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Male Rivalry: Sex, Testosterone and Antlers

September 24, 2021 at 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm PDT

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Interintellect host Raven Connolly leads a discussion on rivalry focusing on male-male competition and its evolutionary, sociological and personal implications.

Men grow tired of sleep, love, singing and dancing sooner than of war. – Homer

In many species besides homo sapiens, males compete for reproductive access to females – a main driver of male intraspecific competition. However, human males have taken competition to greater scales. Conquest, war, and territorial expansion checker our history, and some would argue these events are what make history. Why has competition been so formative for the human species? Where do these drives come from?

To ground our discussion, we will take a step back from homo sapiens and consider the behavior of some of our relatives – other social mammals such as lions, rams, and apes.

  • What is the role of environmental factors, such as resource scarcity and sex ratios, as drivers of male competition?
  • How has male biology evolved to respond to competition with other males? eg adornments and testosterone

Once we’ve established patterns that go beyond our species, we will look into what makes humans different. While competition between human males is easily observed, so is cooperation, and it’s cooperation that has created the capacity for men to join in groups to fight in larger and larger conflicts.

  • How do forms of male cooperation arise out of competitive male dynamics?
  • What is the role of testosterone in cooperation and competition between males?

We will dig into the personal experiences of men, and how their taste for (or disgust of) male competition impacts them in different social environments.

  • What is male competition like in current social groups?
  • What are contemporary attitudes towards male competition?
  • How is male competition linked to ideas of masculinity?

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Suggested reading: 

Male-Male Competition

Does competition really bring out the worst?

The emergence of human warfare: Current perspectives



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September 24, 2021
1:30 pm - 4:00 pm PDT
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Raven Connolly