There are groups of feminists, both male and female, noisily nestled within the vast expanse of social media platforms, who advocate a peculiar phenomenon. It is a paradoxical occurrence wherein individuals, while claiming to seek fair and equal rights for women, and even extending those rights for effeminate genders, are quick to toxically shame the opinions of those who call for inclusivity, that is, rights that equally protect and represent men and women. This baffling moral contradiction, though frustrating, can be somewhat comprehensible when one contemplates the immense power and shareability of emotionally charged rhetoric compared to the dull and laborious task of sense-making. Within the vast echo chambers of social media, hordes of self-proclaimed pseudo-experts emerge, exerting influence upon one another in every conceivable domain and discipline. And to hide the lack of expertise, notions of reality become monolithic and digestible, and any divergence within the think tank of such closed groups, is met with fury, disdain and anger.
In today’s world, the demand for social media content revolves around the instantaneous gratification of the emotional brain, whereby creators aim to evoke either a negative or positive sentiment in viewers. This approach, more profitable and visible than the arduous task of sense-making, has eclipsed the pursuit of nuanced understanding. Consequently, the pursuit of correctness has been reduced to a race against the clock, a frantic attempt to titillate, within the constraints of 300 characters or less. In the realm of social influence, brevity reigns supreme, as shorter posts are deemed more accurate and consequential. Society’s most pressing questions can now purportedly find resolution through a mere quote or a video clip adorned with mawkish music and subtitles. If only this were the truth! Such a business model indeed yields online visibility and popularity, but it proves woefully inadequate for addressing weighty issues, such as achieving true gender equality in our society.
This post is not meant to be an opinion piece but instead a collection of considerations that in the sphere of social media would very often lead to blasts of man shaming. Let’s look at some of these “highly controversial” concepts now.
I would like to suggest that assuming “men are violence” is like saying “cars are death traps” or tsunamis are the result of big waves. Being unable to process the complexity of subjects involved in the manifestation of things is to fail to deal with the issue in a meaningful, large-scale, resolution-focused way. Aggression and violence are multifaceted topics. By turning these complex issues into overly simplistic “facts,” using your own subjective reality and then heavily relying on third-party statistics as “proof,” makes it very easy for individuals, who believe that they are not being fairly represented, to slip into a self-righteous tirade. For them it is a moment of ceasing power back. Power that they feel is owed to them by society. In a lot of cases, when this reaction manifests, it is more of an expression of one’s sense of entitlement than an expression of one’s desire for a better world. A sense that the world is getting it wrong and you are right. You might be right. You might be partially right. You might be wrong. Either way, you should never convey your opinions by putting others down. Because when you do that, you are no longer fighting for or manifesting safety, fairness, and equality for people. You are “getting your own back”. A form of retribution for treatment that one had, or believes they have had, previously received. Behaviour such as belittling, degradation, and misdirected anger contradict the claim that follows; “fairer policies”. Shaming a group or an opinion is not the same thing as having a genuine concern or opposing the view. All opposition is valid until it seeks to silence.
In reality, to turn “danger into safety” for people who are currently or soon to face dangerous things (male and female), you need a multifaceted understanding of what we are up against as a species. This understanding is going to come from having knowledge, experience, and skills in specialised areas such as:
Data Analysis and Statistics
and Legal Studies.
Making sense of why and how aggression becomes violence requires a deep understanding of this entire spectrum of influences and triggers. Without grasping these disciplines meaningfully, we can only debate opinions and feelings. And likely do so in a manner that generates conflict and not solutions. When opinion and feelings drive our actions and decisions (and not nuanced insight), bias develops. This bias results in an inability to eradicate the underlying problem and instead swaps one form of control or inequality for another… perpetually. When bias becomes a piece of the tapestry of decision making, blaming always becomes the scapegoat. There will be times when the bias suits your sensibility and times when it does not, but biases will never be able to serve peoples needs in a diverse society. Replacing one bias for another is akin to standing still in terms of social progress.
But it gets worse, because when bias surreptitiously dictates policy, at that point, legislation becomes an escalation of sorts. Such reactionary thinking becomes destructive for all of us; whether you notice the destruction or not. It increases incidents of crime and violence and mental health issues while claiming to reduce them using a tool that is designed to fool; rhetoric. Once a society is built on rhetoric, all opportunity for fairness and equality is lost.
