Advertisement

Sexual Conflict and the Dilemma of Stereotyping the Sexes

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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.

References

  1. 1.
    Darwin, C. (1859). On the origin of species by means of natural selection. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Darwin, C. (1871). Descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. London: John Murray.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Andersson, M. (1994). Sexual selection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Clutton-Brock, T. H. (2007). Sexual selection in males and females. Science, 318, 1882–1885.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Forsgren, E., Amundsen, T., Borg, Å. A., & Bjelvenmark, J. (2004). Unusually dynamic sex roles in a fish. Nature, 429, 551–554.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Baer, B., Morgan, D. E., & Schmid-Hempel, P. (2001). A nonspecific fatty acid within the bumblebee mating plug prevents females from remating. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 98, 3926–3928.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Parker, G. A. (1979). Sexual selection and sexual conflict. In M. S. Blum & N. A. Blum (Eds.), Sexual selection and reproductive competition in insects (pp. 123–166). London: Academic.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Parker, G. A. (2006). Sexual conflict over mating and fertilization: An overview. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 361, 235–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Tregenza, T., Wedell, N., & Chapman, T. (2006). Sexual conflict: A new paradigm? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 361, 229–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Stutt, A. D., & Siva-Jothy, M. T. (2001). Traumatic insemination and sexual conflict in the bed bug Cimex lectularius. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 10, 5683–5687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Szentirmai, I., Székely, T., & Komdeur, J. (2007). Sexual conflict over care: Antagonistic effects of clutch desertion on reproductive success of male and female penduline tits. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20, 1739–1744.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bedhomme, S., Bernasconi, G., Koene, J. M., Lankinen, Å., Arathi, H. S., Michiels, N. K., & Anthes, N. (2009). How does breeding system variation modulate sexual antagonism? Biology Letters, 5, 717–720.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hrdy, S. B. (1999). The woman that never evolved. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Martin, E. (1991). The egg and the sperm: How science has constructed a romance based on stereotypical male-female roles. Signs, 16, 485–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gowaty, P. A. (1982). Sexual terms in sociobiology emotionally evocative and paradoxically jargon. Animal Behaviour, 30, 630–631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Arnqvist, G., & Rowe, L. (2005). Sexual conflict. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Karlsson Green, K., & Madjidian, J. A. (2010). Active males, reactive females – Stereotypic sex roles in sexual conflict research? Animal Behaviour, 81, 901–907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bro-Jørgensen, J. (2007). Reversed sexual conflict in a promiscuous antelope. Current Biology, 17, 2157–2161.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Holland, B., & Rice, W. R. (1999). Experimental removal of sexual selection reverses intersexual antagonistic coevolution and removes a reproductive load. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 96, 5083–5088.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Gowaty, P. A., Steinichen, R., & Anderson, W. W. (2003). Indiscriminate females and choosy males: Within- and between-species variation in Drosophila. Evolution, 57, 2037–2045.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© 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

Personalised recommendations