high self-esteem and aggression

Cathy Quinones quinones at mindspring.com
Mon Feb 26 21:04:13 EST 1996

In message <lab_sakano-2602961622420001 at lsa6mac19.berkeley.edu> - 
lab_sakano at maillink.berkeley.edu (Linda Kingsbury) writes:
:>I just saw a newspaper article that may relate to the thread on how "only"
:>50% of women/girls (compared to a greater percentage of males) thought
:>they themselves were above average.
:>According to this article, high self-esteem may be related to aggression
:>-- particularly self-esteem not supported by actual accomplishments.  I'm
:>afraid I don't remember the reference for the study. 
:>Intruiging, huh?

It makes sense if we consider this in the context of social structure (of, 
say, a social primate): one's position in the pack/group comes from one's 
assertiveness.  Assertiveness means not backing down (at least NOT all the 
time).  Aggression (active or ritualized displays) is how individuals tell 
one another "this is who I am, these are the individuals I lord over, those 
are the ones that lord over me."  

Simplistic, I know, but, if we use the word assertiveness or attitude, it 
makes sense.  Girls are taught to be nice, avoid conflict, smooth fluffed 
feathers, that talking about our achievements is borderline rude (show-off 
behavior).  It's not surprising we begin to internalize this crap and act out 
the script.  

One thing I noticed in grad school is that some people were quite comfortable 
with tooting their own horns.  Some of them were obnoxious about it, others 
were matter-of-fact.  Either way, others were informed of that person's 
achievements and treated the person consistently with those achievements.   
This is something I notice in people in general: you need a certain sense of 
self-worth before you can go out there and demand what's rightfully yours.
If girls are losing that sense of self-worth, it is not surprising at all 
that they continue to self-doubt themselves out of a fair chance in life.

One thing I remember from my pre-college years (both elementary and high 
school) is that the girls that ended up becoming scientists, engineers, 
etc... were also the ones that wouldn't take crap from anyone.  We weren't 
afraid to punch someone if he/she deserved it.  We were also the ones that 
hung out with the guys and were treated like equals.  There was another group 
of girls that were much more, shall we say, sedate: they skipped college, or 
got married soon after graduation, and certaintly didn't attempt to go into 
traditionally male occupations (science, engineering).  Of course my sample 
size is rather small, but these differences in *attitude* strike me now.  I 
have to wonder how come some of us took one path and the rest took another, 
at how come these attitude-loaded girls ended up hanging out together... and 
at whether we all just got lucky that we had one another as an example upon 
which to draw so that we didn't feel a need to conform... or if we sort of 
invented ourselves?

Cathy Quinones			quinones at mindspring.com
http://www.mindspring.com/~mintz/coverpg.html = bird care info

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