Male violence and terrorism

(69 Posts)
Grimarse Tue 22-Mar-16 11:39:49

The vast majority of violent acts, including terrorist attacks, are planned and carried out by men. If you want an indiscriminate attack on innocent people, spreading fear, injury and death, there is usually a man or group of men who can be found to carry it out with relatively little effort.

My understanding of male violence as discussed on this board is that it is underplayed by our society because frequently the victims are female, and female lives are less valued than male. But looking at terrorist attacks, men are as vulnerable as women. What is more, terrorists are able to attack not only Joe Public, but also those at the top of the tree - politicians, business leaders etc.

It has raised a couple of questions in my head;

1. Are men biologically more disposed to violence than women?
2. Are feminist explanations that male violence can somehow be socially engineered out of the male psyche therefore doomed to failure?

My own point of view is that men’s biology makes violence inevitable at a higher rate than it will occur in women, and that short of biological engineering, we are stuck with it. I think that this viewpoint is at odds with feminist thinking, because it is somehow seen as letting men off the hook - ‘poor things, they can’t help it’ etc. I’d be very interested to know what others think.

AutumnMadness Tue 22-Mar-16 13:09:12

I am biologically predisposed towards eating cake. And yet I somehow manage to abstain from making it a major food group in my diet. I am sure that, with appropriate socialisation, even men could learn to exercise some willpower and keep the lid on their urge to rape and pillage.

Grimarse Tue 22-Mar-16 13:13:03

You are biologically predisposed to eating. The cake is optional. However, I sense that you are being less than serious.

AutumnMadness Tue 22-Mar-16 13:15:50

No, I am being perfectly serious. People really are predisposed towards preferring foods that are more calorific. If you are running around the savannah with a spear, you will be much better off eating lard than lettuce. Having a dick is not an excuse for being one.

AnyFucker Tue 22-Mar-16 13:19:44

this article is interesting

Some narrators would say that women involved in extremism are given more of a free pass than men.

I think socialisation does none of us any favours, and radicalisation even fewer.

whatdoIget Tue 22-Mar-16 13:21:49

Men may be more predisposed towards violence than women, but they are capable of learning that it's not acceptable and they need to find alternatives. I think we'd be selling men short of we said 'well they can't help it, what you gonna do?'
I don't believe male violence is inevitable, given the right upbringing and socialisation. Not all men are violent are they? Thankfully, or we would be living in an even more violent world than we're already in

Noneedforasitter Tue 22-Mar-16 13:26:13

I challenge the basic premise that women are not terrorists. There may be fewer of them, but there are enough documented cases of female suicide bombers to invalidate the generalisation. Baader was a man, but Meinhof was a woman. The sad truth is that toxic ideologies can influence both men and women.

Grimarse Tue 22-Mar-16 13:29:52

Let me confess something. I put my theory about a biological pre-disposition in the OP because if I didn't, other posters might assume I am trolling and/or looking for someone to complete a homework assignment for me. Often, posting a question on here without offering a view is met with suspicion, especially coming from a man.

The truth is, I don't know that biology can explain away men's disposition towards violence. However, there is circumstantial evidence to at least consider it. I am curious as to what evidence there is that male violence is completely socialised. It happens in every culture. It happens in every social strata. It happens amongst rich people, poor people, white people, brown people, in hot countries, in cold countries.....just about every variable I can think of.

I am not ruling out socialisation as a factor that might influence how prevalent male violence is. But might it be true that even if people are raised in as gender-neutral a way as possible, we could still see higher levels of violence amongst the male half of the population? Do we have any evidence to say that this is not true?

whatdoIget Tue 22-Mar-16 13:33:47

Who cares? I'd be happier if men would take responsibility for their own actions, rather than trying to shift the blame onto biology. You can control yourselves, some of you chose not to, imo anyway.

AutumnMadness Tue 22-Mar-16 13:35:32

Grimarse, I really don't get the practical implications of your biological predisposition argument. Even if we agree that men are more biologically/genetically/whatever predisposed towards violent behaviour, so what? If some guy rapes you, are you just going to go "oh well, bad luck, he's biologically predisposed, I'll just avoid men next time"?

timelytess Tue 22-Mar-16 13:39:40

Women raise the men you are blaming for the violence. Women take part in the planning of violence and in violent action when circumstances make that appropriate (from their point of view). Women are as 'radicalised' as men.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Tue 22-Mar-16 13:43:40

"My understanding of male violence as discussed on this board is that it is underplayed by our society because frequently the victims are female"

I disagree. I think the reason it's underplayed is because it is so woven into the fabric of society that male violence is seen as inevitable and therefore seen too big to tackle.

It is also the fact that the people who have the most potential to stop it are part of the group itself and therefore no one likes to piss them off by pointing it out.

An example being that when (from a western perspective) non-whites/immigrants commit sex crimes then it becomes a whole lot easier to analyse culture and socialisation.

