Too complicated to have any generalizations apply to you.

12 Jun

What is with this current attitude that someone or something is “too complicated” to have any generalizations or rules apply to them?  I see it all the time in discussion forums about personal relationships.  Do we live in a world where everyone is such a special snowflake that everyone falls outside the norm?

For example, divorce.  If someone on a discussion forum announces they’re getting divorced or thinking about it, and you chime in and say, “It’s better to stay together for the kids,” I guarantee you someone will jump down your throat insisting that it’s not your life, you don’t know all the details, and that relationships are “complicated” and therefore conventional wisdom does not apply.

Or how about obesity, particularly if you’re addressing evangelical women.  No one flies off the handle more than evangelical women if a man states that women are more attractive when they are thin.  A hullabaloo over this issue just went down at Boundless recently when one of their bloggers, Ted Slater, wrote a post and used the words “bouncing beach ball.”  His post was apparently so incendiary that it was deleted and replaced with a more “conciliatory” post by Candice Watters, who used the word “precious” every five seconds to remind fat girls that they deserve love, too, while insinuating that with enough prayer, a fat girl can find a man who will love her without demanding that she lose any weight.  To top it off, Ted then posted a new post apologizing for his cruel, thoughtless words.  And to think evangelical women complain that men don’t assume enough “leadership” these days.

Anyhow, in the comments of Candice’s new post, a few men piped up to agree with Ted’s original sentiments.  Naturally, these men got flayed alive by your typical assortment of Christian lashings, such as accusations of being unattractive, having a bad personality and/or mean spirit, and not speaking in love.  Several women insisted that obesity is not a personal failing and that you can never assume that someone loves cake more than a hot body just by looking at them.  The person could have complicated medical issues!*  Plus, well, it’s hard to be thin!  And chubby girls already feel a lot of despair about not having a boyfriend!  Good Christians pretend that other people are not fat, I guess.  Let’s keep fighting abortion instead!

Is this trend the result of the self-esteem culture and its resultant narcissism?  I think it might be.  But then, as the Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)

*I am definitely aware that sometimes a person is obese due to chemical or hormonal imbalances in the body, especially something like a thyroid problem.  But it is ludicrous to believe that the majority of the American public has a thyroid problem that’s causing the love handles, love saddlebags, or whatever you want to call them.

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28 Responses to “Too complicated to have any generalizations apply to you.”

  1. Josh June 14, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

    I’m glad to have found your blog! What a rarity – a Christian woman who openly discusses the hard truths of gender politics! Having spent some time looking through your archives, I think we are of similar mind.

    The Church often preaches to the ideal world, rather than the world that we live in. Certainly, the ideal Christian community would have godly men loving godly women based purely on their spiritual beauty. I don’t believe it is the Church’s role to preach practical tips on getting a man by enhancing your looks. The Christian standard is an aspirational one, exhorting believers to seek sanctification. But we live in a fallen world, and in the literal pursuit-of-the-flesh, expecting men to act like saints is a recipe for disappointment.

    Traditionally, teaching the practical craft of womanhood would fall to mothers and grandmothers, who would tell daughters to speak quietly, sit straight, and keep their legs closed. But this role has been more or less silenced by politically-correct culture.

    I don’t think women are unaware that looks matter. The billion-dollar fashion and cosmetic industry speaks otherwise. I think what outrages them is the temerity of men to say these things out loud, as if the spell would be broken.

    This leads to a greater point. Good Christian men find young, slim, physically-beautiful women attractive. Gisele Bundchen is attractive. Kate Beckinsale is attractive. For some reason, this is virtually a taboo statement, and men are forced to pretend that this is untrue. This corrodes the spirit of men, and makes men feel claustrophobic in church. Christian men are called to be noble and virtuous, not sexless and androgynous. Just because Jesus and Peter didn’t talk about women doesn’t mean that we should be ashamed to.

    Perhaps it takes an outsider to see this clearly. I grew up in a non-American church, where male initiative, competitive drive, and leadership were cultivated and appreciated. Now living in America, I actively fight against the eunuch-ization of Christian males within my bible study group and the church as a whole. Unsurprisingly, my chief ally is another male who also grew up elsewhere.

