What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.
Barbarism begins with Barbie, the doll children love to hate.
Researchers were surprised that BARBIE, that plastic icon of girlhood fantasy play, is routinely tortured by children.
The methods of mutilation are varied and creative, ranging from scalping to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving.
Just as female sexuality has become detached from its natural realm so has female aggression been molded to the specifications of the prevailing culture. In fact, the preferred narrative is that aggression is not feminine and that it belongs exclusively to the domain of men. The desire to shape human females to a tightly controlled script has blinded society to the natural aggression that exists in all females of any species. Just watch how a bear sow responds when she feels her cubs are in danger; she attacks and kills!
The truth is, however, that aggression is an essential attribute of all humans ”“ male and female; a biological instinct without which our species would not have survived. Yet, virtually all research on aggression and violence, past and present, focuses exclusively on one half of the human species, namely, the males. When professionals avoid examining female violence, they validate the traditional cultural perspective that violence by women is not serious.
As a result, acts of aggression committed by women against men, women, and children are either ignored or underreported and if they do occur, they are viewed as aberrant behaviors. It is clear that the pursuit of valid statistics on violent women interrupts gender stereotypes. In this context, no wonder the result of a large Canadian study into the sexual exploitation of street kids and runaways in B.C. was met with shock and surprise. Many of the abusers were found to be women seeking sex with young males. As many as 3 in 4 boys on the street are sexually exploited by women.
Further corroborating the above is an observation by Steve Lowe, director of Phoenix Forensic Consultants who states that “the true number of female pedophiles has remained hidden for too long. But those of us who work with pedophiles have seen evidence that women are capable of terrible crimes against children ”“ just as bad as men.” One example is that “… in the past decade, more than a hundred nuns in the US have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct with children. Some cases suggest a level of sadism far beyond anything that priests have been accused of doing”. Likewise, a report in The Guardian cites the claims of experts that in 2009, up to 64.000 women in the UK were child sex offenders.
According to Anna Motz, there are two important reasons for ignoring female violence. On the one hand, there is widespread denial of female aggression and, on the other, the idealization of motherhood (”œThe Psychology of female violence: crimes against the body”, pg, 3 pdf). The capacity for reproduction does not automatically translate into women having good mothering skills. On the contrary, mothering behavior is learned from your mother, parenting magazines, books and from society at large. For example, evidence that mothering is not an instinctual and homogenous female behavior can be observed in the ”˜mommy wars’ which have been around since the Victorian age but are currently particularly prolific and pronounced because of the Internet. Women often berate other women over conflicting views about what ”˜real’ mothering should entail. Our traditionally Western nuclear family structure socially isolates women and cuts them off from real-time conversations, which is a far cry from the communal involvement in the child rearing practices of ancient times. Additionally, no consensus has been reached on the pros and cons of stay-at-home moms vis-Ã -vis working moms. As a result, everyone suffers since society’s confusing, unrealistic and, dare I say, cruel expectations of motherhood are unattainable for any woman and do nothing but cause a great deal of stress.
“That cookie-cutter of the good mother doesn’t take into account that the woman who gave birth has her own personality, has her own way of looking at things, and has her own reactivity”. Source
The reality is that the lack of value assigned to caring behaviors; social isolation; lack of mothering skills; society’s expectation that women ignore their own needs, and ineffective sexual expression as a result of having had to endure slut shaming during one’s formative years etc., all collude to provide a toxic mix that negatively impacts motherhood in varying degrees. The child rearing behaviors of many mothers may include: emotional distance; impatience; neglect; excessive yelling, and violence. The pressure to be perfect can further aggravate these maternal responses. In addition, it has been shown that stress from depression and poverty can make mothers hostile as well. The family home that is one child’s paradise may be another child’s hell. The assumption that mother love is innate, unconditional, and timeless is a myth according to Ms Streep, … who interviewed dozens of women who grew up in the shadow of jealous, hypercritical, neglectful and cruel mothers.
Then there are the worst case scenarios; the extreme cases of child abuse by mothers such as maternal incest and mothers who kill their own children. Patricia Pearson, author of ”œWhen She Was Bad”, claims that women commit the majority of child homicides in the United States; more than 80 percent of neonaticides. Yet, Sigmund Freud, who neglected to study female sexuality, believed that perversion (the erotic expression of hatred) was purely the province of men. Estella Weldon, however, alleges that women can be equally perverse but that it is expressed differently citing self-mutilation or child abuse as examples. Weldon asserts that the perversion of motherhood is the end product of serial abuse or chronic infantile neglect (pdf. pg, 16)
Knowledge of the sheer number of female pedophiles would come as a shock to most people. The phenomenon of female pedophilia is the complete antithesis of the cultural perception of motherhood and femininity. Ashley Hill, the author of “Habits of Sin: An ExposÃ© of Nuns Who Sexually Abuse Children and Each Other” speculates that people have a hard time believing that nuns (and other women) can be sexual predators “because women have not been regarded as sexual beings for so long, for much of history, I guess. If you’re not a sexual being, you cannot possibly be a sexual predator.” It demonstrates how little we know about the darker side of the feminine, a side that appears to be gaining strength as a result of the increasingly violent and unequal world we live in. The capacity for violence seems to know no gender. This brings me to the next part of the discussion: the denial of violence in women and how female aggression is expressed.
