Back to: Women in SF and Fantasy | Forward to: The Anthropic Stupidity Hypothesis

Unbreakable (part2)

I have to admit I've been struggling with the idea of continuing this discussion. When I started this post with Part 1 I'd intended to talk about a number of articles that had popped up about male culture and violence over the past six months. Here's one from last summer that asks the question outright: Why is gender always in question when females commit crimes but never in question when males do? It also brings up several other really good points. Does American culture promote "characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining manhood."? Must male power equate to causing fear in others? At the time, I thought those were good questions, but then they got swept under the rug as they always do. I was glad to see  a number of other articles crop up again this month.[1] But again, the subject seems to have been shoved aside. Honestly, I think it's an important discussion that needs to happen. I have my doubts about it going very far, sadly. Still, I want to know. Is the real problem related to how we think about masculinity? Or is it something else?[2] No, I don't think violent video games are the problem. I don't even think that violent films are the issue. I believe the problem has to do with how masculinity is portrayed as this idealistic person who always wins and is always in charge.

In a seemingly unrelated note... Alan Bellingham asked me what I thought about Lance Armstrong admitting to doping--you know, since I'm an Austinite and all.[3] I had to admit that I a) wasn't even remotely shocked and b) don't give a damn. Because I don't admire the man and never did.[4] Frankly, this need to make athletes into anything more than people who are talented at physical competition has always confused me. Here's why. It takes a great deal of discipline to be a professional athlete, but it also takes just as much to achieve a lot of other things in life. For example becoming an astronaut, a martial artist, a ballet dancer, a doctor, a professional artist--even a professional writer. Let's have a look at that word: discipline. It's related to another word disciple--which according to my online dictionary means "a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosophy." What are athletes motivated by? Winning. So what? How does that make the world a better place?[5] So, again, am I surprised by Lance's fall from grace? Hell no. It was inevitable. He only ever stood for one thing: winning at all cost.

Does the second paragraph relate to the first paragraph? Well, I think it does. Maybe it's time to spotlight other aspects of being a man. Men aren't one-dimensional creatures any more than women are.

--------------------------------------------------

[1] I won't link to them because they touch on a topic I promised Charlie I wouldn't blog about again. And for the record, if we start swaying that direction I won't wait for mediation out of respect for Charlie. So, do not mention the gun debate. I'll have the moderators delete your post.

[2] A friend of mine's theory is that the violence is about the far right losing their damned minds. They're terrified that they are now living in a fascist state and acting accordingly. That's a very good point. Ever heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy?

[3] For those who don't know, Lance came from Austin, TX.

[4] Also, my impression of him has always been that he's extremely aggressive and that he doesn't treat women very well. Mind you, I don't keep up with celebrities. I'm of the belief that a persons personal business is their personal business. It isn't mine. I don't care how famous they are.

[5] While I'm not a big sports fan, I do understand that people enjoy watching sports. There's nothing wrong with that. However, I do have a problem with sports when it becomes all-consuming to the point that it's more important to win than to have integrity or value human life

301 Comments

1:

Hi Stina, nice reasoned points. The only bit I'd like to comment on (tho' which I also agree with) is that it's not down to violent films/violent games being the problem. If the observations in Pinker's 'Better Angels of our Nature' are right, then despite the grimness of these current events, the pre-computing past was grim, and the pre-film past grimmer by orders of magnitude. Although that's no reason for complacency, and masculine culture sure does do some weird stuff, we can work for a future in the expectation it'll be even better (tho' possibly in part by the erosion of hypermasculine posturing). Yeah?

2:

This is interesting and ties in to something I've felt for a long time. I'm constantly surprised when someone (be they male or female) commits some sort of atrocity, and the reaction of people is utter shock and disbelief as though these sorts of events are somehow unprecedented in human behaviour.

My feeling is that a lot of the outrage that arises after such incidents, and a lot of the calls for justice (or vengeance masquerading as justice, which is a whole other discussion), arise from the need to distance the acts and perpetrator from ourselves. When murderers are labeled as 'monsters' it's to remove them from the general population and make us feel better about ourselves.

This reaction is even stronger when the perpetrator is female because the traditional role of women is as givers of life and carers. When we fall over and scrape a knee as a child, we run to our mum for comfort and treatment, therefore when a woman commits an act of violence the reaction is even more extreme.

As for sportsmen/women - I would say all athletes of both genders are only motivated by winning - that's the point of competing. Does Lance Armstrong's doping have anything to do with masculinity and gender differences? I don't think so - he's just a cheat that got caught and deserves his fall from grace. Women have cheated too, just none as spectacularly as Armstrong!

3:

Regarding the whole Lance Armstrong affair, we get a lot of those happening here in Australia as well. There'll be scandals about this, that or the other sporting "personality" being caught either using drugs, or being caught in a brawl, or being accused of rape (or gang rape, in the case of the rugby types - apparently it's a team thing), or whatever. And there's the standard nine days horror about the whole thing, and everyone of note in the mainstream media says how horrible it is they got caught (not "how horrible they did it" but "how horrible they got caught doing it") and there's almost an attitude the police really aren't doing their jobs when they find someone who's a sportsperson doing something illegal.

Oddly enough, it's usually the ones who are the more flamboyant, extroverted and outspoken types who wind up getting caught by and for a lot of this stuff. The ones who settle down, do their job professionally, don't drink to excess, don't party hard with their team mates, don't take drugs, and just play a good game and act in a sporting way at the end of it - those ones we don't see being reported for their misdeeds. Possibly because they either don't commit them, or (more likely) because if they do commit them, they're smart enough to keep it on the down low and not expect their status as sporting heroes to protect them.

As many crime writers have observed, the criminals who get caught are often the ones who aren't smart enough to stay uncaught. The ones who are smart enough to remain uncaught are often called "successful businesspeople".

4:

Women have cheated too, just none as spectacularly as Armstrong!

I beg to differ. I've no doubt there are female dopers on the books in most sports who have done so over a longer period of time, with better results, and possibly more obviously and openly than Lance Armstrong. It's just that women's sport doesn't matter in the way that men's sports do, so even if it gets spotted, the matter is dealt with privately; even if it is dealt with publicly, it isn't reported; and even if it is reported, nobody gives a damn.

(If you're interested, there's a lovely little book called "When She Was Bad: How Women Get Away With Murder" by Patricia Pearson - ISBN 1-86049-552-4 - which deals with the way that gender blinkered legal entities tend to react to women who step outside the boundaries of the law. It's actually quite an interesting read.)

5:

Taking it in reverse order.
Spurtsmen ... well not only don't I care, I don't want to know. As far as I'm concerned, they can dope themselves up-to-&-over-the-eyballs ...
Public sporting "events" leave me completely cold.
Elsewhere I was making some extremely rude remarks about the vile Coe (who voluntarily co-operated with known fascists) being given "honours" in thii country.
To me, he remains "Coe the fascist crawler" with no honour & no title, since he HAS no honour.

You may be correct regarding specifically the culture of the USSA - which appears to be approaching some aspects of the late USSR in worshipping sponsored spurtspersons, as well as the apparently macho attitudes & mores.
Unfortunately, it seems, as usual, wa are starting to copy & import the worst of it over here as well.

6:

It has been my experience, though, that the stereotypical male, the casually violent, emotionally crippled, quasi-psychopathic "winner" type, is not something that would describe the personality of most, or even many, men past the age of 25 (though the image, perhaps understandably so, tends to linger in women's heads a while longer): It is almost entirely fabricated by the media.

And the media have little to no interest in a peaceful, well-adjusted general public. They thrive on conflict. So there is no doubt in my mind that this image they cultivate is problematic.

But some people seem to accept these role models without ever thinking twice about their actual applicability, and they cannot conform to them (no one can). Professional athletes, and their fans, may be the best example of this.

And women can be as driven by what they feel that others want them to be as men -- with the same results. I recall a scandal in the late 80s where a female olympic athlete from East Germany was caught enhancing her performance, and she received every bit as much attention for it as Armstrong does today (the details escape me -- I was too young to care).

I feel like I need to say this now: Women and men are often held to a different standard in general. I know that. It's part of the same problem.

So yes, the role model is a problem, and it is wrong.

I am not so sure, though, that we need to or should highlight any aspect of being a man, or a woman, or anything else for that matter: We need to stop thinking in categories and try to see individual people.

But is everyone actually capable of it? And how do we get them to?

7:

Hi,

I would recommend reading David Grossman's On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society.

I suspect that he reason women's genders are raised is that there behaviour not seen from a societal perspective as situationally appropriate.

This rather begs why male violence is seen as situationally appropriate, and that the answers to that are multiply complexual in nature?

Ashley

8:

"Why is gender always in question when females commit crimes but never in question when males do? "
Because females are nicer and less violent. It's the progesterone. So when women are violent it is unusual. It also means there must be something profound going on, there must have been some real motive in that environment, not just the testosterone acting out.

"Does American culture promote 'characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining manhood.'? "
American culture is a menu, but on average those characteristics tend to be in the mix of the bullshit feed. I think American culture is designed to detect tendencies and then harness them. So if you have aggressive tendencies you will drawn to the bait for that, which conceals the hook that draws you into the assigned role for aggressive types. You'll wind up having that raw talent honed into a purposeful tool.
As you go on you will be diverted into the cop track or the executive track or whatever. You'll find yourself acting like you are under the spell of an archetype, like Bob Howard in The Jennifer Morgue.

Winning and being in charge are zero sum. There's only one of each in any situation. Sports teaches us to value winning, not to expect it. It also teaches that being on a losing team is better than not being on the team at all.

And there's a big demand for people to take charge and be in charge. I had a hard time with it when I was in the military and got promoted because I had been hard working and obedient and assertive with my peers but not a trouble maker. Now the expectations became that I would become bossy and tell other people what to do rather than just doing it myself. That I would run this psych out on everybody. It's very hard to do, very unatural, and people who can do that are in high demand. There's a big demand for people who follow and make other people follow. Dogs in other words. So we mass produce them.

Real winning isn't gained by following a script. Scripts are concocted to use you, and if you are following one, rather than writing your own, you have lost already. I wonder if that is itself a script, and if a lot of problems occur when it gets improperly mixed with other ones. So, like, a guy programmed with the "be touchy and aggressive" script gets infected with the "think for yourself" script he doesn't apply his aggression only as the script demands but as his new mind may lead him.

Re Lance I saw a comedy bit about sports doping. It depicted a no-holds barred alternative to the Olympics where the competitors could use any performance enhancing drugs that they wanted. Sort of like dividing boxers up according to weight classes or having men's and women's sports separate. But then, in all sports the referee is really just part of the challenge, part of the terrain of competition, and cheating successfully, earning a penalty without letting it being seen, is perfectly valid game play, just part of the game.

9:

"Does American culture promote "characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining manhood."? "

You mean more so that male culture in India, China or Latin America?

10:

I find it difficult to separate the question of guns in the USA from the general violence and aggression. One feeds off the other. The violence justifies the guns, and the guns enable the violence, as well as an horrific death toll from accidents.

There are other aspects of violence in the USA.

I have seen figures that support a high rate of sexual assault in the USA. I have seen enough accounts from acquaintances that I can believe the figures.

Some of these people have moved from the USA to Europe, and report feeling much safer in these alien lands. Yet I have also seen a few claims made for high rates of sexual assault worldwide. Is Europe too small to make a significant difference to the global figures?

But male power still is the overwhelming factor in most parts of the world, and it's not just something that's within families. Look at the recent events in India. At least that particular rape provoked a reaction, at least things might change, but what strange process made such a crime even seem possible?

If you have male power and authority, if you have the idea that women need to be protected, how do you make the leap to gang rape and murder?

I can make a few guesses. I have seen "explanations" that, in the end, depend on other men being incredibly easy to provoke into evil. And I sometimes wonder how much of the general male power meme is a tool to justify the power of a male elite.


11:

Britain is a far more violent place than the USA, but far less fatal.

12:

"if you have the idea that women need to be protected, how do you make the leap to gang rape and murder?"
I think evolution had various bottleneck moments that installed conflicting capabilities in us. One was defending the women of your village. Another was dealing with the women of an enemy village after a battle victory. Both these recurrent events left tracks. These are like lightbulbs that only shine when the switch is on. I think the default is for the former to be on (in most) but the latter can be switched on also, or instead.

13:

I've often thought that it would be very interesting to compare real crime statistics - male versus female perpetrator in particular - with some of the top TV crime shows; all of them seem to have some bias towards showing a statistically unlikely number of female killers, especially serial killers. Not sure what this proves, but the bias is there.

14:

I think in India there is the added problem of the caste system official it doesn't exist anymore but everybody knows each others place. It seems culturally accepted in certain parts that males from higher caste can help themselves to women from the lower caste (casteless).

15:

Is it actually? Because the UK and US have different classifications for what a violent crime is. In the UK there are a host of violent crimes that do not even involve physical contact such as threatening behaviour and robbery.

When most people hear violent crime they think of homocide, battery, rape ad mugging but those are just a small selection of violent crimes under UK law. If you want to compare countries in this manner it is best to look at the statistics for the individual crimes rather than the classification of them.

16:

Because females are nicer and less violent. It's the progesterone. So when women are violent it is unusual. It also means there must be something profound going on, there must have been some real motive in that environment, not just the testosterone acting out.

Nonsense. I've seen countless examples of women being violent to other women or men for no good reason. Women being violent is not unusual it's just perceived differently because the cultural assumption is (simplistically) that men should fill the violent roles in society and women should fill the caring roles.

17:

RDSouth:

Could you maybe explain how "the progesterone" works to make women "nicer and less violent"? (I'm sure there are a lot of neurobiologists, neuropsychologists, biochemists and psychologists who'd be overwhelmingly pleased to know about this). As distinct from factors such as, say, social conditioning? Bear in mind your example does have to work cross-culturally, and explain cultures (such as Indigenous Australian cultures) where feminine violence is just as acceptable as masculine violence, as well as cultures (such as the culture of Margarita Island, near Venezuela) where feminine violence is acceptable in certain contexts (in their case, violence used against men "to control machismo").

Women are as violent as their society allows them to be - just like men. So the question is really, why are men in WEIRD cultures given social permission to be more explicitly and actively violent toward other people?

Women in our culture are allowed to be violent if it's toward themselves (feminine self-harm, for example, is accepted without too much question; particularly if said self-harm doesn't involve bloodshed and does involve self-sacrifice - consider anorexia and bulimia as examples of these). We're allowed to be verbally violent toward other women (but if we're verbally violent toward men, we're taught we can expect physical violence in return). We're allowed to be violent if we fit within certain scripted roles - for example "the mother protecting her children" can get away with a lot. We're allowed to be violent if we're properly contrite and repentant about it afterwards and accept our punishment like good girls. We're allowed to be violent if we can show it wasn't our own idea through a socially approved script ("the big boy/drugs/hormones/mental illness made me do it").

The big prohibition, however, is on women expressing anger through violent actions toward others. We can't get drunk and start a brawl. We can't get furious and throw a punch. We're not allowed to get vengeful and murder someone. We're certainly not socially permitted to join an army and be trained to kill people we don't know simply because they're on the other side from us and shooting at us. We're not allowed to hit back at a man who is attacking us, or threatening to rape us. We aren't allowed to enjoy hitting or hurting someone.

The relationship between women and violence is a very complicated one. Waaay more complicated than "It's the progesterone".

18:

Stina, ref [2], as a UKian I was always taught that Fascism is a right-wing totalitarian dictatorship. Does this not apply in the USA?

19:

RDSouth:

Alternatively, could you explain why women don't suddenly become more violent around the menopause, when their hormonal balance shifts to become more like that of men? Because if your "it's the progesterone" theory is accurate, we should be seeing a regular generational surge in homicidal grannies, aggressive as all hell and ready to hit out at their menfolk. If your theory is accurate, the majority of women arrested for violent acts should be in their late fifties and early sixties, around the age of menopause, when they're still coming to terms with the new hormonal input.

As it stands, however, the majority of women arrested for violent behaviours tend to be around the same age as the majority of men arrested for them - namely, those prime childbearing years of the late teens and the twenties, when, according to your rather facile theory above, their progesterone levels should be making them "nicer and less violent".

20:

Women are as violent as their society allows them to be - just like men.

Yes, this.

I'm trying to remember the source, but I recall a report a couple of years ago on judicial outcomes in the UK that suggested women receive, on average, much more severe prison sentences when convicted of violent offenses than men do -- not because the laws are drafted to discriminate against them, but because judges appear predisposed to assess the severity of violent acts committed by women more harshly.

(There's probably a class action human rights lawsuit lurking in the wings there, except most women who end up in prison in the UK have major mental health/drug dependency/familial abuse issues lurking in the background which, arguably, render them even less able to function in society than most male prisoners.)

21:

Paws, you need to read Hofstadter's seminal essay, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, and then, as a chaser, Rick Perlstein's essay The Long Con: Mail Order Conservativism.

Everything will then slot into place.

22:

actually just watched a TED talk about the Brechdel test and the different messages movies send to man and woman.

Male movies: Pick up sword, defeat evil, collect reward. (non talking grateful princess)
Female movies: Make friends, share wisdom, show leadership.

http://youtu.be/ueOqYebVhtc

23:

Dirk @ 9
Spot on – given the deliberate gender-imbalance (infanticide & selective abortion) now pertaining in places like Pakistan, there is a definite problem. But the USSA is obvious up-close & personal, so we notice it more….
& @ 11
Wrong – where have you any evidence at all for that assertion?

Edwin gimpel @ 14
Except that a Brahmin who raped a Dalit would automatically LOSE his caste!

24:

Perhaps by the time of menopause the hormonally encouraged behaviors are habit. Hormones DO affect behavior, or behavioral tendencies, and they ARE different in young men and women. Older people of both sexes already have established behavior patterns and less hormonal influence.

Certainly, there's more into the mix than progesterone. This website details an array of hormonal influences very thoroughly and readably:

http://www.progesteronetherapy.com/preventing-aggression.html#axzz2InedPd00

This is another website, if that first one wasn't prestigious enough.

http://www.altpenis.com/news/20030126221847data_trunc_sys.shtml

25:

Oh, if we want to talk biochemistry, don't forget lead in petrol. There's some good evidence, from comparing lead usage and crime rates, that a lot of the currently fashionable crime-reduction theories are a less good fit with the reality than a time-delayed link to leaded petrol.

And, because different places restricted lead use at different times, it's fairly easy to test the link. Since it affects several measurable characteristics, including IQ, it could also affect things like the claim exams are getting easier.

The figure I've seen for the lag between leaded petrol and crime is 22 years. So the UK starting point of 1928 takes us to 1950. Vehicle use is also a factor. It's easy to look at the rise in "indictable crimes" and to wonder. (1950s through to the 1970s, the number per year doubled every ten years.)

And Unleaded fuel started being significant in the mid-1980s in the UK, while now we're getting a drop in crime. We're a few years behind the USA on this.

It looks, on what I have read, and what I have been able to check, to be the really big factor on such things. Why the image of the years between the wars as a golden age of peaceful Britishness? We were not poisoning ourselves.

26:

Cheers; it now makes sense (for some values of "makes sense" anyway).

27:

Regarding athletes, I think we expect them - wrongly, of course - to possess a 'mens sana in corpore sano', as Juvenal said, and be models of moral and ethics, end even of intelligence. I would even say this view is somewhat justified because being a great athlete takes constant work and sacrifice (like getting a physics degree, but knowing physics doesn't get you an imposing physique... pun fully intended)

orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.
fortem posce animum mortis terrore carentem,
qui spatium uitae extremum inter munera ponat
naturae, qui ferre queat quoscumque labores,
nesciat irasci, cupiat nihil et potiores
Herculis aerumnas credat saeuosque labores
et uenere et cenis et pluma Sardanapalli.
monstro quod ipse tibi possis dare; semita certe
tranquillae per uirtutem patet unica uitae.

