Violence—defined as intentional, aggressive, direct physical harm inflicted by one person on another—has long been associated with masculinity. While women can be violent, men have been the main perpetrators and victims of violence across history and cultures. While biologists have increasingly sought the biological and evolutionary roots of male violence, historians and social scientists—presupposing an evolutionary, biological basis for male proclivities toward violence—have addressed the role of society and culture in encouraging or restraining male violence. The damage caused by male violence has lent special urgency to the search for its patterns, its causes, and its historical, social, and cultural contexts.

Historical and Cultural Contexts

Historians have revealed distinctive patterns of male violence in the history of the European settlement of North America and, later, in the ...

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