Physically and psychologically
"This male preference for fertile women could also explain the Invisible Woman Syndrome, where women accustomed to men’s attention feel invisible following menopause. The syndrome might not be the result of low attention, but the loss of attention they used to have. In this regard, how comparable is it to the grudge incels² have for the lack of attention they get from women? Maybe society shouldn’t laugh about either, and instead be compassionate about them. We’re programmed to really want to mate, and measure our worth based on the perceptions of others. Having no attention from the opposite sex is hard."
Oh, Tomas. Normally, I think your posts are insightful, data-based, and well-researched. But have you ever considered that a large number of post-menopausal women are relieved to lose the attentions of men? It's exhausting. What we resent about that "cloak of invisibility" is mostly in the workplace, where we have worked for decades to build skills and contribute to our professions, only to be dismissed and have our ideas ignored - by men (and often by younger women or women who ARE still scrabbling for promotions) who often know less about the matter than we do. Maybe there is an underlying awareness that they were only ever paying attention in hopes of mating with us. That's disillusioning and makes us lose respect for them, as well.
Fortunately, I worked with many good men of all ages and encountered this phenomenon less than many women I know. But speaking for many (not all, of course) older women, we don't need that much attention from men and menopause is merely a relief. Respect and acknowledgement would be nice, though.
What fascinating articles. With the focus on AI and all the tech upgrades for intelligence coming in the future, your focus on evolutionary sexual attractiveness and its’ ramifications is such a wonderfully appropriate antidote to the craziness. My mind is literally spinning with all the possibilities of what the future holds for people, for relationships and families. Not only will physical standards of attractiveness morph - what happens when intelligence is dictated by brain enhancements? What happens when we are demoted from our position being kings and queens of this planet? How will survival, attractiveness and even happiness be achieved? I can only guess it will be one helluva wild ride.
Thank you for your work. It was amazing.
Enjoying your work sir. Well worth the money, don’t let the haters get you down
I know this is a difficult subject that touches on very sensitive issues, but intellectually, it's really interesting. Thanks for taking a chance on something like this.
Hi Tomas. Brave of you to tread this ground. Speaking as a biologist again, I think some of your conclusions are a bit facile and tend to leave out the complexities. Uncertainty of paternity, for example, is a large issue in behavioral ecology. As you said, it is generally disastrous for a male to invest resources and time in rearing another male's offspring, with the relative cost rising as the number of offspring that can be produced in a life decreasing. For rodents with multiple large litters, cuckoldry may not be as dire. But for humans the cost is huge, given the limited number of children that could be birthed and survive to adulthood. I'm nvarious animals, like ungulates and social primates, males carefully guard females in their harems when they are fertile. This is possible when female are only in estous for a limited time each year. Humans are highly unusual in that women are often sexually receptive even when they are not ovulating. "Cryptic" ovulation and prolonged sexual receptivity may have evolved in women as an adaptation to keep males from roaming in search of other fertile women, given the importance of males helping to raise young kids. But these adaptations also make it harder for males to guard mates during times of fertilty. Humans apparently understood this conundrum early on and religious and folkloric traditions talk alot about the value of chastity and fidelity. In some Polynesian societies where promiscuity was the norm, males invested resources in helping to rear their sisters' children rather than their wives'! They knew for certain that their sisters kids shared 1/4 of their genes on average, but their wives kids could share no genes. All kinds of interesting variations in this story.
I read the article you linked in the “playing hard to get” section, which talking about how the strategy could lead men in the study to want to interact with the woman more, but like them less. A lightbulb went off as I remembered some material I’ve read about food cravings and addiction and how the wanting for junk food is fueled by dopamine, which can overpower the more fragile pathways that motivated by salience/liking of healthier foods. The food study participants did not particularly like the food they craved, but couldn’t stop wanting it.
