Which is fine.
But if you’re going to tell teleological “just-so” stories about human behaviour, then you could at least make an effort, and try to maintain a degree of internal consistency. Today yet another puddle of ropey evolutionary psychology splashed onto the news pages.
“Women walk more sexily when they are at their least fertile,” say the Telegraph, reporting on a study where men rated the sexiness of women’s walks. The finding, I’m sure, is valid (here is the original paper), but it’s the explanation I’d be dubious about.
Becase there’s always an answer with evolutionary psychologists, whether they’re giving a tidy reductionist explanation about Pink for girls and Blue for boys, or confidently announcing that in the future, all men will have big willies.
So how does Dr Meghan Provost, evolutionary psychologist of Mount Saint Vincent University in Nova Scotia, wriggle out of the counterintuitive finding that women are most hot when they are least fertile?
The Daily Mail pick up the thread: “The apparently contradictory finding – which belies earlier evidence that women’s behaviour becomes more alluring around the time of ovulation – amounts to an evolutionary con-trick on men, scientists said yesterday.”
“Genuine signals of sexual availability, such as subtle changes in smell and facial expressions, can be detected only close up.” The Times continue (the papers absolutely love this stuff): “If she flaunts herself too openly at fertile times, she could be made pregnant by an unsuitable man,”
Fine. Neat. Perfect. Everything fits when you find your hypothesis in your results.
So maybe someone can explain to me how this finding is consistent with this paper from 2006 on how women “drrrress to impress” when they’re fertile?
Or how it fits in with these findings from the current edition of the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, showing that lapdancers tips are at their highest when the stripper is ovulating.
Maybe a sexy walk is too obvious? Maybe lapdancing in arousing clothing is “a genuine signal of sexual availability, such as subtle changes in smell and facial expressions, which can be detected only close up.”
I’ll have to let my girlfriend know.