The Echoes of the Mind – Gender


“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” ~ Margaret Atwood

The salient differences between the human sexes include a slight but significant sexual dimorphism, male proclivity toward aggression, and extended maternal reproductive obligations for highly-altricial offspring. Human traits in these regards differ from other primates only by slight degrees. As with other hominoids, males physically dominate females, with attendant consequences.

“If we hold stereotypes or biases, our children are induced to hold them too. Our stereotypes become their stereotypes.” ~ American developmental psychologist Andrew Meltzoff

By their 3rd year toddlers learn that they belong to a specific gender. For little boys this is a momentous discovery, as their newly found masculinity marks a dramatic break with their mother. Many boys at this age become fascinated with adult men: adoring puppies for their new role model.

By the age of 4 boys and girls have diverged in their play habits and choice of playmates. Although there is considerable individual variation, boys indulge in verbal and physical aggression. Meanwhile, girls prefer verbal interaction and fine motor skills, and are more sensitive to the emotive cues in themselves and others.

Human gender differences reflect modest evolutionary adaptations that are culturally amplified. Especially with gender roles individuality is suppressed into conformity.

“Beliefs in gender distinctions create and perpetuate gender inequality.” ~ American sociologist Linda Molm

Treatment of different genders begins in infancy. From birth, mothers have a cognitive commitment in their child as being a certain gender. From this follows distinct maternal behaviors. Mothers keep their daughters closer to them, speak to them more and touch them more often than sons. In doing so, mothers engender passivity and dependence in daughters, and activate independence in sons.

At 13 months girls stay closer to their mothers during play and return to their mothers sooner and more often than boys do. If a barrier is set up to separate child and mother, girls are more likely to cry and motion for help; boys instead try to climb over the barrier.

Gender lessons continue throughout childhood. Playthings and dress are gender-based. Boys are subtlety encouraged in rough-and-tumble play. A girl who does so is admonishingly labeled a “tomboy.” Sons are expected to get dirty and be somewhat defiant, while daughters are to be daintier and more compliant. Peer groups reinforce stereotypes.

“Sexism is a systemic issue embedded in culture, and even in everyone’s psyches, men and women alike.” ~ Israeli American actress Natalie Portman

Male and female gender identities, starting with the simple fact of group membership, evolve into elaborate norms about masculinity versus femininity.

“When both internal and external forces pressure men and women to act in disparate ways, the perceived accuracy of gender stereotypes is bolstered, despite the general similarity between men and women.” ~ American psychologists Laurie Rudman & Peter Glick

Gender affects perceptions and self-identity in fundamental ways. Children are brought up to view their own behaviors and options through the lens of gender.

“Women are expected to be submissive and internalize these messages.” ~ American social psychologist Diana Sanchez et al

Upbringing perpetuates stereotypes which erect obstacles to nonconformity, and thereby function as self-fulfilling prophecies.

“Common stereotypes associate high-level intellectual ability with men more than women. These stereotypes discourage women’s pursuit of many careers.” ~ Chinese American developmental psychologist Lin Bian et al

 A Woman’s Figure

“The sex appeal of rounded female buttocks and plump breasts is both universal and unique to the human primate.” ~ English psychologist Carole Jahme

The teats of female apes, and many other mammals, swell only to store milk. In contrast, the abiding plump bosom of women is an anomaly: no other primate has a permanent fulsome breast. Only human females develop a pronounced bust before menarche and retain it post-menopause. As such, breasts do not indicate fertility. Nor is a woman’s bosom indicative of lactation production: bigger breasts don’t necessarily make more milk.

It is the symmetry of the bosoms that suggest fitness, not size. Fluctuating breast asymmetry is higher in women with larger breasts, and in women without children.

Unlike men, women first store fat in their buttocks, not around the abdomen. Hence, the waist of a healthy fertile woman is slimmer than her hips. Other female primates do not deposit fat on the rump. Female gorillas are exemplary in keeping a skinny bum while putting on abdominal girth, as men do.

The inescapable conclusion is that the admired hourglass figure of a woman is a product of sexual selection: a biologically based beauty.

