There is currently controversy about definitions of sexual conflict, what it is, and how important it is in adaptation.
Paragon, one of the best posters on human mating/sexual selection, clarified some time ago some of its conclusions, and reviews some of the many recent developments relating to it:
“Premises: Female pessimal forms of social monogamy were a universal feature of all nascent classical civilizations. This is because all civilizations are density dependent, and thus only the most efficient mating systems are demonstratedly successful in achieving the requisite population yields.
Given that females are more sexually choosy (as well as more strategically passive), such female pessimal(where passive female choice prevails) solutions are most indicated in their efficiency. Thus, over time, evolution should favor viable female pessimal systems. Some people will point to female ‘liberation’ in contemporary occidental societies as proof that such assumptions do not hold. But given nascent trends of sub replacement fertility (where unbeholden/female choice confounds all other explanations), the of occidental populations will become increasingly evident at a rate of population momentum, and strategic displacement in frequency dependent selection.
Premises: Reproductive fitness ultimately reduces to an initial, limiting condition of female choice(passive: where outcomes in male competition are more strongly indicated, or active: where outcomes in sexual conflict are more strongly indicated). So, any solution which entails mediation of human reproduction (ex.theoretical policies in sustainable population dynamics), must necessarily weigh against options in female choice.
Premises: The lek paradox resolves through solutions in mutation-selection balance and intralocus sexual conflict, which retain constant variability in male sexual quality, thus preserving margins of selectivity even under conditions of more active female choice.
Premises: Strategic symmetry breaking(tending towards a more active form of female sexual choice – see ‘eating their cake and having it too’) has rendered conditions of artifical female scarcity (posing stochastic problems of large population replacement, evidenced in nascent indications of sub replacement fertility), analogous of local mate competition.
And just like in the case of LMC, evolution must resolve problems through their mechanism of imbalance (necessarily infringing upon prevailing options in fem sex choice).
Premises: Sufficient density in network reciprocity (correlated with large population size) will always pose problems in social prosperity, such that emergent efficiencies cultivate selfish replicator invasion vectors (which propogate through an unbounding of female choice) that break symmetry in the fitness landscape through strategic dynamics in balancing selection (like a bistable homeostatic switch), lending preponderance towards short term male fitness strategies and conditions of effective female scarcity in the more active expression of female choice.
So, any population acutely following from a more passive state of female choice to a more active state, will incur problems of stable population replacement (ie. sub replacement fertility) which must resolve through solutions which weigh against increased options in female choice.
Intervention is thus incumbant upon systematic regulation of reproductive fitness, through policies in stable population replacement (which, again, must necessarily infringe upon ‘floating’ options in female choice).
Further, any such control would need to hold globally, as any errant population would receive a competitive advantage, vectoring invasion by selfish replicators, which can then spread to all neighbouring populations (much like feminism has done). But, because such intervention requires infrastructure not yet in place, it will take time and resources to erect.
And if this cannot be accomplished before adaptive capacities are exceeded through efficiency demands in freefall replacement debt, remaining evolutionary solutions will entail the rapid unravelling of status-quo – western civilization, insofar as it is has come to exist, will very quickly lose all recognizable cohesion.
Premises: Adaptive capacity in human systems are meaningfully density dependent. It should be intuitively obvious that surplus population growth is easier to accomodate/abide than population decline, as population growth/explosion only becomes a problem where it begins to critically stress carrying capacity, while critical efficiencies in adaptive capacity are far more sensetive to declining trends in population.
Note: population explosion and decline pose potential problems which depend on the same limiting condition – female choice. Therefor any solution must necessarily weigh against that choice.
At the global level the proportion above age 60 is likely to increase from its current level of 10 per cent to around 22 percent in 2050. This is higher than it is in western Europe today. By the end of the century it will increase to around 34 per cent, and extensive population ageing will occur in all world regions. The most extreme levels will be reached in the Pacific OECD (mostly Japan), where half of the population is likely to be age 60 and above by the end of the century, with the 80 per cent uncertainty interval reaching from 35 to 61 per cent. Even sub-Saharan Africa in 100 years is likely to be more aged than Europe today. The trend of our median proportion over age 60 is almost identical to that of the UN long-range projections2 up to 2050, but shows significantly stronger ageing thereafter. This confirms recent criticism that conventional projections tend to underestimate ageing6,7. The extent of and regional differences in the speed of population ageing “the inevitable consequence of population stabilization and decline” will pose major social and economic challenges.
– NATURE |VOL 412 | 2 AUGUST 2001 |www.nature.com
Ascendence of Monogamy:
For much of recorded history, all large human populations were organized such that a culture of strong social monogamy prevailed attitude of female sexual choice.
