Towards a More Dynamic Model For The Origins of Human Sex-Roles

Mahnaz Diba, Rhode Island College

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This paper analyzes human sex-role differences from an interdisciplinary perspective . The nature vs. nurture and functions vs. conflict debates are reexamined in light of cross-cultural regularities in sex-roles. Recent research into the biological causes and functions of behavioral sexual dimorphism is critically surveyed. The nature-function and nurture-conflict perspectives are combined, and a more dynamic model of the evolution of sex-roles is proposed. The model attributes the evolution of sex-roles from nonhuman primats societies to human hunter gatherers to extensions of basic sex-role differences explained in turn by biological considerations. The subsequent evolution of sex-roles and deterioration in the status of women are explained from a conflict theoretic perspective. Some implications of the model for questions of current interest in social policy are also discussed.