Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Men are more supportive of Islamic veiling than women, but women with more sons are more supportive of veiling and more likely to wear veils than women with fewer sons; men were more religious if they had more sons

Who suppresses female sexuality? An examination of support for Islamic veiling in a secular Muslim democracy as a function of sex and offspring sex. Khandis R. Blake, Maleke Fourati, Robert C. Brooks. Evolution and Human Behavior, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.06.006

Abstract: Whether it is men or women who suppress female sexuality has important implications for understanding gendered relations, ultimately providing insight into one widespread cause of female disadvantage. The question of which sex suppresses female sexuality more avidly, however, neglects that our interests are never ambiguously masculine or feminine; each of us has a combination of male and female kin which alters how much of our future fitness derive from each sex. Here we exploit a nationally representative sample of 600 Tunisians to test whether support for Islamic veiling—a proxy for female sexual suppression—is more common amongst one sex than the other, and is affected by the relative sex of one's offspring (i.e., the number of sons relative to daughters). We find that men are more supportive of Islamic veiling than women, but women with more sons are more supportive of veiling and more likely to wear veils than women with fewer sons. All effects were robust to the inclusion of religiosity, which was weaker amongst men and unrelated to the number of sons a woman had. The number of daughters affected neither religiosity nor support for veiling, but did increase women's likelihood of wearing contemporary, fashionable Tunisian veils compared with no head covering. We further found that men were more religious if they had more sons. Overall, these findings highlight that far from being the fixed strategy of one sex or the other, female sexual suppression manifests facultatively to promote one's reproductive interests directly or indirectly by creating conditions beneficial to one's descendent kin. These results show that both men and women can suppress female sexuality, although the function in either case appears more closely aligned with male rather than female interests.

Keywords: Sexual suppression; Male control theory; Female control theory; Female sexuality; Inclusive fitness