Why There Are So Few Women Warriors

by David Adams

Behavior Science Research
Volume 18, Number 3, 1983, Pages 196-212
Reprinted by Permission of SAGE Publications, Inc.
License number 4300640032065

Title/Summary page

1. Introduction
Page 1

2. Cross-Cultural Methodology
Page 2

3. Societies with Women Warriors
Page 3

4. The Exclusion of Women from War
Page 4

5.Type of Warfare Determines Marital Residency
Pages 5-6

6. The Prehistory of Warfare
Pages 7-8

7. Interaction of Biology and Culture
Page 9

8. Conclusion
Page 10

Pages 11-12-13-14-15-16

Footnote and References
Page 17


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.

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