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Body image and sex
March 16, 2006 10:49 PM   Subscribe

Body Image Relates Differently To Sexual Risks Taken By Men And Women. Males with positive body image may seek multiple sexual partners and engage in unprotected sex. Women, on the other hand, may use the confidence that comes from a positive body image to resist multiple partners and insist that a condom be used when they do engage in sex.
posted by semmi (48 comments total)

 
Someone out there wasn't aware of this?
posted by nightchrome at 10:58 PM on March 16, 2006


Uh...yes...duh.
posted by sourwookie at 11:33 PM on March 16, 2006


Yeah, but now "they" did a study. So if the topic comes up you can now say "Well, they say that women with a positive body image resist multiple partners and insist that a condom be used when they engage in sex."

See that first "they" in there? That's what I'm talking about.
posted by redteam at 11:36 PM on March 16, 2006


redteam: Totally. Whenever anybody quotes a study conducted by "they" I always make sure to ask them to explain who "they" are. To avoid hypocrisy I try to be a little more specific than "they" like "researchers" or "scientists" and I usually get away with it.
posted by tweak at 11:52 PM on March 16, 2006


Well, I suppose this explains her. (nsfw. You're welcome, boys.)
posted by maryh at 12:06 AM on March 17, 2006


I don't know of many males that don't want multiple partners.
posted by bigmusic at 12:09 AM on March 17, 2006


This deserves the Obvious tag.

Oh, wait, is this....?
posted by zardoz at 1:00 AM on March 17, 2006


Ok, so then, Adriana Lima is bad in the sack? I mean, barring unusual talent, how is she supposed to be good at sexing? Thanks for the warning!
posted by sklero at 2:55 AM on March 17, 2006


Will they follow this study up with a double blind test? If can I take part?
posted by dangerousdan at 3:10 AM on March 17, 2006


if so if so if so
posted by dangerousdan at 3:12 AM on March 17, 2006


My favourite part about headlines like this is that you can replace "men" and "women" with "male monkey" and "female monkey" and it still makes perfect sense.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:54 AM on March 17, 2006


Well, I suppose this explains her. (nsfw. You're welcome, boys.)

If she's a virgin, so is my mom. And you know who that makes me, right?
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:13 AM on March 17, 2006


Your own grandpaw?

No, wait, that's not it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:15 AM on March 17, 2006


"And you know who that makes me, right?".... the most gullible person here today?
posted by HuronBob at 5:35 AM on March 17, 2006


You all are ugly fucks so why it is you get laid ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:13 AM on March 17, 2006


This is one of those instances of research into something that seems so blindingly obvious, but it's just a presumption until someone does a study. Sometimes these studies disprove what we've all assumed was true.
posted by raedyn at 6:28 AM on March 17, 2006


So, let me try to understand. Hot chicks can be choosy about with whom, how often and how they do it, and pretty boys can and like to do it all the time. I dunno. That sounds a little too science-y to me.
posted by psmealey at 7:05 AM on March 17, 2006


I know a reasonably attractive young male who is in touch with his feminine side and therefore insists on using a condom when he masturbates--which, apparently is all the time.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:09 AM on March 17, 2006


psmealey -
No. They didn't do some sort of assessment on attractiveness for these people. They did an assessment of their own body image - their own body image & confidence about the looks. So the women having the risky sex might be totally hot, but they don't fee like they are. The men who are engaging in the riskier activity might not be good looking, but they think they're hot shit.
posted by raedyn at 7:12 AM on March 17, 2006


I get it, raedyn. I was merely joking.
posted by psmealey at 7:15 AM on March 17, 2006


Another bit I found interesting:
"Both men and women who were sexually active evaluated their appearance in a more positive way, were less dissatisfied with their bodies, and were more oriented toward their appearance than sexually abstinent individuals."
posted by raedyn at 7:19 AM on March 17, 2006


Ugly people have nothing to worry about.
posted by furtive at 7:21 AM on March 17, 2006


And you know who that makes me, right?


dead in two weeks, unfortunately
posted by matteo at 7:28 AM on March 17, 2006


Of course, correlation is not causation.

Use a condom, you'll feel better about yourself! (women)
posted by Richard Daly at 7:34 AM on March 17, 2006


I want to do studies that confirm completely obvious things. Next up: water is wet, true or false?
posted by bshort at 7:43 AM on March 17, 2006


today in "Duh" magazine.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on March 17, 2006


My favourite part about headlines like this is that you can replace "men" and "women" with "male monkey" and "female monkey" and it still makes perfect sense.

