That men commit more violent crime than women is undisputed, though the gender gap has been narrowing for 20 years because men are becoming less violent. And it should go without saying the the majority of men are not violent.
Further, the gender gap at home is smaller than many realize. The claim that women hit men as often as men hit women is supported by numerous studies, including a recent study that debunked “male control theory”, instead finding that women are slightly more controlling than men. But although women are more likely to initiate domestic violence, men’s violence is more severe due to their average greater strength.
Men’s violence, then, stands out most in the public sphere and primarily involves violence against other men.
The question is: Why?
DeMause is a controversial figure, however. For example, he makes the dubious assertion that more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism because “maternal distancing” leads to “building defensive fantasies” that encase boys “in ‘autistic shells’ “. Sounds almost Freudian.
Moving on, researchers from Harvard Medical School found that boys don’t regulate their emotions as well as girls; and it takes mothers longer, as they try to stay in sync with their infant’s emotional states, to repair “interactive errors”. In addition, they found that
Is it possible that cultural demands for male stoicism are an over-correction of biologically based male lability?
At any rate, deMause is correct to recommend that we give boys more love rather than trying to toughen them up (which is probably counterproductive). And if boys are less likely to self-soothe, then this is an important skill to teach them. But spanking a child only teaches violence, while self-control is the skill a boy needs to develop. And if the male brain really is less wired for empathy, then this too is a skill we should make an extra effort to teach to boys.
But back to the original question: Why is men’s violence primarily directed toward other men?
Googling the question, what stands out is the almost exclusive focus on violence against women. There seems to be little concern about male-on-male violence even though it’s far more common. Further, violence against women seems to be viewed automatically as gendered violence, while male-on-male violence is not (unless by a heterosexual man against a gay man). And, it’s not uncommon to hear someone dismiss this concern because it’s men doing it to men. But imagine dismissing black-on-black crime by shrugging and saying, “Well, it’s just black people doing it to each other”. Sounds racist. So why is the former generally not considered sexist?
In the United Kingdom, the Telegraph tackled the question of male-on-male violence. They note that the “ultimate distillation” of this is male suicide, which is three to four times higher among men.
But a concrete answer is difficult to come by. A popular explanation for male-on-male violence is the male dominance hierarchy. But most of the research has been done on animals, and generalizing to humans is tricky.
Still, most male violence is committed by young males, right at the time when teenage boys and young men are trying to achieve status, which in turn attracts women.
If I were a researcher, I’d test the ideas that male-on-male violence first appears in high status adolescent males who are solidifying their status but also decreases in this group first in young adulthood; that mid-ranking males continue to be violent toward other males longer than the alphas because the former have to work harder to prove themselves; and that low-ranking males show little violence because they give up on status quicker. I’d also test the notion that males become less violent toward other males after marriage with exceptions such as suspicion that his wife has been unfaithful or when experiencing other status losses such losing not just a job but a career.