Naturally Angry: Boys Vs. Girls

Charles Darwin: naturalist, teacher, daddy?

Yes, Charles Darwin had ten children, though three died very young. While most parents these days take pictures of their children for posterity, Darwin went one step further… he filled a diary with detailed notes about what his son William did. Referring to William as “the child”, Darwin made some very interesting observations about what children know and what they are taught.

Anger is an emotion that affects us all, and we have discussed in class that it is more acceptable for men to express anger than it is for a woman. This may be something learned or, as Darwin suggests, it’s natural for males, even in childhood.

Darwin had the following thoughts on the subject in 1877…

“Anger. – It was difficult to decide at how early an age anger was felt; on [William’s] eighth day he frowned and wrinkled the skin round his eyes before a crying fit, but this may have been due to pain or distress, and not to anger. When about ten weeks old, he was given some rather cold milk and he kept a slight frown on his forehead all the time that he was sucking, so that he looked like a grown-up person made cross from being compelled to do something which he did not like. When nearly four months old, and perhaps much earlier, there could be no doubt, from the manner in which the blood gushed into his whole face and scalp, that he easily got into a violent passion. A small cause sufficed; thus, when a little over seven months old, he screamed with rage because a lemon slipped away and he could not seize it with his hands. When eleven months old, if a wrong plaything was given to him, he would push it away and beat it; I presume that the beating was an instinctive sign of anger, like the snapping of the jaws by a young crocodile just out of the egg, and not that he imagined he could hurt the plaything. When two years and three months old, he became a great adept at throwing books or sticks, &c., at anyone who offended him; and so it was with some of my other sons. On the other hand, I could never see a trace of such aptitude in my infant daughters; and this makes me think that a tendency to throw objects is inherited by boys.” – Charles Darwin A Biological Sketch of an Infant,1877

So according to Darwin, anger is just another part of male life, not learned and not taught. But I think that if it is seen and perpetuated, it can get out of hand, as we observed in The Bro Code. Alternatives to angry outbursts ca be taught at an early age and that’s when change can occur for the better.

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3 responses »

  1. I am sure that we have all seen angry females, although I will agree not as often as angry men. Does Darwin suggest here that some of the behavior may have been observed with the other children?
    I believe that some people are born just pure evil, nothing can be done to fix them. Charles Manson, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin. There are serial killers in this country and other countries. Again, pure evil. Bin Laden, pure evil. Some of them are still stealing oxygen that belongs to the citizens of this earth.

  2. This is sooo interesting!! I wonder if that particular child was more prone to anger than his other children. Every child is different just as every adult is different, it’s what makes the human race interesting.

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