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  • Lance Mannion
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Yup, it is the ethologists' technical definition of 'aggression', used primarily to describe very specific behaviors in animals (and there often used wrongly due to male bias of researchers), and it, IMHO, should not be used in describing human behavior due to the baggage it carries.


Very nicely put.

Adorable Girlfriend

Johnny D. is no hottie to me. I was more than happy to see him go to NY so the young girls will stop yelling at him during games. He's just NOT hot.

harry near indy

great post lance!

i came to the conclusion long before now that there is a difference between aggression and assertion. it's too bad some people mix them in their minds.

harry near indy

first, sorry for the double post. the new procedure threw me.

lance, i've read the rest of the post and all of them are great! you've said a lot of things i've thought about manhood and life.


Hmmm, not sure if you'll like this *muse* on some similar men and women issues. Or *rant and rave* depending on your persepctive.

I periodically post pieces having to do with "Women Running the World" - But Jared Diamond had an interesting perspective in his book "Why Sex is Fun" (and NO it's not really about *why* sex is fun...) and his take on the particular male macho warrior myth.

Well - give it a read if it tweaks your interest...and I DO agree we can teach boys and girls both to grow beyond these male/female sterotypical roles and limiting descriptions - for the betterment of our future and society too.




I've been thinking a lot more about this lately as I read about ADD (my brother has it and I think I do too): what it is, and isn't, and how it manifests differently in boys and girls.

I'm still leary of making assumptions about what's genetic and what isn't, not only because of how it's the idea is abused, or even because we still understand so little about the brain, but because the relationship between genetic material and final product is determined by more than just to what percent nurture plays a role - it's a lot more complicated than that. Which is why I like the way you worded it, that "the kind of body you happen to inhabit has a profound effect on the way you think, how you view life, and how you navigate through it" which acknowledges the way that hormones and experiences can change the structure of the brain; that it's not all clearly mapped out like blueprints in our raw genetic material.

One of my biggest annoyances with the usual evo-psych reasons given for what differences may exist isn't just that they are often excuses for sexism, it's that they tend to be unnecessarily complicated. Instead of something obvious and simple like: "Statistics suggest that men and women's brains process pain differently. Women give birth, men don't. Childbirth is incredibly painful. Maybe that has something to do with it." They tend to go off on men hunting and women gathering and all sorts of stuff that really only developed recently, evolution wise, and then tie it directly back to genetics. But then, that's because their point isn't really to study differences, it's to excuse bad behaviour.

Which doesn't make sense anyway. As you say "We can all be civilized."

Even girls.

mac macgillicuddy

heh said "penis"!

David W.

Whoa, I just made a comment over on Kevin Drum's weblog that's related to this subject that I'll lazily repost here:

... I think much of the gender gap with regard to reading can be explained by social, rather than biological factors. For instance, I am a much faster reader than my wife. Why? For one, I was taught to read at the age of three by my mother, who was an elementary school teacher and also very good at teaching pre-school children. Early instruction I think makes a huge difference in later outcomes when it comes to reading especially. My wife on the other hand learned to read upside down by following along with her brother who read to her with the book naturally facing him, of course. To this day, my wife is a slow reader - but when it comes to playing word recognition games like Boggle, she's far better than poor old linear reading me.

But, you may ask, why is there an overall gender gap when it comes to reading? I think it is because girls are better socialized to be receptive to learning than boys are, and that this has become more apparent as the gender bias towards males in education has disappeared along with the old standard of the male being the primary breadwinner in our society. In other words, girls with glasses didn't get passes and showing off your female smarts didn't get you any dates with boys who had prospects.


I read somewhere that males are inept at recognizing female anger ; that tied in with evolutionary strategy. Compensation would have to take place as a strategic approach to social activity ; a need to engage abstract thought.
Pre feminist thought was that females tended more to take personal advantage of social situations and were more disruptive. Resentment of other females led to males in charge because they were not considered a threat.
I recognize this is not politically correct : as you note, it is what it is ( and no absolute is invoked ).
Last thought : good strategy might suggest a male please females where practical. That's attitude, not aptitude.
I'm not presenting this as more than speculation ; it did sell well enough to influence people for quite a while.


I like the 60/20/20 ratio even though it's made up out of thin air, and love your prescription for teachers to keep that ratio in mind when considering gender.

One of my favorite crackpot theories, and I came up with it myself, is that there are 67 (pick a number) different kinds of intelligences -- ability to listen to music and translate it into dance, ability to hear and learn languages, ability to think in abstract mathematical thought, ability to empathize, ability to think logically, etc. We are all a mixture of these intelligences, with some people being given really bizarre pairings of genius level abilities and total incomprehension in certain basic others (think "absent-minded professor" and half my friends).

Your point about American boys being taught to be "aggressive" is right-on, as they would say in the Sixties. And it's repulsive. In truth, I think most boys while children and adolescents TEND TO BE much sweeter than their female counterparts at that age, but in adolescence they are introduced into our fucked up version of warrior culture.

Keep writing, it's interesting.


My response to studies about male/female brains is always "So what?" Even if you find a tendency, what does that tell you about an individual? Absolutely nothing. If we start teaching girls and boys separately based on averages, a significant percentage of the children will be taught in an inappropriate manner. And the author makes that point, fortunately. However, I think that labeling us as having "masculine" or "feminine" brains is a real drawback to understanding. Most men would be horrified to think that they thought in a "feminine" way, while many, many women WANT to believe that they think "like a man." Using some sort of gender-neutral term might help, although the social advantage to being associated with all things male will still linger.
Also--only marginally related--I'm always amused when cartoon animals are identified as female by the addition of eyelashes. It's my theory that men have, on average, longer and thicker eyelashes than women do.


Ann- a rousing yes to all you said, but I had to wonder... was the develpment of mascara a subconscious way for woman to make themselves more masculine???

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