Active males, reactive females: stereotypic sex roles in sexual conflict research?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Sexual selection research has always been a subject for debate. Much of the criticism has concerned the imposition of conventional sex roles based on an anthropomorphic view of animals imposed by the researcher. This conventional view may have hampered research, for example from acknowledging male mate choice. Sexual conflict theory is a fast-growing research field, which initially stems from sexual selection research. We investigated how the sexes are described in sexual conflict research and what characteristics they are assigned. We assessed these topics with literature studies of (1) the terminology used and (2) what parameters are incorporated in sexual conflict models. We found that males and females are consequently described with different words, which have different connotations regarding activity in the conflict. Furthermore, theoretical models mainly investigate conflict costs for females, although costs for both sexes are necessary for coevolutionary dynamics. We argue that sexual conflict research uses stereotypic characterizations of the sexes, where males are active and females reactive. Thus, previous discussions on the use of anthropomorphic terms in sexual selection seem not to have had any impact on sexual conflict research, which is why the topic of stereotyping the sexes is still of current importance. We suggest that scientific gains can be made by eliminating a sex-stereotyped perspective. (C) 2011 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
  • Biological Sciences

Keywords

  • gender bias, male cost, philosophy of science, semantics, sexual, conflict, sexual selection
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-907
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume81
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes