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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Modest Proposal

Another shooting incident. An enraged, delusional or just angry spouse killing his wife and her co-workers and other innocent bystanders. It just happened this past week. But that does not make for an unusual week.

Meanwhile we have male candidates for the United States Senate who state they will outlaw abortion even in the case of rape. Either because pregnancy does not result from rape because of miraculous female powers. Or because the pregnancy is “God’s will.”

 The latest bozo to make this type of proclamation, Murdoch in Indiana, says he has struggled to come to this conclusion about God’s will.  I suppose his thinking process has been a struggle. But I don’t imagine he has struggled as much or in the same way as a woman pregnant from rape has struggled.

I have no problem with Murdoch or Todd Aiken, the Missouri candidate who believes in miraculous sperm-killing vaginas, having their own opinions. Or their religious beliefs of any kind. So long as their beliefs do not impact other folks who do not have the same beliefs. I do have a problem with them trying to impose their non-science-based opinions on the rest of us.

Meanwhile, men have been running the United States for its entire history. And men have overwhelmingly been in control of most governments around the world since men began to write history. I know, that’s why it’s called “his story.”

Think about the facts. Helen of Troy notwithstanding, men start wars. Gun violence in this country overwhelming is propagated by males. Most violent crimes, rape, murder and mayhem, included, are perpetrated by men.

Men are about ten times more likely than women to commit murder. According to Bureau of Justice Statistics homicide trends (1976-2005), the vast majority of murders (felony, 93.2%: sex related,93.6%; drug related, 95.5%; workplace 91.3%; gun homicides, 91.%; multiple victims, 91.5%; multiple offenders, 91.6%) are committed by men. Rapes, violent robberies, assaults and mayhem overwhelmingly are committed by men.

When is the last time you read or heard of a disgruntled 58 year old “loner” female who decides to go on a gun shooting spree? Or a 20 year old schizophrenic woman shooting up a mosque, a movie theater or a market filled with families?

Occasionally a new mother with post-partum depression goes off the deep end and tries to kill herself. Maybe even her child. But she doesn’t try to take out the whole neighborhood. And violent women of any stripe are still an anomaly.  Despite some claims of a phenomenon of increasing numbers of “mean girls,” factual analysis demonstrates crime and violence among girls has plummeted. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/02/opinion/02males.html?_r=1

And also consider this factoid:  men are no longer necessary to the continuation of the human species.  Greg Hampikian, a professor of biology, and, incidentally, also of criminal justice, asks, “...does ‘mankind’ really need men?” His answer to that question is a resounding “no.” However, without women our species would be a goner. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/25/opinion/men-who-needs-them.html As the author points out, women not only are “necessary but sufficient for reproduction, and men are neither.”

So why are men making most of the decisions for the entire human population? Why are they toting the guns, deciding whom to bomb, and when and how to go to war?

Not for any rational reason. Women would be much more judicious in their use of force if statistical and past behavior is any predictor. Women also are more likely to look out for the family, the community, the rest of our species.

Consider a few examples. Women who are given control of family finances put their families, not their self interest first.  For example, in third world countries where families are living in extreme poverty, it’s not uncommon for many of the men to squander the little money they have on alcohol or drugs rather than food and education for their families.

I doubt Nicholas Kristof ever  advocated giving loaded guns to women. Nevertheless, he has written of a number of cases in which a family’s prospects turn around when women, given micro-loans or participate in micro-savings, are suddenly in charge of the family’s finances.

In an example he gives from Pakistan, a woman, whose husband had spent the family savings on narcotics and regularly beat her, started a number of businesses, one of which employed her husband. She then bought a home, and “put some of her children through high school — and a son, the brightest student, through college. She has just paid $5,800 for a permit for him to move to London to take a health sector job.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/opinion/14kristof.html

In a Kenya slum, where some estimate one third of the men spend what would feed and finance their children’s schooling, instead get drunk every night, a mother forced into prostitution by the husband who took a younger wife, turned her family’s prospects around by starting a sewing business. She then bought her family a small home and kept her two daughters and son in school where they excelled. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/opinion/kristof-sewing-her-way-out-of-poverty.html

You may think these are just anecdotes. But science supports that women’s responses to stress are not the same “fight or flight” often attributed to our species. Women’s responses instead appear to be “tend and befriend.”  And that difference is based in female vs. male biology.


Women are inherently more concerned, both through body function and hormones (oxytocin creates bonding) with the greater good, protection of the family, the community and the species.

As the scientists found:

“…oxytocin, one of a cascade of hormones released in response to stress, appeared to play a central role in females’ response. Studies have linked oxytocin, which is produced during childbirth and nursing, both with maternal behavior and with social affiliation. And animals and people with high oxytocin levels, researchers have found are calmer, more social and less anxious.”

So why should women allow men to continue to call the shots, literally and figuratively? My modest proposal is that all weapons and decisions on dangerous armaments be handed over to the “fairer” sex around the world.

No, I’m not advocating women shoot all the men. Or that all women have guns. Rather my proposal is that women collectively take over control of weaponry. Together they can delegate gun toting and other weapons control and decisions to calm, trained peace officers. All of whom will be female.

The next time a man beats his wife, rapes a woman, or tries to start a war, a woman will be in control of the weapons, whether that means holding the  gun to bring the offender to justice or having their finger on the red button as the peace is negotiated.

I know this sounds a tad like an early “Star Trek” episode. The one where William Shatner is surrounded by beautiful Amazon women who have locked away most of the men and turned them into helpless slaves kept for the she-leader’s amusement and sexual gratification.

Locking away the men is not what I’m proposing.  The men in charge currently have done a good enough job of that to a disproportionate number of their own kind. I’m just suggesting men no longer be in control of weaponry. They have amply demonstrated many of them are not suited to the responsibility.

So next time weapons are to be wielded who do you want doing the wielding, someone with testosterone, the hormone often associated with aggression, coursing though his bloodstream in response to stress? Or a woman who is more likely to have oxytocin predominating in response to stress?

By the way, we may need biometric controls on the weaponry so that only females or persons with a preponderance of oxytocin are able fire that weapon.

NOTE: The author would not choose a world without men. She has many wonderful men in her life, including a loving husband of so many years she has lost count, two beautiful, strong and intelligent grown sons, a handsome and talented grandson (not to mention a beautiful and smart granddaughter) and also an amazing brother whom she is proud to call a best friend. I haven’t asked them, but I suspect they all would be happy to turn over any gun-toting obligations to responsible women.