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August 05, 2010

Scientists Finally Prove A Man Grim Right....

... sort of:

According to research, women buy sexier clothes when they are ovulating in a bid to outdo their love rivals.

Scientists claim that they are driven by an unconscious desire to impress at the time they are most likely to conceive.

Perhaps surprisingly, though, they are not doing it for the benefit of men – but to intimidate other women.

Kristina Durante, of the University of Minnesota, said: ‘The desire for women at peak fertility to unconsciously choose products that enhance appearance is driven by a desire to outdo attractive rival women.

‘If you look more desirable than your competition, you are more likely to stand out.’ The study, to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research, reveals that consumer choices can be driven by hormonal factors.

In way, a study that concludes that women's fashion/grooming choices are highly influenced by the level of perceived competition from other women could be interpreted as evidence that women dress for other women.

The pedant in me, though, has to ask: who are these ovulating women really dressing for? Are they dressing to impress other women? Or are they dressing to impress men, but in deciding what will most best impress men, first assessing what they're competing against?

Discuss this important social question amongst yourselves.

Posted by Cassandra at August 5, 2010 07:57 AM

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Ladies! I encourage you not to dress to impress men or women. If fact, in defiance of the biological fascist norms, I encourage you to do the opposite of dress. Demonstrate to Nature that it does not rule you! Defy expectation by going about your day naked!

Oh... and take pictures. For, uh... solidarity!

Posted by: MikeD at August 5, 2010 10:07 AM

[pulling trusty ruler out of her habit]

WHAP WHAP WHAP!!!!

Now go sit in the corner with mr. rdr :p

Posted by: Sister Mary Bag O' Metaphors at August 5, 2010 10:12 AM

"they are not doing it for the benefit of men – but to intimidate other women"...doesn't sound like that assertion can really be drawn from the study, which indicates they are doing it to *compete* with other women. "Intimidate" and "compete with" are not synonyms, whatever they told the author in journalism school.

Being the greedy capitalist I am, my thoughts turned immediately to the vital question of how one could make money from this phenomenon. If one could identify certain web sites that women are most likely to peruse when ovulating (steamy romance novelettes?), then running fashion ads on these sites should pay off very well...assuming the female subconscious doesn't compensate for the unfortunate fact that it will probably take 5 days or so to get the desired item of clothing, probably too late to hit the optimum window for being knocked up by the object of desire.

Posted by: david foster at August 5, 2010 10:43 AM

As a uterus-having individual, I think I can safely say that intimidating other women has never been anything that even entered my mind.

Some women think that other women "rob" from them, or that if a man chooses another woman then she "stole" his affection. That always struck me as bizarre - it treats the man as a will-less, soulless object with no mind of his own.

Certainly I've always paid attention to what other women wear/how they look b/c that provides a sort of benchmark for me. But I was never willing to go as far as a lot of women do to attract male attention.

For instance, I wouldn't have breast implants though obviously that technique is very effective in securing male attention. I think there's a certain conservation of effort factor there :p

Posted by: Cassandra at August 5, 2010 11:06 AM

"Perhaps surprisingly, though, they are not doing it for the benefit of men – but to intimidate other women.

The sexes compete amongst same genders. That's a predictable principle.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 5, 2010 11:24 AM

For instance, I wouldn't have breast implants though obviously that technique is very effective in securing male attention.

In high school, I observed some girls using tissue paper to bulk that sector up.

I wonder if that was due to perception that other women around them had a more developed chest. Or whether her peer group was doing this and talking about it.

People are so easy to fool. Particularly because they fool each other. You just fool 2 people and those 2 people then influence another couple to emulate them, in all foolishness. And on marches propaganda Not hearts and minds, but instinct, pure instinct to socialize driven by hard wired human hardware.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 5, 2010 11:28 AM

In high school, I observed some girls using tissue paper to bulk that sector up. I wonder if that was due to perception that other women around them had a more developed chest. Or whether her peer group was doing this and talking about it.

I remember girls doing this, too. The odd thing is that when I was in school most girls weren't very big. Not the way they are now.

My guess is that girls just notice how much attention boys pay to girls who are amply endowed. It isn't so much that most girls are, but rather that that's so obviously a trait that gets a girl noticed.

Whether or not it's the right kind of attention is another question.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 5, 2010 11:51 AM

Not the way they are now.