In English

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Ask for a stout heart that has no fear of death,
and deems length of days the least of Nature's gifts
that can endure anykind of toil,
that knows neither wrath nor desire and thinks
the woes and hard labors of Hercules better than
the loves and banquets and downy cushions of Sardanapalus.
What I commend to you, you can give to yourself;
For assuredly, the only road to a life of peace is virtue.

I'm not quoting this just because all is better in Latin but as a way to change the subject to the nature of masculinity in Western culture. I don't think it isn't "dominance, power, and control", but rather stoic strength of character, independence and self-discipline, from Hellenistic times if not earlier. And dominance, power and control over others are the dark side of those virtues.

And yes, I know women can possess those virtues too, of course, but Western culture, derived from our Greek, Roman and Barbarian ancestors, has always _expected_ men to be like that, or at least to work hard trying to be like that...

28:

That's interesting Antonia; it could also account for why the densely populated Central Belt of Scotland tends to have a higher percentage of crime than the much less populated Highlands.

29:

I forgot to add that this is what makes doping athletes to be vilified. We feel deeply betrayed by them because they didn't possess those high moral qualities we associated with their athletic successes.

And on top of that there is nationalism too. For many people doping to win they in a certain sense stains the flag... we don't feel so betrayed when doping happens in non Olympic sports, or so I think at least.

30:

I suspect a lot of people don't really know what fascism is. And "right-wing" is awfully imprecise. But authoritarian and right-wing aren't always happening at the same time. That's the main point.

I reckon "fascism" is often used to substitute for "authoritarianism", and that's a huge over-simplification.

Is there any similarity between the USA today and the Weimar Republic? Hopefully less than we might think, but perhaps there is a shared subversion of an illusion of democracy.

31:

You missed my first post entirely, then, I presume. Go have a look for it (it's marked as number 17). Now, explain why levels and types of female violence around the world differ according to the CULTURE a woman is living in, rather than according to the amount of various female hormones she has floating around in her system. You could also try explaining how your theory about progesterone deals with the major correlation between levels of masculine violence and cultural factors defining social tolerance for violent acts from men.

I've been reading through the "progesteronetherapy" page you pointed me at, and quite frankly it's the most laughable collection of biological determinist nonsense I've run across since the whole "Survey Fail" thing. If I believed the writer of this thing, I'd have to assume all humans lived in a complete cultural vacuum, uninfluenced by any other human's behaviour, by the actions of anyone or anything else, and that all aggressive activity was a result of various biochemical convulsions in the brain, completely unconnected to any external stimuli whatsoever. Which, as I'm sure you're aware, is not the case. Aggression, like most other human behaviours, is a complex thing, and a lot of the stimuli which set it off are psychological in origin.

There are numerous instances on the page of various things being stated without any references or links to back them up - instead the reader is supposed to take this information as stated, and not question it.

(It's interesting this website advises women - who produce more progesterone than men naturally - should be using more of their product than men do. I also find it thoroughly unsurprising the website in question is for a company selling a progesterone cream. What a coincidence!)

Now, over to altpenis, where they point to a study done on mice. And, if you have a look at what they quote, it appears the excellent fatherhood behaviour came from male mice who lacked the progesterone receptors (or in other words, progesterone didn't work on them). So adding progesterone to the mix for the male mice was the thing which was apparently causing the aggression, because as soon as the effect of the progesterone was removed, they were just fine with infant mice.

I quote:

"Seeking another explanation for the male behavior, Levine's research team tested paternal behavior in progesterone receptor knockout mice. (These mice lack the gene that encodes progesterone receptors and thus the animals are not affected by the presence of progesterone.)

"In male knockout mice we noticed something quite startling," said Levine. "They behaved differently, and the most obvious changes were a complete lack of aggression toward infants and the emergence of active paternal care. These animals are terrific dads."

And again:

"In a separate experiment, the researchers used a drug to block the progesterone receptors in normal mice and found that these mice behaved like the knockout mice - they were highly paternal."

So, what was this you were saying about progesterone being the magic hormone which made women nicer and less aggressive? By this account, it appears you may just have your hormonal cart stuck rather firmly in front of the behavioural horse.

32:

In my opinion the very existence of the term "islamofascism" proves you are right, zhochaka. For too many people fascism means simply non democratic.

33:

One aspect of that is the effect of crowding people together.

An example I came across in the last couple of years, in a BBC documentary looking at what the BBC had reported about dogs. Including some long-running experiments in Russia on domesticating silver foxes. They looked at what people thought, fifty years ago, and how things had changed. One of the changes was the realisation that wolves didn't behave in the way we thought: wolves that were trapped in zoos, with no escape, behaved differently to wolves living in the wild. Wolf packs, and hence dogs, don't fight amongst themselves.

So the old-style dog-training, as exemplified by Barbara Woodhouse, was based on a badly misleading set of ideas.

And the idea of control by dominance is just wrong. Dogs just want to have fun. Which fits with my observations.

Cats too. And you have to pay attention to how they react to you. Makes me wonder if the movie villain, with the white fluffy cat, might turn out to be a better ruler than some I could name. Well, maybe not the ones with the scars and black leather gloves.

34:

#30 - Like how if you ask Charlie (or me, or any of the other usual UK suspects) we'd regard the POTUS as fairly right-wing, but I'm certain Stina will confirm that he's regarded as left-wing by most USians.

#32 para 1 - The thing of it there is that Central Scotland isn't really that crowded. Even in Central Edinburgh or Glasgow you're within about 45 minutes (by public transport plus a mile walk) of open farmland or moorland. From when we moved out of Glasgow to Dumbarton (I was 4) I've lived my entire life within a mile walk, no public transport required) of open country. Despite the "wide open continent" claims, I'm certain that there are USians who can't say that.

35:

I agree with previous posters that women as perhaps as violent as their society allows them to be. See also the alleged rise in violent female gangs which somtimes gets brought up.

I say that being masculine needn't involve dominance and bossing people around and definitely not causing fear in others. But there seems to be a toxic cultural construct in which this is expected. So the problem is definitely related to how we think about masculinity.

Violence wise, glasgow and surrounding conurbations had a terrible reputation for stabbings and violence -if the rate of incidences are represented as hills, Glasgow was a massive sharp peak and other cities and towns mere hills. Dundee has/ had a reputation for being violent. IN fact thinking about it, the 19th century working women emploued in mills etc there had a reputation for being hard as nails and acting more like me with smoking and drinking and fighting if that would help them get their way. So naturally they were much maligned.

So I suppose the problem is that certain behaviours have been classified as "masculine" and certain as "Feminine", yet people are usually a mix of both no matter what their gender. Hence you still get woman prime ministers or company bosses. Hence in a place I worked in Bellshill there was an all pervading air of masculinity, but if you looked closely there were several men who were quiet, unassuming, nice. They just had to act up a bit to ensure social acceptance as a MAN.

Which reminds me, how does a dominant and control minded woman deal with being female in the first place? (that is, assuming such women exist, tell me if I'm wrong there) On average they are weaker than men, so can't do it physically, they have to use other tactics.

36:

On Lance: There's something else people miss about the whole Lance Armstrong thing, and that's the obsession with performance enhancing drugs.

And this is a relatively recent thing, at least in force. A lot of PEDs have been illegal for a couple decades of course, but many others were only outlawed in the US in 2004 (not that anti-PED rules necessarily have anything to do with the laws of any country, I'm just pointing out the shift). UCI (the organization that hosts the Tour de France) had no serious anti-doping measures in place until 2008 when they accepted WADA, major league baseball didn't have random testing (its trivial to pass a test that happens once a year on a specific day, especially since many more powerful PEDs can't be used year round safely) until 1999 iirc.

So while there have been 'rules' against doping to keep politicians happy, many sporting leagues practically went out of their way to avoid finding out about it. We are slowly, sport by sport, losing our tolerance for that as a society. Lance got caught in the transition between the old and the new way of doing things in his sport.

37:

I don't follow sports, which may explain why I don't understand why using performance enhancing drugs is any different than having a good diet, excellent training facilities, great coaches, etc. Is it some sort of "purity" thing?

38:

I think it is not a "purity thing", but simply part of modern Western society's hang-up about drugs in general. In early 20th century amphetamines were legal, and athletes used them quite enthusiastically, and nobody thought it to be wrong. Moreover, caffeine has definite measurable effect on performance, more than amphetamines, but since caffeine is a legal substance, nobody proposes to ban athletes from using them.

In short, it is just an aspect of War on Drugs.

39:

Most of your list of prohibited female activities are obsolete or apply (or should apply) to men. Perhaps they address 1950s culture.

"We can't get drunk and start a brawl."
You can get drunk, women do it all the time and nobody thinks (too much) the less of them. But if you start a brawl that would be a crime for a man OR woman.

"We can't get furious and throw a punch. "
Men can't either. Hitting people not in self defense is assault. These days a man is more likely to be disapproved of for it than a woman. People might drop jaw, though.

"We're not allowed to get vengeful and murder someone." Since when are MEN allowed to murder for fun? If we're talking fiction here, femme fatales are just as popular as male assassins.

"We're certainly not socially permitted to join an army and be trained to kill people we don't know simply because they're on the other side from us and shooting at us. " Maybe not in Great Britain. In the USA you sure can.

"We're not allowed to hit back at a man who is attacking us, or threatening to rape us. "
Yes you can. This is called self defense. It is very mainstream. There are free classes at community centers teaching women how to do just this. Men dress up in padded suits and play the bad guy so the women can practice hitting them.

"We aren't allowed to enjoy hitting or hurting someone. " I would disapprove of that in anyone. If you mean 'why aren't there more female Dirty Harry characters' my questions are,

(1)'Do you really think we need more Dirty Harry characters of any kind?'

and

(2) 'Yeah, why don't we? That would be so cool!'

I think what you are saying is that there is a brand of old fashioned culture that approves of bad boy behavior. It's being stamped out before women get to play. My commisserations to the women who don't get to be monstrous overgrown spoiled children.

40:

Back on topic, I do not believe that USA culture particularly

' promote "characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining manhood."

Is the US male, in general, really more violent towards women than the Taliban in Afghanistan? In my experience living in England and the US (California), it isn't obvious to me that Californian males exhibit more aggressiveness than British males.

It is also my (anecdotal) understanding that girls play field hockey in far more violent way than boys play soccer/football/rugby etc. If true, that is surely cultural.

I like the comment @22 about the reflections of culture in movies. The sexes are different. There are brain developmental differences too.

Tangentially, I notice that the women students at my university are doing better than the men. I suspect the cooperative nature of many activities and studies favors their behaviors. That may have some interesting consequences for the future.

41:

RDSouth, you beat me to it, but I completely agree. Megpie71's post to which you replied made me think "Did she just get off a time machine?"

Especially "We're not allowed to hit back at a man who is attacking us, or threatening to rape us" part. WTH?

42:

More on the topic of masculinity: Think of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Cooper... modern role models of masculinity. Do they excel in dominance, power and control of others?

I would say the characters they usually play and everyone remembers are defined above all

- First and foremost by being lone wolves that don't enjoy leading nor following (and if leading they usually do reluctantly and by example, not by force). Further, they won't gladly accept any ethic authority over them - oftenly they alone decide what's right and what's wrong.

- Second by their empathy, resilience and capacity for sacrifice, from Casablanca to Gran Torino.

- And third by their willingness to use violence, that's a given. But almost always, if not always, not for their own benefit but to protect the weak and the defenceless from those that _DO_ pursuit dominance, power and control over others and have to be stopped.

43:
John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Cooper... modern role models of masculinity.

Modern? All but Eastwood are long gone, and Eastwood is in his 80's. Does the current generation even know who these actors are, or watch movies they are starring in?

44:

Getting back to the original post even, even that had me scratching my head, before I saw Megpie's email and the other replies.

Probably it's because of what I'm reading, but the first image that popped into my head was J. Edgar Hoover. While he committed a wide range of illegal activities (see his recent biography by Weiner), most of us immediately wonder about his sexuality or lack thereof. Was he a closeted homosexual, and that's why he so viciously attacked the gay community through his entire life? Or was he (as Weiner suggests), some sort of underdeveloped asexual who sublimated that part of his life to politics and control. Or both? This is ancient history, but between the late 30s and 70s, being outed as gay meant automatically being labeled a communist or communist sympathizer (red, pinko scum, etc), automatically fired from any sensitive government job (this was Hoover's doing), fired from a number of other jobs, assaulted, arrested, and/or prosecuted for having sex. We're still living through the aftermath of this mess.

That's a sex-crime on a far grander scale than girl gangbangers shooting up a corner because they've gotta be tough. Having seen the film The Interrupters, I'm not particularly biased about seeing female gangbangers as non-feminine. I *do* see them as violent, badly affected by growing up in a culture of violence that rewards toughness and a payback ethos. But that doesn't make them non-feminine.

So I'll admit, I don't get where this whole premise is coming from. I'm a definitely an outlier, but what I'm seeing is that American culture used to conflate power with masculinity, but that's no longer so true. Now, power and dominance are about maintaining control, and that can be in the service of a sexless corporation, as much as any man or woman.

The women's movement has been great in demonstrating that women can do anything a man can do that doesn't involve making sperm. The flip side to this is that it's broken the stereotypical pedestal. Women can certainly be as violent, amoral, evil, or stupid as any man. I'm old-fashioned enough to think this is just a little sad, but that's the way it goes. Stereotypes can have some good as well as bad, since some people are always willing to live up to them. Getting rid of those limits has been a net good, I think, but it didn't make everyone better.

45:

The only bit I'd like to comment on (tho' which I also agree with) is that it's not down to violent films/violent games being the problem.

I hope it didn't sound as if I felt that was the case. I don't blame violent films or games. Other countries have the same and yet have fewer incidents. I blame a 'hypermasculine' mindset as you put it.

And yes, I agree there's hope.

46:

Apologies for that last post, it wound up being far more confrontational and getting no little amount off topic than I intended.

47:

Women have cheated too, just none as spectacularly as Armstrong!

While I agree that males do not hold a monopoly on cheating to win, I'd prefer we kept the focus on masculine culture and not what's wrong with females. This is the first way in which the subject is diverted away from men in general.

I see Lance's predicament as a symptom of the overwhelming cultural pressure men endure to win at all costs. He is a person who has been held up as a standard of achievement to the point of sainthood. I'd say that says every bit as much about the culture that enshrined him.

48:

Regarding the whole Lance Armstrong affair, we get a lot of those happening here in Australia as well.

I didn't feel the US was alone, but I don't have authority to speak for other cultures as I've only ever lived in the states. Thanks for that.

49:

Good point, but let's not move the discussion away from men acting badly. I'd like to keep the focus of the original post.

50:

The hero worship of sportsmen is pretty old and established in the US. I feel it's a stretch to blame the Russians for that.

51:

It is almost entirely fabricated by the media.

I strongly disagree. My sister married (and divorced) one of those. I've a friend whose roommate fits the mold.

And women can be as driven by what they feel that others want them to be as men -- with the same results.

Not the topic.

So yes, the role model is a problem, and it is wrong.

We agree, then.

We need to stop thinking in categories and try to see individual people.

That isn't realistic. We will always group people and people will always group together. We're social critters. This isn't necessarily bad. Although, over-doing it is a problem.

52:

I would recommend reading David Grossman's On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society.

I've read it. It's a good book, and I recommend it too.

I suspect that he reason women's genders are raised is that there behaviour not seen from a societal perspective as situationally appropriate.

True.

This rather begs why male violence is seen as situationally appropriate, and that the answers to that are multiply complexual in nature?

Exactly.

53:

As far as the rape self-defence commentary goes: I would tread very carefully as a man commenting on this, unless you have personal experience with women who have been victims of sexual attack.

I do have have personal experience with several women who have been raped or sexually assaulted.

54:

Because females are nicer and less violent.

I disagree. I suspect it's that females don't conform to the male default.

You'll find yourself acting like you are under the spell of an archetype, like Bob Howard in The Jennifer Morgue.

That's one of the reasons I loved that book so much.

Sports teaches us to value winning, not to expect it.

I was waiting for someone to bring up that one. I would venture to say that team sports do this, but even with team sports the need to win can be distorted. (see the last link. it isn't the only example. i can bring up another of the top of my head.) Sports where individuals are the focus are another story.

And there's a big demand for people to take charge and be in charge.

Speaking as a female, I've not detected this big need. I feel more pressure to conform and submit. Competing is not encouraged--particularly competing against males. Those are interesting perceptions about the military, though.

Re Lance I saw a comedy bit about sports doping. It depicted a no-holds barred alternative to the Olympics where the competitors could use any performance enhancing drugs that they wanted.

Oh, wow. You've just inspired an idea to work into the new novel project. Thanks for that.

55:

You mean more so that male culture in India, China or Latin America?

No. I only specify because that is the culture with which I have the most experience and the culture from which I have examples.

56:

Well there are the east German Female athletes who took so many drugs at least one ended up transitioning FTM.

57:

um not really Fascism did take some things from the Left, National Socialist Party - it is one of the tensions between the SA and SS that lead to the night of long knives

58:

I believe we can and should discuss the issues seperately even if they are connected. Violence does not require a gun.

I have seen figures that support a high rate of sexual assault in the USA. I have seen enough accounts from acquaintances that I can believe the figures.

Oh, I very much agree.

Some of these people have moved from the USA to Europe, and report feeling much safer in these alien lands. Yet I have also seen a few claims made for high rates of sexual assault worldwide. Is Europe too small to make a significant difference to the global figures?

To be honest, I've felt this myself when visiting the UK. It was very odd. However, I believe that it's a cultural thing. The danger still exists, but it presents in different forms, and therefore, doesn't register on a constant subconscience level that we're used to feeling. Anyway, that's my thought on it.

If you have male power and authority, if you have the idea that women need to be protected, how do you make the leap to gang rape and murder?

It goes hand in hand with viewing another group as vulnerable. Vulnerable = of less importance and/or easier to take advantage of without risk. Also? I gotta say The white knight complex thing is problematic. If you want to work up some rage, just look up "The Cowboy and the Feminist." [shudder]

And I sometimes wonder how much of the general male power meme is a tool to justify the power of a male elite.

Yes.

59:

I think the default is for the former to be on (in most) but the latter can be switched on also, or instead.

I think you're close. I think it's connected to the concept of men percieving women as an object or resource to be protected and competed for and not as human beings. If someone has something you want--if you can't take it from them you can destroy it, and/or make it less valuable.

60:

Women being violent is not unusual it's just perceived differently because the cultural assumption is (simplistically) that men should fill the violent roles in society and women should fill the caring roles.

Yes. But let's keep the focus on men. Thanks.

61:

The relationship between women and violence is a very complicated one. Waaay more complicated than "It's the progesterone".

Yes. Good reply. Still, lets try to keep the focus on what's wrong with male culture and not women. Cool?

62:

I found the Courant article to be both shallow and biased.

Using their numbers as an example:

"47 percent of men own a firearm while only 13 percent of females do"

It's statistically likely many of their sample set are married, and "ownership" can be a bit vague in the marriage contract. Even when one partner "owns" all the guns, boats, cutlery, or hand-painted commemorative plates, the other partner normally has free access to them.

Elsewhere, the author conflates "violence" and "violence against women." She also questions why female-originated violence is considered notable, then only mentioned "men's violence against women" as something that she feels should be discussed with children.


