Lately a series of columns has questioned whether hookup culture is a hoax, based on the findings of a new study on how sexual behavior among students has changed little in recent decades. Regular readers of HUS won’t be surprised to learn that college students today aren’t really having more sex than they were a generation ago. What has changed somewhat is who they’re having it with. [Read more...]
Lisa Wade posted this video about the nature of beauty by a self-professed ugly woman at her blog Sociological Images. I find it both heartbreaking and inspiring:
Wade said something that really hit home with me:
Often when I’m asked to do public speaking or appear on video, a part of me silently asks the question, “Am I attractive enough to deserve to do this?” The question is absurd. Not because I AM pretty enough, but because the question assumes that, if I weren’t, I would turn down an opportunity on that basis alone.
Last week I considered not going onto HuffPost Live because I was afraid to reveal my appearance. I don’t consider myself ugly in the way that Kara Kamos feels about herself, but I worry that I’m not pretty enough – to have a blog and to appear on TV to talk about it. And this is coming from someone with very strong self-esteem. (Note: This is not a request for flattery. No need to comment on my appearance.)
This young woman feels ugly just going outside. I commend her for her honesty, her hopefulness and her spirit.
New research reveals that highly sexualized advances from boys as young as middle school are the norm. 15 year-old boys are texting their peers for Fellate Dates:
A 15-year-old girl sits in high school English class when a text message pops up on her cellphone. It’s from a boy sitting across the room. He hardly knows her, but he likes her. Here’s how he chooses to get that message across:
Him: “So, are you good at hooking up?”
Her: “Um idk. I don’t really think about that.”
Him: “Well, I want my d–k in your mouth? Will you at least be my girlfriend.”
“Boys send X-rated propositions to girls in class. Crude photos, even nude photos, play a role once reserved for the handwritten note saying, “Hey, I like you.”
In 1978, a psych prof at FSU was discussing gender differences and suggested to his class that men have a much harder time getting casual sex than women do. His female students were incensed and one even hurled a pencil at him. He set up an experiment, now legendary, in which student volunteers asked strangers for sex. 75% of males and 0% of females accepted the casual sex offer.
The study results have never been replicated, but 35 years later there are amusing YouTube videos making the rounds that once again explore the willingness of strangers to accept an offer of sex.
I find Evolutionary Psychology to be a handy, useful and tempting tool when discussing the science of mating. It’s interesting and illuminating and often strikes us with a “That makes sense if you think about it!” response. Eggs are expensive and sperm is cheap, right? That explains everything!
Still, despite all our confident conjecturing and just-so justifications, we actually know relatively little about our distant ancestors. Most of what we discuss here are hypotheses. If accuracy is our goal, then it’s important to know how much we don’t know. I was struck by this realization while reading Marlene Zuk’s recent book Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live. Zuk is a professor of evolution and behavior at the University of Minnesota, and she’s done us a great service here by laying out explicitly what we know, what we don’t know, and what we think we might know. (She totally debunks the Paleo Diet, btw, but that’s a post for another blog.)
What is our true sexual nature?…A great many popular and scientific sources disagree. Some suggest that men and women are in conflict, with naturally faithful women fighting a losing battle to keep men from straying, [i.e., men are wired to spread seed far and wide.]
…Alternatively, the best-selling book Sex at Dawn would have it that both men and women are sexual gourmands, with multiple partners the real norm and monogamy a miserably failed experiment.
…How much do we know about our ancestors, and how much of that behavior is still manifested today?
In her chapter on Paleofantasy Love, Zuk focuses on whether early man was monogamous or polygynous, looking at all the latest scholarship and research made possible by new technology enabling scientists to accurately date and examine DNA evidence.