Monkeys with condoms! They're really starting to catch up!
posted by delmoi at 7:53 AM on March 17, 2006


This isn't really obvious - it says raises interesting questions about gender in North America.

Why do self-confident girls choose to have fewer partners? What are the thinking patterns of unself-confident girls? Why do they make the choices they do?

Why do self-confident boys choose more, and to be more unsafe?

Is it cultural, or biological (I notice many self-identify as religious)? Do males and females have different needs/desires or different societal expectations? Or a bit of both?

Would the study have been different if they looked at older women, would they have different desires? (I hate to go all too-much-information, but I know that as I age my husband is getting happier about my sex drive.) Might the difference (if any) between older and younger women give us an idea of how much is biological drive and how much societal expectation (as older women have just as much societal expectation to not have sex as younger).

Research that raises questions is good.
posted by jb at 7:53 AM on March 17, 2006


i'm not certain that the methodology of the study was as complete as perhaps it should be.

i think there are two basic approaches that people take to dealing with their feelings, whether that be body-image or otherwise. you either internalize or externalize your reactions. a person with a negative self-image may internalize their feelings and withdraw themselves from their friends; or they may externalize their feelings, seeking to self-medicate with something from their environment -- be that sexual relationships, or substance abuse, or something else -- or a combination thereof.

it would have been interesting to incorporate that into the study; how many internalize, how many externalize?

the study seems to suggest mainly externalizing reactions, which makes sense considering most people are extroverts. i guess i'm just interested in whether there is a link between your own introversion or extroversion and the approach one has to body image as a result.
posted by moz at 7:58 AM on March 17, 2006


While we're discussing overgeneralizations that seem obvious: I've noticed several times in my long "dating/coupling career" that few pretty girls bother even trying to learn how to be a friend to their "boyfriends" -- and most pretty girls are no better in the sack than homely chubby women. Despite all the "feminist" victimization lingo, to pretty girls we men (and butch dykes, so I've heard from some I've known) exist to gratify pretty girls' need for attention and "positive feedback", not as human beings in our own right. And moz, I've noticed little difference if any between pretty girls who are introverts or extroverts; I've also noticed that smart pretty girls are just as bad as stupid ones.

(Note that this does not apply to all of my previous relationships and certainly not to this one, but then she doesn't believe she's pretty and -- rarity of rarities -- doesn't care.)
posted by davy at 8:08 AM on March 17, 2006


Males . . . may seek multiple sexual partners . . . Women, on the other hand, may . . . . resist multiple partners . . . ."

It makes perfect sense without any mention of "body image," whatever that is. It describes the sexual behavior of most primates. It is a well studied phenomenon. All "body image" (code for "attractive body," I think) adds is an element of power to the situation; men with good bodies have an easier time pursuing their biological drive to mate with multiple partners. Women with good bodies have an easier time holding one mate on their own terms. Or what sourwookie said.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:18 AM on March 17, 2006


And moz, I've noticed little difference if any between pretty girls who are introverts or extroverts; I've also noticed that smart pretty girls are just as bad as stupid ones.

well -- that's why i think it would have been beneficial to have included it in the study -- what you offer is anecdotal... note also that "pretty" does not equate with positive body image.
posted by moz at 8:47 AM on March 17, 2006


No, I don't think "body image" means "attractive body."

Look, to pick an extreme example, there are hot people with eating disorders. There are ugly people with eating disorders too. There are skinny people with eating disorders; there are fat people with eating disorders. Anyone, regardless of how they look or what they weigh, can believe they're fat.

But it's not just weight. It's the same for any other aspect of appearance. Some people will judge themselves accurately; some won't.

(Hell, it's the same for any other aspect of anything. How many lousy drivers do you know who think they're great drivers? How many pretty-good singers do you know who hate their voice? Self-image has very little to do with reality, period.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:51 AM on March 17, 2006


This is quite interesting stuff - certainly a beginning to research rather than an end. While I suppose it is rather obvious when you think about it (though it wouldn't have occurred to me prior to reading the article) it's still fascinating.
posted by aladfar at 9:07 AM on March 17, 2006


No, I don't think "body image" means "attractive body."

