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Posts Tagged ‘attraction’

At Titus 2 Retreats, one of the topics we discuss is modesty in clothing and behavior.  Perhaps, on behalf of our brothers, it would be best for me to share their thoughts on why modesty matters.  Please listen ~

 

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Is this life after The Pill?

Shirley Wang is the author of “The Tricky Chemistry of Attraction — Taking Birth-Control Pills May Mask the Signals That Draw the Sexes Together, Research Shows.”  (Wall Street Journal)

Rush Limbaugh’s program of May 10, 2011, featured “The Tricky Chemistry of Attraction.”  My husband happened to be listening.  I thank him for catching this… and sharing it with me.  Whatever  you may think of Rush Limbaugh, research is research.  The thing is, some of it gets shared… some of it stays hidden.  This research helps make sense of many choices, behaviors, and lifestyles that I’ve been watching or aware of as a post-pill woman.

“Much of the attraction between the sexes is chemistry.”  Not hard to swallow, eh?  Let’s continue.  “New studies suggest that when women use hormonal contraceptives, such as birth-control pills, it disrupts some of these chemical signals, affecting their attractiveness to men and women’s own preferences for romantic partners . . . Evolutionary psychologists and biologists have long been interested in factors that lead to people’s choice of mates.”

The article goes on.  “One influential study in the 1990s, dubbed the T-shirt study, asked women about their attraction to members of the opposite sex by smelling the men’s T-shirts.  The findings showed that humans, like many other animals, transmit and recognize information pertinent to sexual attraction through chemical odors knows as pheromones.”

Continuing, “The study also showed that women seemed to prefer the scents of men whose immune systems were most different from the women’s own immune system genes known as MHC . . . the family of genes permit a person’s body to recognize which bacteria are foreign invaders and to provide protection from those bugs.  Evolutionarily, scientists believe, children should be healthier if their parents’ MHC genes vary, because the offspring will be protected from more pathogens.  More than 92 million prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives, including pills, patches and injections, were filled last year in the U.S., according to data-tracker IMS Health.  Researchers say their aim isn’t to scare or stop women from taking hormonal contraceptives.  ‘We just want to know what we’re doing’ by taking the pill, says Alexandra Alvergne, a researcher in biological anthropology at University College London in the U.K.  ‘If there is a risk it affects our romantic life and the health status of our children, we want to know.’ ”

Wang, in her article, explains that, “Both men’s and women’s preferences in mates shift when a woman is ovulating” (most often day 14 of her cycle) . . . “Some studies have tracked women’s responses to photos of different men, while other studies have interviewed women about their feelings for men over several weeks.  Among the conclusions: When women are ovulating, then tend to be drawn to men with greater facial symmetry and more signals of masculinity, such as muscle tone, a more masculine voice and dominant behaviors . . . The women also seemed to be particularly attuned to MHC-gene diversity.  From an evolutionary perspective, these signals are supposed to indicate that men are more fertile and have better genes to confer to offspring.”  (Limbaugh comments here: “All of this happens in a split second.  It’s not something that’s calculated . . . but it does dictate behavior and choices . . . .”)

Wang’s article continues, “Women tend to exhibit subtle cues when they are ovulating, and men tend to find them more attractive at this time.  ‘Women try to look more attractive, perhaps by wearing tighter or more revealing clothing,’ says Martie Haselton, a communications and psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Research on this includes studies in which photos that showed women’s clothing choices at different times of the month were shown to groups of judges.  Women also emit chemical signals that they are fertile; researchers have measured various body odors, says Dr. Haselton.  Such natural preferences get wiped out when the woman is on hormonal birth control, research has shown.”

But, “Women on the pill no longer experience a greater desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulation.  Their preference for partners who carry different immunities than they do also disappears.  And men no longer exhibit shifting interest for women based on their menstrual cycle, perhaps because those cues signaling ovulation are no longer present, scientists say.”

Also, “There is accumulating evidence indicating men react differently to women when they are on birth control.  A 2004 study in the journal on Behavioral Ecology used the T-shirt study.  But instead put the shirts on 81 women.  A panel of 31 men, smelling the T-shirts, experienced the greatest attraction for the non-pill-using women when they were ovulating.  Twelve women on the panel didn’t detect any difference.”  (Limbaugh comments: “Basically, if this is true, the natural selection process of a woman wanting a traditionally masculine guy when she’s ovulating goes out the window.  Nothing to do with sexual orientation here.  But this, for example, could give rise to this whole notion of the metrosexual [a man who likes to shop, is in tune with fashion and appearance], if this is true.  That’s why if all of this is true, then it changes everything we know about our lives since when the pill became profligate in 1970.)

Take it… or leave it.  Limbaugh concludes, “It’s fascinating.  Now, you couple all this with the obvious role changes that militant feminism brought on, and it could explain a lot about general unhappiness, confusion, who’s supposed to be what that both sexes seem to exhibit.”

And, finally, another thought on the impact of hormonal birth control and how it affects women and men: “When the pill was approved for use in the U.S. in 1960,” said Limbaugh, “the divorce rate was less than 10%.  Over the two decades that followed, divorce rates climbed to over 20%.  So maybe it’s harder to stick it out in a marriage if the power of attraction wanes, and if the attraction wanes because the chemicals aren’t there that make it possible, well, that would explain a lot, too.”

Fascinating, don’t you think?

Men… women… not the same.  Dare we say created to be different, yet attracted to one another as part of the design… for a purpose.  Life.  Generations to come.  Hmmm.

But, what happens when we tamper with the design?

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