Packaging Femininity

Foot binding for women became popular in 10th-century China for its erotic appeal to men, as women wobbled when they attempted to walk. It became a status symbol and cultural mark of beauty. By the 19th century, half of Chinese women had their feet bound; among upper-class Han Chinese almost 100%. Attempts to ban foot binding failed until the early 20th century, when changing social conditions led to its decline.

The selfsame concept still holds sway in high-heeled shoes, which can deform feet and cause serious back problems. But crippling the feet is just one of many self-alterations modern women subject themselves to for sex appeal. From corsets – which displace internal organs – to push-up bras, women have historically tried to tailor their bodies to appeal to men.

Today, the pains of cosmetic surgery and body waxing are endured to embody cultural ideals of feminine beauty. Breast augmentation is a perennial favorite.

Women mask themselves with cosmetics while accenting features, notably lips and eyes, which have sexual allure. The eyes signal a range of emotions and are a focal point of attention during conversation. Their decoration augments emotional communication. As the mind integrates pleasurable sensations, a pleasant scent, such as perfume, adds to physical attractiveness.

In Muslim cultures, sex appeal is utterly wrapped up. Women must entirely cover their bodies to keep them from tempting men. Beyond the message of ambivalence about women’s bodies that this conveys, it poignantly insults men by implying that they are unable to control themselves – with good reason. The stunning rate of sexual violence by Muslim men strikingly shows severe self-control problems as a cultural trait.


Human females are – in every major way except physical strength – the superior sex. (This is, of course, a statistical generality, as are the conclusory statements that follow it. Specifically, every individual is unique.) The average edge is modest but telling, particularly in light of how societies function from a gender standpoint.

Women are better navigators through the streams of sociality than men. Females are more observant, perceptive, empathic, and civil. They are also more intelligent academically.

Shown short films of a man and a woman communicating with the sound off, women were able to suss the situation 87% of the time, while males managed a mere 42% accuracy.

In communicating, women focus on achieving rapport and avoiding social isolation. Conversely, men aim to achieve social status and avoid failure. Women communicate to build relationships; men to build themselves up.

Women are more comfortable talking about emotions than men: this affords both an outlet and the means for social bonding. Pent-up negative emotions tend to trigger aggression. The priming of male upbringing – that emotions are to be held at bay – contributes to the violence so common of that sex. Social tolerance of male aggression means that predispositions go largely uncurbed. The public consternation that accompanies incidents of extreme violence is an utter failure to connect cause and effect given the cultural leniency which is common in societies throughout history.

Cooperation enabled all the achievements that embody the ethical aspects of civilization. With men in charge, these have been hard-won. The comity which comes naturally to women represents a compromise to men, who easily use others: most sanguinely with those of coincident interest; otherwise, more profitably for the man in charge.

Women employ communication to involve others and reach consensus. In contrast, men like to get to the bottom line based upon what they themselves decided.

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.” ~ Karl Marx

Gender & Status

There are many consequences to ubiquitous gender segregation during upbringing, but the overriding aspect of this reinforcement regime, overshadowing all others, is that men retain social dominance.

Men’s accommodation to roles with greater power and status produces more dominant behavior, and women’s accommodation to roles with lesser power and status produces more subordinate behavior. ~ American social psychologists Alice Eagly & Wendy Wood

Owing to anatomy, receptiveness is equated to being female. The notion that “receptive = submissive” is deeply ingrained in traditional views of gender.

A strong signification of gender and status is the everyday use of sexual euphemisms, such as “getting screwed” for being taken advantage of. The person “getting screwed” is in the metaphorical role of a woman during sex. This gendered analogy is so pervasive that it is maintained in all-male environments.

Men in sex-segregated prisons have a gendered social hierarchy based on toughness. At the bottom are “bitches”: men too weak to fight off sexual predation. These men experience threats more commonly faced by women: sex objects at risk of being raped.

The pejorative use of “ladies” and “pussies” in manly organizations, such as sports and the military, equates weakness with being female.

Females have traditionally been valued for their physical attractiveness, not what they can do. There is a decided tendency to objectify women, which even women do to each other; though when done by men, the consequences are often more severe.

Despite the emphasis on beauty, the more successful a woman is occupationally, the more good looks can impede further progress. In capitalist societies this puts women in a double bind. Ugly ducklings don’t fly, and beautiful birds get shot down.

