bullshit evolutionary psychology study supposedly shows that women only use “sexy” walks when they are not ovulating.
Women give a wide variety of subtle signals to men to advertise the fact that they are ready to conceive and Meghan Provost, the lead researcher, had expected a “sexy”, hip-swinging walk to be one of those.
She analysed the gait of female volunteers, showed video clips to 40 men, asking them to rate the attractiveness of the way the women walked, and then matched the results to the hormone tests.
She said the results, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, were so surprising that she had repeated the experiment again with another group of male viewers.
The women who were most fertile at the time of the experiment walked with fewer hip movements and with their knees closer together.
She now thinks the findings tally with other research suggesting that women want to conceal their ovulation from males other than their chosen partner.
Yeah, okay. Standard evolutionary psychology crap. I mean, this is one of those things that I find to be so irrelevant that I don’t even really care if it’s true. I do have to say that I find it hilarious that evolutionary psychologists are so essentialist that they think what men determine to be a “sexy” walk is hardwired into their brains, and not created through a lifetime of cultural indoctrination. I find it similarly amusing that everything always comes down to “peak fertility” for evolutionary psychologists, when so many women are on hormonal birth control. It always seems to me that they’re suggesting that controlling your ovulation makes you an unattractive slag. Oh, and there are some pretty sexist comments at the end of the article about how women have naturally evolved to trick men into monogamy. But, like I said, that’s all fairly standard evolutionary psychology babble. Nothing to get upset about.
Then I read this line and did a double-take so hard that I nearly snapped my neck:
A sexy walk would be too obvious, so women are thought to use changes in smell and facial expressions that can be experienced only at close range.
Ms Provost said: “If women are trying to protect themselves from sexual assault at times of peak fertility, it would make sense for them to advertise attractiveness on a broad scale when they are not fertile.”
What. The. Fuck.
. . .
There are so many outrageous suggestions in this single sentence that I hardly know where to begin.
Provost suggests here that what women are trying to avoid are not unwanted sexual advances, or an unmanageable bevy of potential male suitors, or even a desire to stay monogamous — all of which I would believe to be crap, but would at least be a reasonable conclusion to reach based off of the findings of this “study.” But instead she references a desire to avoid sexual assault. You know — rape.
The implication that rape is about sexual desire is horrifying enough. As is the suggestion that women can somehow prevent sexual assault by how they behave.
But it seems to me that if one believes that a woman can and does avoid sexual assault by walking conservatively, and does it purposely (albeit subconsciously) when she is ovulating to avoid sexual assault during those specific periods, she must be inviting rape when she walks “sexily” during her non-fertile periods. I mean, the suggestion here is that she is purposely tricking men by advertising her “attractiveness,” which is actually suitability for rape in Provost’s terms, when she is not ovulating. She is accepting that men are naturally going to try to rape her, and giving them the most opportunity to do so when she probably won’t conceive. You know, minimizing the damage.
And the more horrendous thing about all of this misogynist psycho-babble is that, in this world-view, women don’t even have conscious control over whether or not they “invite” sexual assault. After all, evolutionary psychologists believe these behaviors are subconscious, and it’s true that most women don’t know when they’re ovulating. It’s also particularly ironic, since evolutionary psychologists also regularly claim that men rape to try to produce offspring.
Which means, ladies, in evolutionary psychologist terms, that you’re going to be raped. When this happens, it will be your own fault — either because you weren’t ovulating, and therefore subconsciously decided that rape wouldn’t really be all that bad, or because you were ovulating and therefore giving rapists more “biological” reasons to rape you. And clearly, it also wouldn’t really be the rapist’s fault, since your body was unknowingly presenting itself as a rape object.
The good news, though, is that we get to fill in quite a few squares on our evolutionary psychologist bingo card — at least two, including the square referenced in the title, and quite possibly up to four more, depending on how rigid your requirements are. But most depressing of all, Provost is actually a woman. And that means the free space will have to go blank.
[Thanks to Rich for the link]