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“Straight Girls Like Girly Men,” or Gender Stereotyping Disguised as Science

August 14th, 2007     by Stacey May Fowles     Comments

I just couldn’t resist. Looks like hetero women are looking for more “feminine” men to be long term partners. At least that’s what science is saying:

Women see macho-looking men as less faithful, less warm and potentially poorer fathers. Men with more feminine features and a more healthy visage are judged as being a better bet for a long-term relationship.

A team of psychologists asked a 100 women to view digitally manipulated and enhanced photos of men and make snap judgements on a variety of factors, including parenting skills and viability as a long term partner. The “feminized” men came out on top, as did the “healthier” looking fellas.

So here’s the part where I say this is problematic. First an foremost, how are the psychologists determining what is feminine? “Fuller lips, wide eyes and thinner, more curved eyebrows” mean a man is more committed and less likely to cheat? Who is to say what each of the women in the study personally viewed as feminine? Also, the study is based on hugely heteronormative assumptions: the women were asked to identify marriagable men and potential fathers, which as we already know is a bit of a limited realm of choice. Although the study is amusing and even funny on the surface (especially for ladies like myself who have always been fond of ladylike men) it does represent a kind of institutionalized, scientific discrimination that creates a number of limited expectations and definitions on both sides of the gender divide.

They’ve got an answer for that, though: “”Yes, it’s discriminating, but it’s discriminating in a way that could help the world go round.”


Tags: news flash

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