MatildaBeetham Tue 22-Mar-16 13:44:10

I think that we are unable to answer satisfactorily the question of to what extent male violence is biological or socialised. And I think therefore that insisting that it is answered before anything can be done will just mean that the status quo is maintained.

I think we know that men can control themselves if they want to, if they can see the advantages of doing so (compare an abuser's behaviour at work versus at home) or if they are frightened of the consequences of not doing so (consider the actions of a man who is happy to bully women or weaker men, when he enters a pub full of giant tattooed bikers).

So a more interesting and useful question is, we have plenty of evidence that many men are violent, but that most of them can control this. So why aren't they doing so in certain situations? And what do those situations have in common, what's telling them they can get away with it, what are they gaining from it and why, etc.

Grimarse Tue 22-Mar-16 13:44:52

Who cares? I'd be happier if men would take responsibility for their own actions, rather than trying to shift the blame onto biology. You can control yourselves, some of you chose not to, imo anyway.

I asked the question because of the events in Brussels this morning. And because one of the basic tenets of feminism is to free women from male oppression and violence. And because, even as a man, I am not sure why we are more violent than women, but I know that we are. And that when I see it discussed, most feminists seem to dismiss it as per the quote above. I thought it was an idea worth discussion.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Tue 22-Mar-16 13:45:17

"Women raise the men you are blaming for the violence. "

Because the mothers are the only influence on them? hmm

girlinacoma Tue 22-Mar-16 13:45:29

Whenever I see footage of ISIS, the IRA, football hooligans or the EDF - my overriding impression is not one of 'evil' but of immaturity.

I just see whingy, pathetic, immature young men with an overinflated sense of importance.

Overly simplistic perhaps!

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Tue 22-Mar-16 13:49:31

"And because, even as a man, I am not sure why we are more violent than women, but I know that we are"

I think it is both socialisation and biological. Part of that socialisation looks to biology in order to justify the social norms.

But the fact that some societies are vastly less violent than others shows that biology isn't everything.

whatdoIget Tue 22-Mar-16 13:50:56

Grimarse, I disagree. I think you're barking up the wrong tree and this discussion will go no way towards refusing male violence. Are you suggesting we start selectively breeding men, or medicating the existing ones, or what?

whatdoIget Tue 22-Mar-16 13:51:28

Not refusing, reducing

Mide7 Tue 22-Mar-16 13:53:28

"Whenever I see footage of ISIS, the IRA, football hooligans or the EDF - my overriding impression is not one of 'evil' but of immaturity.

I just see whingy, pathetic, immature young men with an overinflated sense of importance.

Overly simplistic perhaps!"

I think a common theme is young men who feel ostracised finding a cause that brings them together. Whether that's a gang, a firm or a terrorist group.

Grimarse Tue 22-Mar-16 13:53:53

But the fact that some societies are vastly less violent than others shows that biology isn't everything.

Which societies are you referring to? I can think of somewhere like Canada being less prone to gun violence than the USA, despite similar levels of ownership but overall, are women safer in Canada than the USA or the UK?

MatildaBeetham Tue 22-Mar-16 13:54:18

And because, even as a man, I am not sure why we are more violent than women, but I know that we are. And that when I see it discussed, most feminists seem to dismiss it as per the quote above. I thought it was an idea worth discussion.

I think it is worth discussing, and I think it's fairly typical of the men I've chatted to to feel this way, like it's biological, inevitable.

I had a conversation with my DH about it, when he explained to me how sometimes he feels the urge to be violent (which he always controls, btw), such as when someone cuts him up while driving for example. Like a surge of testosterone or something.

And I asked him, do you think I don't feel that anger as well? Or feel it less? Or less physically? Of course, we'll never know. But FWIW, I think women also feel those urges to express things physically, just read some of the threads about non sleeping babies or difficult toddlers, when women talk about pulling out chunks of hair and punching walls or pillows.

So maybe the question about socialisation is that women tend to express these feelings that in men lead to violence against others, in different ways? Chicken and egg really: if we 'know' men are 'naturally' violent, we won't be that surprised when men are violent, and if we 'know' women aren't, we'll be surprised and very censorious when women are. And some are, and from the research I've seen about it, they get treated more harshly for it.

MatildaBeetham Tue 22-Mar-16 13:56:07

* note that the women with non sleeping babies are pulling out their own hair, not that of their babies grinsad

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Tue 22-Mar-16 13:58:08

I don't think Grimarse is suggesting that, but just trying to find a cause for it so we can move forward with some progress.

It is nicer to think of violence as a product of socialisation because there's more hope but that doesn't make it true.

Is there an evolutionary reason for men to be violent? Yes of course. But there is also an evolutionary reason for them to be cooperative and altruistic.

Theydontknowweknowtheyknow Tue 22-Mar-16 13:59:36

I agree Matilda.

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