Research into bonobos—which are ape societies that female-dominated, in contrast to male-dominated ones like chimpanzees and our own—has turned up evidence that they’re just as prone to violence as male-dominated societies. A comment from the evolutionary anthropologist Gottfried Hohmann, the study’s co-author:
In chimpanzees, male-dominance is associated with physical violence, hunting, and meat consumption. By inference, the lack of male dominance and physical violence is often used to explain the relative absence of hunting and meat eating in bonobos. Our observations suggest that, in contrast to previous assumptions, these behaviors may persist in societies with different social relations.
Honestly, I’d be more surprised to find out that females are inherently less violent in any primate species. It’s obvious to me that violence in humans tends to be a result of a combination of power and desire. We all want things that we can’t have just by snapping our fingers, but when we have social privilege to act violently, it’s a lot easier to give into the urge. Female dominance instead of male dominance, even if such a thing was possible, wouldn’t change what is so ingrained in human nature. The only solution is to create more equality in society so that few people have power to the degree that they aren’t as accountable to each other, or worse (in the case of some groups of men), actually compel each other to violence to establish their superiority.
Of course, the accusation leveled by anti-feminists at feminists is that we want to create a matriarchy to replace the patriarchy. Again, that would be stupid because we’d never be able to do that. More importantly, it shows how anti-feminists lack imagination. They can only imagine replacing one unjust, violence-ridden hierarchy with another. But we should aim higher, for systems that are based on equality and peace. For the skeptical, it’s worth noting that many communities have managed to create themselves in ways where people are peaceful and respectful, and crime is low. The remarkable success of the feminist movement in reducing the rape rate over the past 40 years also points to the flexibility in human nature. People can be better and less violent. But the first step is believing in the possibility.