Are men in fact "more like animals" than women?

 
Ah, such a comfy, familiar old theory  -  but so many counter-examples are readily available (historical and contemporary). The male half of the species doesnt have to behave like animals... but sometimes they choose to do so.

They choose to do so when they are unwilling to recognize any other higher social priority. And often they choose to use the excuse that men are closer to the animal state, to duck their personal responsibility for anti-social (anti-human) behaviour. "I cant help myself" is second only to "She asked for it" when rapists justify their offences.

"I cant help myself" really translates IMHO into "my responsibility as a human being to behave reasonably and not injure others was way less important to me than my acquisitive or appetitive impulse." Were talking choice here, folks  -  priorities  -  decisions. Were conscious beings, not paramecia.

As an aside... we could also argue that those behaviours in women which are cited as proving that women are "more human", more civilized, etc. are simply mammalian female behaviours directed towards nurturance and defence of young, education and cultural transmission, etc. All this would mean is that some female mammal behaviours seem to work better for living together in a state of civilization, which might not be so surprising. In some, but not all, primates youll find that the basic social unit is a crowd of females raising their young semi-communally, while wandering males come and go.

Or we could argue that women have more at stake in preserving civilized conditions, because were at a disadvantage when it comes to brute force. You can go around and around and around this stuff for years, and lots of people have.

Why bother? Is it even relevant? I dont think that biological imperatives are a suitable ground for anyone, male or female, to stand on when defending their actions or attitudes. What is "natural" to our species bears no necessary relationship to what is "right" for us to do as members of a human society.

Sometimes women (including lesbian feminists) have leapt eagerly to adopt the position that women are more human, more civilized, less animal than men (c.f. Bestializing the Human Female and related humour and theory). Despite the momentary glow of superiority to be gained by subscribing to this one, the downside is that it implicitly places responsibility for civilization more heavily on women than men (animals, after all, are not responsible in way that we expect humans to be). It makes women implicitly responsible for controlling male behaviour, which (when you consider that men have most of the physical mass and strength, almost all the weapons, and way more than half the money) is ridiculous. Men are responsible for their own behaviour. They are not tomcats.

Anyway, whether men are "more like animals" than women seems to me a pointless discussion, a time-waster. You can try to contend with an assertion like "R"s by waving 300-page books around, but the argument will go on indefinitely (theres just as much text devoted to Tabula Rasa as there is to Sociobiology). Whether testosterone has a stronger debilitating effect on reasoning power or conscience than estrogen is really of no interest to me. What I do know, from my own behaviour and from observing others and reading history, is that as human beings, we (all of us!) are divorced from our biological imperatives to a degree uncommon in the rest of the animal world; and this means that none of us can hide behind our "animal nature" to justify our actions.