Gender Issues and Government and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues03 Feb 2008 01:56 pm

In our previous posts regarding aggression and violence we’ve posed the probability that the male tendency towards brute force and domination has been overemphasized. While comparing apes to humans we saw that apes have one dominant male per group which vigilantly keeps all other males at bay. The other males do not seem to be very aggressive and only are affected by the dominant male’s attitude when he is physically nearby. Likewise we noted that most men do not use violence or the threat of violence very often, with the majority of men only having a few physical confrontations through the majority of their adult life.

This is not to deny or devalue the fact that an unacceptable percentage of men engage in physical intimidation and force in their domestic home life. Often times domestic violence is used to control and intimidate and it is reflective of the basest animal instincts in man (fight or flight response).  Psychologically the resorting to violence is a sign of desperation, and indicative of a fear that one is inferior and incompetent.

At times in society we do find leaders who in fact are little more than bullies. These dictators control through violence and the threat of violence. Everything about them is built around maintaining an environment of fear.  They are like the great apes and seek out and destroy all challengers until they themselves are finally defeated.

While some leaders are physically imposing  and skilled warriors, the majority of leaders  are seldom big, strong or skilled fighters. In most cases leaders in larger and more complex societies are not physically intimidating. A quick look at the history of conquerors and kings will show that the most outstanding and successful leaders were relatively small and physically less endowed. Admitted some made up for their lack of physical intimidation by being completely insane and scary, yet the vast majority of national leaders have been relatively average in strength and size. Cesare, Napoleon, Pepin, Hitler, Castro, Washington, Victoria and Stalin are not physically intimidating individuals. Yet, they were great leaders and emperors.

The leaders of the Roman and Greek empires were often more skilled in verbal abilities than physical ones. Though they used others to enforce and protect their power, they themselves did not arise to their position of dominance and control through sheer physical prowess.  They attained power through inspiring others to follow their lead and to support their ambitions to be a leader. The desire and ability to lead is more about social dominance rather than physical intimidation. Such leaders often surround themselves with military power. What they lack personally in physical power they make up in military might.  Yet, we should not minimize the importance of the fact that their ability to rule and stay in power has more to do with their verbal skills and intellectual strategy than with physical strength.

So, if we look at the true leaders who seek and maintain their power through dominance and control we find they themselves are not the strongest and most gifted warriors. Their skills lie not so much in the typically male realm of brute force, but in the realm of interpersonal relationships and verbal abilities.

What is ironic about this is that these skills are more feminine rather than masculine in nature.  Gender studies of infants from around the globe generally show the following. Male infants have a tendency to focus on objects rather than people. The vast majority of male infants will look at mobiles while in the crib, and focus on spacial relationships at a young age. Male infants are quicker to engage in large motor activities and prefer active play and interacting with their environment than interacting with others.

Female infants, on the other hand, are more likely to focus on the human face than on the mobiles. Female infants prefer social interaction rather than manipulating objects. While male infants brain waves show a preference for spatial expansion, female infants usually develop strong and early verbal skills and abilities. While boys develop hand and eye coordination through physical play girls are forming verbal relationships with  peers and adults. While the boy’s interactions with their peers is often dominated by physical play and tasks, the girl’s interactions are verbally dominated and relationship oriented.

So, with this in mind it is fascinating that the men who achieve power and dominance in larger complex societies are often very verbally gifted. Rather than achieving their aims of power and control through brute force they do it through relationship building and verbal influence.

In the next couple of posts we will look at the interplay of male and female styles of achieving power and control and how they play out in modern society. We will also try to investigate and expand upon  the non-violent forms of gaining influence and impacting society which tend towards harmony and equality rather than control.

Jim Guido

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