The reason for this, is because in any environment where life conditions are sufficiently harsh, offspring survivability is reduced where paternal investment is minimal/erratic, thus according improved strategies in paternal investment and co-operative group care a selective advantage.
Given longer reproductive intervals acting upon selectivity, female sexual choice will naturally cluster/concentrate within small neighbourhoods of high quality males, posing stochastic fitness problems the more it is the case that *effective mate availability* deviates from an ideal 1:1 sex-ratio.
Thus, over time, evolution would expose competing human populations to selective pressures, favoring strategies which tended towards a viable1:1 ratio.
From this, a complex organization of co-operative specialty would emerge in socially monogamomous populations, where long term strategies in paternal success would efficiently maximize population yields by trading off opportunities in female choice for a more equal dispersion of effective mate availability (and an optimal utilization of male work in paternal investment).
This would be accomplished by strategies which exploit inferior female competencies, as well as burdens in reproductive liability, thus compelling them (deprived of sufficient welfare state contingencies) to trade sexual fidelity in exchange for male proxy(material benefits, etc) on behalf of themselves and their offspring.
Thus, paternity would be levered by males as an effective strategy in mate exclusivity, corresponding high selective value in reproductive fitness where initial conditions could be successfully met.
Such populations would go on to successfully outcompete rival systems of organization, and social monogamy – the precursor to civilization -was born.
“Thierry Lodé argued that monogamy should result from conflict of interest between the sexes called sexual conflict. Organized from territory defense and mate guarding, monogamy appears as a response of male for the control of female sexuality”
Emergent problems in unregulated social prosperity (technological advancement in social utility following from increased organizational complexities and economies of scale), cultivated selfish replicator strategies, such that they found an invasion vector through unforseen efficiencies – where they could thrive in the spontaneous symmetry breaking of the fitness landscape.
These strategies unbounded(‘liberated’) female sexual choice, breaking fitness dependencies in male long term strategies, lending to exacerbated conditions of effective female scarcity.
And this is why the most libertarian(occidental) populations – those which accord females the greatest lattitude of sexual choice – are also those becoming mired in sub-replacement fertility at a rate of evolutionary hysterisis, where popular scrutiny is confounded by migration dynamics and population momentum.
Considering the relative wealth of these populations, arguing family planning (which has existed for thousands of years) borne of some remote concern in diminishing carrying-capacity, proffers explanations with are neither indicated, nor plausible(multilevel selection in the form of overpopulation anxiety would have to be sensetive to local carrying capacities in order to operate advantageously – where evidence fails to agree).
You do not have to understand much about the subtleties of evolution to intuitively grasp that any dynamic which persists in skewing effective female availability towards a sufficiently small subset of males, must likewise incur stochastic ‘problems’ of large population replacement, perturbing stability (given that populations are ultimately density dependent on network reciprocity) through balancing selection in male fitness strategies(long term/short term).
Male complicity in female ‘liberation’ was motivated primarily by blind expedience (to statisfy harranguing mates and female relations -“Here you go, now shaddap!”), and by sexual opportunism (via selfish replicators).
But, it is highly doubtful that *any* male appreciated the full
implications of the eusocial time-bomb they were planting.
A time-bomb which must ultimately resolve through a bottlenecking population, and free-fall inefficiencies (ie. as civilization crumbles) which will combine to exacerbate the work demands in paternal investment, according males with high paternal-care aptitudes a selective advantage in reproductive fitness (unlike today).
Over time, this will compel males to invest in a long-term mate (out of economic necessity), and the more entangled they become in such long term strategies, the more they will tend towards concerns of mate exclusivity/mate guarding (insuring their great ‘investments’).
The *only* effective strategies for mate exclusivity/mate guarding are female pessimal, as success relies upon a (male) consensus deterrence of female abandonment – the ball and chain will then be on the female foot (literally, if need be)!
So, the irony is that the ill-gotten gains of female liberation will not be confiscated by the nice-guy loser types who females love to mock, but by the anti-social males they most sexually covet – once this happens though, it will *radically* begin to change the evolutionary context (fitness landscape) of what it *means* to be a high quality male(ie. a primacy of physical attractiveness will not longer hold, much to the chagrin of females everywhere).
Monogamy will again hold strategically proponderant such that life conditions burden females with significantly greater liability, thus compelling them(deprived of sufficient welfare state contingencies) to trade sexual fidelity in exchange for male proxy benefits on behalf of themselves and their offspring.