I don't necessarily think so either. I take it merely to mean having self-confidence in one's appearance or at least one's body's appearance. By and large, people with such a trait tend (subjectively) to be more attractive than people that don't. So, by extension, in very loose terms at least, the hot/not hot thing still applies.
posted by psmealey at 9:12 AM on March 17, 2006


body-image=!attractiveness

That's true - the study was on self-perception, not "objective" attractiveness. So it's about how they felt about themselves. They could be green with three eyes and tentacles, but they feel good about the way they look. (It's probably the way their green skin is just the colour of dewy grass on a spring morning.)
posted by jb at 9:23 AM on March 17, 2006


They could be green with three eyes and tentacles, but they feel good about the way they look. (It's probably the way their green skin is just the colour of dewy grass on a spring morning.) - jb

Funniest thing I've read in a long time. Thanks.
posted by raedyn at 9:26 AM on March 17, 2006


Those bee-atches...
posted by pwedza at 10:07 AM on March 17, 2006


I think a larger problem here may be that the sex lives and insecurities of college freshmen are probably not representative of everyone else's sex lives and insecurities.
posted by occhiblu at 10:11 AM on March 17, 2006


jb : "This isn't really obvious - it says raises interesting questions about gender in North America. "

I respectfully disagree. It is (to me) obvious, and the questions which you posit are all questions that have already been raised many times. The fact that this study raises them again is no more valuable than if I do a study to prove that dropped consumer electronics fall on the floor, raising the questions of how gravity works, how time works, and how causation works.
posted by Bugbread at 10:46 AM on March 17, 2006


(Note: I'm not criticising the link, I'm just saying that, if there is any value in the study (and there may be), it doesn't come from presenting us with nonobvious results, and it doesn't come from raising questions that are already quite raised. Perhaps it comes from taking something which seems obvious and establishing it as fact (as a lot of things which seem obvious are in fact untrue). Perhaps its value is somewhere else. Perhaps it doesn't have value. I'm just adressing the "nonobvious results" and "raising questions" aspects.)
posted by Bugbread at 10:50 AM on March 17, 2006


Well, it wasn't obvious to me. I had never thought that girls with lower self-esteem re: body image would be having more sex - I always thought it would be less (extrapolating from myself, as my self-esteem was so poor I didn't actively seek people, as opposed to other women. The self esteem is better now, but I'm married.) That women would choose not to have sex, given the chance, seems strange to me, but maybe that's because I have a negative body image.

Even when social research seems obvious, having the assumed confirmed is good - until it is, it's just an assumption/untested hypothesis. And yes, in grade 12 I did scientific experiements to confirm that things do fall due to gravity, at what rate, etc. We were just replicating Galileo's experiments, but I imagine that if he had told his friends he was testing to see how things falls, they might have said "That's so obvious, they fall down."
posted by jb at 11:33 AM on March 17, 2006


JB - Yeah, sorry if that came of as snarky. I tried to phrase it neutrally ("it is obvious to me" instead of just "it is obvious"), but nuance is hard without tone of voice.

Perhaps it just seems obvious to me because I've never known many promiscuous women with high self esteem, and pretty much all the promiscuous men I've known had high self esteem. It also fits in with what I've read about differentiation between sexes in primates and other mammals.

Regarding the "having the assumed confirmed is good", we're in possible agreement. That's what I was trying to get at with "if there is any value in the study...[p]erhaps it comes from taking something which seems obvious and establishing it as fact".
posted by Bugbread at 12:19 PM on March 17, 2006


If a girl insists I wear a condom I assume she has herpes.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 12:29 PM on March 17, 2006


Metafilter: Monkeys with condoms.
posted by namespan at 12:34 PM on March 17, 2006


Given that "attractiveness" is in part culturally defined, one would expect a reasonable correlation between "body image" and "reproductive success." Hot or not is relative, but it determines who you get as relatives.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:40 PM on March 17, 2006


You mean you’ve never had sex?
That’s why I have to say.


I dunno, maryh, the lovely link only says "That's what I HAVE to say." Perhaps the lady doesn't kiss and tell? Or just part of her mystique?
posted by annieb at 4:03 PM on March 17, 2006


If a girl insists I wear a condom I assume she has herpes.

If so she's behaving better than a lot of people, who'll just pass it on out of spite.

Oh and about the virginal model: remember, to a lot of "abstinent" girls (and boys), oral, anal and manual don't count -- one can suck off the whole football team and still be a virgin. Kinda like only receiving blowjobs from men means you're not really gay.
posted by davy at 7:10 PM on March 17, 2006


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