More Silly Research Reporting

// 10 April 2008

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Following the bollocks that Samara reported on a couple of days ago, is the Daily Mail’s report on a study apparently claiming that women with big eyes and small jaws are perceived by men as being more into the idea of a one-night-stand. Meanwhile, men with softer features are viewed by women (yep- all pretty heterosexist stuff) as a better bet for commitment.

As ever, the Daily Mail agenda came flooding through:

It is thought the phenomenon has its roots deep in evolution, with men who sow their wild oats being more likely to pass on their genes to the next generation.

Women, on the other hand, gain little from being free with their favours and prefer stable types who will provide for them and their children.


Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 10 April 2008 at 6:39 pm

Likewise yawn!!! More pseudo science posing as genuine science. Evolutionary nonsense once again. No need to analyse how female and male sexual scripts are culturally produced. Men can’t help it – it’s in their genes. Oh yes – oh no!

Chloe // Posted 10 April 2008 at 6:44 pm

What kind of a metaphor is “men who sow their wild oats”?! Haha. They’re basically saying that according to evolution, men will fuck anyone to “pass on their genes”, even though a few sentences beforehand they dismiss us big-jawed small-eyed freaks. Which is it? Does it even matter? No.

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 11 April 2008 at 9:09 am

Jennifer Drew said “No need to analyse how female and male sexual scripts are culturally produced.”

Oh, I know! No need to actually, y’know, try to understand why anyone might do anything. It’s all in our genes!

Actually, there was an article on BBC Breakfast this morning that fell into the same trap. It was all about how young boys and girls choose to play different instruments – boys playing more guitars and drums and girls playing more flutes and clarinets etc.

Did they ask *why* young children would pick to play instruments in a gender divided way? No…they talked about girls being quieter and boys being more energetic – AS IF THAT EXPLAINED IT.

Wiggly // Posted 11 April 2008 at 9:55 am

Okay – maybe I imagined this but wasn’t there some research showing that females in some animal species (I think it was particular types of bird but maybe it was other animals too) actually mate with numerous different males in order to get the best ‘genetics’ for their offspring – even if that meant the male helping them rear the young wasn’t the biological father… Again if I recall correctly the scientists were somewhat surprised at this behaviour.

Holly Combe // Posted 11 April 2008 at 12:05 pm

Re: Jennifer-Ruth’s example… Yes, I’d say it’s the media explanations of research that are the major problem here. That’s not to say I don’t think even the most apparently “objective” research isn’t ever politically biased. However, the spin that the tabloids put on research findings is particularly concerning when you consider that most people don’t have free full-text access to the academic journals that publish the research (i.e containing the detail they need to be able to assess it more thoroughly).

Soirore // Posted 11 April 2008 at 1:57 pm

Re Wiggly’s comment about the birds – I’m sure I’ve heard that as well. It’s always interesting that when it comes to biology, gender and sexualitiy it’s the patriarchal animal set-ups that get mentioned.

I read that some species of monkey live in small groups of families and have sex socially with adults of both genders but generally reproduce with one individual (at a time). When the population reaches a comfortable level, gay sex is preferred with the female monkeys being more active sexually. These are the kinds of species we most closely resemble genetically but I don’t often hear the biological determinists referencing them.

Sarah // Posted 11 April 2008 at 3:33 pm

I just wanted to share that its not just the media who take this ‘evolutionary’ approach. I’m just finishing my psychology degree and I’ve had many lectures this year (all from the same man) on the sociobiology behind attraction. Its all pretty full of heterosexist worn out assumptions about what is attractive to men/women, but what really pissed me off was the lecturers own comments about the material. The worst one was when he said that young boys socialised in big groups, thus ‘preparing them for the workplace’ and young girls only ever had a few close friends, which made them ‘more suitable for the family’ – arghhhH! Asides from being completely untrue, it represents a lot of what happens in this kind of research where evolutionary psychologists try to take one pattern in society and explain it through basic guesswork – ie ‘men prefer blue because its the colour of the sky when they’re hunting’ when really they’re just trying to rationalise gender roles. Interestingly, the lecturer did also tell us about one researcher who’d made up an experiment which he claimed showed that ‘men prefer blondes because disease ridden insects show up better on their fair skin’ just to see if he could get it published. It did get published, showing that some people will basicly accept any of these evolutionary explanations for any sort of sexist assumption about people.

ps – i didnt challenge this lecturer on what he was saying at the time but intend to do so once he doesnt have any more power over what grades I get!

Sarah // Posted 11 April 2008 at 4:17 pm

Haha – just noticed also that the co-author of this study is the son of another one of my lecturers! (This one said ‘women are obviously sluts if they get drunk’ in a lecture on alcohol.)


Shea // Posted 11 April 2008 at 5:32 pm

I think the monkeys were bonobos, they are matriarchial and rape is extremely rare in their societies because the females all gang up on anyone who threatens them and their babies (damn right!).

I heard it about great apes too (gorillas I think) some 40% of the offspring aren’t from the dominant male. Its thought the females roam for other partners to keep up genetic diversity in the group. But I doubt we’ll ever see that in the Daily Male.

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