Conflict over Access to Resources Between Sexes

For years, scientists have attempted to uncover a civilization in which men did not dominate women in terms of overt political authority and monetary wealth. Although many have heard stories of nations where women outnumber males, none have been documented in the literature. The quest has led feminist anthropologists to the conclusion that such civilizations do not exist. Of course, society's degree of social and economic disparity between the sexes varies.

What is Conflict over Access to Resources?

Conflict over access to resources is common when individuals or groups compete to control or use a limited resource. These include natural resources such as water, land, and minerals and social and economic resources such as jobs, power, and influence. Historical complaints, political volatility, economic inequality, and environmental degradation can all be fundamental causes of resource disputes. Conflict often occurs because various groups have different requirements, values, and priorities regarding resource use in an issue.

Resource conflicts can severely affect people and groups, including death, displacement, and fiscal hardship. They can also have far-reaching regional or global consequences, such as igniting civil conflicts or adding to environmental degradation. Addressing resource disputes necessitates a multifaceted strategy that considers the root reasons for the conflict and the viewpoints of all parties involved. Negotiation, mediation, or legal action may be used, as well as attempts to support long-term sustainability.

Conflict over Resources between Sexes

However, the assumption that males prefer to wield authority and control resources should not mask that women contribute significantly to accumulating economic resources in practically every society. Women, for example, supply 60 to 80 percent of the calories in hunter-gatherer communities by obtaining food from plants. Furthermore, women frequently wield significant power through various means, such as preferential mate selection, divorce under certain conditions, controlling or regulating men's access to their sexuality, and influencing their sons, lovers, fathers, husbands, sisters, mothers, and grandchildren. It is undeniable that males frequently utilize riches to dominate or influence women. If males have the resources that women require, they can utilize those riches to exert control over women.

Men utilize their resources to attract women in the mating realm. Furthermore, while in a relationship, women with few finances frequently feel at the mercy of their partners out of fear of losing those resources. Two significant points—control of men's resources and men's use of resources to control women—appear to be areas where feminists and evolutionary psychologists agree. Feminist researchers frequently attribute men's subjugation of women to patriarchy, which refers to men's domination over women in the household and society more broadly.

A plausible scientific inquiry concerns the origins of the phenomena covered by this phrase. Although some feminists have speculated about the roots of male dominance and domination, such as linking it to the fact that males are larger and more robust than women, no consensus has been established. Most feminists accept male dominance and control as a given or starting point.

Causes of Resource Inequality

An evolutionary viewpoint sheds light on the origins and history of men's desire to dominate women. First, women's preferences for resourceful men are thought to play an essential role in human evolution. These preferences, which have been functioning for thousands of generations, have driven women to choose as mates men with rank and riches and to reject males without these advantages. During human development, men unable to acquire resources were more likely to be unable to attract female partners. Hence, women's tastes formed an essential set of ground rules for males competing with one another.

According to sexual selection theory, one sex's preferences determine the crucial parameters along which members of the other sex compete. Because prehistoric males valued women's physical beauty, for example, attractiveness became a primary dimension along which women competed with one another. The $53 billion cosmetics business in the United States, dominated by female consumers, demonstrates the extent of this type of intrasexual rivalry among women. Similarly, women's demands for men with resources created resource acquisition as a fundamental facet of men's competitiveness with one another.

Contemporary men have inherited psychological processes from their forefathers that prioritize resources and status and encourage men to take risks to obtain riches and prestige. Guys who do not place a high personal priority on status and riches and who do not take calculated risks to outperform other males do not attract mates. This type of rivalry comes at a high cost in terms of male-male violence and homicide, as well as earlier mortality, on average, than women.

Women's preferences and men's intrasexual competition tactics coevolved, as did men's and women's. Males may have begun to manage resources to attract women, and women's tastes may have followed. Women's preferences for successful, ambitious, and resourceful mates may have chosen males for competitive tactics of risk-taking, status-seeking, and derogation of competitors along the dimensions of status and resources.

Women's preferences may have put males under selection pressure to create coalitions to get resources and engage in individual attempts to outperform other men in acquiring the resources that women seek. Conversely, men's competing strategies and women's mate preferences are most likely coevolved. The entanglement of these coevolved processes established the circumstances for males to dominate in the resource domain.

This explanation of resource inequality does not rule out the possibility of other contributory factors, such as the discriminatory practice of paying men and women differently for the same task. This research also does not indicate that males will always have more control over resources. It does imply that evolutionary psychology is essential in determining the causes of resource inequality.

History of Conflict over Resources

Conflicts over resources have been around as long as humans have existed. People fought over land, water, food, and other resources in ancient times. There used to be groups that tried to dominate others by the rarity of resources and skills they possessed. In the Middle Ages, wars were fought over water and land and for access to resources like exotic metals like gold, minerals, timber, and livestock. People mainly took over resources by sheer force and annexation. They then further used to exploit the minority and their resources.

Moreover, these conflicts also lead to environmental destruction, where individuals or organizations may exploit resources for their benefit, leading to environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity. In other cases, large-scale resource extraction projects may have unintended consequences, such as deforestation or destroying natural habitats. Finally, conflicts over resources can have global implications. Resource-rich regions may become battlegrounds for warring factions, leading to displacement and violence.

Are All Men United to Control Women?

Feminist writers frequently depict all males as working together to oppress all women. According to evolutionary psychological assessments, men and women compete primarily against members of their sexes. Males compete for resource control at the expense and exclusion of other men. Males deny other men of resources, exclude other men from positions of power and prestige, and demean other men to make them less appealing to women.

The fact that around 70% of all homicides involve males murdering other men is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the expenses that men face due to intrasexual rivalry.

Women are not immune to the harm done by members of their sex. Women fight for access to high-status men, have sex with other women's husbands, and try to entice men away from their wives. Women defame and demean their opponents, particularly those who adopt short-term mating techniques. Women and men are both victims of their own sex's sexual techniques and hence cannot be considered unified with all members of their sex for a shared purpose, such as enslaving the other sex. The only exception is when males establish alliances that serve as subgroups.

These alliances are occasionally utilized to access women's sexuality, such as in a horrific gang rape or a raid to abduct women in a nearby community. Additionally, men's coalitions can be utilized to restrict women from power, such as when exclusive men's clubs where commerce is conducted openly prohibit women from attending. However, these same alliances are also aimed against other males and their coalitions. Men build coalitions for their gain in commerce, politics, and combat at the expense of other men's alliances.

It must also be acknowledged that both men and women profit from the other sex's techniques. Males support certain women, such as their wives, mistresses, sisters, daughters, and mothers. A woman's father, brothers, and sons can all profit from her choice of a spouse with prestige and wealth. Contrary to the popular belief that men and women are joined with members of their sex to subjugate the other sex, evolutionary psychology leads to a different conclusion: each human is united in interests with some members of each sex and at odds with other members of each sex. One sex's simplistic perceptions of same-sex conspiracies contravene evolutionary reasoning.


Sexual selection theory suggests that women's preferences for resourceful men have driven them to choose men with rank and riches, leading to an intrasexual rivalry between women and men. Contemporary men have inherited psychological processes from their forefathers, encouraging them to take risks to obtain riches and prestige.

Evolutionary psychology is essential in determining the causes of resource inequality caused by male-male violence and homicide and an earlier mortality rate than women. This is due to men's preferences and women's intrasexual competition strategies coevolving as males began to manage resources to attract women and women's preferences for successful, ambitious, and resourceful mates. This entanglement of these coevolved processes established the circumstances for males to dominate in the resource domain.

Updated on: 11-Apr-2023


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