The inferior status of women has no known origination. With rare exceptions, women were excluded from significant positions of political power throughout the ancient world. Patriarchy is documented not only in Islamic and Near East societies, but also in the traditional cultures of Africa, Middle and South America, the ancient Germanic tribes, India, China, and Japan.

In all early civilizations, women were significantly disadvantaged by comparison with men. ~ Bruce Trigger


Paternalism is old as corsets, but it has only been recently recognized as a form of sexism, rather than merely “complimentary” to women. ~ Laurie Rudman & Peter Glick

The descent of hominins is a portrait in social stratification, beginning with gender. Male sexism is practically universal but varies by political orientation. Whereas liberals tend toward a touch of equality, conservatives are sexists to a fault.

Because masculinity is stereotypically associated with leadership in the US, conservatives’ preference for traditional gender roles and low tolerance for uncertainty may require women’s leadership aspirations to be tempered by strong associations with femininity, particularly in their appearance. ~ American psychologist Eric Hehman

The 2016 US presidential campaign is illustrative. The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, was exposed as a sexual predator, leading to widespread condemnation. The form of denunciation was revealing. Whereas more liberal politicians talked about respect of women as individuals, conservatives construed women as objects of possession: “our wives and daughters.”

For a lot of Republican rhetoric, there is a notion that it’s men talking to men. It sends the message to women: “You don’t belong here; you’re maybe the subject of the talk but you aren’t a participant in it.” ~ American linguist Robin Lakoff

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When you’re a star, they let you do it: grab them by the pussy. You can do anything. ~ Donald Trump

Donald Trump was elected president despite his avowed appetite for sexual predation, as well as a host of insensibilities that should have disqualified him – but he was running against a woman, who just happened to be one of the best-qualified candidates in American history. By contrast, Trump had no relevant experience, and his manipulative business management practices were known to be abhorrent.

Women run for office to do something, and men run for office to be somebody. ~ American political scientist Debbie Walsh

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Though conservatives tend to be more egregious troglodytes, sexism infects the entire political spectrum. The United Nation has long pledged gender parity, but that’s just lip service. 90% of its senior leadership positions go to men.

No woman as ever led the UN. In 2016, 7 qualified female candidates were rejected in favor of a man. As cartoon compensation, the United Nations announced that it would appoint the comic-book character Wonder Woman as an “honorary ambassador” for “the empowerment of women and girls.” After concerted protests over the sexist tokenism, the UN dropped the mascot.

The reality is that the character is a large-breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots – the epitome of a “pin-up” girl. ~ reconsider Wonder Woman petition to the UN

More significantly, the United Nations has allowed sexual harassment and assault to flourish in its offices around the world. Accusers are ignored and perpetrators free to act with impunity.

If you report it, your career is pretty much over, especially if you’re a consultant. ~ UN World Food Programme consultant

There are no options to get justice, and I lost my job too. ~ UN worker who was raped by a senior UN official still at his post

Women in politics are invariably harassed. Over 80% of female parliamentarians around the world have been subjected to psychological and/or physical violence by men. Over 40% have been threatened with death, rape, beatings, or abduction, including threats to kidnap or kill their children.

Female politicians must constantly deal with old-school thinking about their appearance, how they express themselves and behave, and the role they should play. More generally, their excessively or insufficiently feminine demeanour is a subject of regular and widespread comment, attacks, and derision. The same is true of their conjugal status, emotional, sexual, and family life, imagined or real. ~ Inter-Parliamentary Union (2016)

At some point in their lives, over 80% of the world’s females are sexually harassed. For attractive females the barrage is unending.

Sexual assault, even rape, is rarely reported. Women rightly fear they will face disbelief, inaction, blame, or retaliation.

They become troublemakers – nobody wants to hire them or work with them anymore. ~ American sociologist Jennifer Berdahl

In 1998, the US Supreme Court sanctioned sexual harassment in the workplace by allowing companies to point to their bureaucratic procedures as an affirmative defense.

Assertive coping responses at best have little substantive impact; at worst, they increase damage to job, psychological and health status. ~ American psychologist Mindy Bergman et al

An ironic constant is that the dominant sex is sociobiologically less qualified than those coerced into submission. If competence were the key to managing organizations, women would regularly run the show. Instead, men dominate every cultural domain that is of concern to them.

