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August 28, 2002
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According to scientists who study sex we can toss some common misconceptions: there is no battle of the sexes; the Mars and Venus book is misleading; extreme body builders are not sexy; breast size isnt always sexy; men and women cheat equally; the notion of man "spreading his seed" is a cultural invention; thin is not sexy. All thanks to our caveman brain.
posted by stbalbach (61 comments total)

 
"But in the so-called battle of the sexes both sides have to win or else everyone loses …"

So what does this mean if you are gay?
posted by piskycritter at 9:48 AM on August 28, 2002


While fascinating, this subject has been covered before - see The Red Queen and Anatomy of Love, among others.

That said, this should still be an interesting thread...
posted by gottabefunky at 9:51 AM on August 28, 2002


Thin may not always be sexy, but fat is fucking ugly.
posted by Grod at 9:57 AM on August 28, 2002


dude, grod, you are so going down for that one.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:58 AM on August 28, 2002


gays still need the breeders to produce the workforce.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:59 AM on August 28, 2002


HAHAHAHAHA

Grod, don't sugar coat it now!

Tell us how you really feel !!

BTW, I am with you. Nothing sexy about the obese, but, that is only my opinion.
posted by a3matrix at 10:01 AM on August 28, 2002


It could be an interesting thread, true. But I don't think the article will be responsible for pushing it in that direction. I didn't really read much of anything I haven't read or seen before. Most of the article seems like common knowledge at this point, pretty generalized information.

Grod: Show an ounce of couth, wouldja... geez.
posted by Witty at 10:01 AM on August 28, 2002


Thin may not always be sexy, but fat is fucking ugly.

Do you see MetaFilter as a place where people come to discuss things, or just as some wacky manifestation of the computer in the room you never leave?
posted by MarkAnd at 10:02 AM on August 28, 2002 [1 favorite]


I don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows...
posted by LowDog at 10:06 AM on August 28, 2002


If you read up on the subject, gays are covered also in this general topic. The part that is of interest as far as gays go, though, is there have always been gays everywhere and in everyplace. Thus, since they do not beget kids, why has this phenomenon continued? Clearly, not cultural thing.
posted by Postroad at 10:09 AM on August 28, 2002


actually, gays beget kids all the time. but it's a good question nonetheless.
posted by jellybuzz at 10:21 AM on August 28, 2002


I can only imagine these scientists lamenting that they've been researching the come-ons (sorry, "mating rituals") for all these years but still can't hit the bootay.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:21 AM on August 28, 2002


Jesus, people.

Did ya fat-haters click on the links attached to that article such as this?

Way to derail.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:24 AM on August 28, 2002


I'm a little confused by the part that describes Brad Pitt as "moderately muscular". His stunt double on Snatch had eat way more while working out just to get close to his build.
posted by bobo123 at 10:25 AM on August 28, 2002


Thin may not always be sexy, but fat is fucking ugly.

Being an utter shithead, however, is apparently totally sexy.
posted by Skot at 10:29 AM on August 28, 2002


grod is trolling...
posted by gen at 10:40 AM on August 28, 2002


I've always wanted to see Helen Fisher (or Joann Rodgers or any other 'scientist who studies sex') to go on that stupid show "The Other Half" and tell them how wrong all of their generalizations are. I hate that show.
posted by emyd at 10:59 AM on August 28, 2002


Postroad: Thus, since they do not beget kids, why has this phenomenon continued? Clearly, not cultural thing.

Don't follow your reasoning on this. Accepting for a second that gay people don't breed, it would clearly not be a genetic thing, but could very well be a cultural one.
posted by signal at 11:00 AM on August 28, 2002


...based on the theory that men have needed to spread their sperm, far and wide in the name of evolution. But that doesn't explain why women cheat too

I believe there's a ready explanation. Women have been charged not only with producing offspring, but also securing their survival. They would look for two things in a mate: good genes and security. They could find a prosperous man with poor genes and take up with him, then find another with good genes to reproduce. The prosperous man would provide for the children unaware that they weren't his own. Cheating could be a device used by the woman to promote her DNA's chance of survival
posted by joaquim at 11:04 AM on August 28, 2002


The cruelness of RJ R's post is fat people can loose weight, ordinary people can dress or act extraordinary, ugly people can get makeovers/braces/contacts/etc.. but short guys have no options, nothing, short of an acting career (Tom Cruise, Humprhy Bogart).
posted by stbalbach at 11:12 AM on August 28, 2002


Skot: Being an utter shithead, however, is apparently totally sexy.