Thus, paternity will be levered by males as an effective strategy in mate exclusivity, corresponding high selective value in reproductive fitness where initial conditions can be successfully met.
Populations will explode, and round-and-round we go(only this time, as in every iteration, female pessimal strategies should be better adapted to resisting invasion by selfish replicators, and thus conditions of ‘liberated’ female choice, through a stricter *regulation* of reproduction).
Some people appeal to ‘unforseen technological efficiencies’ as the savior to their sexual dystopia.
But, as the frequency dependent dynamics of best response strategies (male short term free-riders/selfish replicators) combine with the density dependent dynamics of sub replacement fertility (for which there exist only female pessimal solutions), the efficiency requirements of status quo will begin to increase geometrically, beyond critical thresholds of stability.
The great female optima experiment will crash and burn spectacularly. Some people claim that fragmented societies will simply revert back to smaller communal societies of joint-care in offspring – and that may indeed happen in isolated pockets.
But, such communities will be at a selective disadvantage for the same they were thousands of years ago (and for the same reasons occidental populations are in the nascent stages of depopulation as we speak), and evolution will once again, inevitably, favor the success of social monogamy (cue female angust). (Paragon 2009).
Therefore sexual conflict is a conflict between the evolutionary interests of individuals of the two sexes. A ‘conflict of evolutionary interests’ is equivalent to a potential to generate sexually antagonistic selection.
“The expression ‘sexual conflict’ encapsulates the capacity of individuals of one sex to inflict damage on individuals of the other sex. A conflict between the evolutionary interests of individuals of the two sexes’—and ongoing use by evolutionary biologists, this damage is in terms of genetic fitness, so that all instances of sexual conflict are by definition underlain by sexually antagonistic selection. (Lessells 2006).”
This may or may not result in overt behavioural conflict between males and females, depending on the form of the conflict and on how the evolutionary conflict is resolved. In terms of what we actually observe, it is theoretically possible either for one sex to win and the other to lose, or for some intermediate compromise.
Sexual conflict results ultimately from the fact that reproductive partners are genetically different; a mutation in one partner will not be present in the other, unless they are sibs in which case the probability of sharing the mutant allele is still below 1.0. Owing to their different genetic interests, for a given trait the two sexes may have different optima (yielding highest fitness prospects). Having different optima for certain character traits need not involve a conflict of interest between the sexes, provided the two optima can be achieved simultaneously (e.g. by sex limitation).
For instance, sexual selection often operates to increase male size relative to female size. There is no obvious conflict of interest between the sexes, provided that the two optima can be achieved simultaneously, because the fitness of one partner is independent of the strategy played by the other partner. Conflict requires some interaction or common activity between males and female (such as mating or parental investment (PI)) which generates the constraint that the ideal optima for each sex cannot be achieved simultaneously (e.g. only one outcome is possible). So, an individual’s fitness is both a function of its own strategy and its partner’s strategy.
The mean fitness of each sex must be equal in sexually reproducing species with a sex ratio of 1.0. Nevertheless, an individual with a mutant trait that increases its direct fitness in an interaction involving sexual conflict will, by definition, decrease the fitness of an individual of the opposite sex with which it interacts. If the trait spreads, counter selection may generate retaliatory changes in the other sex.
Sexual selection is a selective force defined by Darwin arising from competition between members of one sex for the other sex. Sexual conflict is not equivalent to sexual selection, it is a form of evolutionary conflict that may, or may not, be generated by sexual selection.
For instance, male–male competition may lead to suites of male adaptations (e.g. relating to mate-searching) that have no influence on female fitness. Like parent–offspring conflict or sib conflict, sexual conflict is a potential for generating selective processes, not the selective process itself. The selective pressures it generates may become part of, or modify, the action of sexual selection. Thus, sexual conflict is not equivalent to ‘sexually antagonistic coevolution’, though this may be a product of it.
This distinction is important: we first need to define over what parameter space conflict can occur (i.e. to define the *battleground*), and to distinguish this clearly from the question of how conflict may be resolved. Confusion can often arise from failure to distinguish between *battleground* and *resolution* models. Resolution models typically require many assumptions about strategic possibilities and trade offs, and typically generate a rich diversity of results. Battleground models typically make few assumptions about individual strategies, and serve to show over what parameter space conflict can occur.
Sexual selection arises ultimately from anisogamy, and a primitive form of sexual conflict may have occurred during the early evolution of anisogamy, such that early ova (proto-ova) might profit by fusing with other proto-ova rather than with proto-sperm. The intensity of sexual selection relates to relative PI, operational sex ratio (OSR) or potential rates of reproduction.
To be continued