Biology Does Not Make Men More Aggressive Than Women
II. A Politically Useful Myth Page 2

Title Page

I. Introduction
Page 1

II. A Politically Useful Myth
Page 2

III. Institutional Is Different from Individual Behavior
Pages 3 - 4

IV. Male Animals Are Not consistently More Aggressive Than Females
Pages 5 - 6 - 7

V. The Complex Relation of Human Aggression to Animal Aggression
Page 8

VI. Conclusion
Page 9

Page 10


It is politically useful for some to argue that male monopolization of warfare is evidence that war is a product of biology. For example, in a recent review criticizing the Seville Statement on Violence (Somit, 1990), the reviewer says that,

Practically everyone who has studied this problem argues that, among mammals, the males are far more prone to aggressive behavior than females.
The author footnotes his remark by referencing two well-known scientific experts on aggressive behavior who have, indeed, made this claim. The claim is then used to argue against the Seville Statement by saying that Statement ignores what "practically everyone" knows.

No one disputes the fact that warfare is usually planned and carried out by men rather than by women, and that this is a very old tradition. According to Murdock's cross-cultural work, warfare is one of the few occupations which is almost exclusively done by one gender and not the other (Murdock, 1937). The only other occupations which are so gender specific are metalworking, hunting, and manufacture of weapons (all by men). I argue that hunting and metalworking are monopolized by men as adjuncts to their monopolization of war, because they also involve the use and making of weapons.

What is disputed, and what I will try to show is a myth, is the proposition that male mammals are more aggressive than females and that such a "fact" is relevant to the monopolization of warfare by human males.


To refute the myth, it is necessary to refute the assumptions on which it is based: (1) that the gender differences in human institutional aggression (i.e., war) are causally related to gender differences in individual human aggressiveness; (2) that human individual aggressive behavior is homologous to that of other animals; and (3) that among other animals, males are generally more aggressive than females. In this article, I present evidence to show that both the first and third assumptions are false. The second assumption is probably true, but without the others cannot support the myth.

(End of chapter)

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