This particular individual was of Vietnamese-American heritage. Second or third generation, if one supposes the first generation to have been born and raised to speak the native language in Vietnam. This particular demographic was particularly noticeable in the differentiation at which they matured physically compared to black or white ethnic groups in America. And our school was a pretty multicultural school at that.

Asians, because of a generational issue of starvation and other issues, have been genetically modified to have smaller chests than usual. Just like good nutrition will grow bigger boys over generations, so the same is true for chest size as well.

It's too bad too. All that nutrition would have made great warriors, if our society had been a warrior society instead of a techno-oligarchy. Wouldn't have needed Sparta's practice of infanticide or Baal worship's equivalent.

A curious element is how homosexual men treat homosexual men. Are they competitive? Are they eager to please instead?

When one gets off the beaten track of nature's guide, who knows where the bottle's spin will end. Nature don't even know.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 5, 2010 12:26 PM

You know, back when I used to make this argument (before abandoning it, years ago, in deference to your own good self), I was in large part thinking of my mother and aunt. Oh, they went after each other with every weapon of female bitterness.

As a consequence, when my aunt was coming to visit, it occasioned a hugely painful exercise in which we kids were impressed into the most extraordinary cleaning. We're talking about toothbrushes on the baseboards, whatever it took. And then, of course, she herself had to subject herself to that extraordinarily painful scrubbing and doing-up as well.

So that's really my context for all this, because it's the only time I've personally been drawn into a doing-up of the sort that so many women seem to feel necessary for going out in public at all. And it was purely about two women who were competing with each other -- not for men, as the only man they had in common was my uncle, my mother's brother.

My other context was from observing my sister, when we were growing up: once again, the little girls she was coming up with (and well into their teenage years) would be vicious to each other on these points. So all the work she did seemed to be to avoid ridicule by other girls and young women, because that was the immediate source of pain if she failed to adhere to their standard.

That seems to still be true for young girls; I was out with my wife not long ago, and we were amused by the precision with which dozens of young women, who presumably dressed themselves without direct communication, had crafted exactly the same outfit for themselves, down to the size of the belt worn and the pitch of it on their hips. I can only assume the small variations in the nature of these belts were matters of intense concentration, since -- being the only approved outlet for maneuver -- what would otherwise be a trifle must have occupied their entire discretion. There is probably a very careful hierarchy of excellence in regards to which belt goes with this uniform; but it is entirely lost on me, as I suspect it is on everyone who isn't being driven to pay careful attention to it by the mockery of the clique.

Anyway, my point wasn't that men don't care what women look like; plainly they do. It was that the male desires on this point will have been satisfied long before the young woman leaves off her efforts. There is a point at which she's done quite enough to be as attractive as she can be to any man. She will get nothing more out of men by continuing her refinements; and yet, I have seen that she does continue, at punishing length, because of fear of the snideness of other women.

If you have been so blessed as to have escaped all of this, I'm certainly pleased! I would take that as reason to hope, in fact: if I should ever have a daughter, unlikely as that is, I wouldn't want her to be subject to all of this.

Posted by: Grim at August 5, 2010 12:56 PM

I think you're right about the way some women compete - often viciously, Grim.

At any rate, I was just teasing you :)

I may well be blind to a lot of stuff that goes on with women. Though I'm definitely female in my thinking (and emotionally), I have never really gotten along all that well with other women - mostly because women put a lot of pressure on each other to conform to the group and I've never liked being told what to do.

At any rate, I didn't mean to seem argumentative. I just thought of you when I read the story and was trying to get a rise out of you :)

Posted by: Cassandra at August 5, 2010 01:09 PM

[pulling trusty ruler out of her habit]

Ya know... carrying measuring devices in one's clothing is a...

Oh I really shouldn't say it...

bad habit.

Posted by: MikeD at August 5, 2010 01:13 PM

You mean, Cassandra, you are anti-social with women? heh

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 5, 2010 01:25 PM

if I should ever have a daughter, unlikely as that is, I wouldn't want her to be subject to all of this.

Especially since you can't solve that kind of social hierarchy fight with guns, bullets, fists, or knives.

Subtler methods are called for. Subversive ones even.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 5, 2010 01:27 PM

Now, that's where you're mistaken, Ymar. My wife tells me that, as a teenager, she carried a knife and was largely free of such mockery.

Of course, she wasn't competing for a position in the hierarchy; she only wanted to be exempted from its demands.

