It is time once again for advice from the infamous and semi-world renowned Yo Phil. This week's question comes from Jeff, California blogger and all around great guy. The question he poses was asked in a rather serious context, which can be found here. For the sake of good advice, however, Yo Phil will approach this question entirely out of context, not only for a deeper look at what implications the question poses, but also to ensure that you, the reader, do not take this advice to be in any way insensitive to the topic that brought this question to light. And now, without further chit-chat, let's bring on the advice.

Yo Phil,

Are men (male gender) born inherently violent or is violence a socialized/taught behavior?

-Jeff

Jeff,

No doubt this question has been on people's minds for many years now. And, in all honesty, it is a perplexing question. Let us first take a look at what happens with a male baby:

The baby boy is born, and the parents are ecstatic! The little guy is so cute, he coos and blows bubbles. He has big eyes that eagerly watch everything around him. Oh, and he loves to play little games and be tickled. In all that baby fat and puffy cheek splendor, there is little doubt that that little guy is not violent at all.

All goes well, until one day, the little tyke discovers that the friendly family dog makes both a good pillow and a decent punching bag. The child quickly learns that this violence is unacceptable, and is taught this lesson by a swat on the behind.

The rugrat learns his lesson, and is no longer such a punk. Things return to normal, and everything becomes cute and innocent once again. Things are hunky dory, until the kid learns how to say "no" and becomes obstinate, cranky, and contradictory. Once past the age of two, things look up once again, and preschool looms on the horizon.

Innocent games are played in preschool, and the impressionable young boy loves going to school and playing with his buddies. It's all about stacking blocks and playing on the playground. Please note here that if Teletubbies are introduced to your child at any point, your child will be scarred for life, and no doubt will have violent tendencies. This is not due to any purportedly "gay" characters, but the fact that the show is so mind-numbing that the only reasonable response is to want to destroy things.

Anyway, continue on to elementary school, where more mature games are played, such as battleship, monopoly, and risk. Battleship promotes the destruction of war (I love that game), Monopoly encourages unfair business practices and high interest rates (I love this game too), and Risk promotes all-out warfare, albeit at a fun level of merely rolling dice (this game is also fun).

Having read this, you might think that, whoah, Phil is probably a pretty violent guy. I assure you that I anything but. However, please never say that "Phil would never harm a fly," because it's simply not true. I've been known to swat those little beasts with a vengeance, and cockroaches and mosquitoes are terminated with equal gusto.

Still, I do not have any urges to go pick a random fight and try to break some guy's jaw. I don't fantasize about different battle plans and strategic spots to drop missiles and/or bombs.

I attribute much of my lack of violent tendencies to my overall nature, but also to the environment in which I was raised. Despite all the crap I got in school growing up, I still had a very caring family and those friends that I had were always good friends. I never aimed to be popular, and never felt compelled to seriously compete and compare myself to others. I figure this is due to those in my life knowing that just allowing me to be me was all that was needed to keep me happy.

And so, to answer this question more specifically, it seems that violence has the potential to be a part of each of us, but it is quite possibly the result of the environments in which we find ourselves that has the greatest effect on us. I grew up with my share of violence from society, and yet I remain harmless, for the most part.

That is, unless you push my buttons, in which case I'll kick your ass.

-Phil

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