Sexual Conflict and the Dilemma of Stereotyping the Sexes

Part of the Crossroads of Knowledge book series (CROKNOW, volume 1)


An important field within biology is to study reproduction and mating behavior. One theory that has gained recent interest is the theory of sexual conflicts. In a sexual conflict one sex gains an advantage at the expense of the other sex even though both have a common interest in producing offspring. From a gender perspective sexual conflict theory is claimed to be more comprehensive than more traditional theories, where an acknowledged problem is stereotyping the sexes. However, we believe that sexual conflict studies still suffer from its historical past. We start by pointing out that the sexes are described differently even when the same behavior is studied. The sex-specific terminology implies that males are active and females reactive. We also discuss how this skew can create a problem when developing the theory. We conclude that researchers within our field are influenced by societal norms, which in turn may affect the research carried out. This is thus an example of how an initially more comprehensive theory has now created its own sex stereotypes. As scientific theories are constantly changing, continuous awareness of gender issues will help us build more objective and accurate theories.


Sexual Selection Mate Choice Mating Success Gender Stereotype Sexual Conflict 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyLund UniversityLundSweden
  2. 2.Department of BiosciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Plant Protection BiologyAlnarpSweden

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