aggressive. About 70% of parents say it is good for a boy to have a few fights
as he grows up. How many parents think that about their daughters?
As culturally prescribed sex roles fade in our culture, however, the gender
differences in aggressiveness may decline. But will men become less
aggressive or women more aggressive or both? The crime rate for women is
increasing much more rapidly than for men. Also, experimental studies of
punishment show women administering just as much electric shock to victims
as men do (Byrne & Kelley, 1981). Women seem to have a different reaction
than men to being aggressive. Apparently, boys and men expect acting
aggressive to pay off, girls and women don't. Women experience more
anxiety and guilt after aggressing than men do; they also are more empathic
with the victim afterwards.
Some studies show that about 50% of college students (both males and
females) report having been physically aggressive to some extent (from
throwing something to beating up on someone). Yet, college males are far
more likely than females to get into a fight in the local bars. And, when asked
about going to war against Iraq over Kuwait, 48% of men favored war in late
1990 but only 22% of women did. We will discuss violence with intimates
(spouses and children) soon.
It is generally believed that anger is power. Thus, women are at a
disadvantage because they are uncomfortable showing their anger. Indeed,
their anger is more disapproved then men's anger. That makes displaying
your anger, if you are a woman, more dangerous. But, showing weakness is
dangerous too. Certainly, if a female manager or leader is seen crying and
emotionally disabled in a situation that might be handled aggressively by a
strong male, she will lose prestige in the eyes of many people. Therefore,
some people have begun to encourage women to show their anger and utilize
it skillfully as a tool for getting important changes made. Here are some
guidelines for using anger constructively: (1) Don't react impulsively, be sure
your anger is justified and have clearly in mind exactly what needs to be
changed. (2) Decide in advance how far you will go, e.g. can you and will you
fire someone over this issue if it isn't worked out? Are you willing to quit over
this issue? Will you demand a hearing or press charges? (3) When ready,
state specifically and firmly what you want changed. Don't accuse or blame
others. Show anger and strong determination but don't get overly emotional.
(4) Expect to get some flack and opposition. (5) Sit down with others involved
and work out detailed plans for making the changes needed. Note: this is
similar to "I" statements (method #4 in chapter 13) but in a work setting
there is more emphasis on demanding reasonable changes.
Valentis & Devane (1993) discuss anger that uniquely characterizes
women and suggest ways of utilizing the energy from anger in positive ways.
The following analysis of cultural factors is taken primarily from Scherer,
Abeles, and Fischer (1975). The rate of homicide in the US is four to eight
times greater than in most European countries or in Japan. Obviously, that
can't be due to inherited factors and it seems unlikely that there are that
many more frustrations in the U.S. There must be something about our
society that makes us more prone to violence. First of all, there is a high