    American Christian men are in a bind because they only know their Christian tradition, and they are afraid to question any of it.

  2. Aunt Haley June 14, 2010 at 10:56 pm #

    Hi, Josh, glad to have you aboard! If you didn’t grow up in an American church, are you by chance an MK?

    But we live in a fallen world, and in the literal pursuit-of-the-flesh, expecting men to act like saints is a recipe for disappointment.

    I think expecting men to act in opposition to their God-created nature is a recipe for disappointment. Should men be let off the hook for leering at women or trying to have sex with as many women as possible? No, because God always intended sexuality, like any other appetite, to be harnessed for man’s good. But asking men to pretend that they find fat girls attractive if they don’t is ridiculous.

    Also, I don’t think women are unaware that looks matter. I think they just don’t know or are unwilling to acknowledge just how much they matter. I think women look around and see plain and/or fat women who are married and say to themselves, “Well, at least I wear makeup, so why don’t I have a boyfriend?” But I would venture a guess that most fat married women weren’t fat when they got married and their husbands, because they love their wives, are tolerating the fat.

  3. Josh June 15, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    To answer your question – no, I am not an MK (I had to look up what MK meant!), but I have had a similarly nomadic childhood.

    The Bible can be stunningly practical in gender politics. The trick marriage of Leah to Jacob, the seduction of Boaz by Ruth, Esther’s cries before the king. But I do believe the Bible does call us to seek higher callings. We should not make idols of physical beauty. Yet, at the same time, we should not be ashamed of it. We readily admit that a well-cooked steak is superior to a burned slab of meatloaf. Yet we cannot say that a lithe young woman in a flowing summer dress is more pleasing to the eye than an oppressively-dressed obese woman. Both are pleasures of the flesh, yet we treat them differently.

    Why? Well obviously, one deals with food, the other with humans, God’s loved and chosen children. As a Christian male, I have to be careful not to treat those I am not physically attracted to with less respect or kindness. We are equals before God. But I am given choice over whom I will woo and marry. And in this task, I should not have to pretend that the meatloaf is equal to the steak.

  4. Josh June 15, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    Your blog is just a gold mine! A wave of anger washed over me when you mentioned Fireproof in one of your previous posts.

    That movie neatly encapsulates what I dislike most about the American Christian church. It is pure female wish-fulfillment. The woman does whatever she wants and suffers no consequence. The man, incredibly, reacts by total capitulation to her every demand. This is terrible advice. A man who reacts that way will lose whatever shred of respect she may have had for him.

    Even worse, Christian men are forced to watch that movie and simply nod along, or even “participate” in conversation about how that was admirable and Christian, and they die a little inside. I walked out of the room halfway through the first time they showed it. When friends asked me later why I did that, I made my displeasure known.

    I was slightly surprised to see that this little protest did not harm womens’ estimation of me, but probably helped it. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised at all.

  5. Ben June 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    “No one flies off the handle more than evangelical women if a man states that women are more attractive when they are thin.”

    I have noticed this as well although I try not to bring up the topic often. I think it goes beyond just weight to all aspects of the Politically Correct for a Christian world view.

    For instance, I recently got into a discussion which included several Christian women about polygamy in the Bible. The women got extremely upset by my assertion that a couple passages in the Bible did not condemn polygamy.

    I think that this may be because Christian women identify with marriage so much. They take everything extremely personally. Nothing can be abstract or hypothetical everything feels to them as if they personally must do it. I think how they heard me speaking was “I’m going to go out and marry fifty women” or “you will have to share your husband with four other women.”

    I think non-Christian women don’t identify with marriage as strongly or make it such a focal point of their lives, so they can be more detached from the concept.

  6. Rebekah June 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    I think it’s appropriate for women to acknowledge that men desire something that is beautiful — just as long as this enlightenment and acknowledgment goes both ways.

