At ease, at last?

Joyce Benenson's book discovers that gender characteristics are still alive and kicking

Publication Title:               

Warriors and Worriers

Publication Author:           

Joyce F Benenson with Henry Markovits


Oxford University Press

Year of publication:           



Hardback, Kindle and audio editions available

Review word count:           

250 words


Kaye Bewley



This book turns a well-held (and widely researched) belief completely on its head.  In it, Professor Benenson courageously asserts a new notion: women are more competitive than men while men are more sociable than women.  While not attempting to draw new battle lines between the sexes, instead, Benenson’s theories in ‘Warriors and Worriers’ suggest how the genders could begin easing any friction between their emotional behaviours. 


Historically, the accepted academic interpretation of human evolution describes males travelling out into the wilderness alone to hunt for food while females are safely ensconced together around camp fires, gathering berries from bushes, awaiting his return.  However, Benenson’s observations of survival experiences in Uganda, as well as three decades spent studying children and chimpanzees, offers new insight into how males and females think, emote and behave.  By forming socially cooperative in-groups males keep out-groups out (warrior enemies).  Conversely, females attempt to protect their children and parents and compete for mates by rejecting other females (worrisome competition).  Benenson suggests that gender behaviour evolves to prevent death.


Reflecting on the connection between Benenson’s research and today’s society, there appears an all-too familiar resonance to it.  Could this explain why women can often experience the emotional ‘green-eyed-monster’ and possibly how men are often found in ‘packs’ in bars, on battlefields and around balls (of the sporting kind)?  Initially, this concept seems hard to grasp, however, much of Benenson’s thorough research appears to confirm the claims made and it proves insightful reading for therapists counselling challenging couples.

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