"Linda Ann Scacco of West Hartford is licensed clinical psychologist and an adjunct faculty member"

Hopefully not an example of the kind of person who would examine people for the "Federal Mental Health Card" so many people seem to be advocating lately...

63:

It does apply. That doesn't mean that certain parties er... use the word in correct context. I was wording their fear as they do.

64:

This happens in the US too.

66:

Seriously, anyone who read my earlier comment please ignore. If one of the mods could nuke it that would be better. I was feeling irritable and snarky, and the post was off topic and a bit rude to some others who are actually contributing to this discussion.

67:

Women have cheated too, just none as spectacularly as Armstrong!

Marion Jones?

68:

The relationship between women and violence is a very complicated one. Waaay more complicated than "It's the progesterone".

Ha! You know, I debated linking to the Mother Jones article that discusses this very thing. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline and here's a second article too: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/lead-and-crime-linkfest

69:

Re Lance I saw a comedy bit about sports doping. It depicted a no-holds barred alternative to the Olympics where the competitors could use any performance enhancing drugs that they wanted.
Oh, wow. You've just inspired an idea to work into the new novel project. Thanks for that.

There is that SNL skit where the weight lifter pulls his arms off.

70:

I suspect violence may be just too big of a topic to dicuss in one bite, even if you stick to a narrow definition and leave out things like 'violent words' or 'the violence inherent in the system'.

Of the top of my head, there is at least sexual violence, spreekiller violence (seems to be basically a narcissistic way of committing suicide), serial killing (killing as a hobby), dominance, inter-group aggresion (Sharks and Jets), organised crime, traditional military violence (John Keegan, in a History of War, claims this was a distinct cultural innovation), terrorism and fascism (related but distinct ideologies of political violence), and modern impersonal military violence (Prince Harry playing a £45 million videogame).

They kind of touch at the edges, but they are different enough that pretty much anything you can usefully say about one type need not be true of another.

71:

You should take the time to read all of Nicole Cooke's retirement speech (Olympic Gold medallist, female cyclist). She has a great perspective of the Lance Armstrong thing.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/jan/14/nicole-cooke-retirement-statement

I see Lance's predicament as a symptom of the overwhelming cultural pressure men endure to win at all costs

Lance Armstrong hasn't got a "predicament" - IMHO he is a liar and a thief; he has tried to ruin livelihoods to save his own. There was no dilemma involved; he did these things because he was greedy and ruthless, not because he was forced to. My suspicion is that his only true regret was that he couldn't bully all of the accusations into silence, and that he got caught.

Perhaps this pressure is more an American issue than a local one; one definition of a "sportsman" that is often used here is "magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat"; another is "playing according the rules and the spirit of the game".

America seems more driven by a need to measure (too many German immigrants?) - US sport is all about statistics. Fans can tell you a player's batting ratio, or the running back's average yardage gained, or the number of assists; these fine-grained measures are almost alien to the UK. You might add up "goals scored in the season", but you won't hear a footballer[1] described in terms of "completed passes" or "tackles missed". Perhaps football[1] is almost unmeasurable.

It's not just sport - you don't get "class rankings" in the UK (other than "top"). You'll never hear "graduated fifth in their class at Cambridge", or "came third on their commissioning course at Sandhurst" (local equivalent of West Point).

As for sportsmen/women - I would say all athletes of both genders are only motivated by winning - that's the point of competing.

In some cases. Others are motivated by improving (as measured against your own performance). There were plenty of athletes at the Olympics who knew that they probably weren't going to win, but they were going to go out and have a damn good try. I'm no longer training, but I still go along to the British Championships each year and compete.

My wife and I met while representing our country at international level in our sport (we were amateurs, not professionals). I've come away disgruntled from a championship win, and happy about a championship loss; the sports psychologists will back me up that you should focus on performance, not results. I've met several world champions in different sports. One thing I noticed was that the truly world class actually tended to be nice people (e.g. Chris Hoy and Rajmond Debevec are lovely blokes), the occasional git tended to be good-but-not-truly-great, or a second-rater.

I suspect that the driver is (as ever) money. My experience is of minority sports; no big money involved. Professional sports that offer significant earnings will result in sportsmen attracted by the fame and the cash. If the livelihood of your team-mates depends on the results rather than the performance, the "win at all costs" will start to creep in.

Keeping sports free of performance enhancement is just simple duty of care; apparently, there are kids in the US taking steroids to play school sport, because a sports scholarship makes a college degree affordable. They will be supported in this lunacy by pushy parents or over-competitive coaches; later on, it will be coaches and agents. The downside often doesn't appear until much later; look at Florence Joyner-Kersee, or the heart problems amongst middle-aged ex-body-builders.

It has been my experience, though, that the stereotypical male, the casually violent, emotionally crippled, quasi-psychopathic "winner" type ... is almost entirely fabricated by the media.

Disagree - I've met too many of them. After 25, they just get better at hiding it.

[1] Football. Association Football, to be precise (differentiates it from Rugby Football). American Football is interesting in that only one person on each team ever uses their foot on the ball, and they aren't even on the pitch for most of the game...

72:

I'm someone who really enjoys many of the sports in the US. But I really don't want to see the endless discussions about it or the wall to wall coverage of athlete's personal lives. And it drives me nuts that high profile athletes and other celebs seem to be conferred with a fake ability to give expert advice on everything from family life to politics to medicine.

I must be an outlier.

73:

The problem with Armstrong is not primarily about male role expectations but $$$.

74:

How much are these things often confused in our society: masculinity, defined by success at all costs, defined by money?

Maybe it's impossible for some of these sports stars to disentangle that, so they must accumulate wealth to be successful to be a real man. Whatever the other consequences.

75:

Also: money = power = strength, and real men are strong, they must have no weaknesses (how does this suddenly tie back to Stina's "Unbreakable [1]").

76:

Like you wouldn't take steroids if it meant winning and getting $100m. I sure would.

77:

I don't think it isn't "dominance, power, and control", but rather stoic strength of character, independence and self-discipline, from Hellenistic times if not earlier. And dominance, power and control over others are the dark side of those virtues.

Good point.

78:

I didn't say that the money wasn't important, it just struck me that it is likely part of a more complex equation than money for money's sake.

79:

I forgot to add that this is what makes doping athletes to be vilified. We feel deeply betrayed by them because they didn't possess those high moral qualities we associated with their athletic successes.

Again, I don't understand the physical prowess = morally superior association. I just don't.

80:

Is there any similarity between the USA today and the Weimar Republic?

Honestly, I really don't think so. However, I admit I'm not an expert on the Weimar Republic. Most of what I know comes from films set during that era and place.

81:

One aspect of that is the effect of crowding people together.

I remember hearing about a study conducted with rats that came to similar conclusions in the 70s. I think it's incorrect.

You really need to look up the effects of lead in petrol/gasoline and it's association with criminal behavior. It's a very interesting study. I tried to link to it in an earlier reply but I think it's stuck in the spam filter.

82:
The white knight complex thing is problematic

Hopefully not too OT for the thread... but I re-read all of Butcher's Harry Dresden books last year.

One of the things that I noticed when reading them all in quick succession was how the protagonist's white night tendencies are one of his biggest character flaws.

Dresden's tendencies to protect people, and women in particular, cause him to f**k up again and again. In his relationships. In him underestimating / overestimating people. In charging in to save the day without thinking first and making the situation worse. His missing the big picture repeatedly. etc.

Harry's not very good at noticing his problem, but I think the reader is supposed to get it.

83:

Despite the "wide open continent" claims, I'm certain that there are USians who can't say that.

True. I'd venture to say that most USians can't say that.

Again, I recommend the study on the recently discovered association between lead in fuel and crime rates. I provided two links earlier, but the reply is stuck in the spam filter.

84:

I have a saying I think's important. I thought I lifted it from somewhere but Google doesn't show anything so maybe I coined it.

The means must justify the end.

It's not just winning but how you win. The winning at all costs thing is just an extension of primate dick-measuring contests. How big is my dick? It doesn't matter if my woman is happy. It doesn't matter if I have fun with it. If it's bigger than the next guy, only now am I happy. Wealth is not an absolute, only a comparison. And this is why the world's second-richest man is kept up at night scheming at how he can become #1.

Any philosophy taken to extreme becomes pathological. Self-reliance is a good thing. Objectivism is destructive and hateful to the human condition. Being able to rely on others is a good thing. Losing independence and being mollycoddled by others is also destructive.

If we look at the comparison to Lance, what as winning worth? Is it worth dedicating his life to a sport? Sure, probably. There's people working just as long and hard at careers they don't like. Peddling the bike is a means to an end, seeing the world, being the best, doing things other people fear to attempt. I can get behind that.

But then we get to the point of doing harm, to self and others.

Shirking responsibilities to friends and family? You can't choose your family, they're by default. But a spouse? If you can't keep your commitment, don't marry. Kids? If you can't be a parent, don't have them.

Doping? He's doing self-harm. Is any sport worth taking years off and quality out of your life? Then again, many athletes do that without abusing drugs. See the impairments American football players are saddled with.

Destroying the lives of former friends trying to keep this secret? What the hell is wrong with you? You're peddling a bicycle for Cthulhu's sake.

Personally, I see Lance as exactly the product we should expect from sports culture. We should be no more surprised by him than we should be surprised by black markets following government bans and the gangsters that thrive in them. Outlaw booze and you're surprised by a Capone? Outlaw coke and you're surprised by an Escobar? Reward pop banalities and style over substance and you're surprised by a Bieber? I bet you'd take a walk through a leaking reactor and be surprised by cancer.

85:

Off topic, but on reading these comments, I can only assume that the word "gangbanger" has a different meaning in the USA than the one that comes to mind in the UK.

Ah - a quick check of Wikipedia tells me that it means a member of a violent gang. Indeed, a "gangbang" can mean a street attack by a gang. I'm not aware of that meaning being used in the UK.

This has been a public service announcement.

86:

So the problem is definitely related to how we think about masculinity.

Yeah. Obviously, I think so too.

As stated earlier, women display it in different ways--verbally, for example--because culturally we're expected/required to do so. It was stated more eloquently by Antonia and Ryan. I'd go into it more but I really don't want this to turn into a "What's wrong with women? They don't behave like men!" chat.

87:

Does anyone here believe that the drugs problem in sport would be just as bad if no money was involved at all?

88:

Most of your list of prohibited female activities are obsolete or apply (or should apply) to men. Perhaps they address 1950s culture.

No. She's right.

You can get drunk, women do it all the time and nobody thinks (too much) the less of them.

Stop right there. In TX--right now--you can go into a bar and there will be posters in the women's restroom declaring that women should not get drunk while pregnant in DIRE LEGAL TEXT and BIG LETTERS. The implication isn't just that women shouldn't get drunk while pregnant. It's that they shouldn't get drunk EVER because they're potential baby-makers and THINK OF THE CHILDREN you slut!

I'm not joking. Every bar has this sign. I asked my male friends if the sign is in their restrooms. Most hadn't noticed. One told me it was. It left the impression "OMG! Are you with a potential baby-maker?! No alcohol for her!" Yeah. Because women aren't adults and can't make decisions for themselves like adults. [bangs head on desk]

Men can't either. Hitting people not in self defense is assault.

I suggest looking up the statistics. A majority of the women on death row in the US are there due to having been in violent relationships. The punishment is harsher and for longer. Please read Charlie's comment.

Again, this is veering into talking about what's wrong with women and not what's wrong with masculine culture.

89:

Is the US male, in general, really more violent towards women than the Taliban in Afghanistan?

I never made that statement, and normalizing the status quo isn't thinking about the problem. It's making excuses to avoid change. [shrug]

90:

RDSouth, you beat me to it, but I completely agree. Megpie71's post to which you replied made me think "Did she just get off a time machine?"

Especially "We're not allowed to hit back at a man who is attacking us, or threatening to rape us" part. WTH?

In Megpie71s defense, please read Charlie's response at #20.

91:

More on the topic of masculinity: Think of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Cooper... modern role models of masculinity. Do they excel in dominance, power and control of others?

You apparently missed Clint Eastwood's entire Spaghetti Western phase. In fact, all those characters do exactly what you say they don't. They just use their super powers to fight against the system. That doesn't mean that they aren't using them to lead and dominate. Bogart did it all the time. In fact, John Huston pictures are downright infamous for the masculine tough guy standard.

92:

Long post, sorry.

OK, I re-examined post 17.

"your example does have to work cross-culturally, and explain [wierd] cultures"

I don't see why. To clarify my quick "it's the Progesterone" I'm not asserting that biological DETERMINATION in all cases. I mean that there's an INFLUENCE that leads to typical tendencies. Then culture builds on that, typically going with the grain. It's possible to do other things. Obviously women can be violent. Here's an example of a wierd culture: In most cultures, the leadership is given to the elder members, because they tend to have more experience. But The Jackson Five experimented with having the youngest be in charge (which turned out to be Michael Jackson). Just as the youngest CAN be in charge the hormonally more prosocial CAN be violent.
You can also swim against the current in a river, but that doesn't mean there's no current.

Regarding the links. The second one proves the disprovability of my idea while bolstering the notion that personality can be affected by hormones. And the first, the one selling Progesterone cream was (1) selling something and (2)not cluttered with citations or caveats. (Also I think taking hormones you don't need is a bad idea.) However, the basic idea can be supported from other sources...

From Florida State University

http://www.psy.fsu.edu/faculty/maner/Maner%20Miller%20Schmidt%20Eckel%20progesterone%20in%20press.doc

"Strong evidence demonstrates that progesterone levels reflect one’s motivation to affiliate and bond with others. In female rats, for example, affiliative behavior is greatest during proestrus, coincident with peak, circulating levels of progesterone (Frye et al., 2000). Conversely, blocking allopregnanolone – a progesterone metabolite – reduces rats’ tendencies to seek social contact (Frye et al., 2005). Animal models indicate that release of progesterone works in concert with release of oxytocin, another hormone linked with social bonding, to promote social affiliative behavior (Miyamoto & Schams, 1991).
In humans, basal progesterone levels are correlated with individual differences in implicit affiliative motivation, with higher progesterone levels reflecting a greater desire to affiliate with others (Wirth & Schultheiss, 2006). Natural fluctuations in progesterone occurring throughout women’s menstrual cycles are mirrored by fluctuations in social-affiliative motivation (Schultheiss et al., 2003). Women on oral contraceptives (which typically contain a progesterone derivative) display higher levels of affiliative motivation than do women not on birth control, who experience intervals of low progesterone secretion during the follicular phase (Schultheiss, Dargel, & Rohde, 2003).
Experimental evidence indicates that watching a movie intended to elicit affiliative motivation (compared with a control movie) led both male and female participants to display heightened levels of progesterone (Schultheiss, Wirth, & Stanton, 2004). Similarly, engaging in an interpersonal closeness task (compared with a control task) led participants to display increased progesterone; high progesterone levels one week later, in turn, predicted participants’ altruistic motivations toward a social partner (Brown et al., 2009).
Indeed, both human and non-human animal literatures indicate that release of progesterone regulates behaviors aimed at bringing individuals into close proximity with one another, thus facilitating the formation of close social bonds (Taylor, 2006; Taylor et al., 2000). It should be noted that, although women have higher endogenous levels of progesterone than men do, the link between fluctuations in progesterone and changes in affiliation-seeking appears to hold for both men and women (Schultheiss et al., 2004; Wirth & Schultheiss, 2006)."

Studies like this one preceded the one reported on by altpenis, which is why that study's results were so surprising.

To be as simplistic as the first site I pointed you to (the cream sellers), hormones are emotions and emotions are hormones. Progesterone is "niceness," Adrenaline is "fear" and Noradrenalin is "anger."

Also, I didn't realize you were Australian. I retract my comment about the military not accepting women in the UK. Apparantly the military doesn't accept women in Australia. In America they are allowed to do all the things you listed (re wierd cultures I see now), they just aren't allowed to do it formally as infantrymen, and thus to qualify for the highest levels of command. They have to do it as military police or truck drivers or something.

93:

Annnd we're off topic.

94:

Apology accepted. :) I'm trying to turn the bus around but damn, it's difficult.

96:
Some of these people have moved from the USA to Europe, and report feeling much safer in these alien lands. Yet I have also seen a few claims made for high rates of sexual assault worldwide

Rates are high in many places - but the US is at the upper end of the scale. It has the sixth highest rate of rape by country in the world.

Multiple research studies in the US have put the likelihood of a women experiencing rape in her lifetime to be around 15-20% (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_in_the_United_States#Rape_statistics).

Many countries have much lower rates than that.

For example while the UK rate is still very high, it's 20% less that the US - according to U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics (see http://www.statisticbrain.com/rape-statistics/).

97:

Just announced today, the US military is opening combat-facing roles to women.

"The U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from combat and will open combat jobs and direct combat units to female troops, CNN has learned. Multiple officials confirm to CNN that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make the announcement tomorrow and notify Congress of the planned change in policy."

98:

Thank you for your opinion.

The ending statement is a personal, derogatory swipe at the author of the article and should be removed. It doesn't help your argument in the slightest. If you wish to make a cogent argument, please do so.

100:

And it drives me nuts that high profile athletes and other celebs seem to be conferred with a fake ability to give expert advice on everything from family life to politics to medicine.

You aren't alone.

101:

Probably because it is now seen as an easy option with regard to political correctness because US combat casualties are so light in modern wars, and with the advent of drone warfare likely to be even lighter in future. Unless the US takes on an enemy that can fight back.

102:

Orwell noted as much in "Politics and the English Language": "fascism" came to mean "that form of government which is undesirable" and "democracy", "that form of government which is desirable".

103:

Stina: if people strike you as particularly derailing -- or offensive -- you are entitled to hand them a yellow card warning. I (and the mods) will then tackle them if they come back for more.

(I should be blogging, but: jet lag and a chest infection aren't helping.)

104:

@96: not sure the statistics you reference are solid enough to judge your statement as meaningfully true or false. For example, in a lot of the apparently very low-rape countries, like Egypt, marital rape isn't a crime, so isn't counted.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marital_rape

If anyone is insufficiently depressed yet, they can click the link below for details of one of the few low-income countries that has had proper surveys done:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/17/south-africa-rape-survey

105:

Does American culture promote "characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining manhood."? Must male power equate to causing fear in others?

Corporate power. Religious power. Political power. Pricing power. Cultural power. Negotiating power. Naval power. Air power. Star power. Healing power.

Of these well known powers* most are closely related to dominance, control, and fear. If most sorts of power are related to dominance, control, and fear, seeking power is implicitly seeking dominance, control, and fear. And, yes, I think that American culture promotes power for men (and its attendant ills) much more so than for women. I don't think it is possible to make male power less sinister without making socially acceptable exercises of power less sinister.

Some forms of power are respected without relying on control or fear. Matt Damon has "star power" because he can attract a lot of people to his films, not because he can order or scare people away from other actors' films. The healing power of medicine is likewise appreciated all the more when it helps a lot of people -- unlike many other forms of power it isn't devalued by broad availability. Are there other respected forms of power that don't rely on creating, controlling, or scaring a group of losers in addition to improving the lot of winners?

*Considering socially related powers, ignoring e.g. electric power, thermal power.

107:

I think a lot of the roots of current US culture are so obvious they seem simplistic and almost embarrassingly simple-minded when pointed out. Such as:

= Our religious history is dominated by a philosophy that material success is a sign of god's approval. Today, material success is worshipped (almost literally) by a huge proportion of the population. This helps explain the popularity of win-at-all-costs approaches, and the popularity of the likes of Donald Trump.