    Women have the tendency to desire money, comfort, and status over mediocrity. Women also tend to desire men who have the ability to communicate effectively. It’s funny to me that as soon as a woman has standards about what she prefers, she’s always being too picky and shallow. It seems to damage the male ego that women are judging men just harshly or more so than men judge women. I think there are a number of double-standards at work, actually.

    It’s sad that as a human being, not to mention a Christian, that one would ever struggle with kindness to another. It’s kind of like a woman blowing of a guy because he doesn’t make enough money or drive the right car.

  7. Will S. June 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    The thing is, Rebekah, back when men were the sole providers, it made a lot of sense for a woman to be focused on the ability of a man to be a good provider as a husband, because if he wasn’t, she and any kids they’d have would suffer.

    However, now that women generally also work outside the home, it makes less sense for women to be quite so focused on such matters – not that I’m arguing that women should go for mediocre men who are lazy layabouts, or that men shouldn’t have aspirations towards improving themselves and their lot in life – but, the hypergamous instincts of a woman who can already provide well enough for herself, make little sense, and do indeed, at the very least, appear to stem from a desire for enhanced status and a desire for even greater material comfort and wealth, despite already likely having a fair degree of such. As a Christian, I’m not convinced by the evolutionist arguments that female hypergamy is hard-wired; I suspect it’s largely cultural, and a learned behaviour. It makes sense to unlearn it now, because it isn’t necessary for families with two breadwinners; far more important, IMO (as long as a man is reasonably self-sufficient and not going to be a leech off any woman he marries), should be things like: how godly he is, what kind of parent he might make, whether his parents are tolerable, etc. As Christians, should not these matters of character be more important in a two-income-family society? In a time of economic difficulties and uncertainties, where a man who in better times would have no problem finding decent work in his chosen field, may now find himself out of such work, and having to take whatever he can get, even if that’s of a nature and pay level way below what he’s capable of and trained for, if a woman is fortunate enough to have a good job, should she turn down a man who has decent potential but currently bad ‘luck’, and who has good character more importantly, just because he’s going through hard times at present? I speak from personal experience; I’ve faced difficult times, where I’ve been unemployed, or working at jobs I could have done right after high school, despite having a post-secondary education; at present, thankfully, I am blessed with a very good job, with a great income, and potential for the long-term. But I’m the same person now that I was when I was going through harder times, except back then, I was judged, I am sure, on my then-current circumstances, rather than other factors, or my future potential. I don’t have any ego issues, but I certainly know some women who do.

    The problem with many Christian young women I’ve met is a high degree of pickiness; most have displayed a high degree of the hypergamy instinct, as well as having lists of criteria for any men who might date them, with superficial, unimportant things like “he has to play a musical instrument”, and other such foolishness (seriously; I overheard a conversation between two girls at a church I used to attend, about their “must-haves” in men). Such women will die alone, if they don’t outgrow their foolishness, and will deserve to, frankly, esp. if there’s been no shortage of would-be suitors, but they’ve turned their nose up at all of them.

  8. Will S. June 15, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    I will not see Fireproof, despite many people I know recommending it, from everything I’ve heard about it, it sounds way misandrist. (In a recent blog discussion, several people who’d seen it confirmed my suspicions. http://tinyurl.com/fireproofmisandry )

    Disgusting and sickening that evangelicalism laps this stuff up.

  9. vasafaxa June 15, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    I know a good number of women who are larger, not talking obese here, but perhaps a point or two over the BMI range, or at the high end of what’s considered “normal”, probably most people would consider these people “average” because of the fact the spectrum is skewed toward obesity, but men still prefer much skinnier girls to them. That said they do excersize and eat well- better than me — but I am skinny and they are pretty far from the term slender. I don’t think it’s fair to blame this set. That said for the truly obese, there needs to be a reality check.