Categorization based on sex is the most basic social divide. Globally, women’s gendered roles are regarded as subordinate to men’s. ~ American sociologist Cynthia Fuchs Epstein


Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands. ~ 1 Peter 3:1, The Bible

Religions commonly codify sexism. The Bible is replete with blatant misogyny and barbarity toward women. (Biblical misogyny is found in: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Samuel (1&2), Kings (1&2), Chronicles, Esther, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Nahum, Matthew, Luke, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, 1 Peter, and Revelations.)

Despite scripture, Christian praxis has glacially progressed. Though Catholics and Mormons still treat women as lesser creatures, Christians otherwise are generally somewhat less patriarchal now than a century ago. Many denominations allow women ministers. In contrast, Islamic and Hindu women still suffer relentless oppression.


In the exceptions where women have achieved socially dominant positions, they have done so by appealing to masculine sensibilities – exceptions that prove the rule.

People tend to rate women as less competent across many domains, from musical abilities to leadership. ~ American neurobiologist Jennifer Raymond

Worldwide, gender bias and discrimination are so commonplace as to be simply “the way the game is played.” Sexism occurs in every sphere of social life: political, corporate, and academic. Popular media of every type perpetuates gender bias.

Although women today have greater choices and more independence than at any time in history, they still are socialized into narrower and more conventional roles than men. ~ Peter Anderson

Movies illustrate the sexism of popular media. In American family films, males outnumber females onscreen 3 to 1. In commercially successful films, on average, males get twice the screen time and double the dialogue of females. With rare exception, women in the media business are paid much less than men for equivalent roles.

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Some 15% of the people in the world cannot read: 2/3rds are females. Elementary school teachers, most of them women, believe girls are not as good in math and science, even when their performance is equivalent to boys. Early on, this throws females off the track of advancement in many fields.

A stark gender disparity remains in many science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. ~ American psychologist Corrine Moss-Racusin et al

American academia is biased against mothers. Universally, women work harder for less pay, and sexual harassment in the workplace is commonplace.

Women lag behind men on most employment dimensions: their jobs offer lower salaries and fewer opportunities for advancement, but also lower job security, worse job content, less time autonomy and worse emotional conditions. ~ Israeli sociologists Haya Stier & Meir Yaish

Sexism is so inculcated that many people do not even realize the bias at work. Men are praised for the same behaviors that women are criticized for: assertive man – bossy woman. Whereas a man that does not help a woman is “busy,” a woman seen as unhelpful is “selfish.”

One striking feature of both sexual harassment and the misuse of power is the lack of awareness offenders often show regarding the inappropriateness of their actions. ~ American social psychologists John Bargh & Paula Raymond

As in education, the economic corrosion of sexism begins with biased appraisal.

Women’s successes on stereotypically masculine tasks are often construed as being due to luck or extreme effort, whereas men’s successes are more often attributed to natural talent or skill. ~ Laurie Rudman & Peter Glick

Built-in biases explain why so few women are elected to political office, even as over half of voters are regularly women. The consequences are considerable. The world would be a more peaceful place if it were run by women. Women do not start wars.

Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country. ~ English politician Margaret Thatcher

Societies would be more equitable and cooperative if female leadership was the norm. Hypercompetitive capitalism might have never found its footing if the family values that females naturally cotton to were the accepted social creed.

Concern for future generations may have abated the pollution spewed that has cost life on the planet dearly. Female appreciation of the value of life is intrinsic to the maternal instinct.

Women usually enter the slog of politics out of societal concern. Many do not bother because the deck is so stacked against them, both in bias by the electorate and in the male-dominated political machines. In stark contrast to female social concern, men more highly value their own dominance status.

Sex Objects

Whereas the mind uses specific pattern-matching to recognize objects, more holistic cognitive processing is applied when assessing events, situations, and people – except…

We don’t break people down to their parts, except when it comes to women. Women are perceived in the same ways that objects are viewed. Both men and women do it. ~ American psychologist Sarah Gervais

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Images of scantily clad women are used by advertisers to make products more attractive to men. This “sex sells” approach is increasingly employed to promote ethical causes. Yet sexualized images can dehumanize women, which increases tolerance for unethical behaviour – specifically men’s attitudes toward sexual harassment and rape. ~ Australian psychologist Renata Bongiorno

Sexual Violence

Male violence against women is sufficiently common and repetitive to constitute a social structure. ~ English sociologist Sylvia Walby

The negative consequences of overweening male prurience are relentless, beginning with casual praxis.

