Stigmatizing female promiscuity — a.k.a. slut-shaming — has often been blamed on men, who have a Darwinian incentive to discourage their spouses from straying. But they also have a Darwinian incentive to encourage other women to be promiscuous. Dr. Vaillancourt said the experiment and other research suggest the stigma is enforced mainly by women.
The existence of female competition may seem obvious to anyone who has been in a high-school cafeteria or a singles bar, but analyzing it has been difficult because it tends be more subtle and indirect (and a lot less violent) than the male variety. Now that researchers have been looking more closely, they say that this “intrasexual competition” is the most important factor explaining the pressures that young women feel to meet standards of sexual conduct and physical appearance.
. . .
The result is more competition because there are so many more rivals — and there’s no longer any scientific doubt that both sexes are in to win it.
Two young, attractive, thin-ideal female research assistants (RAs; the third and fourth author of this study) ran each data collection session. Each session was randomized so that the RAs dressed either to advertise their physical features in a way to highlight their sexual competitiveness (what we called formal attire), or to deemphasize their physical features and sexual competitiveness (frumpy attire). During the formal sessions, the RAs dressed attractively (equivalent to a job interview).
In the first condition (conservative), a photograph of the conservatively dressed confederate was provided (Fig. 1A). In the second condition (sexy-thin), a photograph of the sexy dressed confederate was provided (Fig. 1B). Finally, in the third condition (sexy-fat), a photograph of the sexy dressed confederate was manipulated so that she appeared overweight (Fig. 1C).
...intrasexual competition need not be operating at the conscious level, rather competitors ‘must be actively behaving in a manner that draws them closer to attaining the wanted resource’ .... A clear way that indirect aggression serves an individual's goal is by reducing her same-sex rivals' ability, or desire, to compete for mates. This is typically accomplished in a concealed way which diminishes the risk of a counterattack. Although indirect aggression is used effectively by girls and women in a manner that reduces the aggressor's risk, it is not used without peril. Indeed, the derogation of a rival, which represents the most common way of aggressing against others indirectly, carries the risk of (i) calling men's attention to the rival and thus increasing the number of competitors, (ii) signalling to others that you are unkind which may inadvertently lower your own mate value, and (iii) leading to a confrontation by the target which may escalate to physical aggression. These risks notwithstanding, the benefits of using indirect aggression seem clear—fewer competitors and greater access to preferred mates, which in ancestral times would have been linked to differential reproduction rates, the driving force of evolution by sexual selection.
Whenever they could they played their great game, The Soldier and the Whore. They played it in whatever room they could. He was on leave from the front and she was a whore of DeBullion Street.
Knock, knock, the door opened slowly.
They shook hands and he tickled her palm with his forefinger.
Thus they participated in that mysterious activity the accuracies of which the adults keep so coyly hidden with French words, with Yiddish words, with spelled-out words; that veiled ritual about which night-club comedians construct their humour; that unapproachable knowledge which grown-ups guard to guarantee their authority.
Their game forbade talking dirty or roughhouse. They had no knowledge of the sordid aspect of brothels, and who knows if there is one? They thought of them as some sort of pleasure palace, places denied them as arbitrarily as Montreal movie theatres.
Whores were ideal women just as soldiers were ideal men.
"Pay me now?"
"Here's all my money, beautiful baby."
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