Somehow it had to happen: Hillary Clinton portrayed as our foreign policy Valkyrie.

In a particularly absurd column, the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd hailed Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice as Valkyries taking a reluctant President Obama to war. The theme was that the guys are doves and the women are hawks. 

Sure, such musings would be sort of fun if war weren’t a serious life or death matter. Aside from being trivial, Dowd’s column ran counter to reality: women are less likely to approve of going to war than men. David Paul Kuhn writes on Real Clear Politics:

National security ranks among the most gendered of issues. Nearly a half-century of polling captures that men are broadly more apt to back wars, to consider the use of military force, to believe in the application of force.

The Libyan intervention is no exception. On Monday, several days into the conflict, Gallup asked whether Americans approved or disapproved of the “current U.S. military actions in Libya?” A majority of men approved (51 to 36 percent). Women were nearly evenly split (43 percent approved, 39 percent did not).

Women, however, aren’t always more pacific than men:

The gender gap on war and peace periodically fades. When national security dominates the American mind, the defense differences between the male and female mind diminish. About nine-in-10 women and men favored “military action in retaliation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, ” according to Gallup, in the weeks after those attacks…

We once had a somewhat tongue-in-cheek piece in the old Women’s Quarterly saying that women aren’t really the kinder, gentler sex. But it appears that when a genuine shooting war is involved women are less bellicose than men, and that this cuts across cultural lines:

There’s plenty of evidence that this gendered outlook transcends American culture, however. One global study during the first Gulf War found that both genders agreed on the interpretation of events leading to the war and supported the goal of removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and protecting the world’s oil supply. But in all of the industrialized democracies women were “significantly less willing to support military action to accomplish these goals.”

There’s evidence of this phenomena in early childhood. A 2004 study of pre-school age children concluded, unsurprisingly, that “boys exhibited more overt (physical and verbal) aggression than did girls; girls displayed more relational aggression than did boys.”

Neurobiologist Louann Brizendine chronicles in “The Male Brain” other pre-school studies where boys exhibit significantly more aggression than girls. And there are reasons that these patterns continue despite decades of effort to de-gender the sexes. Brizendine notes that “toy preferences have roots in the male brain circuitry in both boys and male monkeys.” She discusses young girls who have a disorder that increases their testosterone levels and how they are found to prefer “boy-typical toys more than other girls.” There’s also evidence that both genders reinforce their sexes predisposition through social competition and pressure. Some evolutionary biologists believe this behavior is socially and personally Darwinist (toughen men to defend the tribe, testosterone levels still correlate to how males rank themselves hierarchically within groups). Higher testosterone levels in adult men have even been linked to more risky, or aggressive, investment decisions.

If we had a less clueless man in the White House, this silly meme would never have developed.