Must be....I got married, and I can't imagine how.....
posted by dwivian at 11:12 AM on August 28, 2002


Dawkins offers a evolutionary explanation for what he perceives to be a "cheating" predisposition in males (which opposes one of the tenants of the article, but syncs with my worldview a little better)...

...determining "sex" across species is a daunting task... but the easiest way to do it is to separate things into "Single (or comparatively low number), large, (or comparatively large) gamete"... and "very large number of small gametes."

Human women have a fairly long gestation, and for most of human history, childbirth and abortificants have substantially imperiled their lives. Their reproductive strategy, therefore, has become "select a fit partner" (since every flirtation with pregnancy invites disaster... it's better to pick and choose... selecting the best possible mate).

Additionally, childcare was, for the vast majority of human history, exclusively a woman's burden. Why risk such an investment on an unfit mate?

Men, on the other hand, produced billions of gametes every week, and were not burdened (to the same degree) by gestation and childcare. Their reproductive strategy evolved to be less discriminate... more "scatter-shot."

The idea of "cheating" presupposes a monogamy that is simply not there in our primate cousins. But... a predisposition towards specificsexual activities would tend to translate into "cheating" in the current climate.
posted by cadastral at 11:27 AM on August 28, 2002


stbalbach: Cruise and Bogart didn't do too badly attracting women. On the other hand, Cruise has been divorced twice, and Bogie was divorced three times before he married Lauren Bacall.
posted by Songdog at 11:32 AM on August 28, 2002


Grod's been a MeFite for less than 2 weeks. Not that it shows...
posted by BentPenguin at 11:44 AM on August 28, 2002


On the monogamy thing:

Perhaps like foxes and robins, our ancestors only needed to form pair-bonds long enough to rear their young through infancy. What made me think of this was a remarkable correlation between the length of human infancy in traditional societies, about four years, and the length of many marriages, about four years. (Fisher, Anatomy of Love).

In other words, we can stand to stay together as long as it takes to raise a kid beyond the helpless years, but often not much longer. I've also heard seven years for this figure.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:46 AM on August 28, 2002


Based on readings in my youth I seem to recall the current, at the time, belief was that beauty was a social construct. Fatness or thinness as a function of beauty went hand in hand with social class and wealth.

In the past when calories were harder to come by only the rich could afford to be fat. Now in the west when calories are increasingly easier to come by the poor get fat while the rich have the option of remaining thin, some would say on the verge of starvation, as a testament to their social class and wealth.

Whether this is true or not is anyone's guess but I suspect when "grod" refers to fat folks being ugly I can't help but wonder if that's not his fear of being poor being voiced.

Too much psychoanalysis is never good! Bad filchyboy, bad!
posted by filchyboy at 11:48 AM on August 28, 2002


According to scientists who study sex

Um, no — according to a "science reporter" with a book to sell. A really, really, bad and stupid book, judging from its introduction. I like that she worked the Latin word "cum" into the book's first paragraph, though.
posted by nicwolff at 11:51 AM on August 28, 2002


Small correction, cadastral, to an interesting post (a lot of people get confused becuase of the similar pronunciation):

Tenet: \Ten"et\, n. [L. tenet he holds, fr. tenere to hold. See Tenable.] Any opinion, principle, dogma, belief, or doctrine, which a person holds or maintains as true; as, the tenets of Plato or of Cicero.

Tenant: \Ten"ant\, n. [F. tenant, p. pr. of tenir to hold. See Tenable, and cf. Lieutenant.] 1. (Law) One who holds or possesses lands, or other real estate, by any kind of right, whether in fee simple, in common, in severalty, for life, for years, or at will; also, one who has the occupation or temporary possession of lands or tenements the title of which is in another.

Both definitions from Webster's Revised Unabridged
posted by lackutrol at 11:51 AM on August 28, 2002


Is there anything here that Richard Dawkins hasn't already explained in much more detail? Nothing seemed to stand out from the article, nor from the reviews on Amazon.
posted by atbash at 12:06 PM on August 28, 2002


"The first thing we look for is symmetry. Symmetry is a sign of health," Rodgers said. A new study released last week, which found that asymmetrical people are more jealous than others, fits into the theory. Asymmetrical people are less attractive, and therefore more fearful of losing their mates.

