In all societies, men commit the overwhelming majority of crime and acts of violence. Why is that?
When I approach questions like these, my first thought is always Well, let’s take it back. Wayyyy back. Like, caveman back.
Returning to Cavemen
Humans are mammals. Male mammals are genetically predisposed to reproduce (so are women, but we all know how males are when it comes to reproducing). Just like all mammals, human men compete for the attentions of women. Psychology Today says, “The large number of homicides between men (compared to the number of homicides between women, or between the sexes) is a direct consequence of this male competition for mates.”
Most murders are in-the-moment crimes of passion, rather than premeditated and planned, and they most often stem from trivial matters such as honor, status, and reputation. But these too relate to reproduction. Women are more likely to mate with men of honor, status, and reputation. Any perceived threat to those characteristics are a threat to a man’s ability to reproduce.
Women, on the other hand, are more likely to have been encouraged to behave well and take care of others. Not only that, they don’t have the same reproductive drive as men—at least, not one that compels them (consciously or not) to protect their honor, pride, and reputation. Why, then, do they kill? A report on ABCnews.com says that murders by women are more likely to be committed against someone close to them, and are usually in self-defense against a life-threatening situation or abuse. Murder can be seen as the only way out (even when mothers kill their children), or happen as a result of a mental illness.
Once the crime is committed, recidivism rates are much lower for women as well. Psychology Today attributes this to the increased responsibilities laid upon women. Women have families to take care of when they get out of jail. They also have more access to societal support such as housing services. Meanwhile, men have less stable lives to return to. If they’re involved in their children’s’ or families’ lives, their recidivism rates will also decrease.
Do you think, if we actively change society’s expectations of men, men would still commit the number of violent crimes they do today? Would it matter? Or would genetics win out? Comment below!