Posted by: Grim at August 5, 2010 02:07 PM

I wouldn't call that solving the problem. Especially as it was a different time and place.

It's ignoring and getting away from some social circle to join another. You're not solving the problems of that social circle. You just put a buffer zone. Most times the buffer zone can work, because social circles can co-exist side by side.

Now a days, it wouldn't work because the government will intercede. On your behalf, of course, by punishing BOTH parties. Regardless of who's fault it is.

So people have an interest to butt in on people's business. Worse that happens, both get punished. Which is another way of enforcing one social group's demands on the other.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 5, 2010 02:29 PM

- it treats the man as a will-less, soulless object with no mind of his own.

And I *hate* being treated like a Democrat...

Posted by: BillT at August 5, 2010 02:49 PM

I thought that was a zombie, Bill.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 5, 2010 09:30 PM

"And I *hate* being treated like a Democrat..."
I thought that was a zombie, Bill."

Is there a difference?
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at August 6, 2010 08:59 AM

Is there a difference?

Depends on who gets Left 4 Dead.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 6, 2010 10:22 AM

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 6, 2010 10:26 AM

I guess I was lucky in my associations with other females growing up. I've always been one to have a very few close friends and not part of some larger social group. Among these close friends, we were never cruel or spiteful with one another. I was never part of any "in" crowd, ever, but I also wasn't ever one to suffer ridicule at the hands of others, either, for my lack of being "cool" (never have been, never will be, I'm sure). I will say, though, that the cruelest thing ever done to me (though I'm not sure that was the intent of the "joke") was instigated by a woman I worked with when I was in my mid-20s. She was also around my age.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 6, 2010 08:58 PM

Basically, what they're saying is that women (and is there any counterpart study of males?) play up, or down, to the level of perceived competition.

Anecdotal evidence: I'm stationed at Ft Bragg, adjacent to Fayetteville, NC. As the saying goes, in Fayetteville, "even the fat girls can be choosy," because of the high ratio of available males to females. (Did the authors of the study citied in the OP take that into account? If there are 50 men and 5 women, I'd assume the women would still 'compete,' but that competition would be far less vicious than if there were only, say 2 guys.)

Further anecdotal evidence (from a male soldier friend of my wife's, who went Green to Gold): he went to AZ State, where there were more women than men, with the result that the women not only dressed competitively, but this extended to their behavior as well. I won't get into details on the behavior, other than to say it was far from ladylike.

Posted by: Heartless Libertarian at August 8, 2010 07:24 AM

There are also stories about women who never shave their legs. Until they know the women around them shave their legs. Social pressure. It can be as oppressive, if not more oppressive, than national government. Since sometimes the national government doesn't know what you are doing, but society always knows.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 8, 2010 06:37 PM

I don't shave unless people might actually see. Happens much more often in the summer time, what with wearing tank tops, sleeveless tops, shorts, skorts and capris with much greater frequency. Winter time? Not so much. I almost always wear pants (or long skirts, when I had ones that fit - I'll need a whole new wardrobe when the cold weather comes around, since everything from last fall/winter is too big) once the weather turns cooler. Haven't had to worry about a significant other see/touching my legs in a very long time. Now, if I do ever find an SO, I'm sure the frequency with which I (all year round) shave will increase exponentially...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 12, 2010 12:58 AM

There are also stories about women who never shave their legs. Until they know the women around them shave their legs. Social pressure.

That's an interesting one. Shaving your legs every day is a real pain.

I've done it for most of my life because I just like the way my legs look if I do (your skin stays smoother and softer and lotions penetrate the skin better).

When I was in college I was surprised to find that most girls didn't shave their legs during the winter because it was so cold that no one saw them anyway. I didn't do it for other people - I did it for me.

The funny thing is that I don't really need to shave my legs very often - I don't have much hair even on my arms (invisible peach fuzz, really) and have even less on my legs. I guess it's just a personal preference thing.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 12, 2010 11:28 AM

If mine was just peach fuzz, I probably wouldn't ever shave. It is a PITA and I avoid it when I can get away with it. I shaved last night (good thing, since I'm wearing a skirt) and already I can feel some stubble. If I could afford it electrolysis might be a consideration: I'd never have to shave my legs again...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 12, 2010 01:31 PM

There are days that I am so glad I'm male, and only need a daily under-chin scraping.

Posted by: htom at August 12, 2010 04:03 PM

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