  10. Rebekah June 16, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    I appreciate your viewpoint, Will.

    “back when men were the sole providers, it made a lot of sense for a woman to be focused on the ability of a man to be a good provider as a husband, because if he wasn’t, she and any kids they’d have would suffer.
    However, now that women generally also work outside the home, it makes less sense for women to be quite so focused on such matters”

    To say this, we would also have to say:

    Back when the woman’s primary job was to give birth to children and care for the home, it made a lot of sense for men to pick the most young, fertile woman with whom to procreate. But now that women make more money and provide well, they should be valued for other things like their intelligence and what kind of job they have, not how they look. And for that matter, in places where there has been overpopulation and crowding for generations, the desire for men to procreate with young, fertile women should have diminished.

    If we can come from the premise that men just can’t help it that they love beautiful women, we must also be able to come from a premise that women just can’t help but to select men based on their provider (or perceived provider) capabilities.

    I don’t shame men for their preferences, but women should not be held to a different standard as human beings for what they prefer.

    As far as I know, women are the only ones out of the pair who can carry a baby for nine months, breastfeed it for several months after that, and still share a high percentage in the general care given to the child. Given this natural role, it would still make sense to select men who are already good providers and demonstrate the capability to care for her and her children should she not be able to work, as further insurance her young will survive.

    Working outside of the home is only what some women may choose to do, but I would think most realize if they want to have children, a good provider husband is important since women are the ones having the children.

    If the desire to select a good provider mate is not pre-wired, then neither is the desire to have a young, beautiful, thin wife. If the desire to have the best possible for her offspring to ensure the fittest and best survival is a learned behavior, then so is the preference for young, thin, beautiful women.

    If a woman should be content only with matters of character: Godly, what type of parent the potential spouse will be, etc. then the man should be content with no more than this.

    Or, we can just agree that most women seek out tall, rich, powerful, successful men, and most men seek out young, thin, beautiful women — or at least people who give the impression of power, youth, etc. Both men AND women should have the freedom to express these preferences without fear of shame and ridicule.

    Again, I have no problem with the preferences, only the fact that there seems to be a double standard on who’s allowed to have them.

    Personally, I find the way a man treats other people to be a key factor in how a categorize him — and we all do this subconsciously at least — above all else. I constantly and quietly observe people around me, and the men who act with graciousness and confidence always catch my eye (obviously barring horrible deformities).

    Usually people who feel they are too attractive or important to be kind to people…aren’t. And it’s obvious to people who really are.

  11. Aunt Haley June 16, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    Rebekah, I agree that men often accuse women of being too picky when in fact they may not be. Usually it’s the woman’s friends and relatives telling the woman that the man is no good – how dare they! I would say that in general, if the majority of important figures in the woman’s life are telling her that a relationship with a specific man is not a good idea, they’re probably right. Obviously, the quality of the claim varies with the quality of those making the claim, but there is often truth in consensus.

    Of course, if a woman is refusing to date a man simply on the basis of the type of car he drives, then she’s not worth dating in the first place. But most women aren’t so narrow in their criteria.

  12. Aunt Haley June 16, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    I know the body type you’re talking about. For some people, their body type limits how much “good” exercise and eating right can do; they just wouldn’t look right if they became actually slender. In general, the best thing any woman can do is just take care of her body. As long as you look like you care about your body and your grooming, there’s usually going to be someone who will find you attractive, although he may not be as easy to find as for a naturally thinner girl.

    The type of girl I’m targeting in this post is the truly obese girl, along with girls who are carrying 15 or so extra pounds just because they refuse to change their eating or exercise habits – the kind who are attractive enough that you can tell they have pretty faces, but their love of cake is getting in the way.

  13. Aunt Haley June 16, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    Hi, Ben. I don’t think I’ve seen you comment here before, so welcome.

    I think there are a few reasons that Christian girls take marriage so seriously, which is maybe something that I’ll address in a future post. One of the most salient to your comment is simply that Christian women, especially young ones, tend not to have very good senses of humor. They like to laugh, but within the confines of topics of Christian acceptability, and wit/sarcasm are not big sources of humor. Young Christian women in general are very idealistic as well; everything is life or death, a high or a low, a matter of eternal salvation or damnation. So being flippant or blase about something as ~sacred~ and ~God-ordained~ as marriage is seen as sacrelige rather than a mere recitation of fact. (Such women have probably also been trained that “the world” is constantly attacking marriage and that they need to be on their guard as marriage warriors 24/7.)

