As fate would have it, Hillary Clinton spoke at last month’s Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security, where she emphasized the importance of peace, of women, and of women in peace.
“When women participate in peacekeeping and peacemaking, we are all safer and more secure,” said Clinton, who boasted of “evidence-based” research that backs up this claim.
And she’s right. Including women in the peacemaking process is often a valuable way of securing peace in war-torn countries.
But she also got in what was seen as a partisan shot at the Trump administration. At one point she began a sentence by saying, “Studies show . . . ” and then interrupted herself: “Here I go again talking about research, evidence, and facts.”
The crowd laughed, cheered, and loudly applauded for a while, proving that there’s nothing like working out your best material with a friendly audience. Clinton laughed at her supposedly very funny joke, too.
She also said, “Before anybody jumps to any conclusions, I will state clearly: Women are not inherently more peaceful than men. That is a stereotype. That belongs in the alternative reality.”
Again, if you don’t get the joke, the reference to “alternative reality” is apparently a jab at Kellyanne Conway, who once said something silly about “alternative facts.”
But here’s what I think is funny: Clinton’s wrong. She’s the one peddling an alternative reality.
Yeah, there’s a stereotype that women are inherently more peaceful than men — but, as a generalization (which is what stereotypes are), it’s true.
This is an evidence-based conclusion backed by a great many studies.
In 2015, according to the FBI, 7,549 men were arrested for murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Only 984 women were. Men were four times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes and ten times more likely to be arrested for illegal possession of a weapon.
It’s not just in America. Disproportionate male aggression is a human universal, appearing all over the world and across thousands of years. “In almost every society men are the ones who are overwhelmingly involved in wars, in all kinds of intergroup aggressions and intragroup homicide,” writes Dorian Fortuna at Psychology Today. “They mobilize themselves in armies of violent fans, in criminal gangs, in bands of thugs, etc. These observations are as old as the world and have allowed us to create a clear distinction between male and female sexes regarding their predisposition to violence.”
“Throughout history,” reports The Economist magazine, “men have killed men roughly 97 times more often than women have killed women.”
The male inclination for violence has a lot to do with testosterone, which is most plentiful in young men who, in their natural habitat, fought other males to impress women. (You can head down to Fort Lauderdale during Spring Break to document this phenomenon yourself.)
Steven Pinker writes in The Better Angels of Our Nature, his sweeping history of violence, that “to the extent that the problem of violence is a problem of young, unmarried, lawless men competing for dominance, whether directly or on behalf of a leader, then violence really is a problem of there being too much testosterone in the world.”
Interestingly, one of the things that is most likely to make men less violent is getting married, proving that Clinton is right when she says that women have a pacifying effect. What public policies should flow from all this is a topic for another day.
What’s annoying about Clinton’s cheap partisan preening isn’t simply that she’s wrong (and I suspect she knows it). It’s that she is perpetuating an infuriating tendency of liberals today to claim science is always on their side.
There’s a decidedly undemocratic flavor to this kind of argument. Patrick Moynihan famously said that everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts. Liberals want to turn that on its head and claim that their opinions are facts and anyone who disagrees isn’t merely voicing a bad opinion but it somehow living in alternative reality or “denying” science. It’s the secular version of claiming that God is on your side.
Clinton is peddling stale, corporate feminism as settled science in part because she’s pandering to a friendly audience, but also because she’s too lazy to shed her own alternate reality.
— Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a senior editor of National Review. You can write to him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JonahNRO.