- Top of page
- What is new in the sexual conflict ideas?
- Female choice of antagonistic male adaptations
- An illustrative conceptual model
- Quantifying gains and losses in sexual interactions
- Interpreting studies showing female preferences for males from different populations or taxa
Abstract We contrast some recent uses of the concept of male-female conflict, with the type of conflict that is inherent in traditional Darwinian female choice. Females in apparent conflict situations with males may suffer reduced lifetime reproduction, but nevertheless benefit because they obtain sons with superior manipulative abilities. Female defences against male manipulations may not be ‘imperfect’ because of inability to keep pace with male evolution, but in order to screen males and favour those that are especially good manipulators. We examine the consequences of these ideas, and of the difficulties of obtaining biologically realistic measures of female costs, for some recent theoretical and empirical presentations of male–female conflict ideas, and find that male–female conflict in the new sense is less certain than has been commonly supposed. Disentangling previous sexual selection ideas and the new conflict of interest models will probably often be difficult, because the two types of payoffs are not mutually exclusive.