Is your nose a little slanted off to one side? One of your eyes hovering perilously close to your left nostril? Does you face on the whole give off the appearance of a Picasso painting? Asymmetrical MeFites, join with me and together we will seek to end societal discrimination against our jealous, unattractive, and fearful selves! No longer will symmetry be "the first thing" our lovers and bosses look for. Only by remedying our unequal position in society will those sad, lopsided little smiles return to our distractingly-unbalanced-but-no-less-deserving-of-equal-protection-under-the-law faces!
posted by onlyconnect at 12:32 PM on August 28, 2002


My eyes are slanted, does that count?
posted by Stan Chin at 12:33 PM on August 28, 2002


The first thing we look for is symmetry.

My ideal woman is not a sphere.

Tho' spheres are involved.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:36 PM on August 28, 2002


People love sex. We have it every chance we get, in every position and season. We will take incredible risks, exhaust ourselves, even self-destruct to get it, do it, keep it. Once we experience its power and its pleasure — even when we only can imagine it — we seek it with the intensity of an addict after a fix.

Oh, definitely. After all, when I'm not getting any I routinely hold up convenience stores and mug tourists for sex. And I've lost count of the number of jobs I've lost because I've blown off work to have sex. Why, just last week I had to roast squirrels for dinner because I'd spent all my money on sex.

Give me a fucking break.

no pun intended
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:49 PM on August 28, 2002


i just hang out in bars, but whatever works for you.
posted by tolkhan at 12:54 PM on August 28, 2002


Sorry, I've been trying not to troll, and doing a good job up until now, it just sort of slipped out. You see, there are about three issues on which I am an unrepentant bigot
1. fat people, especially those who blame their weight on everything except their own lifestyle, if you are fat due to a medical condition such as a food allergy, or due to medication you must take, that is perfectly acceptable to me, so this is not exactly a rational bias.
2. Conservatives of all types, but especially those who try to mix religion with politics, and those who believe that we who disagree with them should be forced to live by their standards of morality for our own good.
3. I can't remember #3 at the moment.

I am sorry if I offended the obese members of MetaFilter. I am very aware that there other people seeing this big blue screen, and I try to keep it in mind when I post. I'll avoid such comments in the future unless they are somehow germane.
posted by Grod at 1:26 PM on August 28, 2002


IshmaelGraves, thank you.

Grod, you're not helping yourself, and you're furthering the derail of the thread. You'd be well advised to leave your (self-admitted) prejudices unannounced. In this thread, nobody cares, and if they do, it ain't gonna be in a good way. I'm not obese, neither is my wife, but you sure offended me. So don't blame MetaFilter for your stupid out-of-place comments, okay?

(I hear the thundering hoofbeats of yet another MetaTalk thread ...)

As to the actual topic, the more I read about sex research, the more convinced I am that this line of inquiry in humans defies all behavioral based logic. Its very complexity is such that for every scientist who links biology to how we "really" are, there will be another Rodgers in the future to say, well no, biology actually dictates X. This research amounts to little more than expected probabilities, many of which I would hope that most of us have encountered before. But there is always that "cultural element" which the biological researchers never really seem to be able to explain. This worries me because I can see a time in the future when child custody cases and challenges to prenups, and divorces for infidelity become based not in any choice scenario, but rather founded on a biology defense (Yes, honey, I had to sleep with that entire Swedish soccer team. They were so...symetrical).
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:49 PM on August 28, 2002


lackutrol: but what about the eleven other errors in the posts before yours! I'm afraid, here at MeFi, we nitpickers and would-be educators all have to learn to ignore them, to keep our sanity.
posted by acridrabbit at 2:47 PM on August 28, 2002


My eyes are slanted, does that count?
Only if one goes up and the other one down!
posted by HTuttle at 2:54 PM on August 28, 2002


After all, when I'm not getting any I routinely hold up convenience stores and mug tourists for sex. And I've lost count of the number of jobs I've lost because I've blown off work to have sex. Why, just last week I had to roast squirrels for dinner because I'd spent all my money on sex.
You too?
posted by HTuttle at 2:56 PM on August 28, 2002


3. I can't remember #3 at the moment.

Grod, could it have been that ridiculous pot smoke's effect on memory thing?
posted by HTuttle at 2:59 PM on August 28, 2002


The first thing we look for is symmetry.

My wife has rotational symmetry...

...and my joke needs a punchline.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:56 PM on August 28, 2002


Thin may not always be sexy, but fat is fucking ugly.

i'd like to see it become a rule that when someone makes a comment of this nature they must also post a full length detailed photo of themselves, so we can see how flawless a fuck they'd be and then pass judgement accordingly.

I am sorry if I offended the obese members of MetaFilter

so in your teeny tiny world 105 lbs is considered obese...?