= The idea that women and black people were the property of white men, who were their superiors, was huge. I think this idea is still incredibly influential, although most people probably can't admit it to themselves. The culture infantilizes women and people of color as needing protection from white men, and expects them to know their places. (This helps explain some of the virulence against our scary gay-kenyan-socialist-muslim president.)

= Another key religious tenet in this country is that anyone can interpret god's will and the bible. While clearly a reaction against hierarchically coercive institutions like Catholicism and Anglicanism, it leads to a whole set of weird effects--most notably (to me, with respect to this discussion) our culture of extreme anti-intellectualism. I mean, look at all the folks who don't believe in evolution or even "critical thinking".

= The US was largely created by denying that huge numbers of people (Native Americans) had any rights at all. The only right was the white man's right to take whatever he wanted by force.

There are more, of course. But it's not hard to see how those four alone inject a violent, hierarchically-based violence into our current society. And you can see all of these played out in the stories we tell ourselves--via TV, movies, news media, blogs, etc.

Ok, I don't know how to fix it. I don't even believe I'm not a product of it and influenced by it myself. Sigh.

108:

If you are going to state:


Does American culture promote "characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining manhood."

Then that implies that American culture is special or relatively extreme in this regard. A single counter factual undermines your argument. If you want to argue that the US is on some higher end of a global scale, then there is the problem of explaining whether it is culture specific, or if there is a common variable.

It is similar to you anecdote about a restroom sign. That is local, certainly not "American" (in the universal sense) and can be shown to be not the case in other states, like California.

If your observations are purely based on your experience of living in Texas, a state stereotyped by those behaviors, perhaps your beliefs are somewhat colored?

109:

Suggest you reread the original post.
That was a question not a statement.

110:

A question with a quote from the article she linked to,

111:

Your 2nd and 4th points are in no way unique to the US. Your first is very common throughout history.

Your third point is somewhat more of the US but was a fallout from the protestant reformation in Europe.

So the question I have, is this really something unique to the US or is it just that we've been the top dog for 50 or so years and as such are getting a closer exam that the rest of the world?

112:

Must male power equate to causing fear in others?
and much of the rest of the point.

Is the US in this because we were just the last major country to settle the "wilderness"?

From the history I've read the British Empire when through this just earlier. Ditto other powers at times in Europe, Russia, China (still going through it?), the middle east (still?), and Africa but my knowledge there is very limited.

So my question, is this a phase we as a society have to go through now that we've conquered our territory and ust need to work it out or is there something special about the US?

113:
Does American culture promote "characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining manhood."? Must male power equate to causing fear in others?

What if we just substitute female for male as in:

Does American culture promote "characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining womanhood."? Must female power equate to causing fear in others?

I personally don't find the transposition particularly odd sounding. However I do think the means women use can be different to those of men, especially when dealing with subordinate men. Looking at primate societies should give us a clue, especially with regard to dominant females.

So is the issue less about gender and more about hierarchical social structures? (and ultimately, which gender gets to be at the top).

114:

Regarding the lead/violence report...

What I am hearing from the medical community is that the study is long on correlation and grossly insufficient on causation.

There were many things changing in society across those timescales, from acceptability of types of violence to reporting of violence to blowing up of the narcotics wars to... The presence then absence of Tetraethyl Lead may or may not have caused parts of the trends, but causation requires a reasonable amount of specific evidence. We know lead causes certain brain changes and intellectual challenges but that's different than knowing that it caused the violence trend.

It's an interesting correlation and you can be sure that a lot of professional epidemiologists are off running it down now. But ... hold off on assuming the causation, until a proper set of studies and a couple of metastudy reviews come out.

115:

I didn't say they were unique to US culture. But US culture is what Stina is trying to get us to talk about, right? This is explicitly not an exercise in comparative cultures (at least as I read her post and her follow-ups).

116:

The problem with Armstrong is not primarily about male role expectations but $$$.

I think it's both, actually.

117:

Also: money = power = strength, and real men are strong, they must have no weaknesses (how does this suddenly tie back to Stina's "Unbreakable [1]").

Thanks for that, Dave. Frankly, I don't see this as an indictment of masculinity. That isn't my intent. More like an observation of the problematic side. I'm a writer. I write about male characters. I like to analyse and think about these things. It's not always comfortable, but I find it useful.

118:

One of the things that I noticed when reading them all in quick succession was how the protagonist's white night tendencies are one of his biggest character flaws.

Yes. Exactly. I like the Dresden series quite a bit and that's one of the reasons why right there. :)

119:

Any philosophy taken to extreme becomes pathological.

Moderation in all things, including moderation. :) I agree with you.

120:

Rates are high in many places - but the US is at the upper end of the scale. It has the sixth highest rate of rape by country in the world.

Wow. I didn't know that. Just... wow.

121:

"Does American culture promote "characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining manhood? "

Yes. Of course. is there any culture that doesn't? This is primate monkey-brain stuff.

"Must male power equate to causing fear in others?"

Yes. Pretty much all power is rooted partially in fear.

"I believe the problem has to do with how masculinity is portrayed as this idealistic person who always wins and is always in charge."

The person that always wins and is always in charge is totally the one you want to breed with and/or follow (from an evolutionary perspective). Such people actually are at least somewhat real, they are just rare.

122:

Are there other respected forms of power that don't rely on creating, controlling, or scaring a group of losers in addition to improving the lot of winners?

Sure. I almost instantly thought of a much over-used word from a while back--synergy.

123:

synergy is built around the idea of mutual benefit. It's essentially people acting in their own best interest, so is orthogonal to power to influence (the person is going to do what is in their best interest regardless of what you do). It doesn't give you any power or influence over the person, unless you threaten to take the thing away.

Game theory is a good place to study all this.

124:

Ok, I don't know how to fix it. I don't even believe I'm not a product of it and influenced by it myself. Sigh.

I know, right? But thanks for going there. Understand that you aren't the only one that sees it. (And I admit that I'm affected by it too.) If we can bring ourselves to see the problems, we can eventually chip at the edges of it and work for change. That's how I think, anyway. I don't stir up this stuff for the sake of making people angry or making them feel bad. I don't want this to be about blame. I write about this stuff because I very much believe in looking problems in the face. It takes a lot of courage, but I feel it's worthwhile--even if we're just talking about it in a reasonable way. These problems are huge. It's okay to not have the instant answer. We're talking about hundreds or even thousands of years of problems here. How could there be an instant solution? But if we spend some time thinking about them, maybe, just maybe individuals will think first before reacting. Then? Who knows?

125:

We've actually made a ton of progress over the last five hundred years on the whole "not killing eachother" front. Some studies say prior to renaissance 30% of humanity died a violent death at the hands of fellow humans...

126:

If your observations are purely based on your experience of living in Texas, a state stereotyped by those behaviors, perhaps your beliefs are somewhat colored?

That's a much better argument. Thank you. Yes, I will state that my experiences of living in Texas do color my perceptions of America. I have lived in other states--mainly Missouri. I've visited a fairly large number of other states too. However, I've spent a majority of my time in Texas. However, that still doesn't mean I feel that America is somehow worse than the countries you previously mentioned.

127:

So the question I have, is this really something unique to the US or is it just that we've been the top dog for 50 or so years and as such are getting a closer exam that the rest of the world?

Again, I specified the US because that is the country I have the most experience with. I try not to make statements about the rest of the world when I only mean my experience of it. (if that makes sense.) It's a habit I picked up when I started speaking to more people who weren't from the US. I've not singled out the US for any other reason... well... that and the rash of recent violence because I find it deeply disturbing. Hopefully, that makes sense.

128:

So is the issue less about gender and more about hierarchical social structures? (and ultimately, which gender gets to be at the top).

So, I have to ask because I'm curious and this is a fairly consistant reaction--why the insistance on deflecting the criticism? I understand defensiveness. However, the intention is not to assign blame, but to think about a difficult problem. What's wrong with thinking?

129:

It's an interesting correlation and you can be sure that a lot of professional epidemiologists are off running it down now. But ... hold off on assuming the causation, until a proper set of studies and a couple of metastudy reviews come out.

Thanks for this, George. I can see your point. (hey, i took statistics. :)) Mainly, I thought it was interesting. It reminds me that everything isn't always as it seems.

130:

Game theory is a good place to study all this.

A good point. I should talk to my husband about that. (He works in the gaming industry.)

As for synergy... it is powerful. It isn't about individuals looking out for themselves. It's about individuals looking out for what is best for the group. The funny thing about the US's emphasis on the frontier days or the colonial era is that during that time groups tended to work more communally at that time. That myth about rugged individuals totally covers up all the cooperative living that was actualy in effect. They had to cooperate with one another or they'd die. I've read a bit about it for research. Very interesting stuff.

131:

We've actually made a ton of progress over the last five hundred years on the whole "not killing eachother" front.

That's reassuring. :)

132:

sigh

133:

if you have to cooperate or die, that is looking out for yourself.

this is game theory, it doesn't really have anything to do with video games.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_theory

134:

dogen@107
"those four alone inject a violent, hierarchically-based violence into our current society"
Those factors are past tense. Injected...
But violence and hierarchy are old as the hills because they are effective for making power. Power seeking behavior endures because as a practical result the powerless cease to matter. Violence has tended to be part of the male division of labor because males tended to be physically more competitive at it and (I continue to attest) temperamentally more suited to it. In modern times violence is becoming less of a factor in heirarchy formation and maintenance, and intrasocial power itself is declining in importance as we all become comfortable egalitarians. Hierarchies are becoming optional things you join for some desired purpose.

davidl@112
"is this a phase we as a society have to go through now that we've conquered our territory and just need to work it out or is there something special about the US?"
I took an American Lit class in which the main emphasis was on the end of the frontier. Up until a certain point the dynamic of America was all about there being new lands to go to. Then it was over, early in the twentieth century, and it was like, "what now?" Whatever the reaction to that is, I think we've already faced it. And there are many things that are special about the US, just as there are about most countries.

The use of fear, however is not one of those things. Fear is a powerful motivator and it is used somewhat wherever power has value. It's also a short term way to operate. If your power comes from fear you will have to invest a great deal in keeping it up and watching your back. The Spartans for example. If your power is more broadly based, you may even lose a war but in the end win in a more fundamental way. The Athenians for example.

In mainstream American culture, winning through intimidation is frowned upon. You are supposed to win by working hard and being clever and having God on your side. People who run around intimidating people become unpopular and get stepped on. cough cough Lance.

alexandertolley@113
Yeah. You could reverse it and it would apply in some contexts. And intimidation is a function of all power plays, not just male power plays. I can imagine a corporate environment where women behave in traditionally malely intimidating ways.

But the role of behaving that way has been traditionally assigned to males in most cultures. (Dont' just say "the west" or even "indo european," it's China and India and the Maya and the Aztecs too.)
Because they are temperamentally more suited to it and it was a functionally useful role in those societies because legitimized fear of violence was the simplest predemocratic and pretechnological way of organizing against a hostile world. Sure, there are isolated jungle tribes that have no threats and live on fruit. I think they can't tell us anything profound other than basically that people are variable

fatalerror@121
"The person that always wins and is always in charge ... they are just rare."
Except that through the power of self deception we can all be that person. We all tend to rationalize that no matter what happens we are really winning because we just adjust the criteria for winning after the fact. "Win-ning." And I attest that's good and right. If you're a mechanic and I'm a carpenter, you can be the best mechanic between us and think that's the most important thing so you are top dog, while I can be the best carpenter between us and think that's the most important thing so I am top dog. Though, of course, some people aggressively try to impose values on others, and insist everyone recognize the superior value of Mechanics. Others, trying to form heirarchies, try to insist everyone elevate an objective standard ("its all about money, lets measure and compare") above its intrinsic value.

135:
However, the intention is not to assign blame, but to think about a difficult problem. What's wrong with thinking?

Nothing at all. I'm simply raising the question as to whether the OP is even asking the right question. For example, using examples from other species we can remove "culture", look at sex differences or social structure. Within human societies, we can select examples across space and time, for example, how are matriarchal societies different in this regard.
Without some external reference points, the discussion can endlessly speculate around "nature vs nurture" based on anecdotal examples or stereotypes.

136:

@Stina Leicht

Regarding Grossman's book.

a)it starts out from spurious data, such as firing rates based on now completely discredited WWII research by SLA Marshall who was found to have had pulled data from his behind.

b) continues being wrong where biology/ evolutionary processes are concerned.

The closest known relatives we have*, biologically speaking- that is, chimpanzees have been observed to engage in genocide infrequently and murder quite often. Almost all primitive societies had higher rates of violent death than 20th century Europe. It seems kind of stretch to then claim there's some kind of 'innate resistance' to killing fellow humans.(see the book by Keeley: http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/003424.html )

(http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2010/06/21/chimpanzees-murder-for-land/#.UQDO2ifO3NA )

Here's a review by a military historian:
http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vo9/no2/16-engen-eng.asp

___________________________________


Why is gender always in question when females commit crimes but never in question when males do?

I don't understand the sentence. How can 'gender' be in question? Unless the perp in question is unsure of her gender?

Anyway, what's the gripe? Women are not big on crime, and we ought to be thankful for that.

137:

@91 Do they? Really?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Fistful_of_Dollars
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_a_Few_Dollars_More
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good,_the_Bad_and_the_Ugly

Those movies are violent, so violent that sometimes they reach laughable extremes. But does the "hero" in any of them use violence as a tool to establish "dominance, power and control" over those weaker than him? Unarmed men, women, children? Actually, what he mostly does is fight against the _men_ that do (and at least in one of them, against a rapist).

138:
It's an interesting correlation and you can be sure that a lot of professional epidemiologists are off running it down now. But ... hold off on assuming the causation, until a proper set of studies and a couple of metastudy reviews come out.

They've been there. Done that. Lead correlates stupidly well across multiple studies from different countries and institutions - especially since they've been able to look at things like:

  • different rates of lead dropping as laws change across states / countries
  • looking at levels of lead in different cities / regions of cities as laws about lead levels in buildings change
  • etc.

The fairly recent Mother Jones article has a good lay summary of the current levels of research with pointers http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/01/lead-crime-link-gasoline to quote:

"We now have studies at the international level, the national level, the state level, the city level, and even the individual level. Groups of children have been followed from the womb to adulthood, and higher childhood blood lead levels are consistently associated with higher adult arrest rates for violent crimes. All of these studies tell the same story: Gasoline lead is responsible for a good share of the rise and fall of violent crime over the past half century."

We also have pretty good idea on causation. Lead is a terrible poison. Again from the MJ article:

"growing body of research linking lead exposure in small children with a whole raft of complications later in life, including lower IQ, hyperactivity, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities."

The reason this doesn't get talked about more or taken seriously? Who knows. Probably because it runs against the simplistic variants of the "personal responsibility" or "society is to blame" story to explain crime.

139:

The figures I have seen used "sexual assault" rather than "rape", because of some of the definition problems which surround "rape". It's within my lifetime, here in the UK, that it became legally possible for a man to rape his wife.

Sweden has a rape rate double that of the USA, which sounds extraordinary. Some of that can be a high reporting rate, but the Assange case suggests that there is a broader definition.

What Julian Assange is alleged to have done might well be classed as a sexual assault elsewhere.

And in the other direction, how do you explain the difference between the USA (28.6) and Canada (1.5)?

That US Stats page you linked to states that 60% of US rapes are never reported.

According to an official summary from the UK:

Around one in twenty females (aged 16 to 59) reported being a victim of a most serious sexual offence since the age of 16. Extending this to include other sexual offences such as sexual threats, unwanted touching or indecent exposure, this increased to one in five females reporting being a victim since the age of 16.

(This "most serious sexual offence" is classed as rape or "sexual assault by penetration": use your imaginations, guys.)

The US figures aren't clear on lifetime experience, but there's a 16% figure for experience of rape and attempted rape, and the CDC did a survey that came up with a total of 18.3%.

So the US experience looks to be about three times worse than the UK, according to survey-based figures rather than crime reports.


140:

@43 "Modern" as in "from the latest 100 years". Culture patterns are a long term affair... Besides, would things be different if I had said Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe and George Clooney?

141:

If you want an example of some of the nastier male cultures take a read of this rather depressing post "Meet the predators"

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/

It discusses the methodology and results from a couple of large scale surveys of undetected rapists.

142:

Thanks for digging that out. I couldn't find survey based figures for the UK - I'm only familiar with the US survey work.

143:

They vary a bit. There's a common theme that he fights those worse than he is, but the Eastwood character is hardly a good guy. And by "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" he comes across as a pretty bad guy. He just has some limits on what he is willing to do.

On the other hand, "A Fistful of Dollars" does have him as somebody people are willing to help.

I'd question whether the films are really about the same man, the timing is fuzzy too, but they all do have a hierarchy of badness.

144:

Zorro @ 105
I think you may have raised an interesting question there.
It is painfully obvious from this side of the pond that the US would rather have a “Black” (pale brown) MALE as POTUS, even taking account of the “birthers” who are only too clearly faux-KKK members, than shock! horror! a WOMAN - never ever, & most particularly not Hilary C.
Says something, I’m sure, but what?
Dogen @ 107 is moving along the same questions from a different angle of approach, I see.

David L @ 112
Not so
Tsarist Russia was the last nation to close its frontier, actually,
The Trans-Siberian was not finally completed until 1916 – whereas the “golden Spike” was hammered in, in 1869!

Re: Lead & violence … there’s also the OTHER hypothesis – the after-effects of Roe vs Wade where all the little scroats who would have become violent criminals got birth-controlled out of existence? (from “Freakonomics”, IIIRC)

Re Rape in the USA – (Stina @ 120) I too am really surprised.
Means that only hell-holes like Afghanistan & 5 others are worse! You WHAT?

Stina @ 131
Sorry, but you are wrong. We have made a huge amount of progress.
I even noted that, in spite of the scare-stories, London’s murder rate is now the lowest it has been since (IIRC) 1970, in absolute terms, & is still dropping.

RD South @ 134
People who run around intimidating people become unpopular and get stepped on
Really? Counter-examples …..
Howard Hughes
T A Edison ( a real shit )
Donald Trump
Vanderbilt
Etc …….

Y @ 136 Re Grossman ..
He had obviously decided that the Battle of Towton never happened, then …
20th March 1461, over 28 000 dead – all killed up/close/&/personal.
Right.
Or Cannae, for that matter – the Carthaginians finally allowed a few Romans to escape, because their arms were too tired from shoving swords into living people …. Euw.

Antonia @ 139
IIRC from the garbled reports … Assange has been ALLEGED to maybe have done something, which someone may have changed their mind about – aterwards (Not at the time) & possibly under er, *political* pressure.
Note all the qualifiers in there, please?
& @ 143
Other noteworthy thing about the character played by Eastwood – he is CRAFTY – yes, he uses a gun, but he also thinks – he is a trickster. Not that Loki is an admirable role-model?

145:

It is getting more mentions. There's a piece on the BBC website about lower apparent rates of vandalism ("criminal damage") that mentions lead as one of the possible factors/

BBC Vandalism Story

The explanation for less graffiti which amuses me is the use of Facebook. You can make your declarations there, and it doesn't get erased, is the suggestion. Maybe, but I have seen other reports that suggest the families without money are also without an internet connection. It doesn't quite add up.

146:

Antonia @ 139 "That US Stats page you linked to states that 60% of US rapes are never reported."

I wonder what the proportion really is in India, China, Russia, or Brazil. And since they aren't reported its hard to know for sure. But in the US Military there was a strong campaign on to encourage female service members to report any sexual assault. I mean mandatory lectures everybody had to sit through every few months. It's also present in the civilian world, but there's less lockstep there. So, the high US incidence of rape may be partly due to increased reporting due to a changing culture.