I feel like there must be a parallel here, but not sure what it is exactly...if we are attracted to someone, but they play hard to get (the assumption being they are evolutionarily much fitter than us = out of our league in attractiveness), does dopamine drive us to make the risky play and still go after them, in the off chance that the play might work and we can land a evolutionarily much fitter mate than we otherwise would have? It’s a bit half baked, but I feel like there must be something there.
As a man who is not particularly dominant, with average to small physique, and a strong tendency towards honesty and faithfulness, I've sometimes wondered why my genetic line could be successful. Bashfully, I will say the males in my family are good looking. But would women just prefer a man with a good face?
I eventually drew the conclusion that the practical skills won the day. Can it be that men who have the ability to fix problems and produce an economic benefit could actually produce more offspring with a greater chance of survival than the handsome big shouldered square jawed Adonis? If I wrote my fathers gravestone I would say "a very capable man". Should I also write "and we were quietly productive guys who could spread their seed far and wide"?
Maybe always being number 3 is a genetic advantage.
I wouldn't touch this subject with a 10-foot pole. Attraction and 'love' is so individual . Some general rules tend to apply (wealth - "good looks" - ?? ) but some vary so much from person to person.
I usually find your articles to be well researched and insightful but this one feels like the research was only lightly done. I don't disagree with the points made but I feel like there is a lot missing. Many men (attractive men) decide to marry women who are average in looks as they possess other desirable traits. I think there is far more nuance here and usually you are quite good at uncovering that and presenting something with a unique and thoughtful perspective.
One interesting theory regarding breasts in women is to do with our noses. Other apes have flat noses where ours are better adapted to swimming (water flows over and away from the nostrils) but that means our newborns can have issues suckling from a flat chest. Protruding breasts makes room for the nose so the baby can breathe. The density of the breasts is important too as they still squish in but some firmness means air can flow.
Haven't read your entire piece yet, but the extreme make-up is a "super-normal stimulus", which has been researched for some time.
Thanks. I preferred your work on geography and of course, on COVID, which was of course brilliant and original, to this material on sexual selection, a subject which is widely understood. Still, there were a few tidbits in here (eyelashes) which I did not know. And thanks for the call for compassion for menopausal women and even Incel men. Compassion is not a bad general rule.
it does modern men no good to analyze their relationships to real women through the lens of gaming the cave-man’s dating life. when talking about attraction between men and women, wouldn’t it be more useful to frame your findings in terms a modern audience would find applicable? these sanitary terms have their place, but only in forensic anthropology.
as well i feel more sympathy for the menopausal woman as opposed to the average incel because women who have matured (in terms of intellect, decorum, respectability, and class) who are slowly abandoned by their society go through a silent tragedy. incels on the other hand are often in their state of course because of their looks but far more likely because of their disgusting disregard for the wants, needs, and views of people who don’t share their experiences. incels have fallen down a rabbit hole of insecurity and loathing that makes them lash out on the world and perpetuate an air of hopelessness. While both menopausal women and incels face some degree of injustice, incels loose half the battle every day by thinking in the cold terms laid out in this article and not as modern, rational adults.
Love it. Keep going !!
El tamaño de los senos importa porque son indicativos de: 1) de qué sexo es el individuo y 2) de haber dejado atrás la edad infancia y tratarse muy probablemente de individuos fértiles.
Pero luego del punto de base que proporciona el tamaño, es un atractivo mayor, o un indicador más refinado que el tamaño, la turgencia, ya que proporciona información sobre en qué etapa de la fertilidad se halla el individuo.
Fascinating. I recall reading that blonde hair is selected for in colder, northern climes because it’s a marker of youth and femininity that’s easy to detect even when the body is bundled up in clothes to keep warm.
The figure from the Marshall et al paper on the impact of head tilt on attractiveness appears to the the wrong one. The post shows show Figure 3 which is for male faces and I think you want Figure 4 from female faces. Down tilt of -4 had the highest attractiveness for female faces, though probably not reliably different from -3 or -2. The copy should be updated to reflect the correct figure as well. (Love your work.)