Early child studies suggest that there is very little difference between the anger and aggressive tendencies of male and female infants, but as they grow older and begin to recognize their gender identity they are socialized in different ways. Thus from childhood boys are taught when and how to use aggression, while girls are taught to suppress such violent urges.
`The most remarkable thing about the socialization of aggression in girls is its absence. Girls do not learn the right way to express aggression; they simply learn not to express it.’ Source
However, aggression being a crucial human attribute necessary for the survival of the species cannot be eradicated in women. It merely goes underground and surfaces in an altered and sometimes more destructive form. Girls, for example, are being socialized to idealize relationships, and engage in passive aggressive behaviors that include: gossip, ostracism, the generation of lies and/or false rumors, and the shaming of other sexually active female peers. Girlfighting occurs as a result of women competing with each other for the attention of men. Singling out other girls as sluts allows (the girl) to claim her purity and goodness ”“ it places her in the driver’s seat; she has the power- backed by the weight of the dominant culture- to objectify and dehumanize other girls. Put simply, this is divide and conquer. While this usually occurs below the radar, mainly in high schools and on the Internet, this type of aggression can cause lasting damage to the recipient and in some cases, may lead to suicide. Predictably, society customarily shrugs off this type of indirect violence claiming that this is just the way girls are without caring to examine the issue any further.
In general, male and female aggression can be differentiated by its motivation. Psychologist Ann Campbell argues that men’s aggression is instrumental ”“ a means for imposing control over others, and women’s, being the subservient class, is expressive ”“ a release of accumulated tension. Women’s initial restraint and self-control about their anger may progress from crying to yelling to, finally throwing things that inevitably results in feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Moreover, the final stage, which, if it is witnessed, will also be subject to public censure.
The reason why women cry rather than hit is not because of their hormones, their reinforcement history, or their role as carers but rather because they see aggression as a personal failure. Source
So next time you see a woman in tears, don’t ask why she is crying but ask why she is frustrated or angry.
Nevertheless, in spite of the rigid societal controls on the expression of female aggression, the bubble of a Master/Slave culture is, under pressure from heightened female resistance, beginning to burst. Women’s increased use of violence is in tune with the accelerating level of violence in society, a trend reflected in the media which functions as a mirror for modern culture. For example, a report released in 2009 on violence against women on mainstream U.S. television shows it had increased by 120 per cent since the previous five years, with the depiction of teen girls as victims rising by some 400 per cent. In addition, degrading images of women in pornography and some fashion shoots as well as their extreme objectification in the media, has caused respect for women to hit rock bottom. Further indication of this downward slide on the respect scale is the lack of esteem afforded to the act of child birth. In contrast to the ancient cultures of the Mediterranean basin which held festivals to honor fertility goddesses, women’s reproductive powers have now become a source of aggression. In modern society, pregnancy is a common trigger for male on female violence. The World Population Foundation reports that in 2010, one woman in four has been abused during pregnancy. At a time when she is vulnerable and needs his cooperation most he strikes her like a lowly coward.
Consequently, society’s devaluation of traits associated with the feminine which are, by the way, naturally present in both men and women and severe lack of respect for women coupled with escalating violence in general are seriously affecting gender relations. Nowhere is this more evident than in the family home where the perpetrators of domestic violence are increasingly female. However, it is difficult to do an accurate assessment of the extent of this phenomenon since two groups, while admitting the numbers are rising, are fighting over the statistics. The Men’s Rights Activists (MRA), an anti-woman movement, inflate the numbers and include women’s acts of self-defense in their figures. Feminist organizations, on the other hand, tend to deflate the numbers for fear of losing funding for abused women; they justifiably claim, however, that a quantity of slaps and hits, with bruises or small injuries doesn’t compare to women being killed or injured for life ”“ every week. Adding to the difficulty of determining the scope of the problem is a general reluctance to report these incidences to authorities because of the shame and stigma felt by both genders. Nevertheless, data from Home Office statistical bulletins and the British Crime Survey show that in 2008-09 about 37.7% of men in the UK were victims of domestic violence. The number of women prosecuted for domestic violence rose from 1,575 in 2004-05 to 4,266 in 2008-09. However, as early as 1999, Statistics Canada reported that ALMOST EQUAL PROPORTIONS OF MEN AND WOMEN (7% and 8% respectively) had been the victims of intimate partner physical and psychological abuse (18% and 19% respectively).
Furthermore, studies have shown that 12 per cent of murdered men are killed by their wives or girlfriends. In addition, women are turning to more violent forms of revenge on their cheating mates. Still, the revenge fantasies many abandoned women engage in remain just that. These fantasies range from funny, to mild, to violent including the use of knives and cleavers. One wife acted on her fantasy, taking her estranged husband’s toothbrush ”“ before he packed it away in his suitcase ”“ to clean the kitchen sink. Generally though, revenge fantasies are usually not acted upon but function as a powerful outlet for the brain to feel some restitution especially for women who were unceremoniously dumped for a younger woman.