It could also be partly due to declining influence of organized crime, which is one force that creates environments in which such behavior is considered less reprehensible by those in those environments.
Where the law ends you don't have anarchy, you have oppression unchecked.

147:

I don't understand the sentence. How can 'gender' be in question? Unless the perp in question is unsure of her gender?

Your gender essentialism is showing.

Physiological sex differs from gender insofar as the latter is a social construct. (Gendered behaviour recognized by one society may not be interpreted the same way by people who have been differently acculturated.) Again, a minority of us have physically non-standard sexual organs or secondary sexual characteristics, or are intersex (and understandably get upset about being called "abnormal", because most human societies train us to interpret a chunk of our social existence through the lens of our assigned gender, and non-standard sexual characteristics make the assignment of gender difficult -- see, for example, your traditional circus Bearded Lady). Again, a different minority (occasionally overlapping) has serious gender dysphoria -- something in the way their brain develops tells them that they are sex A when their physical external bits are those of sex B. Again, a different minority (occasionally overlapping) are gay or bisexual, meaning they're attracted to the "wrong" gender in terms of the majority culture. And that's even before we get into discussing things like the burnesha or hijra.

TL:DR; sex and gender are a lot more complicated than is evident from a distance.

148:

Megpie71 is Australian - Making comments relating her to GB stuff are wrong on "A tomato is a bow-string girder bridge" scales of wrongness.

Also, whilst the British Army doesn't (that I know of) allow women to hold front-line infantry roles, they do allow women in front-line combat. Have a look at an on-line bookseller and search for "Charlotte Madison" "Dressed to Kill", the autobiography of an Army Air Corps Apache pilot.

149:

Fascism and Naziism are not the same thing; try Mussolini's Italy and Franco's Spain.

150:

It is painfully obvious from this side of the pond that the US would rather have a “Black” (pale brown) MALE as POTUS, even taking account of the “birthers” who are only too clearly faux-KKK members, than shock! horror! a WOMAN - never ever, & most particularly not Hilary C.

That's not actually true.

What's clear is that the Democrat Party members who voted in the 2008 primaries preferred Barack Hussein Obama to Hilary Rodham Clinton. BHO ran the slickest primary campaign in a very long time. HRC was the party establishment's anointed, and pretty much expected to walk the primaries until BHO cranked up his campaign engine: my impression is that he blind-sided her campaign manager.

(This in turn led to the whole "change we can believe in" campaign in the election proper, and then to him stomping all over Mitt Romney and the Republican election machine in 2012 by deploying seriously bleeding-edge micro-targeted campaigning tools to get out the vote. Karl Rove was roadkill; he couldn't even believe it was happening. Conclusion: regardless of what he does in office, when he's on the campaign trail Barack Obama is the deadliest presidential campaigner since Ronald Reagan.)

The tea party members aren't so much KKK-wannabes as Angry Old White Guys Shouting At Clouds; we wouldn't even know they existed if the likes of the Koch brothers weren't throwing millions at them because, when you get down to it, the billionaire children of the founder of the John Birch Society are also Angry Old White Guys who like to Shout At Clouds, and they like having a chorus line behind them.

151:

The Man With No Name as a Trickster, that does fit rather well. But since the first movie was a remake of Yojimbo I'm not surprised at the shift in the character's nature in the later movies.

Those movies really shook up the image of the Cowboy, though it persisted in TV. You certainly had slightly ambiguous characters in the Western TV shows of the 1960s, but about all The Virginian on TV shared with the original book was a general location and some character names.

Clint Eastwood made other westerns, some of them quite challenging in the issues raised, but I don't think he really makes a difference to the idea of American media asserting the value of a violent male culture.

152:

"Really? Counter-examples …..
Howard Hughes
T A Edison ( a real shit )
Donald Trump
Vanderbilt"

All of whom (usually) knew just how far they could push the then current rules of the playing field before the pack turned on them. And all of whom, I suspect I could show, had some failures because they crossed the line and played a little too rough. If an Edison tried to operate today as he did back when he shafted Tesla he would get sued out of business.
True, some corporations today misbehave greatly and they get slammed for it, go bankrupt repeatedly, but struggle on anyway. One example of a company that has been in a lot of legal trouble:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#Legal_actions_and_controversies

Individuals are less resilient. Trump's behavior re Obama has put his reputational stock way down with most people, and he is way past his peak influence. That's far from getting slammed down, but he's not really motivating anybody that much currently, as far as I know.

Howard Hughes became increasingly unpopular and had to hide from public view. The other barons eventually rounded on Vanderbilt and screwed him. The pack will turn on a violator, and the threshold is moving.


153:

"We all tend to rationalize that no matter what happens we are really winning because we just adjust the criteria for winning after the fact."

That, or we used different criteria from the start. Many years ago I saw an old, retired banker on TV (he died at least 15 or 20 years ago) tell the audience that amassing money was actually easy... if money was what you wanted (and I swear he somehow managed to say 'wanted' in bold and caps). In other words, all you had to do was sacrificing everything else and spend your life amassing money. He was very convincing - enough for me to remember after all these years how I decided on the spot that I didn't like money that much.

154:

It is problematic to discuss sex/gender and limit it to one side or the other. As a practical matter, I can see why you don't want to have the discussion be only about women's different-ness, but to make it all about men's same-ness seems just as useless. How do you acknowledge that men hold that normative position in culture without perpetuating it? Always a thorny problem.

A book cover, movie poster, etc., is designed to appeal to a particular gender. On the one hand, it creates and perpetuates stereotypes. On the other hand, people buy it. We have a pretty good idea of who manipulates and how, but the more difficult problem is discerning the nature of the handle. How much of the handle was there to begin with and how much of it was shaped for the convenience of the manipulators? Then we have the problem that the manipulators only fill that role part of the time and that they themselves were manipulated into manipulating? On the one hand, we don't want to lose the notion of agency and I for one am extremely allergic to false consciousness arguments, particularly when applied to the non-hegemonic side. (I mean they are already badly enough off in reality, now we are going to take their theoretical self from them as well?) On the other hand reality is a big goopy mess of intersections and shifting vacuums.

Men deflect the idea of collective responsibility for violence against women. (Women are just as quick to deflect the idea of their violence against children, other women, etc.) It is not surprsing. People don't like being blamed for the actions of "others" or taking responsibility for policing others in "private" matters. (You can say discussion is not blaming, but really you would not accept the reverse argument about collective "assessments" of the female gender. When I say women are naturally good mothers, I did not mean you should be pregnant, Dear.) On a more general level it creates a crime out of one's existence. (Again I am completely congnizant that this applies as well and even more injuriously to women and other Others.) It is good to examine these social structures and to reflect on how they affect your life. As long as one also realizes that your individual role in these changes are incremental to a process on the scale of continental drift. That's a cheerful note to leave on.

PrivateIron (late of this parish)

155:

@8:
Now the expectations became that I would become bossy and tell other people what to do rather than just doing it myself.
---
They didn't send you to multiple leadership schools? Or did you go to one with a text something like "Lincoln on Leadership", like the USAF was enamored of for a while.

"Bossy" may work in some management situations, but it's seldom effective in leadership situations.

156:

@35:
Which reminds me, how does a dominant and control minded woman deal with being female in the first place? (that is, assuming such women exist, tell me if I'm wrong there)
---
They're not typically going to club you over the head and drag them off to their cave.

Sex, gender, or orientation are irrelevant with regard to dominance.

157:

@42:
- Second by their empathy, resilience and capacity for sacrifice, from Casablanca to Gran Torino.
---
I agree, but considering the huge number of people who absolutely missed the point of "Gran Torino", that particular movie may not be a good example.

That, or there are two very different movies out there with the same title...

158:

A lesson learned:
If you want to make machines, play with machines.
If you want to make money, play with money.
If you want to be successful, make it your entire life's work.

159:

@107:
I think a lot of the roots of current US culture are so obvious they seem simplistic and almost embarrassingly simple-minded when pointed out. Such as:
---
Such as the USA is *not* a monoculture.

Such as the overwhelming majority of violent crime comes from two of the three major subcultures.

Such as social and ethical values vary widely between the three major subcultures.

Such as the law and standards for "normal" are set by only one subculture.

Such as though these subcultures are typically stereotyped by race, they're more typically geographic than racial.

Such as what you see in the mass media is the product of only one of the subcultures.

Such as members of each subculture typically like their own culture just fine, thankyouverymuch, and aren't the least interested in being forcibly converted to a different one, no matter how hard it's rammed down their throats.


"The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" is a monoculture, innit? Everyone just the same, as presented by BBC America? God Save The Queen, qiddich ball, blood pudding?

160:

I went to almost all the (enlisted) leadership schools. The gist of what I was taught is leadership by example. If you are morally upstanding and professional, subordinates will naturally want to follow. Project confidence. I tried to do all that stuff they teach.

That doesn't work. The worst is in garrison, where all missions are imaginary. I could whine at length at some of the dumb things privates try to pull off. Many of them were intensely committed, more professional than I was and in fact have gone far. Many others were in for one tour, if that, and saw the whole thing as one giant opportunity to play the system. The former were begging for leadership and development and the strong desire was to focus on them, but the latter were the ones who really took all the attention.

When asked to get something done, the simplest thing was to ask the good ones to do it and it would get done. They wouldn't complain even if you laid it on them time and again. But I tried to make it fair, so I asked things of soldiers I knew would do their best to weasel out or mess up so I wouldn't ask anything of them ever again. When I still insisted, and supervised closely as I knew they demanded, they would complain I was picking on them. They constantly went over my head about the simplest things.

Leaders would tell you to "use your leadership" to get things done, as though there were some magic. My approach was that if there was a requirement, it was our sworn duty to do it, and I would simply give an order. If there was time, I was open to a certain amount of questioning, and was willing to explain things, but would then make a decision that I expected to be final. This was considered weakness by those above and below. A lot of subordinates wouldn't do anything until you cussed and fussed and made a fool of yourself, or simply acted like a conduit, citing which higher authority gave the order. (You're supposed to pretend everything comes from you on your own big dog nature, never to admit that you are just trying to accomplish the mission). They purposely would be uncooperative until you did everything you were taught not to do. The worst leaders would get all this cooperation, and those trying the hardest would get beat down by failure after failure.

Considering the thread, I won't go into how the relations of one's superiors with one's subordinates can sometimes affect one's authority. I've heard horror stories, but you'll have to use your imagination.

If you tried to talk with others about these problems it would be considered that you were just weak, a bad leader, unable to cut it without help.

Oh well, whatever. I hung in there and made it to retirement.

161:

Eastwood's "Spaghetti Western phase" was controlled by the director, Sergio Leone.

We can counter those movies with Eastwood's own "man with no name" offerings, High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider. In HPD he is clearly not a good character, indulging in rape portrayed as "not rape". Overall he is playing the role of avenging angel meting out his punishment on the bad towns people of Lago. In Pale Rider he is clothed as a preacher, and does no harm to anyone but the really bad characters (gotta have that Eastwood trait in a Western).
Finally, in his Oscar winning The Unforgiven he says he is a bad man but his motives are much more complex, and he is generally portrayed as righting wrongs, except at the end when we revert to the classic Eastwood role in the saloon gunfight.

If we look at most of Eastwood's own films, he portrays the role of reluctant (however you want to define that) hero, using force only when forced to do so. Indeed, in Gran Torino that force is used as a means of self sacrifice to achieve his goal. Could you rewrite those movies where he doesn't use force at all? Certainly you could.

But I think Eastwood is the wrong target. The target should be on the 80's action heroes - Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Seagal, Willis, etc. whose movies they star in are more about mindless violence with minimal justification. But the violence is cartoonish.

For a more recent example, that I found much more concerning was Act of Valor. The work of the SEALs was portrayed in a very good light (patriotism, call to higher good, etc), and even though it was clearly a recruitment poster of a film, I found myself quite manipulated into the visceral enjoyment of their actions. Far more so than any of the Rambo movies which it mimics.

162:
Re: Lead & violence … there’s also the OTHER hypothesis – the after-effects of Roe vs Wade

Actually the Lead study notes that the abortion effect is still there, but with a more minor impact than lead.

The lead study is quite good, but needs longitudinal work to confirm it. (Which contrary to a comment upthread, it does not have).

Now we just need a study on mercury pollution, another neurologic poison.

163:

In other words, some people are open to reason and others just need a foot on the back of their neck to let them know who's boss.

164:

Having watched this (and the previous dicussions on male/female topics) slide around and swing wildly, while only occasionally hovering near the topic, I think it's safe to say that this is not just an elephant in the room problem, but that the elephant is the room!

165:

"For a more recent example, that I found much more concerning was Act of Valor."

I recall seeing that and being surprised that they didn't include the usual Hollywood combat stupidities like forward rolls and spraying your M4 around while shooting. The fact that it starred real SEALs was the key.

166:

TRX @ 155
So why does everyone think (or seem to) that "bossy" is THE way to go in company management, then?

alex tolley @ 162
Yeah, noted. I have now read the "motherjones" article in full - but I didn't know about that, jsut now!
I wouldn't be at all suprised, re. Hg (as well as Pb) except that in a lot of cases, the Hg is very-well "bound" up in amalgams or compounds. What made "tetraethyl" so dangerous was that it was burnt, in huge vloumes, everywhere & distributed as an utrafine particulate, possibly as pure Pb, because the "ethyl" parts (C & H) weger burnt. Yes, before you mention it, I am aware that the actual neat substance was very dangerous as well .....
Generally, none of the Heavy metals" are any good for you & again they are at their worst if generally distributed in finely divided forms, so that they are easily absorbed.
[ Thallium, Antimony, Cadmium - & the odd one out, element 4, Beryllium: all have to be handled carefully. ]

167:

I wonder whether in Western societies there has been an increase in male on female non-sexual violence as women are coming to be seen as competitor who are fair game for receiving the same punch as a man would be in similar circumstances.

168:

"So why does everyone think (or seem to) that "bossy" is THE way to go in company management, then?"

It depends on the company and the intelligence and pay rates of the underlings. "Bossy" does not work well in hitech environments, but does better on a building site.

169:

and others just need a foot on the back of their neck to let them know who's boss

And those are the ones you can't afford to turn your back on.

There's another route for people who can't be reasoned with, irrational attachment, that is, roughly, loyalty. I've seen the most recalcitrant people turned round by an emotional interaction.

171:

@ 168
"bossy" in hi-tech environments.
Well, Kodak tried it approx 1984-onwards, & look what happened to them!
They would NOT be told by their (tech) subordinates about the coming digital revolution ....

Alex @ 161 again ...
just watched a DVD of Eastwood's first "own" western [Hang'em High] Yes, it's a renaissance revenge tragedy, but the plot has suprisingly complex nuances underneath, & the vey sardonic "comments" on (US) "justice" as played out in ther film are very compelling.
WOnder if anyone noticed?
Agree re Arnie/Rambo, though

dirk @ 165
Another example was the classic Brit WWII film "The Way Forward" - which had real soldiers as well as actors.
Lead role: David Niven, who, of course, was a reall Army officer.

172:

"I've seen the most recalcitrant people turned round by an emotional interaction."

Doesn't work too well if you're a bouncer. Although I have seen people violently ejected from premises coming back all smiles and grovelling to the guy that kick the crap out of them. At the time I called it "whipped dog syndrome". There's probably a real scientific name for the behaviour, but it's something I could never understand. The opposite, seeking revenge, I could.

173:

alexandertolley@162 "Now we just need a study on mercury pollution, another neurologic poison."

Anecdotally, my mercury amalgam tooth fillings used to occasionally decay and release gasses that would burn my lungs much like ozone. I have since gotten them replaced with those ceramic composites.

What were they thinking putting mercury in my mouth? And the American Dental Association still defends it!
Men, probably. But my current dentist won't use anything but composite, says its an insurance thing.

Don't know about neurologic effects. I seem OK to me.

174:

My niece has worked as, and was/is licensed as, a bouncer.

I get the impression that she would smile sweetly at the problem person first, and that that almost always worked. Since problems would most usually be male, and she is (as far as I'm allowed to notice, being her uncle) tall, slim and pretty hot, I suspect that she was plugging directly into a different emotion than that usually raised.

How often she had to go beyond that, I don't know, nor how she dealt with problematic females. But her first line of charm was pretty powerful.

175:

Yes, that will work well until she is treated "equally". I'm surprised there are so few female bouncers in the UK. But then, maybe that's because I no longer frequent places where bouncers are seen as necessary.

176:

dirk @ 172
It's called "Identifying with the Aggressor"
H Beam Piper had something to say about it (Kalvan of Otherwhen)

177:

I once had a conversation with a guy who had recently started work as a bouncer, and he related the story of the first fight that he encountered (his first night on the job). Two groups (mixed, men and women) had started arguing and it had escalated to threat of physical violence; he stepped in just before the first punce was thrown, and was talking down the men who had been about to start knocking lumps out of each other. Suddenly his colleague (who hadn't been with him at the start of the altercation) flew past and punched out the woman behind him -- she was revealed to be about to glass him in the side of the face or back of the head. Afterwards, his colleague told him bluntly: "If there's a fight, take out the woman first -- they *always* fight dirty."

Not sure what it says in the larger context, but it was an eye opener for me.

178:

Thoroughly off-topic. Saw this, this morning, and made me think of Stina's 1st post:

Speed sisters: All-women racing team turns heads in Mideast

Three Palestinian woman formed a Street Rally team. Good for them!

179:

I wonder whether other nations have that old saying with respect to women: "Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen"?
I've always thought that a recipe for either being single or getting a knife in the back.

180:

There is a small neighbourhood in Edinburgh known as the Pubic Triangle, because of the establishments there (and the clientelle they attract).

In almost every case, the clubs and pubs that employ bouncers have two -- the front line is female and outwardly friendly, and there's a heavy guy in reserve. Cushy job for the guy.

My local boozer is owned by a female landlady, and watching Liz eject a customer who's had one too many beers and is hassling the regulars is a fine spectator sport. It doesn't happen very often, but in general a male who is drunk enough to need ejecting is no match for a reasonably healthy and well-coordinated, not to mention sober, female. And the embarrassment factor (for a male drunk) of being frog-marched out the door of a pub by a smiling woman is such that they very seldom come back for more.

(If a punter kicks off violently, it doesn't matter what the gender of the bouncer is -- someone's going to get hurt, and the police are going to be called, and the cops are on the side of the bouncers.)

181:

If I see a bouncer on the door these days I take it as a recommendation to go elsewhere. I am not attracted to "colourful" or "vibrant" venues. Back when I (very occasionally) did visit such places on "business" (of a sort) they were the kind of places where people occasionally got killed or at least glassed.

182:
The lead study is quite good, but needs longitudinal work to confirm it. (Which contrary to a comment upthread, it does not have).

Possibly we have different definitions of longitudinal but the one done by the University of Cincinnati team would fit for me:

A University of Cincinnati team began following a group of children starting in the early 80s. Every six months they measured lead levels in their blood. At age 7, kids with higher lead levels were doing worse in school. At age 17 they were more heavily involved in juvenile delinquency. At age 27 they had higher arrest rates for violent crimes.
- http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/01/lead-and-crime-assessing-evidence

There isn't "the lead study" - there are many lead studies. Done by different groups. Looking at different data. In different ways.

Sure more research would be great, but it's already a very compelling story that's coming from multiple sources.

183:

dirk @ Charlie
OTOH, I have been into establishments witha bouncer, & have only realised after I was in, that said person WAS a bouncer - they have taken one quick look at me & ignored me - me I just wanted abeer, & wasn't paying too much attention.
I can see why they do it though, some pubs are really great, but because (usually) of location, have to keep a watch-out.

