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Would World Affairs Be More Peaceful If Women Dominated Politics?

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Essay title: Would World Affairs Be More Peaceful If Women Dominated Politics?

Would World Affairs Be More Peaceful If Women Dominated Politics?

A recent addition to the study of international relations is the idea of gender and the difference it may have on political beliefs and actions. The argument is rooted in the concept that women are not as prone to violence and war as men, and therefore would lead the world in a more peaceful direction than it is currently going. To make this assumption, one would have to suppose that there are fundamental biological differences between men and women and that these differences result in behavioral variations as well. This is exactly what Francis Fukuyama does in his article “Women and the Evolution of World Politics” in the Taking Sides text. For the counter side of this issue in an essay entitled “The Myth of Women’s Pacifism,” Mary Caprioli disagrees with Fukuyama and contends that should women dominate the political world, they would act as aggressively as men in the present situation. Caprioli also maintains that Fukuyama’s argument is based mainly on assumptions that have gone unproven. In addition to Fukuyama and Caprioli, there are others who also hold positions on this controversial topic such as Barbara Ehrenreich and Katha Pollitt. They have all asked the question: would a world ruled by women be more peaceful?

As an introduction to his essay, Fukuyama discusses primates, namely

chimpanzees, their behavioral tendencies, and the similarities they exhibit with respect to humans. He declares that chimps are man’s closest relative and thus one may compare behavioral and relational tactics between the two. In accordance with Fukuyama’s argument that women are naturally less aggressive, he states that in studies of chimps the males are the ones who commit the violent acts while the females do not participate. Fukuyama contends that all humans are “hard-wired” to act in certain predictable ways; this predictable way that a woman will act is passive, nurturing, and less violent than a man. He adds that this behavior difference between the sexes is not culturally rooted but found in genetics. In his essay, a study was cited that concluded boys were more aggressive than girls. Psychologist Judith Bardwick has conducted studies and also found this to be true. However, she contends that this research does not lead to the findings that girls are passive and nonaggressive (Bardwick). She states that “to say boys are more aggressive does not mean that girls are not” (Bardwick). Nonetheless, Fukuyama declares that “a truly matriarchal world, then, would be less prone to conflict...than the one we inhabit now.”

Mary Caprioli argues against Fukuyama’s claims that a female dominated society would be more peaceful. She says that though there may be a gender gap in the support for war, this is not due to women’s natural instincts to be passive and non-violent. Traditionally, women have not had the power, or even the choice, to act violently. Violence is simply not an option for them. This is why it may appear that survey results show that a majority of women are anti-war. The outcome of these polls are used by many to assert the idea that all or most women are more pacific and are

opposed to violence. But there are flaws in this evidence. First, a survey conducted of solely western countries can hardly represent women on a worldwide scale. Second, in these polls women are likely to express “no opinion” rather than supporting war; this is not the same as being opposed to it. Most women are noticeably less interested or knowledgeable about war (Ehrenreich, et al.). But this does not make them unaggressive. Caprioli also cites evidence of women who were given the opportunity to act violently and did so. She used Stuart Breme’s 1996 Militarized Interstate Dispute data set. In this data it was found that an average of both female and male leaders use of violence was at an equal level. This shows that these women in power are not more peaceful as some may have suspected.

It is known that there are biological differences between men and women. But what some people say is that these biological differences lead to behavioral variations as well. But in fact no single gene has been found to determine social behavior (Ehrenreich, et. al.). So the claim that there is a disposition for women to act a certain way due to genetics is false. What is actually the case is a social tendency for women to be less prone to certain types of aggression. Humans are socialized into acting certain ways and portraying certain images. Women have traditionally been cultured into behaving passively and not displaying any forms of violence or aggression. As the world is changing and gender equality is on its way to becoming a truth, these social “norms” are also changing. Young

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