Men often misinterpret women as having more sexual interest than they really do. ~ Vinita Mehta

Whereas women are interested in relationships, where sex may play a part, men are interested in sexual partners. Motivational differences mean that males often overestimate a woman’s sexual interest early on.

Men overattribute sexuality to situations that have no sexual intent, whereas women are likely to underattribute sexuality to situations that have sexual intent. ~ Peter Anderson

Most men do not automatically link sex to dominance. But men who are sexual aggressors show a different pattern: they associate sex with power and find the feeling of power sexually arousing.

Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. ~ American diplomat Henry Kissinger

Sexual aggressors automatically associate hostility with women. This leads such men to discount negative responses from their prey. Worse, it may even be arousing, in making a woman more of a “conquest.”

I must have a sexuality, which, compared to the average man, is more rough. ~ French politician and diplomat Dominique Strauss-Kahn, reflecting upon his brutally sodomizing a woman while she cried. Strauss said that she showed “unwillingness, but she never objected.”

I dare you to distinguish between a prostitute and a naked socialite. ~ Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer, defending his client from the charge that Strauss-Kahn knew he was sodomizing a prostitute

He did it for fun. We had some lovely evenings. ~ French businessman David Roquet on Dominique Strauss-Kahn, reminiscing over the “libertinage” sex parties they both participated in

Men projecting their own attitudes toward male-female relations is one reason that sexual assault is taken so lightly by many men. Coupling this with the ready objectification of women explains why the significance of sexual assault is disregarded, treated as a misunderstanding, or, at worst, is considered a trivial offense by so many men.

Treating women as sex objects involves exclusive focus on physical attributes while disregarding mental qualities. There is a fundamental alienation from the other gender that serves as the wellspring for sexual violence. The lack of empathic mentalizing originates with considering the opposite sex as an out-group of lesser beings.

Rampant sexual objectification of women, an act of sexual terrorism, can heighten women’s fears of incurring physical and sexual harm. Women bear the emotional scar tissue of a sociocultural context where rape is epidemic. ~ American psychologist Laurel Watson

Sexual violence, especially by men against women, is rampant worldwide. It begins early. 43% of American girls have been sexually victimized by the age of 14.

Crowded public transport across the planet offers males easy opportunity to freely sexually assault females. They do so with gusto.

 The Friendly Skies

Allison Dvaladze fell asleep on an overnight Delta airlines flight on 15 April 2016. When she woke, the man sitting next to her was fondling her crotch. Allison pushed his hand away and “yelled ‘No!’.” The man did not care. He grabbed her again.

After being overpowered and repeatedly groped, Allison finally managed to escape to the back of the plane, where she told the flight crew after subduing her panic. A flight attendant told Dvaladze to let the assault “roll off your back.”

After the flight landed, the sexual predator merrily walked off the plane, unconfronted. Dvaladze was offered 10,000 frequent flier miles as a “goodwill gesture.”

An informal survey found that 20% of US airline flight attendants had been told of sexual assaults during flights: a figure representing thousands of such incidents on practically all commercial airlines. The president of the Association of Flight Attendants had herself been groped in flight. Because sexual assault is so common, and addressing such incidents would be problematic, airlines simply normalize the odious behavior.

 US Military

Sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military are a profound betrayal of sacred oaths and sacred trusts. ~ US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2013

Ask any officer in the US military whether he is in a disciplined force and the answer will be an enthusiastic affirmative; yet a sexual assault occurs in the US military at least every 4 hours. Cultural acceptance by armed services officers allows rape with impunity. A woman is far more likely to be raped by a fellow military member than killed in action.

Military academies are training grounds for sexual violence. Sexual assaults at American military academies rose as the 2110s ended. Most attacks go unreported because women cadets know nothing will be done except have their reputations tarnished.

