Why There Are So Few Women Warriors


Adams, David. 1983. “Why There Are So Few Women Warriors.” Behavioral Science Research 18 (3): 196–212.

Author: David Adams


Cross-cultural methodology suggests that women are excluded from warfare not so much because of sex differences in aggressiveness or strength, but instead because of a contradiction arising from marital residency systems that arose, in turn, as a function of warfare. Under conditions of internal warfare war against neighboring communities sharing the same language) many stateless cultures may have adopted patrilocal exogamous marital residency (the bride comes from a different community and comes to live with the family of the husband). Under these conditions the wife is faced with contradictory loyalties during warfare, because her husband may go to war against her brothers and father. It appears that women have been excluded historically from warfare in order to resolve this contradiction and protect the security of the warrior husbands. This explanation is supported by other findings that women do fight as warriors in certain cultures in which warfare or marital residency rules are structured in such a way that the contradiction does not arise.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Girls, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups

Year: 1983

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