184:

The best place I have been in with respect to security was a venue in Croyden where everyone has to be a member. That meant hard ID eg passport, and they took your fingerprints. Thereafter to get in all you need to do is get your prints scanned at the door.

Here are some people who dislike the system:
https://p10.secure.hostingprod.com/@spyblog.org.uk/ssl/london_cyberpunk_tourist_guide/2009/10/croydon-black-sheep-bar---fingerprint-scanning-private-members-alternative-music-venue.html

185:

We're talking about different articles. You are presumably talking about the Mother Jones article (which I haven't read), whilst I was referring to the released lead epidemiology study in the US that was the subject of discussions on another blog:

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY AS SOCIAL POLICY? THE IMPACT OF CHILDHOOD LEAD EXPOSURE ON CRIME
Jessica Wolpaw Reyes
Working Paper 13097
http://www.nber.org/papers/w13097

My mistake.

186:

What made "tetraethyl" so dangerous was that it was burnt, in huge vloumes, everywhere & distributed as an utrafine particulate, possibly as pure Pb,

Now we need a study about that correlates behavior to the rise (and fall?) of leaf blowers. My dad commented on this decades ago and ever since I have avoided using or being around leaf blowers being used on streets. Where there is most likely to be a high concentration of Pb.

187:

@134:
>>dogen@107
>>"those four alone inject a violent, hierarchically-based violence into our current >>society"
>Those factors are past tense. Injected...
>But violence and hierarchy are old as the hills because they are effective for making >power. Power seeking behavior endures because as a practical result the powerless >cease to matter. Violence has tended to be part of the male division of labor >because males tended to be physically more competitive at it and (I continue to >attest) temperamentally more suited to it. In modern times violence is becoming >less of a factor in heirarchy formation and maintenance, and intrasocial power >itself is declining in importance as we all become comfortable egalitarians. >Hierarchies are becoming optional things you join for some desired purpose.

Ok, injected it is. Although I really meant something different than that, and the right word isn't coming to me. I meant something like "injected and continue to inform".

Anyway, your paragraph above is about generalities which may be true. My real point is that in the US those general things about power and hierarchy are influenced (a LOT) by the factors I mentioned. Make sense?

Thanks!

188:

ok, a theory for considerization
its fear thats the problem.
the media feeds the consumer fear
' this is going to kill you,thats going to give you earwax tumours, this foriegn nation ios going to try and get you.
now men are supposed to always be in charge and stoic
and they cant be afraid , so they have to be angry instead.
angry and scared and unable to admit theyre not in control seems like a recipe for violence to me.
is there a correlation between right-wing and violence?

189:

Thanks for noticing my post (107) and the relationship with (105), which I hadn't actually noticed until reading yours.

I have to agree with Charlie, though. Right up until he was actually elected I expected that it would be at least 100 more years before a black man could be elected POTUS. Obama is simply an incredible man and an off-the-charts genius campaigner. Hilary had a lot of baggage that she had trouble shaking.

For a woman to be elected POTUS? That will take an incredible woman with off-the-charts genius for campaigning.

For Christian white guys, mediocrity does not disqualify them, sadly.

190:


TL:DR; sex and gender are a lot more complicated than is evident from a distance.

I know the difference between sex and gender.
Still I don't get what Mrs. Leicht meant.

Ah. I looked at the article.
_____________________________________________________

Oh well.. let me point out a few glaring issues:

That males are significantly more likely to commit acts of violence is not mentioned in discussion of this phenomenon.

^Why should it be? Do we also regularily mention that water is wet, sun usually shines, or put written signs on coffee cups that they may contain hot liquid? Seriously?


Consider acts of violence or aggression committed by women, whether in film or in reality. Questions typically asked by those seeking answers to such occurrences are "What is going on in the lives of girls that is leading them to act out in a violent manner?"

I dunno, but from what I've read of coverage of various kind of murderers, there is a great deal of speculation of why they did what they did and what's wrong with them.


Why is gender always in question when females commit crimes but never in question when males do?

One could also ask why journalists are so fond of man bites dog stories. Duh.


Indeed, when the perpetrator of violence is male, gender is not discussed, blinding us to the larger cultural and institutional forces which shape individuals. Masculinity has become so intertwined with violence that it becomes invisible.

Has become? HAS BECOME?
There's not one freaking human culture where men are not the primary instigators and agents of violence. Perhaps there've been matriarchal societies where women called the shots.

Moreover, present day developed world culture is the least violent major one in human history.


the issue is "not just violence in the media but the construction of violent masculinity as a cultural norm."

I can see how repressing violence in culture would help. I mean, sexual repression sure did work out wonderfully for Victorians.
So let's ban violent sports, or first-person shooters or anything that boys like because it let's them blow off some steam.


Parents, with implicit and explicit encouragement from the culture, raise boys to be strong, tough, invulnerable and emotionally inexpressive. Anger is the only emotion boys are allowed to feel.

ROFL. Does the author live in a universe where the 1950's never ended? Allowed to feel? As if boys cared..


The shootings in Colorado cannot be addressed with just gun control legislation but instead must be examined in light of the more complex and broad cultural institutions that shape our humanity. Enlisting men in the cause is critical.

Yeah. Gun control would solve the issue. Does the author have any idea that shooting rampages have also occured in countries with gun control measures that would cause a civil war if implemented in the US.

Moreover, statisically speaking, shooting rampages are nothing more than noise, and on the decline so far.
You'd save far more lives draconically punishing drinking within a kilometer of open water. 700 people drown each year because of boozing and then trying to swim..

191:

For a woman to be elected POTUS? That will take an incredible woman with off-the-charts genius for campaigning.

If Hilary is in good enough health in 2016, she might be the one. She's done a terrific job as secretary of state, has political experience up the wazoo (time as a senator, time as first lady, hubby is an ex-two-term-president), and would probably have won in 2008 if Obama hadn't turned up. If she runs in 2016, it'll probably be with Obama helping her campaign. It'd take a titan of a Republican candidate to stand a chance, and I see no sign of one on the horizon.

I mean, try to imagine the Clinton machine, with Obama in charge of campaigning, up against an intellectual giant like Rick Santorum! I'd pay good money to watch that. (Although I'd want a copious supply of wet wipes to mop up the gore after the steamroller went by.)

192:

I mean, sexual repression sure did work out wonderfully for Victorians.

Common misconception. The Victorians were anything but repressed! Hypocritical, perhaps, and not willing to talk about it outside the bedroom, but they were far less repressed than the following couple of generations (who in turn projected their most fuddy-duddy attitudes on their grandparents in an attempt to look hip and modern by contrast).

193:

True, the US isn't a monoculture but it has way more than 3 subcultures I think. Maybe you can define yours? I can't imagine any rational way to arrive at only 3, but I'm probably missing something obvious.

But my point isn't that the US is/has a monoculture, I'm sorry my poor wording apparently made it sound like that.

What I was trying to say is that those factors (and others, for sure) strongly influence *all* the US subcultures. Now, that could be wrong, but I haven't seen any counter-examples yet (on the other hand I'm not a sociologist or anthropologist so I could be all wet).

194:

Gold is a heavy metal and famously inert biologically speaking, much like silver. Nickel and chromium are the major constituents of stainless steel used in replacement joints in the human body along with iron. On the other hand lithium is neurologically effective, aluminium is suspected of causing degnerative brain diseases if ingested over a period of time and bromine is reputedly an antiaphrodisiac. Give me the heavy metals any day of the week.

195:
Gold is a heavy metal and famously inert biologically speaking, much like silver.

Not really. Gold was(still is?) used as an injectable anti inflammatory for rheumatoid arthritis. There are also recent experiments showing gold nano particles are potential anti cancer agents.

Silver is used as a bacteriocide, e.g. in swimming pools.

196:

Yeah. Charlie told me in private. I used to work in a bookstore, and I spotted a book on it and read a bit. (I was studying for the animation degree at the time.) So, that was why I picked it up. I also have a background in graphic design and user interface design. A lot of user interface design involves all sorts of brain-y theories. So, I was used to that sort of talk while discussing design. Assumed it was the same. Never finished reading it and didn't learn otherwise until now.

197:

"cant be afraid , so they have to be angry instead."
Anger and fear are the symptoms of noradrenaline and adrenaline respectively. Those two hormones are antagonists, so if you are afraid and get angry then the fear goes away (why it helps to work yourself up to confront someone you are afraid of), whereas if you are angry and get afraid, then the anger goes away (why it ends a temper tantrum if you can scare the person who is raging).

A lot of men stay on a rollercoaster of those two hormones all the time, which gives the adrenal cortex a good workout, making it stronger. It's best to let those emotions happen so you can know how you feel, but then let them die out quickly rather than building them up higher and higher.

On another note, unrelated to your post andyf, I was thinking. And Stina will probably be mad at me, but here goes. Part of the problem with the way males are being acculturated in America has to do with not so much something being wrong with men or women but something being wrong with the way they relate to each other romantically. I remember when I was young how I would fantasize about romantic petting and being a rescuing hero. And how that got reprogrammed because I got the feeling girls were offended if you approached them with those kinds of feelings, or even talked to them nice. But at the same time I saw girls with boyfriends who were just totally awfull to them. I heard from all over, and saw with my own eyes, what was being held up as masculine and "what the girls like" and felt the pressure to become something both less good and less natural. Rather than being allowed to talk to girls and ask them. Something was very very wrong and I resent it, though I don't know whose fault it is.

198:

(Warning: Non-contributory comment follows the break)

Not much deflection and anger there, huh?

199:

Thanks so much for the links. I had heard (very recently) that Grossman's work was being questioned. I plan on reading more. It's important for me because I do tend to write about combat and male characters quite a bit.

I don't understand the sentence. How can 'gender' be in question? Unless the perp in question is unsure of her gender?

The *gender* isn't in question. Let me phrase it another way. Why is it that whenever a male commits a crime his gender is not associated with that crime? Meanwhile, if a woman commits a crime her gender *is* emphasized? Personally, I believe this is a symptom of male being the assumed default. [shrug] It's something to think about. That's why I raised the question.

200:

It's really interesting watching films from different perspectives. Being female, I can't help noticing right away how the 'good guy' treats women. It's quite obvious to me right away. In High Plains Drifter, Eastwood's character does not treat women well. I had to stop the film in fact because he basically uses her and then discards her as if she were an object instead of a person. His characters do this quite a bit in those early films. It makes them very difficult for me to watch.

I accept that you do not see this. That's okay. However, it does not discount my experience.

201:

It is painfully obvious from this side of the pond that the US would rather have a “Black” (pale brown) MALE as POTUS, even taking account of the “birthers” who are only too clearly faux-KKK members, than shock! horror! a WOMAN - never ever, & most particularly not Hilary C.

It's obvious to American women too. Trust me.

As for me being wrong, I'm comfortable making a mistake. I'll accept it. But in this case, I was only stating that I found the idea that we're *less* violent to one another reassuring. In that case, I'm right as I was reassured. I didn't make the statement in italics.

202:

I suspect that women trend towards being less violent because violence isn't something that women are generally good at.

Your average male is six inches and fifty pounds heavier than your average female. Women notice this. Nobody starts a fight they don't think they're going to win...so women don't attack men.

Women also don't attack other women (again in general terms) because physical violence begets physical violence. A woman beats another woman..but she has zero chance against her boyfriend.

It's kind of limiting to declare that "Men are violent because of hormones". I think that hormones are part of it, but a bigger part is that men have a much higher chance of winning a physical confrontation (against ANYBODY) than women do.

203:

So why do you suppose that men are on average considerably bigger and stronger than women, especially with regard to upper body strength?

204:

Genetics. Our breeding strategy includes a component of violence. We were 'designed' to fight (other animals, other males...women who argued with us) and the survivors passed their genes along.

Evolution is a bitch. ^.^

205:

OMG, thanks for this, Charlie. *Really.* I was afraid to go there just because well... I was having difficulty explaining that a different point of view beyond straight male might exist--let alone be valid. It's been my experience that when I make it even more complicated people lose their shit.

206:

Let me phrase it another way. Why is it that whenever a male commits a crime his gender is not associated with that crime?

My crack at an answer to the question: Because it's unusual. Males committing crime is the default. Women who commit crime are news. Like man bites dog. For my sins, I've worked in the criminal justice system in Scotland for most of my working life, and the great majority of crime is committed by men (unless women are just incredibly good at evading detection!). There's one women's prison and I think ten or fifteen men's prisons. Scotland's in no way unusual in this - I'm not aware of any country in which men don't make up a majority of the prison population.

There's a list of 'human universals' originally compiled by anthropologist Donald Brown and quoted in Steven Pinker's 'The Blank Slate' (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_universal) and three of these are
"Males dominate public/political realm
Males more aggressive, more prone to lethal violence, more prone to theft
Males engage in more coalitional violence"

Even if one accepts that they are not *quite* universals across human societies, I think it is hard to ignore the fact that they are very close to being so. As such, I expect that the answer to the question of why men are more violent than, and more dominance-inclined than, women, lies more in biology than in culture. Not to say that its extent isn't incredibly culturally sensitive, but I expect that culture only ever influences how much more males are like this than females, rather than whether they are.

207:

Charlie @ 191
It'd take a titan of a Republican candidate to stand a chance,
Wont need to be they will just CHEAT
Nasty

Nojay @ 194
Wrong.
Try playing with the metals I listed ....

208:

It is problematic to discuss sex/gender and limit it to one side or the other.

yes. it is. i admit that. it's also possibly a mistake to do so. but i was attempting to simplify an idea in order to open up the topic. i'll never claim to do this 100% without fault, but i believe it's important to try. like i said before, when people have trouble wrapping their heads around the concept that not everyone sees the world as they do--i like to start small and build up. it makes the task less arduous.

that said, it *is* a valid point.

You can say discussion is not blaming, but really you would not accept the reverse argument about collective "assessments" of the female gender. When I say women are naturally good mothers, I did not mean you should be pregnant, Dear.

Hold the bus. I was there, I know what I was thinking, I know what was said and that was *not* what happened from my perspective. And really? That was months ago. You made a mistake. No big deal. Let it go. I did. Hell, I've done worse. Trust me.

It is good to examine these social structures and to reflect on how they affect your life. As long as one also realizes that your individual role in these changes are incremental to a process on the scale of continental drift.

believe me, i do. however, it makes me feel better to talk about these things rather than sit in the dark in silence. at least i feel there's a chance that someone will come up with an answer. i certainly don't expect to do so myself.

209:

Well, if we are laying the blame at the feet of Human Nature then the Transhumanist answer is "change it".

210:

I've worked with beryllium, behind a face screen wearing nitrile gloves but that was a while back. Regulations would now require me to use a negative-pressure cabinet. Beryllium is not a heavy metal.

I've handled samples of uranium alloy, they were kind of weird as they're a lot heavier for their size than anything else you normally experience. That was bare-handed since there was no biological contamination risk from this heavy heavy metal.

Arsenic is not that heavy either, about as dense as iron but it's famously toxic.

211:

Eastwood's "Spaghetti Western phase" was controlled by the director, Sergio Leone.

Actually, I'd go farther and say it was Akira Kurosawa's original concepts. The films based on the Kurosawa movies are a different animal than the other westerns.

We can counter those movies with Eastwood's own "man with no name" offerings, High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider. In HPD he is clearly not a good character, indulging in rape portrayed as "not rape".

Yes. Exactly. Thank you for acknowledging that.

But I think Eastwood is the wrong target. The target should be on the 80's action heroes - Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Seagal, Willis, etc. whose movies they star in are more about mindless violence with minimal justification. But the violence is cartoonish.

Oh, we agree. Hence, Part 1 of this post. I'll grant you that Eastwood films tend to be more complex than the above associated 80s action films. However, I'm not sure I'd hold his characters up as an example of perfect heroes.

212:

Having watched this (and the previous dicussions on male/female topics) slide around and swing wildly, while only occasionally hovering near the topic, I think it's safe to say that this is not just an elephant in the room problem, but that the elephant is the room!

yep. LOL.

213:

Always best to be careful when building your own nuclear weapon.

214:

Still I don't get what Mrs. Leicht meant.

For the record, my name is not Mrs. Leicht. I did not take my husband's name. If you wish to get formal, I prefer Ms. Leicht. :)

215:

If Hilary is in good enough health in 2016, she might be the one. She's done a terrific job as secretary of state, has political experience up the wazoo (time as a senator, time as first lady, hubby is an ex-two-term-president), and would probably have won in 2008 if Obama hadn't turned up. If she runs in 2016, it'll probably be with Obama helping her campaign. It'd take a titan of a Republican candidate to stand a chance, and I see no sign of one on the horizon.

OMG, yes! THIS! That would be wonderful. I'd be so happy. [crosses fingers]

216:

And Stina will probably be mad at me, but here goes.

Nah. I'm not angry with you at all. :) My husband likes to call it "the asshole" syndrome. I prefer to look at it like this: both sexes face the issue of figuring out what they need in a relationship. Discovering what you *don't* want is just as important as finding out what you *do* want. Also, women don't have the monopoly on being attracted to assholes. I know very wonderful men who have married completely awful women. [shrug] Lastly, blame isn't helpful really. AWARENESS is.

217:
Actually, I'd go farther and say it was Akira Kurosawa's original concepts.

Indeed. And of course Kurosawa borrowed ideas from US films too. However my point was that actors are just placed in roles that the director and producer think will work with the audience. When Eastwood produced and directed his own movies through his Malpaso production company, his 'ronin' role became much more nuanced and evolved towards the better angels.
Note that in many of his more recent roles, Eastwood breaks the masculine stereotype. His characters are deeply flawed, often broken when we meet them. His paired feature films about the invasion of Iwo Jima has no stalwart, John Wayne style heroes. So we shouldn't really attach personas to actors.

218:

If Hilary is in good enough health in 2016, she might be the one.

With a recent concussion and brain bleed she'll be an easy target for medical reasons. Especially as recent research seems to indicate concussions are cumulative in their effects.

219:

But the Republicans vying for the candidacy are people like Christie, Rubio and possibly Jeb Bush.

It says a lot that we can't seem to name a strong woman candidate, apart from Clinton, in the Democratic party.
Here we are in the C21st century and the US has never had a woman as head of state. Even Pakistan managed that for a while. We have 7 current state governors who are women, and only 3 of them are Democratic (the senate is has far better representation). Are we going to have to wait another generation before women are able to take the reins? I hope not.

220:

We Brits had Maggie Thatcher.

1: Was she atypical in some way? That seems to be part of the image, part of the explanation, but explanations don't have to be true to be believed.

2: Does success in politics depend on being a certain sort of person, and thus gender differences are less relevant?

3: The modern British Prime Ministers with a bad reputation are the ones who stayed in power for a long time. Do you need to be a scheming bastard to stay in office? Or did they just get lucky in the quality of the opposition.

My somewhat cynical feeling is that anyone who can win an election at that level should be automatically Sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

(Oh, bother, they changed the law.)

221:

@204 Not so fast... At first sight it may seem reasonable to assume that over many generations men got bigger than women because they hunted and fought other males, but then the question becomes 'Why did men start being the ones doing all the hunting and fighting?' Not to mention that we don't really know if women were hunters too 50,000 years ago.

And why do we assume so easily that becoming bigger is the best evolutionary approach to hunting? Men aren't exactly panthers or bears, we are far smaller and weaker than horses, elks or buffaloes and getting bigger won't help you hunting rabbits, birds or squirrels!