Over 80% of women in the military are sexually harassed, and more than 30% sexually assaulted – this may be a gross underestimate: sexual assaults may be 15 times higher.

Only ~13% of reported military sexual assaults are investigated. Knowing what won’t happen, and fearing what might, over 80% of the assaults are not reported. The typical investigation involves interrogation of the victim about her sexual history in an attempt to discredit any accusation she has or may make. Over 2/3rds of the women who file sexual assault complaints face retaliation.

In only 8% of investigated cases is anything done about a rape. If the rapist is a superior officer, the odds drop precipitously toward zero.

There is no accountability because the trust that any justice will be served has been irreparably broken under the current system, where commanders hold all the cards over whether a case moves forward for prosecution. ~ US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

In 2013, the colonel in charge of sexual assault prevention for the Air Force was arrested for sexual assault. He was acquitted. The colonel’s defense attorney suggested that the officer might have grazed the accusing women by accident on a narrow sidewalk, as opposed to grabbing her buttocks and asking her if she liked it.

Two witnesses – female employees at the bar where the colonel was boozing before the grazing – said they too had been groped by him but did not press charges because they considered it an occupational hazard. Of the accused officer, one witness said, “he was just a drunken mess.”

The violation of women continues unabated. In 2018, reported sexual assaults shot up 38% from the previous year, despite supposed corrective measures by senior military officials. There were over 20,5000 reported incidents of sex abuse in the US military in 2018.

The deputy director of the Air Force’s office of sexual assault prevention at the Pentagon resigned for sexual harassment and creating “an intimidating and offensive working environment.” An Army prosecutor in charge of sexual assault investigations in the Southwest put a knife to the throat of a lawyer he had been dating and raped her. An Army sexual assault prevention officer raped a preteen girl.

The Army employs 650 full-time sexual assault response coordinators. In 2016, 8 of them sexually assaulted women.

Military rape victims are routinely denied any medical benefits owing to their trauma.

I thought I was strong but felt powerless. The perpetrators abused their position of power in profound ways. Like many victims, I felt like the system was raping me all over again. ~ US Senator Martha McSally on being raped while in the Air Force and having no recourse.

 Catholic Priest Sex Abuse

The frequency of sexual violence is higher among human males than all other animals (as far as we know). Awareness of its evil apparently does nothing to dampen enthusiasm.

In many Catholic dioceses, sexual abuse of young, innocent parishioners by priests went practically unchecked for centuries. Priests’ frequent fondness for fondling boys belies the typical trend of sexual violence visited mostly upon females, though the girls were not passed over for their share of depredation.

Catholicism, like Islam and fundamentalist Christian sects, turns innate urges into demons that even the most devout succumb to, all too often to excess, as indulging a taboo is especially stimulating. These perverse, repressive religions exemplify the mental illness inherent in the belief systems of the Collective.


Cultures with a greater gender equality offer little re-prieve. 20% of the women in Denmark have been sexually assaulted.

Sexual assault is seldom casual. It is instead a preda-tory activity. Rapists pick up on subconscious cues of vulnerability, including submissive nonverbal behaviors, revealing clothing, and intoxication. The more in control and assertive a woman looks, the less likely her becoming a victim of sexual assault.

 Sex Trafficking

Owing to the plenitude of men who pay to pleasure themselves, sexual exploitation is a thriving criminal enterprise worldwide, worth an estimated $27.8 billion in 2010.

An estimated 21 million children and adults are trafficked for sex. (Figures for sex trafficking are unreliable, providing only some sense of scope for this ongoing atrocity.) Every year, 2 million girls between the ages of 5–15 are forced into sexual slavery. They are typically smuggled from one country into another. The FBI estimates over 100,000 girls – average age 11 years – are trafficked in the United States for sex. Other than the occasional stroke of luck from an informant, law enforcement officials make scant effort to ferret sex trafficking.

Female Genital Mutilation

In an attempt to control female sexuality, ritual genital mutilation is practiced in 27 African countries, Arab nations, and in Asia. It is usually done on girls between infancy and age 15. The impetus is to remove the pleasure of sex and so better ensure virginity before marriage.

More than 125 million women alive today have suffered such mutilation as an expression of male dominance. It has no benefits, but harms in many ways.

