II. There is no Instinct for War
III. Why There Are So Few Women Warriors
IV. History of Warfare
V. Warfare and Marriage
Notes and References
A related myth claims that men rather than women go to war because men have more of an "aggressive instinct for war" than do women. This myth can be confronted on a number of grounds.
First, as shown above, warfare does not require an "aggressive instinct" in the warriors.
Second, it is not clear that males have more "aggressive instincts" than do females when we consider the evidence from animal research. It is true that territorial offense is especially spectacular in males of many species during the breeding season, for example, in male cats or deer. However, this is only one kind of offense behavior. Females have their own unique and important offense behavior which they express in guarding their children, so-called "maternal aggression." Competitive fighting, which is the homologue of human anger in other mammalian species may be more common in females than in males (Talavera, Cole, and Adams, 1984). Even territorial offense, which is rarely found in female rodents in the laboratory, is much more common among females when they are studied under natural conditions in the wild (Adams, 1980).
There has been a strong bias among animal researchers to study aggressive behavior in males rather than females, but this trend has apparently been reversed in the last year or two, judging from the entire session devoted to the topic of female aggressive behavior at the most recent meetings of the International Society for Research on Aggression in Finland (abstracts to be published by Aggressive Behavior).
Third, it can be shown that among humans, warfare has been monopolized by men not because of instinctual differences, but because of a contradiction between the institutional structures of warfare and marriage (Adams, 1983).
The contradiction of warfare and marriage structures results in divided loyalties for women whose husbands may go to war against their fathers and brothers. This situation arises under conditions of internal warfare (war against neighboring communities sharing the same language) and patrilocal exogamous marital residency (the bride comes from a different community and comes to live with the family of the husband). This situation is especially common in just those societies where warfare has developed historically (Adams, 1983).
By excluding women from warfare, the problem of their divided loyalty is solved and the security of the warrior husbands is protected against possible betrayal by the women. Not only are the women excluded from participation in battle, but also from war-planning sessions, from the use and ownership of weapons (including those that may be used for both hunting and war), and, in many cases, from co-habitation with warriors during a military campaign.
This explanation for the exclusion of women from war is supported by the fact that women do fight as warriors in certain cultures. In these cultures, the warfare or marital residency rules are always structured in such a way that the contradiction of divided loyalties does not arise (Adams, 1983).