To genuinely transform “danger into safety” for those currently facing or soon to face perilous circumstances—regardless of gender—a comprehensive understanding of the challenges confronting our species becomes imperative. Such an understanding can only be attained through knowledge, experience, and proficiency. If the goal is genuinely to diminish harm inflicted upon females, it must simultaneously strive to reduce harm experienced by males, without any fanfare or self-congratulatory ceremony. Any other intention undermines the shared human experiences that unite all mentally sound individuals. Should the notion arise that a certain gender is the root of the problem, it would be as ill-informed as suggesting that “race” is the problem. “Race as the social problem” was once an argument that could be seemingly bolstered by crime statistics. However, no matter how many statistics one may accumulate to demonstrate higher crime rates among one race compared to another, it is widely acknowledged that such data does not reflect the essence of an entire racial group. Yet, not too long ago, race-based crime statistics exerted a profound influence on public perception and legal processes. The remnants of racial bias still reverberate within society today, even though we no longer consider race and crime statistics as evidence of anything biological. By attributing gender profiling as evidence of an entire gender’s innate nature, one engages in the same fallacy. This is known as sexism. The very concept of “profiling” is meant to be universally unlawful, with the aim of eradicating both racism and sexism.
Let us now consider the contentious debate of “men are dangerous and women are vulnerable.”
The likelihood of a dog biting hinges upon various factors. Although there may exist some behavioural variances between male and female dogs, it is fallacious to attribute biting tendencies to gender alone. Individual temperament, socialisation, training, and specific circumstances all play significant roles in a dog’s behaviour. Each dog should be evaluated on an individual basis, taking into account multiple factors when assessing their behaviour and propensity to bite. There are only two ways to approach training a dog to behave “correctly” in public: (1) employing dominance akin to taming a wild animal, eroding the dog’s identity until it surrenders to the imposed demands out of fear of punishment, or (2) developing an understanding of the dog’s environmental experiences and needs, employing training as a means of shared communication in which good behaviour is rewarded, and detrimental behaviour rendered ineffective. The latter approach fosters an environment where both owner and dog learn from each other, forging a mutually beneficial relationship. Are these two options any different when entered into the realm of socialising humans? How effective has punishing bad behaviour been? Has it reduced violence? Is there now less biting?
Frequently, individuals seek to invalidate my experiences of abuse, convincing themselves that “real injustices” solely revolve around their dogmatic worldview. I find myself no longer compelled to share my experiences with those who constantly seek to dismiss or disregard them. I concur with the former United Kingdom’s Prime Minister who asserted, “I can prove anything by statistics except the truth.” Statistics are often employed as a means of coercion rather than as a tool that garners ever smarter individuals. With that said, allow me to present a statistical analysis.
By examining the number of female homicide victims, we can calculate the relative likelihood of males versus females falling victim to homicide in 2020. According to the ONS, the United Kingdom witnessed a total of 695 homicides in the year ending March 2020, with males accounting for 76% of the victims. This implies that there were 0.76 x 695 = 528.2 male homicide victims and 0.24 x 695 = 166.8 female homicide victims. Utilising population figures from 2020 (33.8 million males and 34.6 million females), we can compute the homicide rate for each gender as follows:
Homicide rate for males: 1.56 homicides per 100,000 males.
Homicide rate for females: 0.48 homicides per 100,000 females.
Hence, in 2020, males were approximately 3.25 times more likely to be victims of homicide than females in the United Kingdom. This makes men the vulnerable group. To those who raise the alarm, asserting that “yes, but they were all killed by men!” I must correct this misperception—they were all killed by murderers.
When men enter the military, they must be taught how to inflict violence upon another human being, employing techniques that resemble nothing less than brainwashing methods. Historical evidence indicates that a significant number of soldiers in battle were unable to shoot the enemy, purposely missing their mark. This posed a substantial challenge for the military, leading to extensive research aimed at resolving this issue of men’s reluctance to kill. The development of highly sophisticated propaganda technologies, known as reflexive control, proved instrumental in overcoming this hurdle. Nevertheless, those men who ultimately pulled the trigger, witnessing the act of killing or the deaths of others, returned home from the battleground mentally and emotionally shattered. The resulting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sometimes manifested as violence and aggression. Injuring another human being is not a natural state of being for any mentally sound individual, regardless of gender. The vast majority of mindless violence stems from individuals grappling with mental health issues. While certain mental health conditions are resolvable through the compassionate embrace of an inclusive society, others, such as psychopathy and narcissistic personality disorder, remain intractable—for now. Some of these disorders can be observed and identified, while others may escape detection or afford no opportunity for pre-emption prior to victimising at least one person. We shall examine these conditions shortly.
The most extensive study on relationship aggression conducted in the Western world concluded that notable differences in levels of aggression between males and females in relationships was inconsequential. This study, distinguished by its inclusion of an extraordinarily large test group, revealed that men and women used aggression equally in relationships (when looking at a large volume of relationship data). What it also noted was the fact that a male employing violence against a female was far more likely to cause serious injury than a female using violence against a partner. This was attributed to the different physical stature and strength between the two genders, and not an outcome of aggression levels, which were evenly matched.
It is crucial to acknowledge that females are equally capable of aggression, although the manifestation and patterns of aggression may differ between genders due to a combination of biological, social, and cultural factors. Behaviour is profoundly influenced by social and cultural identities, much like the social construction that designates pink as a girl’s colour and blue as a boy’s colour. These identities, deeply ingrained within our consciousness, elude our immediate control and conscious awareness. This is pertinent to the discussion of aggression and violence as well. We acquire our social roles and identities from realms beyond conscious thought, and they remain elusive to our grasp. Research suggests that societal expectations and gender roles shape the expression of aggression in males and females. Both genders may exhibit aggression that conforms to social norms and expectations. Females, for instance, may engage in relational aggression, which involves manipulating social relationships. However, this should not be misconstrued as “less violent.” Rather, it may manifest as “more cunning.” A vivid portrayal of this can be witnessed in the documentary “Evil Genius: The True Story of Britain’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist,” readily available on Netflix.
Numerous scientific studies have explored aggression in males and females. A meta-analysis by Archer (2004) examined data from over 200 studies and found that the gender difference in aggression was relatively minor. The study revealed that while males displayed a higher propensity for direct physical aggression, the difference in verbal and indirect aggression between males and females was negligible. Throughout history, women have been involved in acts of aggression, including physical confrontations, participation in warfare, and criminal activities. These examples underscore the fact that aggression is not limited to males but rather finds expression shaped by a combination of biological factors, cultural conditioning, and evolutionary needs.
In the past, acquiring the ability to kill was considered a rite of passage for males—a means of ensuring the survival of the traditional family unit and a way to protect females from such nasty business. It constituted an emotional hurdle that male children had to surmount to provide for their loved ones and community. Although difficult and emotionally charged, it was deemed necessary for the survival and well-being of the entire family. In the absence of such rites in contemporary society, individuals may find themselves grappling with a dearth of milestones as they navigate their male identities and responsibilities while transitioning into adulthood. Those who previously derived meaning, purpose, and identity from traditional roles may encounter psychological and emotional challenges as they seek new ways to adapt to evolving social and family dynamics. For some, this transition could lead to a crisis, precipitating mental health issues due to the deep-rooted cultural belief that providing and protecting others confers significance and purpose upon one’s life. As humans, we all crave a sense of belonging and purpose. For those who feel discarded, redundant, unneeded, or rejected by society, mental health issues and resentment toward certain entities, such as those they perceive as responsible for their sense of invalidation, may ensue. Consequently, it becomes essential to address these challenges by promoting alternative sources of fulfilment, meaning, and connection and ensuring the validation of each other’s existence.
Likewise, we might anticipate a surge in females resorting to physical violence and perpetrating abuse as societal power dynamics and female roles undergo transformation. This may occur if the expectations of “successful women” become incongruous with what women require to feel genuinely valued and purposeful in life.
At times, individuals who identify as feminists, harbour negative opinions about males, potentially resulting in adverse societal consequences. These negative attitudes can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and reinforce biases, hindering men from contributing their value. By impeding opportunities for cooperation between genders, such opinions impede progress in addressing gender inequality. Constructive change emanates from cultivating mutual respect and understanding on both sides. An attitude of “my experience is worse than yours” is unlikely to yield positive advancements. Negative or dismissive opinions about males foster an “us versus them” mentality, undermining the potential for constructive dialogue and collaboration in the quest for gender equality. Focusing solely on the complaint that “men are the problem” overlooks the experiences of men, particularly those marginalised or victimised themselves, as well as those from underrepresented communities. It also undermines the principle of intersectionality within feminism—an acknowledgement of the interconnected nature of various forms of oppression, including those associated with gender.
To cultivate a more inclusive and equitable society, feminists must foster non-confrontational dialogue, promote empathy, and recognise the importance of engaging men as allies in the struggle for gender equality. By emphasising shared desires and goals, while respecting areas where gender-specific needs may diverge, we can forge a diverse and functional world. We are, after all, all human beings.
Narcissism is another dimension worth exploring. Numerous meta-analytic studies have investigated gender differences in narcissism. Grijalva et al. (2015) conducted a meta-analysis that examined data spanning 31 years and involving over 475,000 participants. The study found no significant gender differences in overall levels of narcissism. However, males did tend to score slightly higher than females on specific facets of narcissism, such as entitlement and self-sufficiency. The narcissism studies of the 1970s are frequently cited as evidence of higher rates of narcissism among males. Nonetheless, more recent research suggests an increase in narcissism among females, resulting in a greater number of female narcissists than male narcissists. This may be attributed, in part, to cultural shifts and the diverse social and career positions now accessible to many females.
A study published in the Journal of Research in Personality (2015) explored gender differences in narcissism across 62 countries, discovering that in countries with greater gender equality, gender differences in narcissism were diminished or even reversed.
It is worth considering the potential biases that may exist in assessing narcissism between genders. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) acknowledges the possibility of underdiagnosing narcissistic personality disorder in women due to gender biases in diagnostic criteria and cultural expectations surrounding female behaviour.
Regarding psychopathy, research indicates the existence of gender differences in the prevalence and manifestation of psychopathy, with males typically displaying higher rates. Studies have found that male psychopathy tends to exhibit more overt antisocial behaviours and higher levels of certain behavioural aspects associated with psychopathy, such as impulsivity and aggression. In contrast, female psychopathy may be characterised by more relational aggression, manipulation, coercion, and indirect forms of aggression and violence.
It is important to consider that assessment tools for psychopathy may be biased towards male manifestations of the disorder, potentially resulting in the underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis of psychopathy in females. The diagnostic criteria and measurement instruments employed in research may not fully capture the range of psychopathic traits as they manifest in females.
Turning our attention to bullying, we find that the prevalence and manifestation of bullying are influenced by environmental factors, including social dynamics and contextual circumstances. Research suggests that males are more likely to engage in bullying behaviour in public or physical settings, while females may employ more covert or relational forms of bullying that are less visible or apparent. These differences in visibility can significantly influence our perception of bullying rates between genders, even if no statistical differences exist. The same holds true for cases of domestic abuse.
It is plausible that females may be more inclined to report instances of bullying and domestic abuse or seek support, resulting in an overrepresentation of females in reported cases. Conversely, males may be less inclined to report or disclose their experiences due to social or cultural factors, leading to an underrepresentation of males.
Studies investigating gender differences in bullying have produced varied findings. Some studies have reported slightly higher rates of bullying perpetration among females, while others have found no significant gender differences or even higher rates among males.
Serial killers have garnered significant attention, with research consistently indicating that the majority of serial killers are male. Although female serial killers do exist, their numbers pale in comparison to their male counterparts. While one might hypothesise that female serial killers elude capture due to their heightened capacity for cunning and manipulation, no evidence substantiates such a claim. It is also worth noting that the majority of victims targeted by serial killers are female. Research and statistical data consistently demonstrate that female victims outnumber male victims in cases of serial killings. It is important to recognise, however, that serial killers represent an exceedingly rare subgroup of criminal behaviour.
When examining crime statistics, it is crucial to acknowledge the existence of the “dark figure of crime”—the discrepancy between the actual number of crimes committed and the number of crimes reported and recorded in official statistics. This hidden or unknown crime data represents the portion of criminal activity that eludes law enforcement and crime reporting systems. Underreporting of crimes is likely prevalent across society as a whole. Research indicates that females generally display a greater likelihood of reporting crimes compared to males. Bias in reporting and data collection processes can also impact the accuracy and representation of crime statistics. Factors such as systemic biases and gender profiling can distort our understanding of the real world. Individuals may possess different perceptions of what constitutes a crime, influencing whether they report an event. Additionally, police responses to statements and reports influence what is treated as a crime and what goes unnoticed. Overall, it is probable that crimes against males are significantly underreported compared to crimes against females.
Matriarchal societies, where women hold complete dominion and men are entirely subordinate, are rare and subject to debate among anthropologists. Throughout human history, most societies have adhered to a patriarchal structure, with men occupying dominant roles and positions of power. However, some anthropologists and scholars argue that certain societies adopt matrilineal systems, where lineage and inheritance trace through the female line, affording women significant social and economic influence. Examples of such female-led societies include the Minangkabau, Mosuo, Akan, Khasi, Bribri, and Garo communities. Although these societies prioritise cooperation and harmony, they are not devoid of violence. Moreover, contemporary world leaders would claim to prioritise cooperation and harmony, despite evidence suggesting otherwise.
It is essential to note that the presence of a female ruler does not guarantee a less violent culture. Some female leaders, like Queen Elizabeth I of England, focused on promoting stability and peace during their reigns. However, others, such as Empress Wu Zetian of China, have been associated with acts of violence and ruthlessness. Furthermore, the level of violence within a society is influenced by numerous factors beyond the ruler’s control, including historical conflicts, societal norms, economic considerations, and external threats. It is unscientific to attribute a country’s level of violence solely to the gender of the ruling class. Because the causes and manifestations of violence are complex and multifaceted, they cannot be exclusively ascribed to gender dynamics or power structures within a society. To comprehend the level of violence within a given society, it is necessary to consider a wide array of factors. As women continue to strive for and gain equal access to resources, opportunities, and positions of power, it is conceivable that violence dynamics could shift. If women encounter similar pressures and stresses as men in various spheres of life, this may contribute to a rise in physical aggression among females. As societal expectations and gender roles evolve, traditional stereotypes and expectations of female behaviour may undergo transformations. Should society become more accepting of female aggression and physical violence as a form of expression, it is conceivable that females may display increased physical aggression.
We must consider the manner in which we approach and understand negative behaviours, including violence and aggression, with compassion. Research has identified adverse childhood experiences associated with an increased risk of antisocial and violent behaviour. These experiences may encompass physical or emotional abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence, inconsistent parenting, or a lack of positive role models. Such experiences exert a profound impact on a child’s development, increasing the likelihood of behavioural problems. This underscores the vulnerability of individuals who ultimately exhibit aggression within our society. Could some of these issues be mitigated through enhanced social services, the provision of healthy role models, and support and opportunities from a caring and inclusive society?
Nevertheless, it remains essential to remember that aggression and violence are not innately male or female traits. They are human behaviours. Shaped by a complex interplay of biological, psychological, sociocultural, and environmental factors, these behaviours do not adhere to gender boundaries.
In our pursuit of gender equality, it is vital to approach the discourse with empathy, understanding, and a commitment to dismantling harmful stereotypes. By recognising the shared humanity that unites us all, we can foster a society that values and respects the experiences and contributions of individuals, regardless of their gender.
To truly achieve progress, we must transcend the limitations of binary thinking and embrace the nuances and complexities of human existence. Each person’s journey is unique, and we should strive to create a world where all individuals have the freedom to explore their identities, express themselves authentically, and pursue their aspirations without fear of discrimination or prejudice.
In this endeavour, it is crucial to acknowledge the historical imbalances of power and privilege that have perpetuated inequality. By addressing systemic barriers, promoting inclusivity, and challenging ingrained biases, we can work towards a more equitable society.
By fostering open and respectful dialogue, we can bridge divides, gain deeper insights, and forge alliances that transcend gender boundaries. Collaboration, empathy, and mutual support are the pillars upon which we can build a future where all individuals, regardless of their gender, can thrive and contribute to the betterment of society.
Let us embark on this journey together, united by the common goal of equality and justice for all. By challenging outdated norms, embracing diversity, and cultivating empathy, we can create a society that celebrates the richness of human experiences and ensures that every individual has an equal opportunity to flourish. The alternative approach would be to assess things solely based on superficial factors like gender. Under this superficial paradigm, if this article were authored by a woman, it could encounter agreement as well as disagreement. Conversely, when written by a man, it would likely face no meaningful opposition but be readily dismissed and devalued as a typical instance of “mansplaining,” reinforcing the notion that “men are the problem.”