  14. Aunt Haley June 16, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Re: Fireproof – I have commented on this topic elsewhere, but maybe it’s worth revisiting here. As you could probably guess based on the other posts in this blog, I wasn’t impressed with it as either a morality tale or as a film. I mean, for most people, you would think the words “Kirk Cameron movie” would be enough of a clue, but….

    What really irked me around the time of the movie’s release was the insistence of Christian organizations (well, at least Focus on the Family) that you more or less had to see and support the movie, or else you were a bad Christian who had been brainwashed by Evil Hollywood. I remember Ted Slater (he of “bouncing beach ball” infamy) unleashing his holy ire against those who dared to express that they didn’t like the movie. But that mindset sort of encapsulates a trend in evangelicalism that we are obligated to like mediocre work if it’s made with good Christian intentions.

  15. Josh June 16, 2010 at 11:08 am #

    I don’t mind the highly selective nature of church-going Christian women. But the key question is – is the prize worth the chase?

    The church environment is inherently selective, and it acts as a very strong filter that weeds men who cannot gain social status within the church. My frustrations with the church should be clear above – it can be a spirit-killing place for any man with a backbone – but ultimately the church keeps the “bad ones” at bay and gives the “good ones” a second chance. If you are dating a woman from another church, it takes huge amounts of self-confidence to talk to a phalanx of strangers, young and old, male and female, who have known her all her life.

    To be respected as a single male at church, you must, at minimum, be able to dress tactfully, speak politely, not embarrass yourself over lunch, and generally refrain from crude behavior for extended periods of time. Beyond that, you should have a decent level of financial self-sufficiency, confidence, and spiritual maturity. Game (as promoted in various places online) would fail, as it simply cannot withstand the concentrated scrutiny of a densely-connected social network.

    This is fine by me. I like those odds. My only question to women is this – the Church environment is already selective for men, and there are many more single women then men. Half of the remaining single men are (I’ll admit it) shy and limp-wristed. Why do you deserve to get one of the good ones?

  16. Josh June 16, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    It is pre-wired. I’m not sure what the official stance of the PCA (my church denom) is, but evolutionary psychology has shown itself to be quite good at explaining human behavior.

    Men are wired to chase women who shown signs of health and fertility. Women are wired to seek the children of dominant males, and seek the protection of a dependable provider. The two do not have to be the same man. This is human nature. As Christians, we should constantly seek to rise above the flesh, but it would be foolish to ignore or deny its reality.

    I agree that how someone treats other people is a very good indicator of personality. The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It is easy to have one or a few of these traits, it is difficult to have all of them simultaneously. A man or women who displays these traits, equally, consistently, to everyone he or she meets is clearly has the Spirit living in him or her.

  17. Will S. June 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    As you admit, though, women still have to bear children, so whether consciously choosing or not, men are still going to seek women who are younger precisely because the chances of fertility are better. And it is precisely because women can bear children, and men cannot, that such a “double standard” is not really unfair; after all, it’s God’s plan to make male fertility not so dependent on the clock, while female fertility is. Indeed, I would value a woman who is able to bring something to the table financially, as Proverbs 31 holds up as an ideal. But I will avoid women who are close in age to me, as by that time, they will be much less likely to be fertile. I don’t even care if that’s hard-wired or not; I even make that choice consciously.
    And looks are less important to me than youth, because the ability to have children is independent of whether a woman is a plain Jane or a supermodel – but the closer she is to menopause, the less likely she is to easily conceive.

    But indeed, character, and, as Josh reminds us, demonstrating the gifts of the Spirit, certainly should be utmost in importance for both sexes.

  18. Rebekah June 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    “it is precisely because women can bear children, and men cannot, that such a “double standard” is not really unfair.”

    I fail to see how a woman’s ability to bear children makes the double standard fair.

