Created By: StratadrakeApril 9, 2011 Last Edited By: StratadrakeMay 13, 2011
Troped

Secondary Sexual Characteristics

Seuxal dimorphism in fiction.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
A.k.a. Sexual Dimorphism. No Real Life examples please ... in fact, let's not do any examples period. Just need help with the description in general, and which title should be the one to use.


Secondary Sexual Characteristics, or Sexual Dimorphism, are elements of a creature's physiology that result from it being male or female. It is one step removed from "primary sexual characteristics" (which describes the actual reproductive organs, and we don't talk about that). For example, everyone knows that only male lions have that iconic mane of fur around their neck; it is one of their specie's Secondary Sexual Characteristics.

Many times, fictional creatures are based on some manner of Real Life inspiration, and whether or not they have noticeable sexual dimorphism corresponds to whatever inspiration they came from -- if one author decides to call a lion a Smeerp, it makes sense that male Smeerps might have thick manes while female Smeerps do not, right?

Now a full discussion of these characteristics is well beyond the scope of this wiki; but when dealing with this subject in fiction, it can manifest itself in a variety of ways:

Other tropes related to gender clues include:


Community Feedback Replies: 39
  • April 10, 2011
    MorganWick
    I'm not sure why we're prohibiting examples from Real Life, if only because I associate that prohibition with cases where it would be a natterfest. If it's because it's People Sit On Chairs (that's still a trope when applied to fictional races), maybe, but there are certainly plenty of RL examples and they shouldn't be controversial.

    See also Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism.
  • April 10, 2011
    EternalSeptember
    Yeah, in this case, real life examples would help in showin where the trope originates from.
  • April 10, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Real Life sections are always a last-priority item, because the focus of the wiki is for works of fiction. Thanks for mentioning Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism, seems I forgot to mention it.
  • April 10, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Humanoid Female Animal can be listed in your third paragraph.
  • April 10, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In Real Life only male peafowl have the spectacular feather display, but in most works of fiction where they come up both peacocks and peahens have them. (I don't have specific examples right now.)
  • April 13, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • April 14, 2011
    Antigone3
    Would the color-coding of Pernese dragons go here?
  • April 15, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    I think so.
  • April 16, 2011
    Stratadrake
    I've never read any Pern novels, so if colors are a gender cue you'll need to be the one explaining it.
  • April 16, 2011
    Fluffymormegil
    All female Pernese dragons are gold or green; all male Pernese dragons (apart from the eponymous freak of The White Dragon) are bronze, brown, or blue.
  • April 16, 2011
    Stratadrake
    I see. Do the novels explain why, or just leave it at Color Coded For Your Convenience?
  • April 17, 2011
    Fluffymormegil
    I can't recall the Pern novels I've read going beyond a handwave, but I haven't read them all.
  • April 24, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • May 1, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • May 6, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • May 6, 2011
    EdnaWalker

    Stratadrake, are these three examples examples of this trope combined with Pink Girl Blue Boy.
  • May 6, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Pink Girl Blue Boy examples ... would go on Pink Girl Blue Boy, and not be mentioned here.
  • May 7, 2011
    Deboss
    I'd recommend adding "besides actual reproductive organs" to the end of the laconic.
  • May 7, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    • Female emperor penguins in Happy Feet look a little more curvaceous than the male ones. They also have feminine shading on their chests, which the male penguins don't have.
    • Pongo from One Hundred And One Dalmatians has more pronounced shoulders, a squarer snout, and straighter lines than his mate Perdita. In contrast, Perdita has a more delicate chin, rounder shoulders, and a more curved, slender body.
  • May 7, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ That's due to a more general practice of having angular males and curvacious females (whatever said trope is called). Besides, I'd prefer examples for this to be something that doesn't require a magnifying glass to notice.
  • May 7, 2011
    deuxhero
    Laconic "Physiological differences between animal genders"

    Gah. The title is secondary sexual characteristics. The term here is between animal sexes. This is completely unrelated to gender.
  • May 7, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    I don't remember there being a trope about more angular, more square, or more muscular male animals and more curvaceous or rounder female animals that are both on the same (or very similar) level on the Sliding Scale Of Anthropomorphism, but there is Humanoid Female Animal, where the female animals are actually more anthropomorphic than the male animals.

    • Perdita is more curvaceous than Pongo, who is more angular, but they are both on the same level of anthropomorphism.
  • May 8, 2011
    cathstuart
    I thought all of his was covered in Non Mammal Mammaries
  • May 8, 2011
    Rolf
    This trope is not just breasts. That may be subtrope though.
  • May 8, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Animated females will have long(er) eyelashes, in general. Which is to say I've seen it but can't cite a specific example.
  • May 8, 2011
    Stratadrake
    This would be a Super Trope to Non Mammal Mammaries plus a few others, considering they're already mentioned.

    @Edna: Masculine lines and feminine curves tend to be a stylistic visual choice more than any in-universe physiology. For that reason, I wouldn't count 101 Dalmatians as an example.

    @deuxhero: I am not part of the crowd that enforces a strict socio- or bio-logical divide between the words "sex" and "gender". But yeah, I should probably reword the laconic anyway....
  • May 8, 2011
    McKathlin
  • May 9, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Bump?
  • May 9, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    In some works, female animals tend to have lighter fur, feathers, scales, or skin than male animals.

    • Female animals in the Ice Age movies tend to have lighter colored fur than the male animals.
    • Faline the female deer has lighter colored fur than Bambi the male deer.

  • May 9, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Hmm, I have to agree with Mc Kathlin on the idea of it being somewhere between a Super Trope and index (I've been mentally questioning it for some time). This means, of course, no examples period. I've given the draft a complete rewrite, what do you think?
  • May 9, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Can Cute Monster Girl be put on the list?
  • May 9, 2011
    Stratadrake
    Hmm ... nope. Type 1 says to file it under Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism, and the rest of Cute Monster Girl is not related.
  • May 10, 2011
    DarkSasami
    In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, to tell male ponies from females you have to look at eyelashes and chin structure (unless they really want to let you know). This becomes important in the case of the Wonderbolts, who wear goggles. So this is not entirely Not A Trope.
  • May 11, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Can you please add Animal Gender Bender and Insect Gender Bender to your list if they are related?
  • May 11, 2011
    peccantis
    Currently YKTTW:
  • May 11, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    ^peccantis, the trope in the YKTTW I have is called Ligher Colored Non Human Females, not Dark Men Ligher Women.

    Also, there is Masculine Lines Feminine Curves, another YKTTW I have.
  • May 12, 2011
    StyxD
    I think this trope needs to decide, if it wants to be about physical differences between males and females or differences in depiction, that aren't mentioned in-universe (I'd say Humanoid Female Animal belongs to the second for example). Right now it's too vague, as added examples had shown, when they were still there.
  • May 12, 2011
    Stratadrake
    There is a line to draw between physiological gender clues that do exist in-universe, and those that don't (i.e. which are applied by the author/artist, like Masculine Lines Feminine Curves), however, it's not a requirement that the gender differences are actually noticed or discussed by in-universe characters.
  • May 13, 2011
    EdnaWalker
    Do you want to add Viewer Gender Confusion?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable