Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sugar and Spice and Puppy Dog Tails and Apes.

In the book, Our Inner Ape, Frans de Waal discusses some interesting social differences between the sexes in apes. When human ape children were observed in the playground, boys were recorded as getting into twice as many fights as girls. However, when the children where asked at the end of the day how many fights they had been in, both the boys and the girls reported about the same number on average. It appears that disputes between girls can be far more subtle and less obvious than between boys.

I certainly noticed this when my friend gave me a book to read about the adventures of a girl in a boarding school. I found reading the thing very hard going. I was there going, “Well if being snubbed by this other girl hurts you so much, why don’t you just slay her? Or failing that, defeat her in physical combat and drive her before you while listening to the lamentations of her social cliche? Or you could just poison her. You’ve already mentioned how you were getting top marks in chemistry.”

Fortunately for the homicide rate, girls don't opt for violent solutions as often as boys. A wise man once said that violence never solves anything, but he quit saying it after the other guys punched his face in a few times.

Boys also appear to be much quicker to forgive each other after a dispute than girls. Admittedly this is often just so they can join forces and beat up some other boys, but it is a real difference. Girls seem to work much harder at avoiding disputes, but are worse at ending them once they start.

So, does this mean that as women gain more position of political power the world will be more likely to avoid most conflict but when conflict does occur it will be more intractable?

No. Countries that have women gaining positions of political power are generally sensible ones where one person’s grudge isn’t allowed to get people killed. I can’t think of a single developed country where a political leader’s personal vendetta would be allowed to substantially alter policy.

Okay, okay, I can’t think of two developed countries where a political leader’s personal vendetta would be allowed to substantially alter policy.


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