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the lip crew on aggression

ag·gres·sion  (-grshn)


1. The act of initiating hostilities or invasion.
2. The practice or habit of launching attacks.
3. Hostile or destructive behaviour or actions.
4. Probably gendered, but the jury’s out.


‘Throughout my life, aggression has never been something I have deemed acceptable. As a child I was extremely quiet and timid. My conversation with other’s was limited, and in public my views were rarely communicated. Although this was a hinderance and I’ve come to value assertiveness as I’ve grown, aggression, on the other end of the scale, will never be something that I condone.
For me aggression is unnecessary. It is a harmful means of communication in which no good can be drawn. For some, I believe, it comes out of frustration. Children scream and tantrum when they cannot communicate what they want. For this they cannot be blamed, but when rational adults have a choice, causing potential harm is not the way to go. Knowing the hindrance of passivity, I believe that individuals should always be able to communicate their thoughts. But there are better ways to go about this than kicking and screaming. Assertion is different to aggression, and there is only one of them that we should condone.’ – Heidi La Paglia, Writer


‘Aggression is hard for me to discuss. I grew up surrounded by it, and against all my wishes to the contrary, grew into quite an aggressive young adult as a result. Violence breeds violence, as they say, and my experience was testament to that logic. This put me in possession of a rather anxious split personality growing up, as I am a generally peaceful and rational human. I would rage, and then feel such intense guilt afterward. Especially being a woman- I worried I was somehow ‘unnatural’- being completely, hopelessly powerless to the forces around me, made me livid. Through an intense will to change, I learnt the most potent antidote to disempowerment is converting the ‘aggression’ you were taught, into a compassionate force which lends itself to protecting and nurturing others (and yourself). Rage can compel you to be courageous against all odds.’ – Audrey K Hulm, Writer


‘Earlier this year I nearly got in my first fight. I won’t go into the gory details, but alcohol, a misogynist and some inelegant loud-mouthing by yours truly were all involved. Being the naïve peace-lover that I am, I always assumed that a fight began when one person hit another, so what struck me (ha!) about this would-be scuffle, was the way in which he went about the whole thing.
Having presumably overheard me voicing my dislike of him he informed me, as I was leaving the party, that we were to have A CONVERSATION. It was so theatrical that it took me several minutes before I realised that he wanted to “get physical”.
I suggested that just because I think he’s a chauvinist embarrassment and he thinks I’m an intolerable smart-arse, we don’t absolutely, necessarily, have to punch each other. He replied that it would give him a warm, fuzzy feeling in his belly if he were to give me a walloping.
As he was the more experienced participant (he informed me that this was to be his 100th fight) I deferred to him on the matters of etiquette, but it seemed, even to me, that there was a lot more talking than hitting going on.
Interrupting our discussion, I asked when I might expect that we “get it on” (for a novice I was picking up the lingo at a remarkable pace).  He informed me that he was waiting for the right moment (high-noon, presumably) and that he was a “controlled fighter”. To his credit, he was master of control, succeeding absolutely in mastering his desire to hit me in the face.
Anyway, the fight, much like this story, petered out before its climax, leaving everyone with mixed feelings of disappointment, relief and befuddlement.’ – Toby Newton, Writer


‘I find aggression in either gender to be abhorrent. To me, aggression is a sign of a lack of patience, tolerance, and compassion.
I was raised in a household with a lot of fear of men/strangers and I strongly associate aggression with this feeling. To this day, in my twenties, I am timid and am deeply uncomfortable around aggressive people, whether or not their anger is directed at me.
Aggression is linked to masculinity; but it is the worst facet of a deeply flawed, manufactured gender identity. I know there is a push for the breakdown of gender binaries, but I don’t think there is a benefit to women adopting/displaying aggression. It is not a feminist move. There is a difference between being assertive and being aggressive, and I do feel that women can (and should) be assertive. Assertiveness is still vital to the feminist movement, particularly in the face of the notion that we live in a post-feminist society. We need women to be assertive about reproductive rights, about protection from sexual harassment, about equal pay for equal work. These problems remain, and we need strong women to counter them. But aggression is not the answer.’ – Anonymous Writer


‘I think this word “aggression” is used to mean a few different things, so it’s a difficult trait/action to support or condemn. Is it about trying to harm someone? Or is it about being assertive in a disagreement? Either way, I think the word itself is gendered in contemporary discourse. It is still seen to be a male/masculine trait in both politics and pop culture, and that’s the problem I see. Regardless of its positive and negative meanings, I think aggression is one of those traits/actions we should try to consider beyond its traditional gender. If men have the freedom to be aggressive in a particular context without being critiqued, then women should have that freedom too.’ – Ruby Mahoney, Editorial Assistant


‘There’s probably nothing inherently wrong with aggression. Like anger, I think it has a bad reputation because people choose to express it at the wrong times and in inappropriate ways. We should be aggressive about the things we deserve – better pay, education, housing etc. (Assuming, of course, you have an accurate assessment of what you deserve. I find people who are aggressive when it comes to thinking they deserve a particular partner very off-putting, not charming.) But (passive) aggression for aggression’s sake is usually counterproductive and always hurtful. Likewise, aggression as a show of strength or power when it’s completely uncalled for is something I believe men especially are told is important.’ — Shannon Clarke, Writer


‘Aggression is such a complex topic and can be quite subjective. In fact, when searching for a definition of aggression for this piece, it was quite difficult to nail down, simply because of the ambiguity of the topic. It is quite different from violence which is a clearly identifiable physical act.  What one person sees as aggressive, another person might label as being assertive and find totally acceptable. As a mother of teenage boys I worry about violent behaviour, towards and in some instances from my boys, but to be honest I am more likely to witness aggressive behaviour.  Aggression is a trait traditionally associated with men but it seems that aggressive behaviour from women (and teenage girls in particular) is on the rise. Aggression can be a combination of verbal and non-verbal behaviour but if it escalates into physical acts then it tips over into violence.  I am not sure though that aggression necessarily has to be categorised as a ‘bad thing’ and it depends entirely on the context.  If the behaviour is a result of anger or frustration then it can be problematic and quickly escalate into something else. However, people can often be described as ‘aggressively’ pursuing job opportunities etc.  I think this stems more from confidence and career focus than anything else and if success is achieved on merit and not at the expense of anyone else then I would say that type of ‘aggression’ is acceptable.’ – Jillian Blacker, writer



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