Why are men violent?

7 10 2007

My wife asked me “why are men so violent?” today, and after yelling at her to ‘get back in the kitchen’, it got me thinking. What is it about men and violence? Did the constant struggle to survive throughout the centuries cause a genetic predisposition towards violence? Do boys just not get enough hugs from their mommies? What is it that makes physically assaulting another human being even an option?

In attempting to answer this question, it brings up a lot of new ones so as best I can I will try to stick to the topic at hand and save the others for a post for another day. I think that there is some evolutionary basis (if you want to call it that) for why men are violent. Men have traditionally held the role of protector of their family unit. Why was it so important to protect their families? The wives bore children, and the children not only grew up to help with protection duties but ultimately bore the genetic code of the man, thereby allowing him to live on forever through his genes. Protecting the family was no small task for the man. Whether it was an attack from a smilodon (saber-tooth cat) or a raiding party from a neighboring clan, it was the job of the men as individuals or groups to repel this threat to their family. In most cases these interactions were violent. Violence was almost the only way to survive. On the other side of things were the men who had no (or few) mates. They also wanted to the wealth and status of large families. Violence was used as a way of securing goods, women, and beasts for themselves. Any man not strong enough to protect his family would lose it. That is how it was.

As man formed larger and more stable groups, violence became a means for control. Weaker males were pushed lower in society while the strong ones took more mates and more wealth. The threat of violence kept the members of society in check.
It wasn’t long before violence became entertainment. Boxing is often credited for being one of the oldest sports, second only to running. Running could turn into boxing if the man running slept with a slightly faster man’s wife.

Through the centuries, violence continues to be useful as a method of control. Although today, and especially in wealthy nations we have no excuse for acting violently towards one another, it is still quite prevalent. An as terrible as violence is, we continue to glorify it. On television and in the movies it is easier to see someone murdered than to see someone naked. There’s something wrong with that.

Stay tuned for the next part of my series, “Is violence funny?”

Addendum:  Let me also add seriously, that I do not advocate violence.  If you are being victimized by any type of violence, please ask for help from someone you trust.  No one deserves to be hit.  That is all.


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14 responses

8 10 2007
Katie

Hm, sounds like the documentary I saw about Lions on the Discovery channel.

And what is with this whole ‘kitchen’ thing? Even my friend tony, when visiting, yells, “Get back in the kitchen woman! And make me some chicken!” Riddle me this, sir… Could there be the connection between a mans heart (his stomach) and violence as well?

8 10 2007
Phil

Indeed a sagely insight, my young apprentice. “make me some chicken…” Yes, I like that.
Also, the heart/stomach is another topic worth exploring.
Yes, the way to a man’s heart is not through his stomach, but through the rib cage with a bone saw. Everyone knows this.

16 06 2009
scooter

How do you know it was men who defended everyone? Watching too many movies? There was no recorded history for the time you’re discussing. Perhaps it was men AND women protecting. There’s nothing scarier than confronting a woman with a baby. She’s can be as violent as a man. So why are men more violent than women now? I think both sexes have violence potential but male violence is more acceptable.

29 07 2009
JD

I totally agree. Just as women’s acting in a more perceived, “male” way is seen as inappopriate particularly in business or agressive negotiations. Gender roles need another wake up call. Just as women are pidgeon holed so are men. Limiting roles do nothing for a fluid take on society.

10 02 2014
Paul Jaramillo

Wrong…. men are the violent gender, women and violence is much less than men and always will, stop lying to yourself.

30 11 2009
ugogirl

Growing up the oldest of 8 kids, I definitely saw that males (naturally) tend to be more violent than females.
The oldest 3 are girls, so we tended to “boss” the rest, but let me tell you, the boys will be boys. There is definitely a difference between male and female, and violence is a part of it.
We were not allowed to have guns, swords, soldier toys, etc. for fear it would make us violent. Neither were we allowed to watch “violent” TV (i.e. higher rater than PG)
You could give my brothers a piece of toast and they would bite it into the shape of a gun and shoot you with it.
They actually re-invented the sport of sumo. They called it “rug wrestling”.
And in art, we’re looking through the kids’ pictures…
Mom: “Oh wow, Anna, what’s that?”
Anna: “It’s a cow in a field of flowers!”
Mom: “How nice! Mikey, what’s yours?”
Mikey: “It’s a bad guy bombing New York.”
Mom: “Oh… how nice.”

1 12 2009
Professor Manticore

Nice! Good point.

17 08 2013
5minutes

“We were not allowed to have guns, swords, soldier toys, etc. for fear it would make us violent.”
“You could give my brothers a piece of toast and they would bite it into the shape of a gun and shoot you with it.”

but somewhere they got the idea about guns, probably media mostly showing “cool” guys with guns (and not women)
or did they invent the concept of a gun themselves -
my point being enviromrnent will affect behavoir?

22 03 2010
Jamie

check out a book by Nancy J. Chodorow called “The Reproduction of Mothering” – it has enlightened me quite a lot on the dynamics of male and female gender roles as they’re developed in childhood. Definitely worth a look! :-D

18 02 2011
sms

Where did you get these crap theories from? Men in primitive hunter gatherer/ tribal societies are far less violent than men in urban societies and their aggression is directed toward primarily toward external threats (ever heard of tribal men developing nuclear weapons or engaging in drone warfare or imprisoning criminals?). Violence in urban societies is a result of extreme perversion of the natural order, materialism and patriarchy which leads to mental health issues among both men and women. The scale of violence observed in modern societies has never been recorded before in history.

18 02 2011
Professor Manticore

Certainly crap theories abound (*ahem*), but mine isn’t one of them. If you had read my book “The Stooge Conundrum” you would know that violence can be both an entertaining response to boredom or an effort for the small minded to control the stupid with a series of eye-pokes and slaps– the modern version of which is internet trolling. While it’s true we have developed more sophisticated methods to inflict pain upon our fellow man (Lady Gaga and the Twilight series, for example), early tribal societies provide the clearest and most distilled picture of how men secure their interests by use force against women and large primates alike. There is plenty of research that would show that, comparatively speaking, mankind is at an unprecedented low in violence and crime. The results of violence in urban societies of which you speak– ‘perversion of the natural order’ (i.e. snakes on a plane), materialism (Kanye West syndrome), and Patriarchy ( who says that’s a bad thing– men rule!!) are more a symptom of sweet, delicious capitalism than violence. But it’s not acceptable in western society to criticize capitalism, so violence becomes the scapegoat. DAMN YOU VIOLENCE!!
Finally, tribal men did develop their own less-sophisticated forms of nuclear weapons and drone warfare– the black plague and date-poisoning rhesus monkeys respectively. And no, tribal men did not imprison criminals– they killed them.

Well, I hope you are sufficiently enlightened. I preemptively declare any counter-argument you may have null and void, but feel free to respond if you feel like you need another wisdom injection.

yours truly,
Manticore

10 02 2014
Paul Jaramillo

Tribal societies are violent ones also, where do your information? It’s the men again.

20 09 2011
What’s new? « Project Hell Beast

[...] This new venue is a fresh start and a place where I can primarily focus on the craft of screenwriting and the entertainment industry as it interests me.  Project Hellbeast will still live on as a repository for all things mutant related and a great place to learn about why are men violent or why I cannot be a Dinka. [...]

10 06 2012
Rob

Males have gone from being a necessary evil, to an unnecessary evil. I hope future human civilization will limit live male births to 10%. To keep my daughters safe from men, I’m advocating they use a sperm bank and allow their mother to babysit while they work.

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