Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Campbell: Staying alive

Male dominance hierarchies and women's intrasexual competition

John Marshall Townsend a1
a1 Department of Anthropology, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-1090


In their competition for higher-status men, women with higher socioeconomic status use indirect forms of aggression (ridicule and gossip) to derogate lower-status female competitors and the men who date them. Women's greater tendency to excuse their aggression is arguably a cultural enhancement of an evolutionarily based sex difference and not solely a cultural construction imposed by patriarchy.