all kinds of ages, from kids to old people, demonstrations are very definitely nonviolent, in spite of provocation?

Do you think there has ever been a time before where so many millions of people are demanding a better world, with less violence and injustice, to “their leaders”?

And there are people in Africa devoting their lives to nonviolent struggle, in the midst of brutal poverty and terrifying violence. And we should all learn to appreciate that, the best options we have if we want to survive as a species.

There’s much to learn from nonviolent struggle and I encourage you all to look for information, to discuss it on/in the street, at home, in bars, anywhere you can! The Franquist dictatorship taught people that we should never talk about politics or religion, and that is still operating, in spite of the fact that it is a crazy idea for democracies. It’s in our cultural unconcious memory, and we have to fight it, because it is not right. Politics is about us people living together and that should be built in cooperation, and via nonviolent struggle.

More hints:

  • Lysistrata
  • The nonviolent theory was developed by Henry David Thoreau in his essay, Civil Disobedience (1849). Thoreau’s argument that it was morally justified to peacefully resist unjust laws inspired Americans involved in the struggle against slavery and the fight for trade union rights and women’s suffrage (see also third wave feminism).
  • The Civil Rights Movement in the USA, with Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, thousands of students doing Nonviolent Direct Action, NVDA).
  • Gandhi and the Salt March. (If you are interested in more ideas about nonviolent struggle and today, you might want to read Por qué no soy gandhiana (Why I’m not a Gandhian), written from an anarchist pacifist feminist approach.)
  • The movement of Insumisión (by MOC people, who openly rejected violent action because they were/are pacifists — thought they call themselves “antimilitarists” because the term “pacifist” is not cool.
  • Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp and other pacifist feminist groups or networks, like Women in Black.
  • Indians in America (which is a continent, and not a country) have also used nonviolent struggle, against acculturization, too. And Mayan people were incredibly creative since the European invasions.
  • People’s demonstrations all over the world against the Iraq war in 2003. People all over telling their leaders: we don’t want more wars; solve conflicts differently!

There’s so much, people! Just look around you and learn to see it as valuable, empowering, powerful, intelligent! Because we’re extremely lucky to live in this extraordinary time, when people traditionally pushed to slavery and harship, like most women and a lot of men, have finally the chance to lead their own lives.

Oh my! I can’t possibly keep writing this! There are so many experiences, books, handbooks (how to do this and that), people, peoples… and I really got to relax now a bit! So mull over it! And if you’re interested, some other day I can keep posting on this! 😀


How will you rise? (Getting ready for February)

January 7, 2013


On February 14, the Vagina Warriors or V-Day activists — I am a member of this global network to end violence against women — are calling us all to join an international action called “One Billion Rising” (Mil millones en pie de paz, in my own translation). Check out their site to learn more about this: One Billion Rising!


I joined this particular action at the beginning of the learning year in 2012 by helping spread the news, this is, helping people learn about this event — from on social networks mainly.

As a teacher in adult state-run/public language education in Spain I will devote a lesson, on Feb 13 (Wednesday) for the Monday groups and on Feb 14 (Thursday) for the Tuesday groups, to learning about this movement and their activists — we might read a Vagina Monologue (TP website) and/or something from I Am an Emotional Creature (pdf file), or watch a video, or do a listening activity on the issue of violence against women on this planet plus, hopefully, something on students’ part — questions, a discussion, sharing info, dramatized reading of some part. It’ll depend on their initiatives.

vaginamonsTo my students, yes, I know that’s Exam Practice Week. I decided not to join the international strike and stay in class with you. Instead, I’ll be contributing to this hard and loving struggle doing something special in class: working on ideas that are helpful for the struggle against violence against women and respect towards their activists! So, don’t worry — we’ll do the first part of the Practice Exam on the first lesson that week (the Exam Practice Week), and then move the second part to the following week, its first lesson. No problem! The aim of Exam Practice week is for you to learn about exam format, not for you to pass an exam and get official marks! You’ll do that in June, not in February. February is just to learn about exam format and exam strategies and also to see if the techniques you’ve been practicing/practising are actually useful for your tests (For super extra mega preparation, I will publish here a Guide I wrote, so don’t fret — just be patient!) You can jot down your results, of course, and also tell me about them. But this is useless/pointless in terms of certificates, because in our system, the only mark that allows you or not to get your level certificate is the mark you get in June, when Certificate Exams are held.