    As I said before, if it’s hardwired for men to seek out women who are the best able to reproduce, then it’s hardwired in women to seek out the best provider for those children.

    For men to bemoan the fact they were skipped over for a taller, richer, more powerful, man — and then to judge and label women with biological preferences — seems a little strange to me when the same men may declare strict preferences for age, size, and looks in women.

    Proverbs 31 also mentions that charm and beauty are fleeting, but women who fear God are the ones to be praised. I haven’t read it in a while, but I think it also mentions her husband being an elder at the city gate — hints at prestige, and not too shabby of a guy, sounds like.

  19. Rebekah June 16, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    “A man or women who displays these traits, equally, consistently, to everyone he or she meets is clearly has the Spirit living in him or her.”

    I must say, this was wonderful. Certainly a great standard at which to aim. As much as I try, I’m sure I fall short.

  20. Aunt Haley June 17, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Gotta side with Rebekah on this one. God hard-wired men one way and women another, and calling out the other side for shallowness just for acting in accordance with their God-given programming just ain’t solid.

    Also, Will, you’ve mentioned before on this blog that you’re looking for a Fertile Myrtle, and that in and of itself is fine, but every time you repeat the claim, you come closer to sounding snobby about refusing to even consider, say, a woman 30 or older. (Also, if looks are less important to you than youth, then it should be much easier for you to find a spouse, Y/Y? As they say, every day more girls turn 18….)

  21. Will S. June 17, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    Well, I don’t think there will be any sort of agreement reached between myself and others on these matters we’ve discussed, because we start from different premises. Nevertheless, I feel the need to articulate why I believe as I do.

    I have no doubt that the propensity of men to find women who have certain physical characteristics, attractive, is biologically hard-wired – just as the propensity of women to find men who have certain physical characteristics, attractive, is also biologically hard-wired. There is a reason why both men and women tend to be more attracted to those of the opposite sex who are relatively slimmer, and not overweight, and who are relatively youthful in appearance (and “cuteness” has been more or less recognized as juvenility in facial features; more curvature in cheeks, less angularity, hence the term of endearment “babyface”, etc.); and, correspondingly, people of both sexes are generally less attracted to those of the opposite sex who are overweight, or show more signs of aging – wrinkles, baldness or greying hair, etc. And so both sexes have certain standards of beauty, in terms of what they find attractive, which are likely hard-wired. There is a reason why there exist people who’ve become famous to a fair extent largely because of their looks (i.e. the ‘beautiful people’ of Hollywood, of both sexes).

    But I’m not convinced that the propensity of women to be more attracted, in terms of mate selection, to a man who appears that he would be a good provider, is as equally biologically hard-wired, as the general attraction of members of both sexes to someone of the opposite sex who is fit and relatively youthful in appearance. It is surely too rational a course of action to be merely instinctual; it seems intuitive to me, at least, that it’s culturally based, and, as I’ve said, not without reason; it makes a fair degree of sense. Indeed, since it may happen, that a man with a decent job and good character may not necessarily be the most handsome or fit (say, if he doesn’t take as good care of his body as he should), if he nevertheless manages to land a wife, in spite of not being the ultimate in male attractiveness, it would likely be because his wife found his ideal-mate qualities outweighed his lower-level-of-overall-physical-attractiveness. Since we can’t help who it is we find physically attractive, but we can decide, if we wish, surely, how much of a level that plays in our decision-making in terms of mate selection, it seems reasonable to me to conclude that in such a scenario as the one I’ve described, a rational choice has overruled natural inclinations. And we’ve all seen men who are well off, who have married women far above their own attractiveness level.

