Men, Women, and Aggression

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Why are men more aggressive than women? To find out, psychologist and criminologist Anne Campbell listened to the voices of ordinary men and women, as well as people for whom aggression is a central fact of life - robbers and gang members. The answer, she argues, lies not only in biology or in child rearing but in how men and women form opinions about their own aggression. Women believe their aggression results from a loss of self-control, while men see their behavior as a means of gaining control over others. ...
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Overview

Why are men more aggressive than women? To find out, psychologist and criminologist Anne Campbell listened to the voices of ordinary men and women, as well as people for whom aggression is a central fact of life - robbers and gang members. The answer, she argues, lies not only in biology or in child rearing but in how men and women form opinions about their own aggression. Women believe their aggression results from a loss of self-control, while men see their behavior as a means of gaining control over others. Daughters are deeply ashamed when they get angry, but sons learn to associate aggression with integrity, courage, and triumph. Campbell shows how men's and women's different views of anger and restraint profoundly affect their actions - from rage in marriage to violence in the streets - and what this means for us all. The misreading of the meaning of aggression drives a wedge between the sexes, affecting everything from their ability to communicate with each other to the way that traditionally male-dominated spheres such as law or medicine pathologize and punish women's aggression. The book draws together two research areas that have had little dialogue with one another - aggression and gender differences - to present for the first time a theory of their interrelationship. The book also reveals the links between criminal violence and psychological processes common to all of us. A major contribution in the tradition of You Just Don't Understand and In a Different Voice, this book offers a new understanding of a vital issue.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her concise exploration of male and female attitudes toward anger and aggression, Campbell ( Girls in Gangs ), a British psychologist and criminologist, claims that women view aggression as a ``temporary loss of control caused by overwhelming pressure and resulting in guilt,'' while men regard it as a means of imposing control over others. Campbell argues that patriarchal society considers women's aggression ``evil or irrational,'' and that women are obliged to conceal, deny or redefine their anger. The notion of ``premenstrual syndrome,'' she suggests, is just such a redefinition. Discussing battered women, she states that those who strike back at their attackers are treated unjustly because they have supposedly violated natural as well as criminal law. With compelling, sometimes chilling examples, Campbell also explores the impact of male and female styles of aggression on the nuclear family as well as on criminal behavior. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Campbell begins by asking ``How do most women avoid fighting?'' She concludes that the reason lies not in biology but in social representations, i.e., how people think about aggression and express its meaning through behavior. Men view aggression as instrumental, a tool divorced from emotion that is used to control the behavior of others. Women, on the other hand, view aggression as expressive, an eruption of emotion that breaks relationships. In exploring instrumental versus expressive uses of aggression, Campbell compares the behavior of ``ordinary'' men and women, gang members, and perpetrators of domestic violence. According to Campbell, those women who react in normal female aggression patterns are labeled as ``mad'' or ``bad'' by our social, medical, and legal systems, which are based on instrumental (i.e., male) patterns of aggression. Her provocative and well-written book is highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-- Lucy Patrick, Florida State Univ. Lib., Tallahassee
Booknews
Psychologist/criminologist Campbell draws heavily on interviews to examine two research areas--aggression and gender differences. She shows how men's and women's different views of anger and restraint profoundly affect their actions and interaction, and she spells out the implications of these insights for understanding violent and criminal behavior. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Mary Ellen Sullivan
Like Deborah Tannen in her best-selling "You Just Don't Understand", Campbell finds differences between men and women affecting how each gender perceives situations. Setting out to uncover why there is such difference between the sexes in levels of aggression, she explored men's and women's feelings about anger and its manifestations. She found that the sexes perceive anger in fundamentally different ways: women associate expressions of anger and aggression with "losing control" and being powerless, while men see them as ways of taking control of a situation and regaining self-esteem. In conclusion, she suggests that the sexes start listening to each other--in particular that men start listening to women's anger--in order to facilitate understanding. Only then, she believes, can our society reconstruct expressions of anger according to a model that encompasses sexually different perceptions of aggression. By taking such a cultural-sociological approach to her material which encompasses a concern for how society perceives the angry woman--viz., as a dysfunctional, evil misfit, Campbell brings new balance into the current thinking on the biological basis of levels of aggression.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465092178
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 6/1/1993
  • Pages: 208

Meet the Author


Anne Campbell is senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Durham, England, and is the author of The Girls in the Gang (1984) and Girl Delinquents (1981). Formerly an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University, she has spent nearly twenty years investigating aggression and violent behavior.
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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Cultural Lessons in Aggression 1
2 Boys, Girls, and Aggression 19
3 Fighting Aggression: Women and Anger 39
4 Fair Game and Fair Fights: Aggression Among Men 55
5 Gender and the Shape of Aggression 69
6 Robbery 87
7 Intimate Rage: Violence in Marriage 103
8 Street Gangs 125
9 Women's Aggression and the Male Establishment 141
Notes 161
Index 191
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