Gender Issues and Politics and Psychology and Relationships25 Jan 2008 09:09 pm

The conclusions of studies into the role and function of violence and aggression in the human and animal world have been fairly consistent. They show that both males and females resort to violence when they feel threatened, cornered or highly confused. This is what is typically described as the fight or flight mechanism in which a creature either retreats or attacks in response to a sense of danger or peril.

In nature female’s of the species seem to prefer fleeing the situation unless their young are in danger, in those circumstances they will take on almost any foe. Males in both animal and human societies resort to violence and aggression when they feel threatened or to defend their territory. While both males and females protect their territory, males usually have a larger area. Females protect the home/nest while the males typically stake off a larger territory.

The bulk of animal aggression and violence unrelated to acquiring food usually has to do with defending oneself. Males also get violent and aggressive when meeting a rival during mating season, or when protecting a food or water source.

While the majority of violence is done to defend oneself, the males of the species often use violence and aggression to acquire and attain desired things. In most animals being violent in an offensive manner is done to attain food, shelter, water or a particularly advantageous living area.

Male humans resort to using violence and aggression to acquire desired things more often than most other creatures. Though females occasionally use aggression as a way to acquire desired things, it is rare for this behavior to be used in a habitual manner.

In previous posts I’ve stated that the role of violence and aggression in the male is currently overstated. The typical modern man can count on one hand the number of physical fights that he has engaged in since he became an adult.

Since the average person encounters many confusing and frustrating situations in his life time, and likewise can feel threatened or in danger many times a year, it is obvious that we have developed other ways of responding to danger and confusion.

Modern psychology has identified many subtle ways that people show aggression or try to hurt or ward off others. These methods are often described as being passively aggressive. The bulk of human conflicts which aren’t harmoniously resolved usually result in the use of passive aggression rather than brute force or physical contact.

This is not the time to get into a lengthy analysis of the role and function of passive aggression or of psychological warfare. Yet, it is important to realize that even dominant males do not respond to every conflict with brute force. It is logical that the weaker and less physically imposing people would resort to non-violent means of fighting or injuring others. This is why psychologists have often emphasized the role passive aggression plays in the female social world. Yet, in any given conflict the less physically imposing individual is more likely to engage in psychological or verbal ways of winning a battle.

What role does violence and aggression (both passive and active) play in social change? Are they the major means of social change, or are there more sophisticated and positive means of social change in use which make up the bulk of social change?

Potential answers to this will be explored in the next post.

Jim Guido

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