    Now, I’m not suggesting that women are always more rational (whether consciously or subconsciously) than men in their mate selection; far from it; indeed, the existence of popular musicians’ “groupies” show that, absent moral constraints, women will also act more in general accordance with traits like physical attractiveness, and especially charisma (which “bad boys” have in spades, despite not necessarily being great providers, or ideal fathers, or faithful in their vows). But the fact that women, just like men, have preferences in terms of physical attractiveness as regards members of the opposite sex, yet generally, traditionally, in terms of mate-selection have seemed to place relatively less emphasis than men on the importance of such, in comparison to other characteristics (ability to provide; personality; sense of humour, and others), indicates to me that men are generally more following their biological hard-wiring, whilst women are more generally transcending it. There is a reason why, surely, that traditionally, men have placed less importance on their physical appearance than women – simply because men have valued women’s appearances more than women have valued men’s appearances.

    Thus, I’m convinced that positing that men’s emphasis (in terms of degree of importance in mate selection) on female attractiveness as functionally equivalent to women’s emphasis (in terms of degree of importance in mate selection) on provider potentiality, is a case of false moral equivalence, tempting as such may be from an egalitarian point of view. But, while women’s role in society may have partially changed since the days of our grandmothers and earlier generations (when most women were housewives), in terms of entering the workforce and providing for themselves and/or their families economically, since the one thing that hasn’t changed is the biological fact that women bear children and men don’t, men’s still placing the greather emphasis, in terms of mate selection, on women’s appearance (subconsciously seeing youthfulness as a sign of fertility, etc.), is as rational as it ever was (or not, if taken too far, since obviously looks are not the only thing that matters), whilst women’s continued emphasis on the ability of men to be providers, given that women are now providing for themselves, and that we have maternity leave, and social assistance for single mothers (should they end up deserted), is less rational (unless they actually wish to be a SAHM / housewife) – even if it still comes ‘naturally’ to them.

    BTW, I never said that it was shallowness for either sex to act as they traditionally have; all I’m saying is that while it may make sense for one sex to continue acting as they always have (given the unchanged circumstance of human biology), it may not make sense for the other to do so (given the changed circumstances of our society). That may seem unfair, but life often does; why should these matters be any different? (If you don’t like how society has changed, blame the feminists for agitating for social change, and/or blame your grandmothers for, after being Rosie the Riveter in WWII, not returning home when the boys came home; if you don’t like how we were created or hard-wired, well, you’ll have to take that up with God. Either way, don’t blame me; I didn’t make things as they are. I’m just calling it as I see it. Personally, I prefer a society of working dads and SAHMs, like we used to have; with men and women being more as they used to be in all things. But that world is gone, alas.)

  22. Rebekah June 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    “people of both sexes are generally less attracted to those of the opposite sex who are overweight, or show more signs of aging – wrinkles, baldness or greying hair, etc”

    You couldn’t be more wrong. I am considerably more attracted to men in their late 40’s and early 50’s. Regarding gray hair: the grayer the better.

    “indeed, the existence of popular musicians’ “groupies” show that, absent moral constraints, women will also act more in general accordance with traits like physical attractiveness”

    Groupies exist because of the status-level of the musician. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are not exactly the epitome of beauty.

    “That may seem unfair, but life often does; why should these matters be any different? if you don’t like how we were created or hard-wired, well, you’ll have to take that up with God”

    I don’t find it to be unfair at all. Many women have strict guidelines for qualifying men and vice versa; this leaves plenty of both men and women sans partner. Really I feel the setup is more unfair to men because they have much more to qualify. And I have absolutely no problem with how we are hardwired. That was kind of my point.

  23. Aunt Haley June 17, 2010 at 10:02 pm #

    Will, it sounds like you are advocating that women make choices opposed to their biological programming because their social circumstances have made such choices less mandatory to survival. Which may be a rational argument, but…

    You could make exactly the same argument against men’s continuing desire to bed luscious young women: medical advances and overall increased health and wealth have made it much less necessary for a woman to show traditional outward signs of fertility, so men shouldn’t be so picky about a woman’s looks. But I don’t see you advocating that.

    Just as not all men are wealthy enough to afford the medical techniques that enhance and prolong a woman’s fertility, not all women are wealthy enough not to need or depend on men. So that puts us back at square one – that desires are hard-wired and no amount of social change can change the wiring.

