The most incisive guide to issues facing the American family today . . . An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to stay on the cutting edge of research on family trends.

-W. Bradford Wilcox
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia 

Friday, March 13, 2015 (Volume 4: Issue: 10)

The Topic: Fighting Women?

The News Story: 4,100 Jobs Opening to Women in Special Operations Units

The New Research: Defining Female Identity

 

The News Story: 4,100 Jobs Opening to Women in Special Operations Units

“More than 4,100 officer and enlisted ‘men only’ positions in special operations units of the Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve will be opened to women,” reports the Army Times

These changes, according to the story, are part of an ongoing effort to dismantle “policies that have barred women from serving in combat units below the brigade level. . . . The goal is to open most jobs to women by Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2015.” In addition, six women have already completed Ranger Training Assessment, and the Army is “moving toward opening up Ranger School to women.”

At the root of such policy moves is the politically correct theory that men and women are essentially interchangeable beings. But research continues to reveal problems with such a belief.

(Source: Jim Tice, “4,100 Jobs Opening to Women in Special Operations Units,” Army Times, March 4, 2015.)

 

The News Story: Defining Female Identity

America’s military leaders are moving fast to put women into all combat units, justifying this radical move with feminist theorizing premised on the complete plasticity of female identity. Those who advance such theorizing argue that women are as naturally aggressive and violent as men. But such thinking receives no support from a study of aggression among women recently completed by psychologist Anne Campbell of Durham University. Durham’s study concludes that female biology primes women for maternal nurturance, not for lethal violence. 

To be sure, Campbell acknowledges that some American women do commit acts of violent assault. Official crime statistics indicate that 33% of those arrested for simple assault in the United States are female; 24% of those arrested for aggravated assault are female. What is more, the number of women arrested for simple assault rose 24% between 1996 and 2005.

But when Campbell examines self-report data, she concludes that police have arrested more women for simple assault in recent years because of “changes in police practice rather than girls’ behavior.” Further analysis establishes that “male-to-female ratio for assault has remained remarkably stable over time.” Campbell further points out that “the gender gap is considerably greater for aggravated than simple assault, reflecting girls’ less injurious behaviour and their lower likelihood of using weapons.”

Nor is this gender gap in violence an American peculiarity. Campbell stresses that “everywhere and at every historical period, physical aggression between women is less frequent and less severe than between young men. As the dangerousness of the aggressive act increases, so does the magnitude of the sex difference.” It therefore does not surprise Campbell that international crime statistics show that 97% of the same-sex homicides committed around the world are committed by men.

And behind the persistent gender gap in aggression, Campbell discerns the working of fundamental biology. “Aggression,” she reasons, “involves the possibility of injury and death and their consequences on reproductive success are not equal for men and women. For women, with their limited variance in fecundity, child survival plays a critical role in their ultimate reproductive success.” Surveying a range of anthropological and demographic research, Campbell adduces evidence that “a mother’s death has uniformly detrimental effects on her children’s chances of survival,” especially during “the early years of the child’s life.” In sharp contrast, a number of studies have concluded that “the loss of a father had substantially less effect” on his children’s chances of survival. 

Since a mother’s death so often mean’s a child’s death also, Campbell regards it as biologically adaptive that “women are more fearful than men.” She points to a sizable body of evidence substantiating this gender difference in fearfulness, “visible in childhood” and clearly manifest in “international surveys . . . [of] sex differences in the reported intensity and duration of fear in adults.” Researchers find that women react with “a stronger startle response” than do men when exposed to a loud noise when viewing “fear-inducing pictures.” Similarly, social scientists report that “women orient away from (rather than toward) threat and with greater intensity than men do.” After all, a fear that moves a mother away from danger will usually protect that mother’s children. 

Against the belief that cultural conditioning accounts for women’s distinctive vulnerability to fear, Campbell adduces evidence that the gender gap in fear persists even when researchers statistically compensate for differences in gender-role attitudes. “While social and cultural expectations about gender are important,” Campbell remarks, “it appears they cannot fully explain sex differences in self-reported emotional experience.” 

Of course, when a society becomes so culturally disordered that fertility falls well below minimal replacement levels, few restraints will remain to prevent political and military leaders from ignoring those features of female biology that protect infants. Only feminist ideologues, however, can suppose that those gender-blind leaders are defending the long-term well-being of the species. 

(Source: Bryce J. Christensen and Nicole M. King, forthcoming in “New Research,” Family in America. Study: Anne Campbell, “The Evolutionary Psychology of Women’s Aggression,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 368.1631[5 December 2013]: 20130078, Web.)