Income Inequality Leads to Cruelty to Women

 (guest post from Seth)

My theory is that cruelty to women is related to income inequality. It occurred to me when I was imagining what it would be like to integrate women into combat units. Groups of men, like other primates, establish a ranking order. It’s an integral element of social cohesion. In his book “Your Inner Ape”, Franz de Waal described how the incidence of violence increased among a clan of chimpanzees when the power of the leader increased excessively relative to the power of those at the lower rungs of status.

Despite the inequality of their statuses, groups of men establish a stable social order as long as the distance between the top and the bottom remain within tolerable levels. I imagine a squad consisting of 8 men and 4 women. It’s predictable that the alpha male will hook up with one of the more desirable females. The extra stress of frustrated desire on those of lower status will strain social cohesion, probably unraveling it.

Within our current cultural structure, there is more than a vestige of the context in which women are possessions whose beauty confers status on the men who possess them. We can argue about the legitimacy of this fact, or its immutability, but it would be hard to deny it. What is interesting to me is how this dynamic applies to our society as a whole. If women are indeed totems of male status, then it makes sense that males can resent their mates for not conferring sufficient status upon them. If the rest of the man’s relationship to his society is more equal, he will probably not feel that resentment so sharply. However, when he feels so much smaller than the men at the top, he is apt to feel more restive. His mate becomes a constant reminder of his lack of status, frustration is transmuted into blame and is expressed in cruelty.