"The first thing we look for is symmetry. Symmetry is a sign of health," Rodgers said. A new study released last week, which found that asymmetrical people are more jealous than others, fits into the theory. Asymmetrical people are less attractive, and therefore more fearful of losing their mates.

i don't think both sides of my face and body are perfectly symmetrical and i don't suffer from jealousy. maybe i just have a superiority complex but so far i've never met anyone whose life/belongings/looks make me feel covetous (is that a proper word??), and i don't worry about losing my mate. talk about wallowing in the trivialities, jesus. and if achieving perfect beauty means doing away with disarmingly cute crooked smiles and the like, then perfect beauty can take a nice long boring hike with itself.
posted by t r a c y at 7:12 PM on August 28, 2002


Stbalbach is right. Short folk get no love. Trust me, I know, I'm a guy that's 5'5. The only thing I could really do about it is invest in some platform shoes but I'm not really one for the frankenstein look. People literally look right over me. It's frustrating as hell. I've become pretty thick skinned to it over the years but when I'm at any kind of social gathering looking for a potential mate almost all women look at me once and don't look back. I'm an average looking guy, just in smaller proportions. It is extremely hard to find women that will go for a guy that's smaller than they are. Alright, when's my pity party? Next weekend? Cool.
posted by spungfoo at 8:09 PM on August 28, 2002


Are our sexual brains really from the stone age?

The stone age was a time rife with danger and life easily stolen by weather, beast, or warfare. Would something as trivial as physical beauty (symmetrical face/body) be more appealing than qualities such as strength, bravery, cunning, leadership, innovation, loyalty to family and spirit of cooperation?

Perhaps in the safety of our modern age, qualities such as strength and cunning may not seem necessary in order to guarantee survival so some people will choose mates based on superficial criteria.

When you consider how fragile any society is, though, you would hope that people seeking mates would look deeper than just physical beauty.

Peace.
posted by cup at 8:38 PM on August 28, 2002


eeyew, spungfoo. Bob Dylan is an inch taller 'n you!

I'm currently on a wonder as top why all the pre-war delta blues singers with the most he-man rocks & gravel voices--Charley Patton, Tommy McClennan and Robert Petway--were all shorties. Patton was your height and McClennan and Petway. who were sound-a-likes and best buddies, have both been reported as 4 10". Petway's my fave--his Catfish Blues, the very first recording and likely his composition, is up on this week's very show. Of course, Patton's most famous disciple, Howlin' Wolf--who had all the grits and gravel, too--came in at 6'6" and 300+ pounds, so there goes my theory on blues he-men... So, you play guitar?
posted by y2karl at 8:50 PM on August 28, 2002


this coulda been a great thread. Whatta waste.

I recommend this book to anyone who asks and many who don't.

the notion of man "spreading his seed" is a cultural invention

I disagree, and the linked article said no such thing. In point of fact, it said Many people believe that infidelity is more of a male trait â?? something that is part of their makeup, based on the theory that men have needed to spread their sperm, far and wide in the name of evolution. But that doesn't explain why women cheat too, or whom the men are cheating with ... This in no way disproves nor even dismisses the hypothesis that male cheating is caused by an evolutionary desire to spread the ol' seed. Saying "Many people believe A causes B, but that doesn't explain the cause of C." is a fairly thoroughly meaningless statement, e.g. "Many people believe that the sun warms the Earth, but that doesn't explain the presence of 'Vanilla Coke' on your convenience store's shelves."
posted by Shadowkeeper at 9:16 PM on August 28, 2002


In accordance with t r a c y ' s request that "it become a rule that when someone makes a comment of this nature they must also post a full length detailed photo of themselves, so we can see how flawless a fuck they'd be and then pass judgement accordingly."

I will link to a few photos. These are not the best photos but they're the only digital ones I have on hand. Let the scathing commentary begin.

me
slightly photoshop'd
last one
posted by Grod at 9:54 PM on August 28, 2002


Can't believe no one beat me to this.

And Grod, thanks for taking seriously the worst meta-related suggestion I've seen in a long time. We're a bunch of computer dorks--does anyone really want visuals?
posted by hippugeek at 10:34 PM on August 28, 2002


Ignoring the fallout of the enraged and/or the obese for the moment, not to mention strident comparisons of Grod to Neil from The Young Ones...

Shadowkeeper, you beat me to it. I thought The Moral Animal was fascinating in its dissection of various genetic ploys played out through the lens of gender. Including examinations of some of the fringe behaviors that seem to run counter to typical gender behavior.