FAQ on EOI exams: This is not how exams work in the first years of a level — in your cases, Intermedio 1 and Avanzado 1. In those first years you had real exams now that could help you out if you failed any of the parts in the final exam. Those exams, unlike Certificate exams, are designed by teachers in your school and just allow you to pass to the second year of your level. In contrast, Certificate exams are designed by the local authorities and held every year for the second learning year in each level – as you know, we only have three levels: A2 (in Básico 2), B1 (in Intermedio 2) and B2 (in Avanzado 2). The exam is the same for all the schools in the Autonomous Community of Madrid and is therefore held the same day at the same time in all of the EOI schools.

Last, if you wish to contribute any kind of effort to this global event, you can count on me for info on materials (for instance, you can borrow one of the books and prepare the presentation of an activity!). But start by clicking on the images here and reading a bit, so you get the picture! 🙂


Native Women in North America – campaigning

December 28, 2012

Native women experience triple discrimination from the time they are born: being a woman, being a woman of color, and living within a lower income (being poor). They want their dignity respected. They want to be heard, like any human being who has something to say to stop the violence exerted against Her-Self. (Native women in North America are five times more likely than other women of the same age to die as the result of violence.)


The Passive — Crime & Punishment (1)

December 13, 2012

I just remembered there is an episode on this at the TP Pod. In Intermedio 2 we’re using the passive in the unit about crime and punishment. (Hey, if you want to volunteer to read out scripts for the TP Pod, that’d be awesome!)

I should record some more of these, with examples of how to use “rob” and “steal”. In case I don’t get to do that, read out loud the following:

I was robbed (generic) = Me han robado / Me robaron
A horrible guy walked to me and robbed me
*“I was stolen” is very funny!!! It’s wrong, OK? “Something was stolen from me” would be OK.
My wallet was/got stolen from my car = Me robaron la cartera del coche
Someone has stolen my wallet from my car! I can’t believe I just left it there!
A friend of mine got/was mugged the other day = A una amiga mía la atracaron el otro día (en la calle)

-Have you ever been robbed? = ¿Te han robado alguna vez?
-No, I haven’t. But my parents’ house was/got burgled once.
-Oh! And what did they take?

When you rob a bank, there’s people in.
But when thieves steal (money from) banks it’s usually one of those things people plan and do when people are not around. Now there are cyber criminals doing this too.

We were attacked = Nos atacaron

Most women I’ve known have been raped or sexually abused, and not by men they didn’t know. But it’s a taboo topic in society. Possibly, the biggest taboo. And when any of this gets to the news, the taboo is so big that the woman is suspected of having made things up. It’s always scary when you realize. Perhaps that’s why most people would rather not realize. 😦 To cap it all, women are continuously used as objects where “sex” is linked to violence (and that’s what we are taught non-stop, especially men through patriarchal porn): in all kinds of audiovisuals women are raped and murdered. It’s like movie directors “geniuses” can’t shoot a movie without using/abusing women in this terrifying way. There’s nothing “natural” in rape, it’s all cultural. A cultural brainwash. And nowadays we know better because both men and women — regardless their sexual orientation — know that sex is about pleasure, not torture. Rape has been the silenced war against women for centuries. This is one of the reasons why feminists speak of patriarchy, a social system based on a fundamental notion — the gender system as defined in patriarchy, whereby women are second-class human beings. This is still going on in most of the world, including our country. But there might be hope — right? It seems we’re finally starting something different…

What a trip! From the passive to this topic. Boredom, please, rescue me!


Would you send a postcard to a prisoner for peace?

