SASHA NADINA ELLIOTT, MSc
Given the overwhelming fact of male aggression, high rates of deviance and criminality, predatory behavior, and alarming male perspectives on how to handle anger and failure, I wonder if there is a biological reason behind it all.
Studies done in the US and UK have shown that testosterone, a male hormone, plays a pivotal role in levels of aggression and violent behavior, even in females. This could very well also influence the perspectives people hold on war and peace. No doubt, our culture-- incorporating monotheistic religion, violent pop culture, a love affair with guns, the denigration and hyper-sexualization of females, and our strict gender boundaries which emphasize that men should be assertive, strong, and aggressive, and women much less so-- plays a significant role in shaping and framing responses. It is stunning that despite the sickening daily news reports of violence all over the world, nobody is making the connection between-- or at least seriously discussing-- gender and violence which is manifested in every aspect of our lives and which contributes, to an astonishing degree, to international poverty, underdevelopment, and human misery.
This is an issue which goes beyond the endless debates surrounding gun control and public security. These debates do not address the root of the issue. What causes men, and to a lesser extent women, to be violent? Let's not get wrapped up in the nurture aspect, even though this certainly must play a role in some way. Instead, what is it within these people that causes them to think violently and act out their aggression? Can we pinpoint something biological which predisposes them to act this way and hurt others? And why does it seem to be more pronounced and normal in men? Is there something inherently violent about the male species? For instance, there has been debate about whether males, in particular, are less advantaged in terms of being able to feel empathy, an emotion which helps relate to and connect with others, which deprives them of a kind of human conscience, which in turn may excuse them from feeling remorse for their victims or in understanding the moral deficit of their behavior. [Incidentally, Frank A. Elliott, MD, (no known relation) a neurologist at Univ. of PA, had an article published in the journal, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society entitled "Biological Roots of Violence" nearly 3 decades ago. I have provided the link for further reading on the subject: http://www.jstor.org/pss/986191. Mr. Elliott had also published several other articles on the subject of violence and aggression.]
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Posted by squashymoto on Friday, October 06, 2006.