Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Looking for "the one?" Or just a date? Your calendar is your friend.

From the studies I’ve come across that give me pause, I relate the following for your consideration:

According to a study from researchers at the University of Toronto and Tufts University, there is something to be said for the fertility cycle a woman experiences on a monthly basis and her ability to perceive a likely mate. Not unlike my most recent post, the idea that we’re wired somewhat similarly to animals is not lost on me. Here’s the story:

Three different kinds of experiments were conducted. In the first, forty women were shown individual photographs of eighty men. The pictures showed men of similar attractiveness, all with similar emotional expressions. The only question the women had to answer – based on intuition and perception alone - was to identify the sexual orientation of each man. (Half of the subjects in the photos were self-identified gay men; the other half were straight.) The results: women who were nearest to their peak ovulation time could more accurately assess each man’s sexual orientation.

Next up: this time, women viewed individual photographs of two hundred women, half of whom self-identified as lesbians; the other half as straight. Surprise! (Or not.) There was no relationship found between a woman’s fertility cycle and her ability to identify the sexual orientation of the women in the photos.

Finally, forty women were again asked to view photos of men and identify the subject’s sexual orientation. This time, half of the women read a story that described a romantic encounter and the other half did not. Priming the pump, so to speak, seemed to help. Turns out the women who read the story could more accurately identify the gay men and straight men in the images.

So what have we learned? That biology – in straight women anyway - is formidable and undeniable. And that a good romance story is not to be taken lightly. I wish the researchers had conducted the same three tests with lesbians viewing all the images. I wonder if the results would change or if biology – irrespective of sexual orientation – would result in more accurate assessments of men at least, by every woman at a certain point in her fertility cycle.

I love this kind of stuff. Science has given us thermometers and ovulation kits that will help us conceive a child. Science has helped sell millions of boxer shorts to men who want to keep the boys cool on a daily basis while trying to father a child. It has developed early pregnancy tests that will help us start tracking a pregnancy from Day 9.

But who could have imagined this? Something as natural as a released or about to be released egg could help women identify a potentially willing candidate for fatherhood from an array of photographs. Conversely, it also somehow helps women determine which men would be disinclined to show any interest in her fertile state. And, not for nothing, turns out to be absolutely inconsequential when viewing women and trying to identify sexual orientation.

Let’s sum up – I’ve said this before and I stand by it. Women just aren’t that complicated. When we’re ready to conceive a child, biology can help us identify a likely partner which is kind of awesome. It can help us dismiss those men who are disinterested in our sexual selves, which - let's face it - can save us a lot of heartache in the long run.

And maybe best of all: it proves that a sister is a sister is a sister. : )


say what? said...

"When we’re ready to conceive a child, biology can help us identify a likely partner which is kind of awesome."

Maybe. But what drives some women to pursue the "wrong" man no matter what? Are they biologically defective, or is it the non-animal self over-riding biology?

renee said...

Thanks for the reply to the post.

I guess my only thought is that while biology may be many things, it is not a matchmaker. And women picking the 'wrong' man doesn't have much to do with his ability to "mate" ('even educated fleas do it,' as the old song goes) but unfortunately it has a lot of repercussions when the mating is done.

That choice of right or wrong partner, my friend, doesn't seem to be high on the list of biologically driven behaviors. I'd say that both men and women lack a gene or instinct that sends up warning signs about a potentially damaging relationship, but we'd probably ignore them anyway.