Taking Sex Differences Seriously – Chapter 6

by Elizabeth on March 13, 2013 · 2 comments

Chapter 6 is titled, “Aggression, Dominance and Competition”. If you had to link each of these words to male or female, what would you choose? Rhoads explains that in this chapter that men in all societies are more highly linked to these words than women.

Rhoads explains there are more murders committed by men and more male extreme sports participants. Men are more likely to drive without their seatbelt and drive fast. Men overall, are more risk-prone than women. Rhoads correlates risk with fearlessness. In Harvard studies and others, there have been countless references to male behavior to go into extreme conditions and throw risk and fear out the window. (Page 136)

Anthropologist David Gilmore explains how men are under pressure:

Manhood “is a triumph over the impulse to run from danger.” The “ubiquitous male” is an “impregnator-protector-provider.” In most socities these three male imperatives are either dangerous or highly competitive. They place men at risk on the battlefield, in the hunt, or in confrontation with their fellows….They stand to lose their reputations or their lives; yet their prescribed tasks must be done if the group is to survive and prosper. (Page 137)

There is also science behind the sex differences and why men are more often, more aggressive.

This behavior has been linked to reduced serotonin activity in the frontal cortex in aggressive men compared with other men, and in men as a whole compared with other women…Numerous studies find a connection between testosterone and aggression. (Page 141)

Some feminists believe that the source of aggression comes from socialization. That society teaches men they have to be aggressive to get what they want, play with toys that show them violence is an answer, encouraged to fight to solve problems unlike women, and according to Carol Gilligan, “to hurt without being hurt.” (Page 143) Feminists also discuss a strength gap, for why women don’t want to fight as much as men, because we are physically weaker. In fact,

Only 5 to 7 percent of women are as strong as the average male. (Page 143)

What do you think, is it our human nature, biology, socialization for why men are more often aggressive?

Taking Sex Differences Seriously

Before ending the chapter, Rhoads threw in an interesting point. In monogamous societies there is more competition among men for women. This leads to more violence between men. There are studies that many men give up “deviant” lives once they get married and have children and that unmarried men follows a lot of unmarried men in society as they feel the pressure for competition.

What do you think of that?

This chapter brought up a lot of interesting figures about men and how they, women and society see their place in our world. I know so many great men who use their competitive mindset to succeed in school, sports and life. I’d like to end this post with pointing out that aggression and competitiveness are not necessarily negative factors. They can be used constructively and are used that way by many men to provide for their families and pave their way in the world. I admire many men for these qualities that help them achieve and I believe both men and women can learn so much from each other, but that doesn’t mean we are, and have to be exactly alike! (Unlike the belief of some of those in the feminist movement)

I’m looking forward to reading the predominant factors of women chapter coming up and how women are perceived and how anthropologists, science, culture and even the feminist movement view why women act as they do.

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Jo March 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

A friend of mine told about raising his children in a “non-violent” home; no toy guns or weapons of any kind. He said it was no problem for his first 3 children – and then his only son was born! Everything was a weapon to the little toddler – even though he had never had toy guns, he made anything in his hand “shoot”! Research on very young infants at play show they react differently with a man. Teasing apart effects of human nature, biology, and socialization is well nigh impossible, and likely unnecessary, since each is just one expression of a wholistic phenomenon of gender difference.

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