Nature vs. Culture

Topics: Religion, Gender, Gender role Pages: 7 (2850 words) Published: January 23, 2007
The history of global conflict can be explained by examining the beginnings of interaction among men and what has caused them to behave in this way. The arguments of nature and nurture are typical argumentative factors that may determine whether or not violence and the tendency to engage in war is an inherent trait of men. Although the argument that nature is responsible for determining man's conduct, the cultural values of men is a better and more realistic means of explaining the conflicts of man. David Barash argues on the side of nature in the article entitled, "Evolution, Males, and Violence". Barash makes a strong argument because, as he explains, men are responsible for the majority of random acts of violence and that women are not inherently violent and only are a physical threat when they are defending themselves (Barash, 6). Barash gives a parallel example of violence in animals, arguing that the males are usually responsible for violent behavior (Barash, 2). Furthermore, he explains male violence on a very microscopic level. Sperm compete to fertilize female eggs, thus this is supposed to justify that men will inherently by competitive through nature (Barash, 2). As a result, the belief is that competition generates violence which becomes evident when males attempt to show domination for example. Although there is support for this argument, there is much more evidence for contrary viewpoints that isn't addressed by a nature or biological argument alone. George Mosse, author of Nationalism and Sex, believes societal norms are the key to an effective building of society that facilitates the creation of unity to create such things as an army. However, the question then begs what the social norms were that allowed such development of societies? Primarily, men demonstrating the traits of respectability such as proper gender roles and nationalism were necessary for proper construction of societies, according to Mosse (Mosse, 1-2). Simply put, men that could not control themselves and overly expressed themselves sexually through masturbation were abnormal (Mosse, 11). Homosexual men presented an additional threat and were considered criminals by the state (Mosse, 25). As a result, society began to create fear in men to prevent them from such acts of self-gratification. This was necessary to allow the creation of unity amongst citizens and throughout society. The illogical beliefs such as hairy-palms and anti-social behaviors resulting from masturbating were formed from the societal needs to control the activities of men which ultimately benefited the society as a whole. According to Mosse, masturbation was the primary reason for all loss of control among men. Furthermore, Mosse also deemed masturbation to be an abnormal passion to have at all (Mosse 11). Some physicians even believed that eggs and sperm were similar in that there were limited quantities of each and masturbation was essential "throwing money out the window" (Mosse, 34). The perceived consequences of masturbation also continued across all perceived sexual abnormalities such as homosexuality. Mosse, despite any physical, medical or convincing evidence, believed that masturbation could even lead to homosexuality (Mosse, 29). The belief was that homosexual men were depopulating societies because they had no sense of civic responsibility or moral code (Mosse, 29). There was also additional conflict and disagreement surrounding homosexuality because homosexuality was not congruent with the gender lines and roles established by society. Take for example, Heinrich Himmler, a Nazi official from Mosse's book, Nationalism & Sexuality. He thought that homosexuality destroyed the gender role of men. Ultimately, this belief held by several members of the Nazi party propelled the Nazis to ‘cure' this problem while during Hitler's reign over Germany (Mosse, 43). By this belief, homosexuals were perceived to be less masculine since they strayed...
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