Why Men CompeteMonday, May 31, 2010By Pelle Billing The men’s movement is growing. Slowly, perhaps, but nevertheless making strides forward each and every day. Recently one of my Swedish blog readers told me that his daughters had learnt about domestic violence against men in school. Would that even have happened last year, let alone a decade ago? I doubt it.In the midst of this stream of small victories, you may find yourself blindsided by a well meaning friend or a less than friendly feminist who asks you “But why do men keep on assaulting other men? Male-on-male violence is one of the biggest problems in this world, and surely that has to be an issue where the blame falls squarely on men and where men have to do better?”I fully agree that men can do much better, and that male-on-male violence is an issue that the men’s movement cannot afford to ignore. The good news is that men are already doing substantially better; during the Stone Age between 15 and 60 percent of men died an early death at the hands of another man, and that is hardly the case in our day and age.However, the issue of blame is quite different, and it’s not as simple as pegging the blame on men or on masculinity. On one level every man is responsible for his own actions, and choosing to assault or even murder another man is completely unacceptable. But there’s a deeper dynamic at play here, and without understanding that dynamic we will fail to understand the actions of men, and create more blame than is necessary.To get to the root of male-on-male violence, we need to take a closer look at human sexuality and human sexual selection. We all know that women are the ultimate selectors in the sexual game (and if you don’t know that, then go ask ten different married women who made the ultimate selection). The facts are pretty straightforward: Women ovulate once a month, and a pregnancy takes nine months during which you become increasingly immobilized. Men, on the other hand, produce millions of sperms each hour, and are not physically affected at all while they are waiting to become fathers. Who has more reason to choose their sexual partner carefully, men or women? Who is the buyer and who is the seller in the sexual market?What this means is that men have always had to work hard in order to prove their worth to women. In fact, the competition between men has been so fierce that only half as many men as women have passed on their genes throughout history, according to a research report from 2004. This kind of competition to get access to sex and to have the ability to pass on your genes has never been a situation that women have needed to face, and for the most part women simply fail to understand this aspect of being a man.Men will compete in whatever ways are available to reach the top of the food chain, and be able to provide for women. In a civilized society that will usually mean constructive behaviors such as working hard and becoming a well respected person. In an uncivilized society, which has been the case through most of history, men will instead resort to violence towards other men, to fend off the competition. Why are so many women attracted to bad boys and even prisoners? Well, during most of human history that kind of behavior from men was an effective way to be respected by other men and therefore rise to the top of the food chain.Male violence is therefore the end result of a dance in which both women and men participate. Women select the most suitable men, men compete to be chosen (using violence if needed), women again select the most suitable men (regardless of whether they used violence or not to become suitable), men compete to be chosen… On and on it goes.So while each individual man is fully responsible for his own actions, and never able to blame anyone but himself for any violence that he inflicts upon another man, it’s crucial that we see and understand the deeper dynamic of male-on-male violence. Failure to do so will lead to a collective blaming of men, instead of realizing that men and women alike are part of the twisted tango of violence.Pelle Billing is an M.D. who writes and lectures about men’s issues and gender liberation beyond feminism.