The Correlation Between Sex and Violence
Why Are Men So Mean Sometimes?
Over the past few days my manfriend and I have been binge-watching Hannibal (on amazon prime). It’s an incredibly violent television show as you may imagine since it’s based off of the books Red Dragon and Hannibal by Thomas Harris. A psychological thriller with death everywhere. So much death that in the 13+ episodes we’ve made it through there’s only been one romantic moment — a kiss — and no sex whatsoever. In any event, my friend and I got into a discussion about the correlation between violence and sex. He claimed that they were “the same thing” whereas I begged to differ.
Since that time I’ve been doing some research and I’ve come across some very interesting articles on this very subject. It turns out there’s a pretty big correlation between the two, though it is not quite right to say they are “the same thing.”
Here are six interesting facts (theories and research developments) I’ve come across during my internet dive into this fascinating topic of sex and violence.
1. On Female Sexual Liberation
In the Psychology Today article, Why Sex and Violence Go Together, the author writes:
“young males are at the highest risk of criminal offending, and violent crime is more common in societies where female sexuality is more liberated.”
This has to do with competition for sex. From my understanding of this article, when there is a likelihood of getting some, many men will get violent in order to get it. They commit criminal acts often as a way to prove that they are stronger, more “manly” than others. Many of the crimes committed in this research were deemed “trivial altercations.” They act out to “save face,” because they believe that women don’t like to date “losers.”
Could it be possible that this rise in female sexual empowerment is causing men to revert back to baser more animalistic behavior? Or is this just another man blaming women for men’s actions instead of owning the fact that men choose to behave in these ways? And yes, I use the word “choose,” because there has to be accountability for these acts of anger and aggression or why have a higher more developed consciousness at all?
2. Sex, Marriage, and Violence
From the same article:
When men get married their testosterone level drops and so to do incidents of their violent behavior. Also interestingly enough:
“When men divorce, and begin dating again, their testosterone level rises compared to men remaining married.”
And thus, the divorced men become more aggressive and violent.
Does the testosterone level drop in marriage because they have secured a partner and can relax? Or does it drop because of their closer proximity to estrogen? Perhaps a mixture of both? It’s apparent that it rises again after divorce due to the fact that they have to go back out in the field and compete for a mate. Is the aggression because of the testosterone or because they’re angry about their divorce… or both?
3. Sex, Violence and Video Games
A study revealed that women are actually more affected sexually by video games than men. At first the article made it seem like the woman were aroused by the violent video games themselves but after a closer reading it seems like the games actually give women a confidence boost and make them think they are a “better catch,” than the women in the study who did not play the games. You can read all about it in the Bustle article, Violence Makes You Feel Sexy.
4. Social Media, Sex, and Violence
In the same Bustle article researchers found that people who tweet are actually more aroused than those who don’t.
“A 2011 survey by OKCupid found that their tweeting members masturbated more. Apparently those who tweeted twice a day or more also masturbated twice as much as those who didn’t try to get all witty with only 140 characters.”
How is this related to violence? The article didn’t claim that it was, but I’m curious if people are getting angry at everything happening in the world and then choosing to turn the Twitter off and watch some porn instead to release some of that pent up aggression.
5. Your Brain on Sex and Violence
From Psychology Today:
“Both aggression and sex are controlled by neurons in the same part of the brain–the hypothalamic attack region. When researchers stimulate these neurons with electrodes in the brains of mice, the animals instantly engage in violence or in mating, depending on how strongly the neurons are stimulated.”
According to the article, researchers were able to control the intensity of stimulation of these neurons and thus were able to switch the animals behavior between mating and fighting depending on the level of intensity.
This is pretty nuts when you think about how close to proximity they are and how easy one can turn into the other. Is there a way to control this outside of a lab? Will there ever be a way? If so, could this actually help ease violence in humans if we took away the ability to over-stimulate these neurons? I do not know, I am not a scientist, but it is interesting to consider.
6. Violence and Sex in Crowds
According to the same article from Psychology Today:
“ The chaos of large crowds increase the risk of sexual assault on women….”
The over-stimulation of the senses and the heightened stress of being at places like concerts, subways, mass celebrations, etc. triggers mob violence.
“Mob behavior is driven by the strong herding instinct of people to do as they see others do when there is no central authority in control. At the opposite extreme, this same powerful herding instinct can cause bystander apathy in which no one in a crowd comes to the aid of a person in need.”
The article goes on to list way too many examples of women being sexually assaulted and raped at these overpopulated events. I often thought there were always less women at concerts etc. because of the difference in economic security, but perhaps many women instinctively feel it’s safer to stay away. I mean I get it, being in a large crowd can make anyone feel stressed, irritated, angry, but turning to violent behavior like this is primitive and unacceptable. If you’re the type of person who cannot control your own emotions and/or keep it in your pants, perhaps you’re the one who shouldn’t go out in public?
So, even though there is a ton of different research that happens to offer a connection between the two and even though rough sex can even be fun, sex and violence are not the same thing, not matter how much Hannibal wants to convince you otherwise, fucking freak.
P.S. I’ll be analyzing BDSM and the attraction many of us have to it soon, so stay tuned and it is quite relatable!
Thanks for reading.
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