Pet Antics

Elsa, refusing to leave Vermont and Rudy’s soul-mate terrorizing a large herbivore:

Elsa voting with her feet

Get the #@*% off my turf!

About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director and Harvard College house master/some-time journalist. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
This entry was posted in My story. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Pet Antics

  1. Karl says:

    Erika,
    I appreciated your comments about the male-ness of murders but I found that your use of phrases could easily lead to a misunderstanding of your proposition. For instance, if I define “worst mass murders” as people killing members of their family rather than strangers (which I consider worse), then the statistics would change. I did a search on – mother murder child – and found numerous examples of women murdering multiple children. Obviously, this doesn’t prove anything and perhaps your hypothesis is totally correct but its statement is somewhat fuzzy; leading to misunderstanding and less articulate people using four letter descriptors.

    As a side note, have you investigated whether the frequency of female murders is increasing over time?

    BTW: Though technically she was a serial killer, Bonnie, of Bonnie and Clyde (in)fame, could hold her own in the category.

    • Thank you so much for your feedback -and for being civil.I understand where you are coming from, and appreciate your perspective on my word choice and focus. At the same time, a lot of people have mischaracterized my tone as gender “bashing” and sexist etc when, in fact, I was trying in a very honest way to draw attention to a terrible, unexamined, almost shameful subject: how do we deal with male violence? I used a very specific and standard definition of mass murder, which is distinct from spree killings, serial murder etc. On the other hand, even allowing for the possibility that I should have given more attention to female “multiple murder” (if we want to call it that), my column was using the recent mass murder in Aurora as an illustration more broadly of the unique male features of violence (for example, the higher level of violence associated with depression and suicide in men.) Regrettably, from my point of view, people are fixating on the word choice and getting overly hung up on the fact that, yes, women have been serial killers, child killers, spree killers etc throughout history. Well yes…

      Of course women are capable of violence! I absolutely accept that, and acknowledged that early in my piece. But people are getting very sidetracked by exceptional cases and trying to prove to me (and themselves) how “really” violent women are. Well, I think they are missing the forest for the trees: men ARE more violent than women. We all know this, if we are being honest. 90 percent of murders are committed by men; 80 percent of victims are men. This doesn’t even address rape and warfare – or the more benign examples of male violence, such as virtual/pretend violence. I have NEVER suggested, nor do I believe, that biology is destiny or even that culture is destiny. There’s huge variation across history and geography with respect to violence so, of course, violent patterns can change. But I find the nit-picking over my words (in a 700 word essay where, clearly, I couldn’t address every angle) is just a sidebar from the real point, which is that we have a serious problem with violence in our culture, and – alas – it is true that the category of humans at greatest risk, as both perpetrators and victims, are indeed young men.

      I would be amused if I weren’t so saddened by how touchy and sensitive the reaction has been. It seems like we should all be able to cope with a serious investigation of the risk factors for murder and its impact on young men. With respect to your question about female murder, I don’t know the answer with certainty but ALL murder has declined in recent decades. You can check out the Department of Justice and FBI stats by race, gender, age etc. and the news is actually very striking. Steve Pinker has a marvelous book on the decline of violence over the course of human history. It’s a counter intuitive argument but very well supported by data. His argument is that violence has declined, in part, because of the rise of the state as a third party to adjudicate disputes and also because of the “feminization: of human culture!

      Thanks, again, for writing. I appreciate the dialogue very much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s