Inter-sexual mate competition in three cultures

PLoS One. 2020 Jul 29;15(7):e0236549. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0236549. eCollection 2020.


Darwinian sexual selection theory holds that mate selection occurs inter-sexually, and mate competition occurs intra-sexually for opposite-sex partners. We demonstrate that inter-sexual mate competition can also occur among humans at appreciable rates that vary by culture. In Canada, inter-sexual mate competition was both rare and inconsequential. However, data from two disparate non-Western cultures-Samoa and the Istmo Zapotec (Oaxaca, Mexico)-show that women frequently compete with feminine same-sex attracted males to acquire and maintain masculine male mates (i.e., men). Inter-sexual mate competition most commonly involved feminine males attempting to poach women’s masculine male sexual partners. During these interactions, women and feminine males both attempted to manipulate the man who was the object of sexual competition; feminine males attempted to entice the target man, whereas women engaged in guarding and emotionally punitive behaviours. We do not anticipate that inter-sexual mate competition will be common in most species or across all cultures. However, when males and females prefer the same sexual partners, who themselves behave in a bisexual manner, then inter-sexual mate competition can ensue.

PMID:32726326 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0236549