December 12, 2012

Dear students and other net surfer visiting this tiny blog,

210px-Bradley_Manning_US_ArmyWar Resisters’ International, an international pacifist network based in London, publishes a list of people imprisoned for CO/Total resistance (conscientious objection to military and civil services), Nonviolent Direct Action, making public information about war crimes, and other kind of actions related to fighting for a less violent and juster world. This is called the Prisoners for Peace campaign and it is about sending postcard/letters to people in prison.

This year there is someone who has done a lot in defense of human rights and democracy and has been imprisoned for it, and I wonder if you would send him a postcard so he knows it’s a great deal of people in the world who support him. His name is Bradley Manning. He is a soldier, and since 2010 he is in pre-trial detention in the USA. His crime, allegedly having leaked military video and documents showing evidence of US war crimes.

Bradley Manning (Nov 2011 warresisters)
830 Sabalu Road
Fort Leavenworth
KS 66027

Mailing Address (March 2012,

The new mailing address for PFC Manning is the following:

Commander, HHC USAG
Attn: PFC Manning
239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417
JBM-HH, VA 22211

If you want to get some guidelines on how to write your postcard, and/or you wish to send postcards to more prisoners, you’ll find their info here:



When crowds become mobs – Tips for trying to prevent this…

November 30, 2012

Woops, sorry – I edited this after having sent it out

The other day in Avanzado 2 Monday the term “mobbing” came up (mobbing < mob) and I clarified its meaning and pronunciation, which is not /múvin/ but /móbin/! 😀 “Bullying” also came up as another borrowing from English related to naming a group of people who hurt / abuse one person in various ways, not necessarily physically. Typically, mobbing takes place in private enterprises, where adults might get to be far too competitive, and bullying has school toilets and playgrounds as its typical scenario.

This week (yesterday) we also started a consciousness-raising activity in our School, in order to make people reflect upon our role in emergency situations. We teachers are useful for all kinds of things. But we’d rather have professionals in this area doing this. Guess why we can’t have them. Anyway, possibly next week, we don’t know when, an alarm will ring, indicating we should evacuate the building. We have to pretend it’s true, i.e. there’s much to learn from it. (And then once the activity is over, we can celebrate!) All occasions in life when you have the chance to learn something as relevant as this should be taken seriously! 🙂 You might think it’s useless because we all know it’s not true. How can I explain it’s not useless, considering I’m not a fire fighter! Well, I’ll resort to my experience, as usual. At the end of the 1980s I attended a few trainings in Spain on nonviolent direct action, conducted by people in the pacifist movement – the MOC men and women, COs and total resisters. I did so because I was traveling to Central America to be a nonviolent escort and an international witness with an independent NGO called Peace Brigades International. Our mission was deterring violence against the people we “accompanied.” Guess what we, the team, did every week. We set up a role-play, un sociodrama, based on a violent situation we might confront, and then we analyzed our reactions. This was very useful to allow us be well-prepared (not only psychologically, I must say) to react in the best possible way when we were “accompanying” human rights activists, trade unionists, relatives of the disappeared people, peasants… people who could be murdered or kidnapped in front of our very eyes — of course, this doesn’t mean we would necessarily succeed, you never know if you’re going to be able to control your fear, but the more scenarios you have in mind, the more chances there are for you to react in some of the ways you imagined. This is obvious! I also used scenario-analysis to feel more confident when wandering on my own at night in the city, or when traveling on my own. I’ve always supported freedom of movement for women, too! 😀 — and the visualization of a horrible threat women have had. (Oh, just remembered: the other day I mentioned this in some group, can’t remember now which: the feminist movement Take back the night! might’ve inspired (too) today’s slogan Take back the streets, like the MOC movement here inspired the present Conscientious Objection (CO) by workers in the Healthcare system.)

Evacuation needs to be a community process, and this means, we have to learn to take care of ourselves while trying to help out in the process, at least trying not to make things worse. We need to learn to control our fear and allow the goodness people are capable of, because most human beings are capable of solidarity. So three important pieces of advice that help greatly are:

1. Try to be silent – when people shout we can’t hear instructions that people in charge or people who have decided to help others might be giving. Also, we wouldn’t be able to hear people who were shouting for help, if something had happened (e.g. someone locked in a toilet.) Uncontrolled screaming — out of fear, because of panicking – obviously, not because of pain — increases the chances the crowd becomes a mob, a destructive force, murderous as we witnessed recently.

2. Forget about material things, i.e. belongings. Your priority should be your life and avoiding harming other people. If you are lucky and get the chance to put into practice how to behave in an emergency evacuation, it is not a good idea to waste this opportunity.

3. Move swiftly but carefully towards the exit (and then away from the entrance!), with the group of people around you, caring for yourself and others while thinking that everybody in the building needs to get out as soon as possible, which means, for instance, that you should not block the exits – not inside the building, not outside the building.

The equation Ignorance + Fear = Violence, like what happens with Anger + Fear = Violence, should be avoided, we should try our best to avoid it. We should not forget about our ability to be kind, to exert civic behavior. Most of us have the potential to behave in two very different ways: destructively, or controlling our fear and in solidarity.

Btw, I forgot to talk about this to the 16.30 Avanzado 2 Tuesday group! It seems my mind was more into hearing you talk about love! Oh my! 😀 Well, I hope the practice is not next Tuesday!!

Well, aren’t I a chatter box!!! 😀

More ideas for you mull over!

What is “mob mentality”

Source: adapted from Wise Geek (a team of researchers, writers and editors dedicated to providing short, clear and concise answers to common questions).

The term “mob mentality” is used to refer to unique behavioral characteristics that emerge when people are in large groups. It is often used in a negative sense, because the term “mob” typically conjures image of an aggressive, chaotic group of people. Social psychologists who study group behavior also use terms such as “herd behavior,” “herd mentality” or “crowd hysteria” to describe similar behaviors. The study of mob mentality is used to analyze situations that range from problems during evacuations to public gatherings that turn violent.

Herd Behavior

Not until the early 20th century did we start applying scientific theories about crowd behavior to humans, and we did so in order to find ways to minimize or control it. One reason for herd behavior is that humans, like other species, tend to do what others around them are doing. This usually is because those who join the group in the behavior figure that if several others are doing something, it must be worthwhile, or they would not be doing it. For example, people figure that a crowded restaurant must be serving good food, or it would not be as busy. In most cases, this thought process comes subconsciously, which is one reason why all animals take part in herd behavior.

Herd Mentality

Herd mentality involves more conscious thought than herd behavior. This type of mentality can be influenced by things such as peer pressure, conformity, the need for acceptance and the desire for a sense of belonging. These things often cause people who are in groups to behave in ways that are similar to others in the group. For example, you might choose to listen to different music when in a group of friends than you would listen to when alone, because the others might make disparaging remarks if another type of music is chosen. People in crowded celebrations tend to drink alcohol because of peer pressure, men in football events tend to use aggressive language that often leads them to physical violence.

Mob Mentality

Other factors come into play when the term “mob mentality” is used to refer to something negative. Two of the main factors are the greater anonymity that exists within a group and the distribution of responsibility for the group’s actions. These factors sometimes make a person believe that they can act a certain way within a group and not have the same consequences that the same actions would have if he or she acted alone. For example, if someone is in a group that is vandalizing a building, he might believe that there is less of a chance of getting caught than if he was acting alone, because it might be difficult to identify every person who was involved. This person might also feel less guilt because other people also vandalized the property. Another factor in mob mentality is the sense of confusion or even panic that can exist in a large group. An example of this can be seen when people in crowds suddenly begin rushing in one direction. Although many people in the group might not know why this is happening, they see the urgency in the group and begin rushing in that direction, too. In extreme cases, the urgency and panic increases, creating a sort of crowd hysteria, and some people might even get trampled (crushed) as a great number of people try to move in the same direction as quickly as possible. Even for something as seemingly innocent as a department store sale, a mob mentality might be evident as dozens of shoppers rush toward the sale items, push each other out of the way and fight over the items.

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