  24. Aunt Haley June 17, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Gotta agree with Rebekah once again – wrinkles, baldness, and graying hair are not necessarily turn-offs, if they belong to an otherwise healthy-looking man. For example, actor Patrick Stewart is bald, but that hasn’t prevented him from garnering tons of female fans. And there are many women who love the silver foxes (think Anderson Cooper, John Slattery), not to mention the substantial number of actors who are graying (like George Clooney).

    Age in and of itself is not a turn-off to most women, especially if the women aren’t very young. Being “old,” however, is.

  25. cleared in hot June 18, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    And we’ve all seen men who are well off, who have married women far above their own attractiveness level.

    Right data, wrong conclusion, Will.

    women will also act more in general accordance with traits like physical attractiveness, and especially charisma (which “bad boys” have in spades, despite not necessarily being great providers, or ideal fathers, or faithful in their vows)

    Rebekah is right about this: Groupies exist because of the status-level of the musician. Charismatic people exude the self-confidence that trips a women’s status sensors. This introvert suddenly found his wife (and dozens of adoring teenage girl fans) when he joined a rock-style worship band at a large church in a prominent position.

    “Bad boys” have independence and dominance. To a woman, they are the equivalent of a man’s really hot, sexy girl (but who doesn’t have any character or morals). You’re still attracted at a base level, and sometimes people go with it despite the fact that they know they should know better.

    But the fact that women, just like men, have preferences in terms of physical attractiveness as regards members of the opposite sex, yet generally, traditionally, in terms of mate-selection have seemed to place relatively less emphasis than men on the importance of such, in comparison to other characteristics (ability to provide; personality; sense of humour, and others), indicates to me that men are generally more following their biological hard-wiring, whilst women are more generally transcending it.

    Again…right observation, wrong conclusion. The reason women “place relatively less emphasis than men” on physical attractiveness isn’t because they’ve somehow “transcended” it. It’s because physical attractiveness is less important. Less important than status and dominance, which is at the top of their list.

  26. cleared in hot June 18, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    Sorry for the previous comment, apparently my blockquote tags got eaten. Let’s try something different…

    And we’ve all seen men who are well off, who have married women far above their own attractiveness level.

    Right data, wrong conclusion, Will.

    women will also act more in general accordance with traits like physical attractiveness, and especially charisma (which “bad boys” have in spades, despite not necessarily being great providers, or ideal fathers, or faithful in their vows)

    Rebekah is right about this: Groupies exist because of the status-level of the musician. Charismatic people exude the self-confidence that trips a women’s status sensors. This introvert suddenly found his wife (and dozens of adoring teenage girl fans) when he joined a rock-style worship band at a large church in a prominent position.

    “Bad boys” have independence and dominance. To a woman, they are the equivalent of a man’s really hot, sexy girl (but who doesn’t have any character or morals). You’re still attracted at a base level, and sometimes people go with it despite the fact that they know they should know better.

    But the fact that women, just like men, have preferences in terms of physical attractiveness as regards members of the opposite sex, yet generally, traditionally, in terms of mate-selection have seemed to place relatively less emphasis than men on the importance of such, in comparison to other characteristics (ability to provide; personality; sense of humour, and others), indicates to me that men are generally more following their biological hard-wiring, whilst women are more generally transcending it.

    Again…right observation, wrong conclusion. The reason women “place relatively less emphasis than men” on physical attractiveness isn’t because they’ve somehow “transcended” it. It’s because physical attractiveness is less important. Less important than status and dominance, which is at the top of their list.

  27. Aunt Haley June 18, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    For some reason this layout’s code doesn’t recognize the blockquote tag in the comments. Italics are the way to go.

  28. Jennifer August 19, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    “And to think evangelical women complain that men don’t assume enough “leadership” these days”

    Using terms like “bouncing beach balls” is cruel and a pathetic example of “leadership” there are so many better ways to address the issue of attraction that it’s not funny. Candace’s response was also way over the top. What we need to do? Remind folks to keep themselves in good shape. What we don’t need to do? Act like overweight people can’t have good and good-looking spouses; BS, disproved over and over.

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