Empires are often considered the quintessential example of men’s desire for power and conquest. It is ironic that we blame men for creating empires while we all live in the empires men create. But why did men create empires?

Empires were to countries what insurance policies are to individuals: a source of security. For example, as European countries saw themselves as vulnerable to attack, empires became buffer zones – a good offense became the best defense. Similarly, if famine hit their country food could be obtained from the empire more easily than from the enemy.

Why did people invade countries that weren’t a threat to them? Think of why Europeans invaded the native American Indians – who were never a threat to the Europeans. When a group within a country felt oppressed, it frequently fled, found another territory, and killed those gentler people who dared resist. The people who did the killing – and the people who were killed – were men, but the people who benefited were men and women.

The accumulated wars that eventually led to the United States are another example of men being less important than property. Men died for property; women lived on the property that was often their husband’s grave.

Put another way, major powers have become major powers via the deaths of boys. Because boys died, empires can be seen as a male form of subservience; because others lived, empires can also be seen as the male contribution to survival.