Sexual dimorphism is a highly complex field. Take lions, for example. Males are bigger, but the swifter, more agile females do the hunting (young male lions hunt until they join a pride or die, but young male lions are smaller than adults). Or wolves, males are bigger too but both genders hunt, and they don't usually fight for females, they are highly monogamous and mate for life. And females hyenas are actually bigger than males.

222:

dirk @ 209
Ah, you really have given yourself away, at long last, haven't you?
Well, if we are laying the blame at the feet of Human Nature then the [ Insert $NAME here ] answer is "change it".
.... $NAME = Transhumanist / Communist / Nazi / Roman Catholic / Calvinist / Muslim ... select one, according to preference.
Practical effects on real, living humans is identiacl, no matter which name is selected.
Torture & killing .....

nojay @ 210
Sigh.
Beryllium is dangerous, because it substitutes for Calcium in our bones.
The others are all poisonours in subtly different ways, & some are a lot mor dangerous than others.
Look at their positions in the Periodic Table & stop quibbling, please?
The others are vertically close to Carbon, or Notrogen, whcih should give you a clue

Stina @ 211
Errr, I said that Clint part-resembled Loki, didn't I?
Not a model to follow ....
& @ 215
Won't matter - like I said above, the Rethuglicans will just cheat (again)
Question, though - if the cheating is too obvious, will there be insurrection?

zhochaka @ 220
3: The modern British Prime Ministers with a bad reputation are the ones who stayed in power for a long time.
NO
Anthony Eden was PM for less than 2 years & was probably the worst we've had since Lord North.
Everything he touched turned to shit.....
[ Yes, even worse than the Baldwin/Chamberlain combination 1932-40 ... they did, eventually start re-armament before WWII broke out, against, even in 1937, strong opposition, & not just on the "right" - the Labour party's record in that period does not look good ]

223:

Actually, can I hang in my 2c here?

Context - I've not seen a fair few of Clint's Westerns, having been turned a bit off the genre by my father who wa a John Wayne and Gary Cooper fan.

My impression is that the "Man With No Name" series etc are "$director films staring Clint". If you want a better idea of Clint the man than of the separate individual who is director or producer of $film, you'd do better to watch Clint Eastwood fims, such as "Play Misty For Me", "Flags of Our Fathers", "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Gran Torino". Even in the Dirty Harry series, Clint is playing a character who is a basically good man who is prepared to do bad things to bad men in order to stop them doing worse things to innocent people.

224:

@220
from what I know Churchill(one of the PM every american has heard of) is considered to have been a good prime minister (isn't he?), though a tory, and he was in a long time (twice)

@219
I supported clinton's nomination in 2008 whole heartedly, voted in primaries, sent money, etc... because (1)remembered her husband's administration fondly (2)she seemed smart and charismatic (3)I thought Obama didn't have a chance in the general election with his name and other baggage the republicans would make hay with--was I ever wrong.
I currently believe she has baggage that the republicans would use to sink her, but my track record on that indicates I may be wrong

@216 Gays may be better adjusted than straights in some ways because they better understand those they are trying to relate to. Straights need to be totally straight and not play any head games because its hard enough. But they do--OMG does that doubt ever get taken advantage of

@210 Mercury dental fillings:
"unused dental amalgam after a treatment is subject to strict disposal protocols...for possible environmental reasons "
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_amalgam_controversy
they can put it in your mouth, but not in a landfill. Unlike lead, the symptoms of mercury poisoning don't appear to relate to aggression, though.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minamata_disease

225:

Oh yeah, Harry Callahan is a much MUCH better human being and character than the man with no name, (especially as in High Plains Drifter). Well acted too, I like the way Eastwood shows him having moments of moral self doubt and hesitation when he has time or is discussing plans, to contrast the way he acts instantly when the situation demands it or once the decision is made. The man with no name, on the other hand, is enigmatic. Anything you see of his through processes is gleaned only from his actions, often after the credits roll.

Also in defense of Bruce Willis, he appears in a mix of films, some really good and some really bad.
("I see dead people"). And there's some merit to some of the Terminator films. You can't judge by actor, you have to judge one film at a time, or even one scene at a time. Even Stallone's first Rocky film had more to it than most of what he has done since.

226:

Greg sort of had a point originally; the heavy metals are generally unpleasant and dangerous, heavy metals meaning the weird ones on the 3rd line of the table and above. But exactly how dangerous depends on the form. I wouldn't want to inhale vaporised anything, but as has been said, solid uranium isn't much of a problem.
IIRC just about every metal is a problem in some way or other, if you get it into you in sufficient quantities. I think about the only ones that aren't annoyingly reactive are Pt and Ti, but I am not a medical specialist etc, just an inorganic chemist and alchemist.

The point about mercury amalgam is that, properly made, the Hg is bonded to the Ag well, all the way through it. And it's extremely thermodynamically stable, the Hg much prefers the company of the Ag to anything else in your mouth.

227:

Genetics. Our breeding strategy includes a component of violence. We were 'designed' to fight

1. Your understanding of evolution is rather lacking. (Hint: the word 'designed' belongs nowhere in this discussion.)

2. You're basically saying that hominid reproduction has throughout deep time been dominated by violent rape. If this was the case, we could expect to see phenotypic adaptations favoured that gave females some control over which sperm donor caused a pregnancy -- see, for example, the reproductive tract arms race in Muscovy ducks. We don't see this, ergo ...

3. The tendency of human beings to form stable mated couples over a time period comparable to the development time of human infants (from neonate to adolescent) strongly suggests that human reproductive behaviour is dominated by cooperative strategies. Going by the rule of mediocrity, this suggests that our hominid ancestors are unlikely to have been radically different.

So your "just so" story explaining human female body strength in sociobiological terms falls apart pretty much as soon as I kick the tyres.

228:

I'm not an expert, but I have read Churchill's second term was... not a success. His health was going from bad to worse, and he stubbornly refused to accept that the end of the Empire was unavoidable. Actually, that book explicitly said that his strong points 1940-45 became his worst failings 1951-55.

229:

"Transhumanist / Communist / Nazi / Roman Catholic / Calvinist / Muslim ... select one, according to preference. Practical effects on real, living humans is identiacl, no matter which name is selected.
Torture & killing"

Hardly. My suggestion would be more along the lines of the Abolitionist Project of philosopher David Pearce. A solution to the problem of male violence might only need a rather small gene tweak to limit the degrees of anger that can be felt. And/or raising the physical strength of women to match men.

230:

It does not have to "dominate", just be a selective factor over a very long period. For example, smaller females having slightly more children than bigger ones who might better be able to fend off unwanted sex.
For a contemporary view:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2667-short-women-more-successful-with-men.html

231:

With a recent concussion and brain bleed [Hillary]'ll be an easy target for medical reasons. Especially as recent research seems to indicate concussions are cumulative in their effects.

OMG, what would be next? A US president with Alzheimer??

232:

Adjusting to how humans emotionally respond to internal stimuli so precisely is not a "small tweak". Similarly evening out sizes amongst humans doesn't mean an end to violence as anyone capable of picking up a knife, tool or other weapon can testify.

A big problem I have with this kind of philosophy (other than it massively simplifies the science behind what it is talking about, at best) is that it avoids the problem. Rather than discussing what could actually be done about violence and bringing the discussion back to this thread social differences due to gender there's a handwave of "future science will deal with it". It's a cop out.

233:

Except that people are actually creating "future science" right now. As for increasing emotional resilience the tweaks might be quite small:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885845/

234:

When discussing Churchill as prime minister (specifically leaving out his other achievements/ jobs) he was the equivalent of an evolutionary sport - product of a mutation which in the normal scheme of things wasn't necessarily very useful but when the plague came along his body was able to fight it off and survive. I.e. he was great in WW2, but pants as a peace time prime minister.

235:

I would suggest that he was very bad in WW2 in that he got us involved at all.

236:

I would suggest that he was very bad in WW2 in that he got us involved at all

Really? From Wikipedia "Arthur Neville Chamberlain PC FRS[1] (18 March 1869 – 9 November 1940), usually known as Neville Chamberlain, was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940."

237:

(Charlie, Stina, mods: Please delete this post if it's too much in danger of derailing the topic)

Dirk, I'm more than a little curious as to what your proposed alternative to "getting involved in WWII" might have been? I really don't think that neautrality was an option for Britain, which rather leaves you siding with the Daily Heil types, and advocating a treaty/alliance with Germany. I think you'd struggle to find too many folks in these parts sympathetic to that option. Or, of course, you could be merely trolling.

238:

I taught self-defense classes for a few years in University (Not in the US ;-) ). The biggest problem I always had to overcome in the women attending was to hit anybody, or even a punching bag. And that wasn't just the shy ones, either. Men had the tendency, too, of course - nobody wants to hurt their friends - but once you demonstrated where and how to hit and what hurt and what didn't, much more women kept their reluctance than men, even though the danger of them hurting anybody was much smaller. (Incidentally, the degree of shyness at the beginning of the class wasn't a good predictor of anything.)

Unscientific sample, I know. What I am trying to say: cultural conditioning matters, but I wouldn't completely disregard the notion that women on average are less prone to violence.

ChrisB

239:

@229:
A solution to the problem of male violence might only need a rather small gene tweak to limit the degrees of anger that can be felt.
---
You don't need anger to do violent things. You don't even need to be annoyed. Sometimes you do them because you think they need to be done.

A distant relative of mine was part of the Seventh Army when they liberated Dachau.

(from Wikipedia) "Before the soldiers entered the camp, they found outside 40 roofless boxcars (or freight-cars) full of emaciated dead bodies in advanced stages of decomposition. More bodies were found about the camp. Some had been dead for hours and days before the camp's capture and lay where they had died. Soldiers reported seeing a row of cement structures that contained rooms full of hundreds of naked and barely clothed dead bodies piled floor to ceiling, a coal-fired crematorium and a gas chamber."

Even the accounts given at the court martial were confused, but everyone agreed that Lt. Jack Bushyhead was the one doing most of the work, using a machine gun. Somewhere between 125 and 350 (it was *that* confused) Nazi camp guards were added to the piles of rotting bodies, and cousin Jack took responsibility for all of them, whether he personally shot them or not.

Jack's court-martial didn't hurt his career much. Other than breaking regulations, nobody figured he'd done anything wrong. Nowadays he's usually considered to be a mass murderer.

Personally, I side with Jack...

240:

charlie said:
The tendency of human beings to form stable mated couples over a time period comparable to the development time of human infants (from neonate to
adolescent) strongly suggests that human reproductive behaviour is dominated by cooperative strategies. Going by the rule of mediocrity, this suggests that our hominid ancestors are unlikely to have been radically different.

Actually, from our hunter-gatherer past to our present, there are two kinds of male/female relationships (father-present and father-absent), more or less prevalent depending on resource availability.
cf "A Sociobiological Perspective on the Development
of Human Reproductive Strategies"
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1010&context=anthropologyfacpub

241:

dik @ various
The problem is that "tranhumanism" is making the exact same mistake as all the other ideologies that I listed.
"Let's fit/force humainty into {Insert $NAME here] our special philopohic world-view & we can create a pradise (on or off the Earth)"
Well, every time, so far, the results have been very. very unpleasant, & I'm nit buying it (again)
I DON'T BELIEVE YOU - got that yet?

guthrie @ 234 & others
WS Churchill was also a very varied main minister in many other departments over many years - usually sucessfully (exception - Treasury) he knew his business.
The main problem after WWII was that he was simply burnt out. I heard his last-ever public speech, at the general election of 1955 .... ( I was 9 )

Dave_the_proc @ 237
No, he's just spouting even greater idiocies.
After all, the Nazis wanted a "new true pure way, better than the decadence to which the West has sunk" didn;t they?
They, too wanted to re-form the human race inot a new & supposedly better image ... sound familiar?

- which leads directly to TRX @ 239
Yes ... something similar happened @ Bergen-Belsen, but the Brits managed to keep it all unofficial.

242:

re:OP - why do women seem to receive harsher punishments for the same crime?

Perhaps there's still an attitude that women should be kept in line by their fathers and husbands - and when this "fails" and they end up in court, it's the equivalent of a "federal offence"? Their punishment is harsher because there's the unspoken assumption that earlier disciplinary measures have failed.

243:

Are you seriously suggesting that Jack wasn't feeling anger when he gunned down a few hundred people?

244:

On sexual dimorphism.

I was going to suggest that the african homo sapiens bottleneck created one progenitor culture in which males hunt game and raid adjacent tribes while females gather and tend the babies. And that that universal culture had created the conditions for small males to lose the fights with the neighbors while large males won them (seeing as how these hypothetical miniwars would have been fought with stone axes and sharp sticks (maybe slings).

But when I looked for backup I found that the african bottleneck theory is now in doubt due to new genetic studies. Nevertheless, the (male)hunter&fighter/female gatherer&caregiver pattern was so common for whatever reason that I imagine you can still say males are larger because they fought other males, just as male Elk are larger and have larger racks of horns so they can fight other males for the females. So, the whole hunting role things is irrelevant. Big shoulders are our peacock feathers.

@242
Just thought of this. Maybe the thinking is that women's prisons are not as harsh as male prisons so they need more time to get the same effect. Men can be colleged as career criminals in 2 or 3 years, but women need at least 5.

246:

Yes. Insanity was of course the other option that I didn't mention as a motive for the "we shouldn't have got involved in WW2" post.

Leaning on the rudder a little: Is discussing WW2 (even under the banner of behaviour during war time) possibly a red-herring in terms of the topic of this thread? Does the behaviour of men (or women) during war throw light on the topic, or further muddy the waters? Does it depend on whether you think that war reveals our true nature or causes us to act uncharacteristically?

247:

I think you are now making the pop evo mistake. There is no rape requirement. It is entirely consistent that males would be larger if access to the "best" females or food required physical competition with other males.

Our nearest relatives, Bonobos have males averaging 85 pounds compared to females at 65.
http://www.awf.org/content/wildlife/detail/bonobo
Chimpanzees have similar size differences.

There is a nice scholarly article on the differences between chimpanzees and bonobos:
http://primate.uchicago.edu/Stanford.pdf
The author notes that humans are believed to follow a mix of the chimpanzee hierarchical, dominance organization and the bonobo female dominated, cooperative structure.

Which really gets us back to the question of the OP.
If we use chimpanzees as the model, then we do not need "culture" as an explanation of male and female violence,
Our near ancestors already had it.
BUT, does culture possibly sway us between chimpanzee vs bonobo social organization? Depending on how you view our evolution and what our common ancestor was like (which we don't know) you could argue either way. That culture has made us more like bonobos (cooperative, non-violent) or like chimpanzees (extremely hierarchical and violent). History seems to suggest the former. And given the educational outcomes in the US, may drive us even further in that direction.

At the very least, current social organization doesn't favor physical strength over brains to ascend the hierarchy. That strength is acquired by using the apparatus of the social organization.

248:

given hitlers patern of breaking agreements that was obvious why do you think that the british empire woudl give hitler a free hand in europe.

Arguably if britain and france had put the boot in erlier say prior to checslovakia this could have been sorted out with far less blood shead.

And if the French had listen to de gaulle and used thier overwemingly better armourd forces properly

249:


I am not meaning to imply that evolution is 'designing' anything. If I gave off that impression it was unintentional. But bigger muscles, more potent chemicals, claws, teeth and behaviors all require energy..and beings which use energy for no purpose tend to starve.

Take the Tiger for example. The tiger has claws, teeth, muscles, camo and sneaky behaviors...because it's a predator. It's selected to be good at what it does.

Men are bigger than women. (As an aggregate). This is a fact. That's...not easy. Fifty pounds of muscle and bone requires more food, time etc.

...so there has to be SOME advantage. One of those advantages is 'fighting/scaring other males'. Another is "Controlling/dominating the females".

>>2. You're basically saying that hominid reproduction has throughout deep time been dominated by violent rape. If this was the case, we could expect to see phenotypic adaptations favoured that gave females some control over which sperm donor caused a pregnancy

That is not what I am saying. I'm saying there is a component of violent rape in the male reproductive matrix. It's something that does happen, has happened, and (likely) will always happen. It's relatively rare, and becoming more so...but it does exist.

250:

"You don't need anger to do violent things."

True, but a lot of male social violence of the type generally being discussed starts from anger. War, OTOH, can be quite a rational choice.

251:

"Dirk, I'm more than a little curious as to what your proposed alternative to "getting involved in WWII" might have been? I really don't think that neautrality was an option for Britain, "

I think neutrality was an option. Anyway, this has already been discussed on this blog.

252:

"I DON'T BELIEVE YOU - got that yet?"

Yes, I get it. Consider my posts to be for the rest of the group, excluding yourself of course. It might help to keep your blood pressure and caps key under control in future. The latter does, of course, belong to those who create it. And may the best memes win.

253:

Dirk, my last digression in this direction, but if you know which blog-entry it was discussed under (or even know where to find supporting arguments for British neautrality in WW2) could you post links?

I don't want to re-hash old arguments, particularly when they're very off topic, but I really cannot see how Britain could have remained neutral without tacitly supporting Germany (which to my mind, after the fact as it is, is not an option -- unless we're good with watching genocide from our comfortable neautrality).

254:

Oh wow. That story about Jack is a lot like an incident in the movie Shutter Island," where Leonardo DiCaprio's character has a flashback to when he was a US soldier in WW2 and his unit did the same exact thing.

But certainly transhumanists aren't talking about forcing everyone to accept genetic modification. Having it available as a designer option would be much better. Then it would become the fashion, and it would get to where NOT having "the fix" would be like coming to a job interview with a ratty beard, or wearing sandals into a fine restaurant--legal, but likely to arouse scorn and prejudicial treatment.

Or maybe they will just stick it in a highly contageous virus that spreads to everyone. Then people will secretly have children modified to not have it, and there will be this minority of people walking around who secretly ARE capable of anger.

255:

Some of the tech that looks like it might make a big difference to the Human psyche in the near future is not at all reassuring. I wrote a kind of "tabloid essay" on it at TNet.
http://transhumanity.net/articles/entry/our-vampire-future-wireheading-and-hi-tech-psychopaths

Like I said there, I find some of it *very* worrying because it could considerably raise the levels of violence in society.

256:

I hear your invocation of Godwin's Law and I'm going to rule it out of bounds on this particular thread.

257:

What is out of bounds? Godwin's Law or the off topic WW2 ramblings?

258:

dirk @ 241/2
Yes, as long as we are all aware that you are attempting to con or brainwash us into a course of action which has already failed at mutiple attempts.
Why should yours be any different?
Please show how & why it would be different, with no slaughter, prison-camps etc & showing all your workings. Double-spaced, on one side o9f the paper only.
As for "neutrality" in WWI - how? AT the point of Spet 1939, or even May/Jun1940?
Remeber, it was discussed extensively in cabinet & reasoned out not to be a viable option at the latter date.
@ 255
And - who shall guard the Guardians?
Precisely.

259:

BTW, I quite like discussing historical counterfactuals. Have you considered running a blog thread on them?

260:

"And - who shall guard the Guardians?
Precisely."

Precisely - my version of Transhumanism has no Guardians. Let a hundred flowers bloom.

261:

I think Dirk is wandering into the realms of "if we could gather a group of altruistic selfless intellectuals, they could govern us all for the greater good" fantasy land. I retract earlier requests for clarification of any arguments made by Dirk, on the grounds that I already suspect that the authors will be enthusiastically supporting the tinfoil hat industry.

