MEN, WOMEN, AND AGGRESSION by Anne Campbell

MEN, WOMEN, AND AGGRESSION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A karate course and a key chain with a Mace backup are not enough to bridge the gap between men's and women's capacity for aggression, according to the author of this intriguing study. Campbell (ed., The Opposite Sex, 1989; Health, Social and Policy Studies/Teesside University) has for years studied and written about women gang members and female delinquents. Further tweaking the idea of the female aggressor, Campbell finds major differences between men and women's aggressiveness--differences based primarily, she believes, on socialization, not on testosterone or other hormonal differences. Women view aggression- -getting angry, attacking verbally or physically--as a loss of control. To them, it is ``expressive,'' often of feelings of anger and frustration restrained until the breaking point. The resulting explosion may manifest itself as verbal or physical violence, frequently followed by feelings of shame and guilt. But for men, Campbell contends, violence is ``instrumental''--a strategy for taking control, learned early on, when, for instance, teachers acknowledge boys' aggression (although not necessarily approving it) while ignoring girls who fight back. Women target their anger most frequently against men ``because it is [men] who impose their will most strongly over women''--but women's anger is more often concealed, denied, or ``redefined'' (meaning that the anger of women who strike back against abuse or a lifetime of frustration is called ``craziness'' rather than ``rage''). Of additional interest here are the chapters on young boys cut off from gender experimentation by being labelled ``sissies'' (``tomboy'' girls are okay at least until puberty), and on PMS as the excuse for ``erratic'' behavior that might be more appropriately expressed as ``I'm angry.'' With the advent of Hillary Rodham Clinton as President manquÇe, some of the ``second-sex'' discussion here seems dated. But, overall, this is a clearly stated volume on why men and women differ in their aggressive behavior: It owes more--at least according to Campbell--to the imperatives of the schoolyard than to DNA.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1993
ISBN: 0-465-09217-9
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993




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