Alarmingly, as shown in the following examples, in many western countries, there has also been a remarkable rise in violent acts committed by teenage girls.
In November 1997, 14-year-old Reena Virk died after being swarmed and beaten by eight teens ”” seven of them girls ”” in a Victoria suburb in BC.
In the summer of 2008 three teenage girls in Halifax accosted a 65-year-old woman in a public park and beat her with metal table legs. The following month, three more teen girls in that city were charged with aggravated assault after a fourth girl was beaten, tortured and burned with cigarettes over a two-hour period.
In 2009 in Monticello, Australia, five teenage girls were charged with reckless endangerment in the second degree and criminal mischief in the fourth degree for hurling rocks at vehicles from an overpass.
These are only a few examples of increasing incidents spanning various countries involving crimes perpetrated by young girls.
In December of 1999, Statistics Canada reported that the arrest rate of female youth for interpersonal offences – the only national-level proxy we have of violence committed by girls in Canada – has increased twice as fast (+127%) as for their male counterparts (+65%) between 1988 and 1998 while the same figures for adults increased only six percent.
Eight years later, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics numbers show violent offences accounted for a greater proportion of female youth crime (30 per cent) than male youth crime (27 per cent) in 2006.
In 2005, The Boston Globe reported that violence is raging among teen girls.
Figures released in May, 2009 by the Youth Justice Board said the number of crimes committed by girls aged 10 to 17 in England and Wales had gone up by 25% in three years to 59,000 ”“ with significant increases in minor assaults, robberies, public order offences and criminal damage.
In 2009, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that “one in four adolescent girls has been the perpetrator of or has participated in a violent act in the past year”
Currently (2011), Swedish teen girls between 15- and 17-years old account for nearly one in five assault cases in which charges are filed, the Metro newspaper reports.
According to statistics from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, the figure represents about a 50 percent increase since 1994, when the figure was 12 percent.
The opinions of Australian Health and education specialists about the new face of violence being female are supported by statistics which show a surge in family violence by girls (often by ”little princesses”) with mothers being the main victims, an increase in girl-on-girl attacks in schools, and a rise in the number of women arrested over physical assaults.
Although some social stereotypes are confirmed in profiling aggressive girls – they tend to come from dysfunctional family backgrounds, low socio-economic environments, to have experienced physical or emotional abuse and to have low self-esteem – not all girls fit the bill. Many of the perpetrators are so-called alpha girls – the jockettes, the popular and pretty ones with an inflated sense of entitlement.
While it is clear there is an upsurge in crimes committed by girls, there are several theories that dispute the exact cause. Some believe the increase is merely a reflection of changes in sentencing policies which cast a wider net; others see a clear discriminatory double standard in the types and numbers of crimes girls are arrested for as opposed to boys. Yet another view is that girl violence is a far more serious problem than it appears; the U.S. National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention believes it is less noticeable or visible to the public which may lead to an underestimate of the prevalence of girl violence and bullying.
The crime rate for older females is also on the upswing.
In 2009, in Langley, BC, a woman kicked a man in the groin so hard he lost a testicle ”“ the latest in a series of similar assaults. The police were puzzled about the motive.
In the UK, in 2009, the number of women involved in alcohol-fuelled violent assaults had increased by almost a third in just two years.
Women and girls were responsible for 13 per cent of all violent attacks in 2007/08, according to the British Crime Survey, which was the equivalent of 281,320 assaults, robberies and muggings, compared with 11 per cent in the previous year.
Australian Institute of Criminology statistics show that from 2003 to 2009 the proportion of adult female detainees whose most serious offence was a violent one has increased from 16 per cent to 20 per cent.
Concerning youth violence in general, it was remarkable how British Prime Minister David Cameron singled out the breakdown of the family, mentioning ”˜absent’ fathers, as the cause for increased youth crime in Britain. He got it partly right but didn’t go far enough in identifying the real causes. The family home is not a pre-packaged entity that falls out of the sky without exposure to influences of any kind. Cameron makes no mention of income inequality, gender inequality, sexism, racism, homophobia, all created by gender apartheid, as causes for the collapse. No one is willing to examine how relations between men and women determine the type of society we create. Robert Knox Dentan, a professor in the Department of American Studies and Anthropology, at the State University of New York/University at Buffalo, believes that violence is a circular process: the violence occurring in the family is one of the things that make for a violence-approving society in other spheres of life. In the majority of cases it is a man and a woman that make up the initial family unit. Change therefore, begins with improving relations between the two genders.
However, unfortunately, the genie of escalating female aggression and violence is out of the bottle. The subservient class demands respect and equality; in a world that values violence and aggression it has alas, for many women become either the route to achieve it or the means to survive in an unequal world.
Saint Barbara by Master Francke (1380-1440) is a church-commissioned ‘work of art’ that shows a woman being tortured by two men. The painting is on display in the National Museum of Finland.
Lust from Inferno, painted in 1396, is a grotesque work of art that shows a masked devil shoving a sharp pole into a bound woman’s vagina. The painting is on display in San Gimignano, Italy.
The last two paintings were previously referenced here.
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