262:

This rather confirms my point. You grab for anything that supports your ideology. One study that isn't conclusive on a very complicated topic (there are a wealth of studies linking genes to behavioural and psychological traits that have led to nothing) and the proposition that people are working on future technology now and you've hand waved the problem away. Theres also this implication of faith that there are people looking into it today therefore it will happen. Nothing to you seems to be a problem that technology that will come (no chance it wont) cant help. You've not even bothered to discuss what could lead to decreases in violence and equality of the sexes; things we have done, are doing and could do without inventing new science.

No rather than address a problem and discuss what could be done the transhumanist answer is "there will definitely be this technology in the future and then we can reprogram the problem at". Intellectually shameful from an ideology that prouds itself on being scientifically literate.

As this is way off topic I'm not going to continue contributing and further derailing this thread from it's original purpose.

263:

No, not going there.

(Got an entire alt-hist trilogy to write over the next couple of years. Give me a break!)

264:

A solution to the problem of male violence might only need a rather small gene tweak to limit the degrees of anger that can be felt. And/or raising the physical strength of women to match men.

It's my opinion that violence is not caused by anger or hormones or whatever but by loss of control. When you are in a situation where you can't reach your goals by normal means, violence helps to relieve your frustration. Of course it wont help your goals most of the time, it just gives you an illusion of being in control. That's why the target of the violence often is not even the source of the frustration.

So I don't think there's a genetic solution to cure violence. It's a cultural problem and it needs a cultural solution.

265:

"I think Dirk is wandering into the realms of "if we could gather a group of altruistic selfless intellectuals, they could govern us all for the greater good" fantasy land."

Completely the opposite - create ideas, inventions etc and release them "into the wild". No "Guardians" no "altruistic selfless intellectuals". Just Do It. Then let society as a whole work through the consequences.

266:

Not in the Turtledove style I hope

267:

Somewhat off topic news (but maybe not, depending)...
The EU is funding the Human brain emulation project with $650m over the next decade.

268:

Unscientific sample, I know. What I am trying to say: cultural conditioning matters, but I wouldn't completely disregard the notion that women on average are less prone to violence.

I've studied a wide variety of martial arts over the years: Kendo, Wing Chun Kung Fu, as well as western style fencing (saber, rapier, foil, epeé, two handed w/dagger, two handed with buckler--on the line and in the round.) I've seen this too. However, I lean more toward the stance "don't discount social conditioning." Personally? I have no issues with hitting people in my martial arts classes. Hell, I came in 4th in the men's fencing tournament at my community college where I earned my degree. (2nd in the women's.) And you better believe I used that "women are less agressive on the line" bias to my advantage. (to some rather amusing results, actually.)

That said, I have a hard time believing that women are genetically engineered to be less agressive. It isn't the case in nature. (Just watch an adult female bear protect her cubs and tell me again how females = passive.) Not everyone can overcome their conditioning because not everyone has been raised under the exact same conditions.

I will allow for the possibility that it is genetic or homornal--I just don't think it's probable. (I suspect we're on the same page.)

269:

Aggressive is not the same as violent

270:

Aaaaaaaand the hair is split!!

271:

Dirk, you are either trolling or being assholishly contrarian.

You are also responsible for 34 out of the 270 comments on this entry so far, i.e. 12.6% of the traffic, making you probably the most frequent poster after the author.

Either way, it's unwelcome and derailing. So this is your yellow card. Kindly take some time out from this topic. OK?

272:

I've also seen some studies that explain male violence and warfare in general as tribal responses to food or other resource shortages. The idea being that one quick way to deal with prolonged shortage is for two tribes to merge via fighting a little war, killing off all the men from one tribe and absorbing the females.

Genetic diversity is maintained and even expanded as opposed to one tribe killing off the entire population of the other tribe. Winning males get to spread their genes.

If you buy into that logic then strong/aggressive males is evolutionary advantages, while strong/aggressive females are evolutionarily disadvantageous

273:

One thing I've learned from watching Dr. Sapolsky's Stanford lectures on youtube is that behaviour is a very messy thing indded, environment, genetics, epigenetics (environmentally mediated heritable genetic expression) make a mockery of simple explanations.

I would beware of countering just so explanations with other just so rebuttals. So maybe human females don't have mazelike wombs, but I've read theories that suggest the female orgasm has a gatekeeper function. Who knows? Until someone spends 30 years collecting data in extremely elegant fine grained experiments we won't be sure of anything. Dr. Sapolsky speaks of doing things like transplanting foetuses into foster wombs to control for prenatal environment - this is the level of elaborateness required to distinguish real effects.

In my opinion, humans have great flexibility in behaviours, but they tend to replicate existing natural patterns. Young men at sport seem to be replicating tournament species behaviour. The potentate with a harem is similar to a bull elephant seal, a monastery or nunnery might be likened to a hive of social insects* sacrificing their own reproduction for kin selection. The SS soldier swinging a boy's head into a wall or the fanatical mother drowning her children for Jesus may have tapped into some remote child killing atavism inherited from a distant ancestor. Or maybe similar situations beget similar behaviours.

But as long as we see practically all human behaviours mirrored in nature I don't think we can discart biological determinism, much as we may dislike what it tells us.

* Or naked mole rats for a mammalian model.

274:


That said, I have a hard time believing that women are genetically engineered to be less aggressive. It isn't the case in nature.

So what? Bears hibernate, we don't, generally*. It's all down to evolutionary pressures.
I don't think they're any less aggressive, but they're less aggressive physically. Whether that's down to common sense or genetics.. no idea.

I find it plausible, considering the level of violence in past societies and tribes to believe that women who were too aggressive or resistant to exploitation could've ended up dead.
Stockholm syndrome's another adaptation that bears thinking about.

Differences in size in humans have decreased over time, from 50% or so to 15% these days.

*though there's this article about a lost Japanese hiker who supposedly hibernated for three weeks or so..
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/dec/21/japan.topstories3
^seems like a hoax or what.

275:

Did you just counter an observation with a small sample with just a single anecdote? And a female bear defending her cubs is relevant to human male vs female aggression how?

The Wikipedia article on aggression: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggression
suggests that in studies, males are more physically aggressive than females. However, IMO, we are still left with the issue of whether this is developmental or learned.

However rat models using sterilized rats given testosterone suggests that it may be biological (if the results can be extrapolated to humans).

Back to the original post. The US may be quite good as regards controlling male aggression especially with regards to women. Certainly sexual aggression (harassment) is very harshly treated compared to other countries. However you can interpret this in 2 ways. Either the US is very patriarchal and protective of women, or it is actively trying to ensure equality. I tend to believe the latter.

276:

I think as in most things, there is a nature and a nurture component to male violence. However, tackling the problem on the nature front may be uneccesary not only due to the inherent ethical problems but also because it is simply slower than the culture fix. Memes are faster then genes.
I recently listened to a wonderful program on niceness from radiolab on NPR(all free podcasts). The show featured a scientist who studied baboons,whose males are extremely violent and posses high sexual dimorphism. One year, a game reserve by the troop started a large garbage dump where the males found easy food. Soon tb spread through the aggressive males who fought in the dump. Within a year all the adult males in the troop were dead. What happened next is unbelievable.
Without alpha males around, the teens of the troop did not display all the aggression which is typical of the species. Grooming shot up, violence went down, and new males that entered the troop were accepted in less time than previously, and also displayed less aggression. This has now been going on for 20 years within the troop. So maybe even if there is a biological tendency towards male violence, culture can still best it.

277:

This is not exactly on topic, but there's been a shooting outside the hotel hosting the local SF con, COSine, which is starting tonight. Charlie was GoH last year. It happened in the parking lot, and there are probably other events going on there, so not likely to have anything to do with it. At the moment the local news doesn't have much information.


Meanwhile, going back to the 1st comment, here's an interview with Steven Pinker on the lessening of violence in the last few centuries: Steven Pinker on "The Better Angels of Our Nature

278:

People are complicated, but want simple answers.

Hence the image presented by such things as politics, religion, and psuedo-science. They all depend on a simple answer to a complex problem.

So, alas, do some people in this comment thread.

279:

A female bear defending her cubs?

How many of us thought of Kipling*, when that came up? I can live with the thesis that when a woman does fight, it can be really important. But that doesn't fit well with status-driven fights, which seem more obvious now.

Animals in general don't seem to have the same sort of high-risk pregnancy that humans have. That brain-filled skull is a problem for our species. So is the long dependency. There are other reproductive strategies: ask a fish.

But I do think there is a deep, partially evolutionary, reason why "Think of the Children!" is such a powerful slogan.

It's years since I read "The Selfish Gene", which I remember as a bit of a shock. It's one of those things where the end result is a bit of a simplification, but it does make some sense of things which that emotive appeal ignores.

The industrial revolution has probably unleashed a huge amount of genetic mixing. We're not related to our neighbours any more. But I can't help thinking that Socialism is a political idea better matched to our deep history than any of the rugged, devil-take-the-hindmost, individualism that is poisoning the public world.

Civilisation depends on not fighting. It depends on cooperation. It also depends on individuals being able to come up with new things.

In the last hundred years, we almost lost it all, though the old enemies of war and pestilence and famine. And there are signs that such things are not defeated. Our politicians still see war as an answer (there certainly isn't the mass enthusiasm of August 1914). The UK farming industry, because of the weather, has had a dreadful year, the sort of drop that would trigger famine in the past. And the professionals warn of antibiotic resistance as the big medical threat.

A century or so ago, the last of the notorious Hole-in-the-Wall gang may have died. Todays robbers, the Galt's Gulch Gang, may be better at hiding in plain sight. But they look to have the same futile, suicidal, inability to break away from their habits. And they could drag us all down with them. Pestilence doesn't stop at a fence. You don't keep it out with armed guards.

"Think of the Children!", they scream. But they might be the biggest threat, not the internet, not islam, not welfare queens or benefit scroungers.

The way Kipling put it, they're invoking something which doesn't compromise, and even that poor, dumb, Himalayan peasant knows better than to push his luck.


[*] The Female of the Species

WHEN the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

280:

THREE mentions now of the same Kipling poem!
And a very interesting comment on the much-misunderstood "The Selfish Gene".

Yes, it is complicated & I agree that I don't think there are any simple answers.
However, no-one has yest (I think) mentioned another Dawkins publication: "The Extended Phenotype"
Where the structures and bahaviour of a species self-modify that species & vice cersa in a set of feedback loops.
The short piece on (self) behaviour-modified baboons was illuminating, whereas Dawkins used IIRC, Beavers as an example.

281:

The baboon troop example was used by Sapolsky too, but I think it's disingenuous to assign to culture what can be assigned to a surplus of easily available calories. I doubt any amount of cultural card shuffling could make the middle ages less violent

282:

In my opinion, humans have great flexibility in behaviours, but they tend to replicate existing natural patterns.

What you miss here is that human behaviours (a) can be copied from other individuals, and (b) may be applied inappropriately, i.e. the wrong behavioural model may be selected for dealing with the current prevailing circumstances. If somebody is crossing a railway, sees a light and hears the air horn of an approaching train, and experiences an adrenaline spike, do they run or do they freeze? If the latter, they may be adopting the "fight" arm of the "fight or flight" reflex -- even if only for a couple of seconds, until they figure out that flight is the only option (if the train gives them enough time).

Our behaviour is so complex and prone to exceptions and paradoxical/counterproductive loops that trying to link it to genetics, much less epigenetics and memetics, is pretty much hopeless.

283:

The level of male violence against women isn't going to get any lower in our post-industrial societies, it may even get higher.
Why that, as all cultural constructs aim to reduce violence (religions, gender studies, expanding prison system, etc...)?
Well, you may have noticed that the last thirty years have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the general population to a small subgroup (the so-called 1%), this has generated a context of increasing resource scarcity (real or perceived)for much of the population.
In that context, conforming to the dominant model of nuclear family/high parental involvment goes against the reproduction *imperative* and amounts to genetic suicide. Male violence may be considered a disorder from the point of view of the dominant cultural discourse but it may not be a disorder from the perspective of Darwinian fitness.
Already subgroups within our post-industrial societies have reverted to the ancient and successfull reproductive strategy of low parental involvment.
That is characterised by:
- High levels of male violence (including against women)
- Male display by means of colorful costumes, ornaments, etc.
- Male public bombast, oratory, and rhetoric
- Low direct provisioning of mate and offspring by males
- Early capture of economic resources by women from their mates
- Intense nurturance by the mother followed by sudden cessation of maternal interest at (fairly early) weaning
- Falling menarcheal age (resulting in unwed, teenage pregnancies)


284:

Charlie, it's maybe not a mistaken choice to freeze. Not in terms of deep history anyway, Predators are good at detecting motion, so a freeze response while you assess the risk is a good strategy.

When we're talking about railroad locomotives and road traffic, not so good. But I wouldn't call it a fight option.

It's why soldiers get so much training, trying to modify the automatic response. It's still minimising movement, but dropping flat is more important than freezing.

The German Army was taught that before the First World War, which is part of why the stories about the British Army's rapid rifle fire exaggerated the effect. From a distance, it looked like a lot of hits, and it stopped the enemy moving, but it was not as lethal as it seemed.

My background is rural rather than urban. I never went in for the "country" sports, but I was walking over that country, noticing at a semi-conscious level how things were harder to see when they didn't move. Across a field, a couple of hundred years for ten acres, you need to be dressed rather garishly to be visible, if you're not moving.

Also, I have a different idea of what the night is like. There's a lot of glow from distant streetlights, but the night is a lot darker than some might think.

I reckon I am nearer in my experience to my remote ancestors than some people are. I can't always explain it, but some things do somehow make sense which others might mock.

If you want to get an idea what might have moulded some of these patterns, talk to poachers rather than bankers.

285:

Oops. A couple of hundred yards for ten acres.

A acre is ten square chains.

A chain is 22 yards.

So a square 10-acre field is 220 yards square.

OK, chaps, back to violent women.

286:

My last comment in this thread.
What I meant by saying aggression is not violence is that one can have aggression in all kinds of situations without the escalation to physical violence. It is this transition that is strongly culturally conditioned.

287:

nb.michel.bazieu @ 283
Really?
Don't believe you.
What were the levels of violence in late C19th England & USA against women & in general?
Because, then the 0.1% really controlled things ....
I call strawman.

err & a chain is exactly 20 metres
Ten quare cahins, or ten chains square?
err, again?
Since a hectare is (very approx) 2 acres (actually a bit less than 2)

288:
The level of male violence against women isn't going to get any lower in our post-industrial societies, it may even get higher.

How does that fit in with the massive drops in sexual violence in the USA over the last 20 odd years?

See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/18/AR2006061800610.html for example.

289:

Basic maths fail there, Greg.

A hectare is 100 metres by 100 metres.

Or, if your statement that "a chain is exactly 20 metres" happened to be true, 5 chains by 5 chains. Which would be 25 square chains, or 2.5 acres.

Not "a bit less than 2".

It's actually 2.471 rather than 2.5, but that's because a chain is not exactly 20 metres. Or at least not in Imperial measures (there might be a metric chain, just as there's a metric foot).

290:

OMG, what would be next? A US president with Alzheimer??

I dot NOT say she couldn't serve, just that it would be an easy target during a campaign. But she would be best service IMO if she got expert medical opinion as to what her concussion means to her long term mental abilities.

And, yes, if Reagan had the big A during his last year, he should have resigned. But we don't have any medical results to use to base a diagnosis. Just a lot of opinions. And in many cases the opinions seem be at least a little partisan based. Personally I suspect he was in the early stages but that's a totally uniformed opinion. And the big A is very hard to definitively diagnose in early stages, especially if the person being tested is recalcitrant about the entire issue.

291:

bellinghman
Agreed - thoigh it's my memory that's at fault, actually.
I can never get to grips with "Acres" (!)
But a chain is as close to 20 meters as makes no practical diffence at all.
1km = 5/8 mile
20 metres = 1/50th km
80 chains = 1 mile
QED

Alternatively 1 metre = 3ft 3.325"
so 20 metres = 60 ft + 66.5" = 65.6ft = 22 yds - 7".
Um

292:

Rubbish. Utter tosh.

1. Evolution doesn't work on such a short time scale.

2. I note that the overall thrust of your argument would tend to support a particular racist agenda specific to North American contemporary right wing culture ...

293:

The combination of "evolution" and "selfish gene" seems to be a sort of magic-word excuse for sociopathy. Ayn Rand would have loved Dawkins.

294:

@ 293
I don't think you have read Dawkins, have you?
Prof D. specifically says that we can rebel against (our own) selfish replicators.
ANd everybody, especially the religious, carefully ignore him, as you seem to have done.

295:

What part of "magic-word excuse" don't you understand?

296:

While I agree that males being bigger than females probably benefits the species because mass has a cost, that doesn't imply the reasons have to be hunting and fighting other males, much less 'dominating' females (besides, it's quite difficult to find such an explanation for the peacock's tail and many other examples of sexual dimorphism).

Males are bigger in the vast majority of mammal and bird species, including herbivorous and species known for his pacific behavior, like bonobos and orangutans. And in most carnivorous species both males and females hunt.

Actually the peacock's tail is so difficult to justify evolutionarily speaking that I have read some scientists explain it because it is detrimental: i.e., the peacock is announcing: Look, girls, I have survived in spite of this ridiculous, enormous, colorful, useless tail! The rest of me has to be of the finest quality, mate with me!

297:

@ 295
So you are saying that Ayn Rand would have deliberately misinterpreted Dawkins? In the same way that all the religious do?
Yes, or no, please?

298:

Misunderstanding, yes. Deliberate, I don't know.

299:

OK
Fair 'nuff

300:

I never got around to replying last sunday so the iron is no longer hot, in any case...

"What you miss here is that human behaviours (a) can be copied from other individuals, and (b) may be applied inappropriately, i.e. the wrong behavioural model may be selected for dealing with the current prevailing circumstances."

No, I don't miss that at all... you seem to be assuming I conflate "natural" with "good". It's a common assumption but not one I made or believe in.

Certainly freezing when a vehicle is barreling towards you is a misapplied reflex that kills humans and animals alike. Sometimes they work out though, the reflex that sends insects towards lightbulbs probably serves mosquitoes rather well, even if it's not so good for moths.

As for what an instinctive behaviour actually is, Sapolski describes that after painstaking experiments they were able to determine that the instinct to peck at the ground to find their food in chicks is hardwired originally simply as a tendency to peck at their own toes. The animals then learn, through experience, that pecking at food is more rewarding and less painful. Evolution is blind and an instinct needs only to provide the barest direction even in such simple minded animals until their brains pick up the right pattern.

So in complex animals such as humans and baboons it's not surprising the "imitate what others are doing" drive is very strong and effective. Is a learned behaviour not instinctive if you have a strong instinct to learn behaviours? Bit of a puzzle.

My take on biological determinism, in the case of violence is: Say I punch some other guy. Did I do it because I am male and have testosterone? Or, at a lower level, because I'm human and I have fists and I saw Rocky when I was a kid. Not that I actually do punch people because I've found the behaviour to be counterproductive and ineffective in practice, of course.

Hypothesis: Probably the imitation instinct is gender aware. Girls imitate women, boys imitate men, thus accounting for the persist inertia of gender constructs.

This kind of thing probably has a real impact:
http://www.lynseyaddario.com/contents/Afghanistan/Women%20at%20War/image-09_LA_WomenatWar_2/

301:

The idea of gender-specific imitation doesn't seem silly to me. There's enough difference in the biology for it to feed on. But there can be other pressures which act against it.

So there would be some general advantage in such imitation and a lot of memes (I can't think of a better label) which come along for the ride.

Specials

Merchandise

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Stina Leicht published on January 23, 2013 1:14 AM.

Women in SF and Fantasy was the previous entry in this blog.

The Anthropic Stupidity Hypothesis is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog

Propaganda