Why are there so few women warriors?



Since I began to address this question scientifically a number of years ago, I have become more and more convinced that it is very important for our understanding of war and peace.

I began to ask the question at a time when my students and I had established much of the scientific basis for our understanding of the brain mechanisms of aggression. The brains of men and women - like those of other animals - do not differ very much from one sex to the other, except for the control of hormone production. In fact, it was in our laboratory that the first recordings were made from the cells of the small nucleus that is different in male and female brains.

Of course, as research has shown, hormones are very important for our behavior. They are probably more important than we have yet realized for human happiness, attractiveness and mental illness and suffering, as well as their obvious importance for the processes of reproduction.

However, hormone differences do not explain why there are so few women warriors. If anything, were it just a matter of hormones, we should expect that women would be more aggressive than men. The data supporting this are presented in a paper entitled, Biology does not make men more aggressive than women.

Having failed to find an answer in physiology, I turned to anthropology and found what seemed to me to be a convincing explanation. You are invited to read the attached paper to follow the evidence and decide for yourself: Why There Are So Few Women Warriors, published in Behavior Science Research, 1983.

If the data and conclusions of this paper are correct, then it is evident that the equality of women with men is closely related to the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace. The relationship cuts both ways. Any move towards a culture of peace promotes the equality of women since there is no longer the basis for the dominance by men which has been determined from prehistoric times by monopolization of war by men. At the same time, any move towards women's equality changes our culture away from the culture of war and towards a culture of peace, of which equality of women is a key component.

As always in science, this is still theoretical. It is based, as far as I know, on the best evidence available, but one must always be open to new evidence. Therefore, I will be pleased to hear from readers who know of other evidence bearing on the question.


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