As fate would have it, Hillary Clinton spoke at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security, where she emphasized the importance of peace, of women and of women in peace. “When women participate in peacekeeping peacemaking we are all safer and more secure” and boasted of “evidence-based” research that backs up this claim.
And she’s right. Including women in the peacemaking process is often a valuable way of securing peace in war torn countries.
But she also got in what was seen as a partisan shot at the Trump administration. At one point she began a sentence by saying, “Studies show…” and then interrupted herself: “here I go again talking about research, evidence and facts.”
The crowd laughed, cheered and loudly applauded for a while, proving that there’s nothing like working out your best material with a friendly audience. Clinton laughed at her supposedly very funny joke, too.
She also said, “Before anybody jumps to any conclusions, I will state clearly: Women are not inherently more peaceful than men. That is a stereotype. That belongs in the alternative reality.”
Again, if you don’t get the joke, the reference to “alternative reality” is apparently a jab at Kellyanne Conway, who once said something silly about “alternative facts.”
But here’s what I think is funny. Clinton’s wrong. She’s the one peddling an alternative reality.
Yeah, there’s a stereotype that women are inherently more peaceful than men — but, as a generalization (which is what stereotypes are) it’s true.
This is an evidence-based conclusion backed by a great many studies.
In 2015, according to the FBI, 7,549 men were arrested for murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Only 984 women were. Men were four times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes and ten times more likely to be arrested for illegal possession of a weapon.
It’s not just in America. Disproportionate male aggression is a human universal, appearing all over the world and across thousands of years. “In almost every society men are the ones who are overwhelmingly involved in wars, in all kinds of intergroup aggressions and intragroup homicide,” writes Dorian Fortuna at Psychology Today. Men “mobilize themselves in armies of violent fans, in criminal gangs, in bands of thugs, etc. These observations are as old as the world and have allowed us to create a clear distinction between male and female sexes regarding their predisposition to violence.”
“Throughout history,” reports The Economist magazine men have killed men roughly 97 times more often than women have killed women.”
The male inclination for violence has a lot to do with testosterone, which is most plentiful in young men who, in their natural habitat, fought other males to impress women (you can head down to Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break to document this phenomenon yourself).
Steven Pinker writes in The Better Angels of Our Nature, his sweeping history of violence, that “to the extent that the problem of violence is a problem of young, unmarried, lawless men competing for dominance, whether directly or on behalf of a leader, then violence really is a problem of there being too much testosterone in the world.”