Warning: some feminists groups take issue with it as being an apologia for male infidelity. But it makes a lot of sense to me.
posted by umberto at 10:40 PM on August 28, 2002


hippugeek: if you like that song you'll love this. Flash goodness, the song is in the background. Cheers.
posted by Grod at 10:42 PM on August 28, 2002


*watching point fly over people's heads, grabbing point before it flies out of sight, shoving point in everyone's face*

The point is Tracy wouldn't judge you on your looks and thinks that mefi has already seen enough of this immature fat hate for one lifetime. And hippugeek speak only for yourself, thanks.
posted by zarah at 10:43 PM on August 28, 2002


*clutches eye with point protruding from it, screams curses, runs to the first aid kit*
posted by Grod at 10:48 PM on August 28, 2002


*sighs and pulls first-aid kit and spare point out of pocket*

Sorry if I appeared to be either co-opting the collective mefi viewpoint for my own or defending Grod's earlier comment in any way, zarah. The point I was making in my head, while failing to be funny, was that I don't particularly care what any of us look like, either. I'd just as soon make up a visual identity to go with the posting personalities of the mefi community.
posted by hippugeek at 11:56 PM on August 28, 2002


is there have always been gays everywhere and in everyplace. Thus, since they do not beget kids, why has this phenomenon continued? Clearly, not cultural thing.

I have always found this curious from an evolutionary perspective. I think one clue may come from this study that says, "roughly one in seven gay men may owe his sexual orientation to the fact he has older brothers." Another study has shown, "...each additional older brother increases the odds of homosexuality in a younger brother."

I would suggest that in the "caveman" days, perhaps additional offspring would convey more of an advantage if they were not competing for mates and taking their resources to another family, but helping with resources for the rest of their (genetic) family.
posted by quirked at 7:00 AM on August 29, 2002


Yes but quirked, they're still not passing on their genes if they're not breeding. If there is such a thing as a gay gene, maybe it's recessive.
posted by Summer at 7:50 AM on August 29, 2002


they're still not passing on their genes

Except maybe they are. Each of your siblings carries approx. 1/4 of the same genetic material as you. If you have four older brothers, it may be as advantageous for your genes to help them sire offspring as for them to put you through the trouble. This is why worker ants forego reproduction to help their "supersisters" breed, after all.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 8:26 AM on August 29, 2002


Yes but Shadowkeeper, if I'm gay and my brothers and sisters aren't, who's got the gay gene?
posted by Summer at 8:37 AM on August 29, 2002


You all do, it's just that yours is active. Say you have Gene X, and Gene X, like all genes, is only interested in making copies of itself on down through the generations. Gene X notices that you have four brothers, and thinks* to itself "Hmm, if I try and find a female mate to reproduce with, I may wind up fighting with my old brothers, who will probably kill me if push comes to shove. On the other hand, there's a 1/4 chance that each of them also carries me, Gene X. So perhaps it's better if I encourage homosexuality in my person so that the other copies of me get passed on." Does that make sense? It's not at all uncommon for a particular gene to promote different behavior depending on what it thinks* is best for its survival.

* Anthropomorphizing genes or evolution is a bad bad bad practice and I shouldn't be doing it, I know.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 9:00 AM on August 29, 2002


Allow me to disclaim: I don't necessarily believe this hypothesis, I am merely explaining it to the best of my knowledge.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 9:02 AM on August 29, 2002


OK Shadowkeeper, it's a long time since I read about genetics and I have trouble keeping scientific information in my head. How is a gene "live" as opposed to dormant? Do you mean recessive?
posted by Summer at 12:58 PM on August 29, 2002


Not exactly. Back to ants. Sibling ants can become queens, drones, soldiers -- this despite the fact that sibling ants are all "supersisters" (that is to say that any two sister ants share 75% of their genes in common). So all of these supersisters may have a Role Gene, which determines what they will be. In any #1, it says "You will be a Queen and reproduce". In #2 it may say "You will become a drone, and while you will not reproduce, you will help pass me on, the Role Gene, by feeding the Queen's babies, who also have me" In #3 it says "You will be a soldier, and while you will not reproduce, you will help pass me on, the Role Gene, by protecting the Queen's babies, who also have me." So presumably humans would have a Sexual Orientation Gene (although it would actually be a combination of genes) which, on location, would say "You will not compete with your brother for mates."

Maybe. I dunno. That's just the hypothesis as I understand it. Long article on ants, supersisters and altruistic behavior here.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:09 PM on August 29, 2002


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