major vein in the right hemisphere is larger than its left brain counterpart in girls
but not in boys; this may be related to
the female's superior verbal skills. Example: the greater number of functional
neurons in the girl's brain produces an
earlier development of brain specialization
—the ability to use the left brain for verbal tasks and simultaneously silence the
right brain—which may explain girl's language superiority. Example: boys' superior spatial ability is transmitted hereditarily and may have evolved because of its
value in hunting and fighting. Worse, it
may be the result of insufficient development of the left (verbal) brain hemisphere.
There is evidence that androgen slows
down left (verbal) brain development and
in extreme cases may produce criminal
pathology; the outstanding single feature
of the sociopath's test profile is the systematic high score on the performance
(right brain ability) as opposed to the verbal part of standard tests.
Two chemicals secreted by the adrenal
glands prepare the body to flee danger or
to stand and fight. In agressive animals
there is a higher ratio of the fight chemical to the flight chemical (norepinephrine
to epinephrine or NE/E) than in less
But experience also influences the individual's chemical responses. The major
experience that causes more NE (fight) to
be secreted is severe physical punishment
in childhood. Then the increased secretion of NE results in more aggressive behavior and more subsequent punishment
—i.e. is self-perpetuating.
The implications of this for future
(and present enlightened) childrearing are
important and heartening. The implications for dealing with already grown men
whose conditioning makes them dangerous to society are far more disturbing.
Equally disturbing is the result of one
study which found that while boys and
girls did not differ in the amounts of
chemicals NE and E secreted while watching a comic movie and a scary movie,
when a sexually arousing film was shown
the males secreted significantly more of
the aggression chemical.
Another study discovered that testosterone interferes with the action of an enzyme whose job it is to inactivate neurotransmitters in the brain. The brain would
then be more sensitive to stimulation, to
pain, and possibly to psychological pain
or threat. Men may feel called upon to
fight given much less cause than it would
take to so motivate a female, even if our
conditioning were equal and females
trained to fight as frequently as males.
Men may be, chemically, paranoid.
The remainder of The Violent Sex
deals with how the culture shapes male violence, the possible evolution and survival
value of male aggression, an analysis of
our present culture and how it supports a
These chapters draw from writings in
anthropology, sociology, psychology,
nutrition, feminist writings, and from
Laurel's own investigation and understanding of power. As she states at the
beginning, "There is hardly any discipline
which does not have some bearing on the
study of maleness."
This section of the book will be more
familiar to many and possibly more accessible. Those who find the chapter on
brain research initially difficult might
want to begin the book with chapters 2-5,
which deal with the following: how physical punishment tends to decrease a child's
reliance on internal moral standards and
promotes aggression and violence. One
team of researchers pointed out that nearly all of the Nazi war criminals had been
seriously mistreated in childhood, and
that a recent West German poll showed
that "up to 60% of parents believe in
beating, not slapping or spanking, but
beating their children." Television violence is clearly connected to later aggres
sion in boys-but not in girls.
How did men, in the very beginning,
learn to kill and what were the social and
evolutionary consequences of killing?
Why did women not learn to kill and how
did they attempt and/or fail to control the
aggressiveness of males when it worked
against them? What traits of Hunter Man
remain? Why are some men violent and
Sections in this part of the book deal
with the biological causes of war, the
emptiness and negativism of this century's art, prenatal diet and the role of
drugs in increasing or decreasing violence.
Laurel's final chapter suggests ways in
which we can use the information in her
book to restructure society. The book
ends with two appendices, one titled
"How to Have a Girl," and the other, a
condensation of a theory that all males
are mutations-a genetic blunder that
threatens the life of the planet-by a male,
The Violent Sex is a must to read. For
women, it is the first step in taking our
brains back. For nonviolent men struggling against a macho world, it is crucial
support and validation. It is already
clear that research on the brain will be
top priority in the 1980s.
The Violent Sex: Male Psychobiology
and the Evolution of Consciousness may
be ordered from Bluestocking Books,
1101 Keeler, Berkeley, CA 94708 for
$5.50 postpaid. It is also distributed by
Women in Distribution and Bookpeople
and will be found in feminist and other
This book is carried by BD & Daughter,
520 Westheimer, and The Bookstore,
June Arnold is the founder of Daughters,
Inc. and the author of Sister Gin.
Unto the Breach
We women need to act.
We have a task besides those imperatives
For which we've drawn the lines:
Equal rights, day care, etcetera;
And, of course, that great issue
Of issue or nonissue.
The thing is this: there is a dearth,
An absence, an almost total omission
In our language (perhaps ail languages)
Of proper epithets with which to address
The other gender (sex has nothing to do
When he has gone far beyond the pale-
When jerk or even double-ass won't do.
Time-honored expletives, almost without
Have this in common: they dishonor
Not the subject, but his mother
Or other female figure.
We all know the words-no need to repeat
Those choice endearments.
These new-minted coins
Must be original art
And should roll from the tongue so
Each should seem to have been waiting
To be found and pitched
Like a just-right, palm-sized stone.
Please, my dears, no pigs, donkeys,
Or other of that genre.
What we must set ourselves to is pure
Wrought, carved, honed, polished,
Pronounce one with a smile
And go about your way.
If pressed, a vague, embarrassed
Definition will do.
You might attribute your word
to ancient Sanskrit
Or other esoteric origin;
Or grin, as if caught in the cookie jar.
And so shall we overcome, one by one.
-Diane D. Hicks
Addendum of appellations
for outrageous males
Castarf: Abandoned by his mother as an
Noduvert: A pervert so boring, he puts
you to sleep with his act.
Nerdvert: A pervert so boring, he puts
you to sleep with his act, the nerd.
Zeef: As in Zed, Zee, Zeef.
Old Squerd: Male version of old maid
Stud: Said only with total derision.
Shotstud: Son of a stud; said only with
Spermbank: Good for something,
Tarzip: Thinks he's hot stuff, but lemme
Trithunk: Can't get his mind off his