Women know about the harms, but there is still social pressure to conform. ~ Italian humanitarian Francesca Moneti


Constrained only by the cruelty of men, violence against women knows no bounds. Traditional practices include foot binding in China, witch burning in Europe and the American colonies, and suttee in India: roasting a widow alive while cremating her dead husband. The Japanese once practiced oobasan steru: literally “throw-ing grandma away” by taking her up to the hills and leaving her once she became too infirm or troublesome to care for. Then there is honor, practiced most primitively.

Honor Killings

An honor killing is where one family member vengefully murders another in the belief that the victim has brought shame upon the family. Except in India, males are seldom subject to honor killing. Most intrafamilial slaughter is of females. Typical reasons include marital infidelity, being the victim of rape, refusing to enter an arranged marriage, seeking a divorce, being in a family-disapproved romantic relationship, homosexuality, or dressing inappropriately.

Women are considered the property of the males in their family, irrespective of their class, ethnic, or religious group. The owner of the property has the right to decide its fate. The concept of ownership has turned women into a commodity which can be exchanged, bought and sold. ~ Pakistani sociologist Tahira Shahid Khan

Some 20,000 females are honor-killed worldwide each year, usually by young boys in the family who are ordered to do so. Methods include stoning, stabbing, beating, burning, beheading, hanging, lethal acid attacks, shooting, strangulation, and throat slashing. The act of murder is often prolonged and exceedingly agonizing. Meantime, the boys coerced into the act learn a searing cultural lesson in cruelty.

Honor killings are generally supported by Muslim men. Like savannah baboons, the Arab culture is a strict patriarchy.

What the men of the family, clan, or tribe seek control of in a patrilineal society is reproductive power. Women for the tribe were considered a factory for making men. The honour killing is not a means to control sexual power or behavior. What’s behind it is the issue of fertility, or reproductive power. ~ Israeli sociologist Suzanne Ruggi

Hindus also practice honor killings.

According to Hindu religious law and tradition, marrying or having sexual relations with a member of a different caste is strictly forbidden. The vast majority of Hindu honor killings target young Indians suspected of violating one of these two commandments.

Indian Hindus murder men for honor more often than do Pakistani Muslims, and they murder for reasons mainly related to concerns about caste purity. ~ American psychologists Phyllis Chesler & Nathan Bloom

In India, honor may be a simple matter of money. More than 5,000 brides are killed annually because their dowries are too meager.


Men’s violence toward women occurs with the aim of controlling women’s sexual behavior. ~ Laurie Rudman & Peter Glick

As women are a sexual resource for men, male motivation is for females to produce offspring for them. This only means that violence tends to stop short of murder (if the baby-maker is still wanted).

Biologically, a man’s self-interest is enhancing his reproductive success, not only via dominance over male competitors, but also in ensuring that he invests resources only in his own offspring, not other men’s. This corresponds with numerous other simians and several mammal species.

Uncertainty in paternity explains the strong vigilance that men have on their mate’s sexual fidelity, and the related tendency to experience jealousy when a female mate “strays.” Sexual jealousy is an intense emotion that can stir frustration-induced rage: provoking severe, even lethal, violence toward female partners.

In contrast, women have no uncertainty about the maternity of their offspring. A woman’s jealousy rises at the prospect of a mate becoming emotionally invested in another woman, and the prospect of his diverting resources that might otherwise go to her. Hence, women more easily tolerate sexual forays by their partners as long as they do not threaten their own position.

He’s a hard dog to keep on the porch. ~ American politician Hillary Clinton, referring to her husband’s casual sexual infidelities, for which she declined to divorce him

Whereas men report more distress in response to imagining sexual infidelity, women are more troubled when imagining emotional infidelity. This corresponds with responses to actual incidents.

The rates of relationship violence vary considerably across cultures. Social structural variables – such as gender stratification, sexist attitudes, and related ideologies (e.g., ‘honor’) – affect the prevalence and levels of violence against women. Cultural differences in gender status and power correlate strongly with relationship violence: there is more wife abuse where women have less status, social power, and fewer resources.

Though men trump in thumping their partners, the violence is not just one-way.

Both men and women commit a range of acts of physical aggression against their partners. ~ English psychologist John Archer