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Equality doing well

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Xenia Sun 09-Sep-12 09:08:17

Lovely to see improvements and fairness between men and women. I am of course an optimist but this bears it out from The Times today:

Look at her lobes: men now prefer brains to curves
Jonathan Leake Published: 9 September 2012

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Tamara Mellon: she has a fortune of £85m Tamara Mellon has a fortune of £85m (D Dipasupil)

WOMEN may find the idea incredible, but modern men are learning to value them for their intelligence and character rather than curvy looks and cooking skills, scientists have found.

In western societies where women and men have equal rights, men’s traditional obsession with the appearance of a potential partner is in sharp decline, the researchers claim.

“We found that in societies like Britain, or especially Scandinavia, men place increasing value on other qualities, like intelligence, rather than curvy figures or skill at cooking,” said Marcel Zentner of York University’s psychology department.

For men, however, the news may not be so good. Zentner’s study showed that in more equal societies women show the opposite trend, attaching far more importance to men’s looks.

“Traditionally, women prefer wealthy men who have an ability to invest resources in any children,” said Zentner. “What we found was that as women become more equal this preference declines but men’s looks become much more important.”

The study comes as British women are doing better than ever. In business Tamara Mellon, who amassed a fortune of £85m from the sale of her share in the Jimmy Choo shoe label, typifies a new brand of female entrepreneur.

In sport, female Olympians such as Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton have become at least as well known as their male counterparts.

In the study, published in the journal Psychological Science, Zentner and Klaudia Mitura surveyed about 12,000 people in more than 30 countries, asking respondents to describe what they valued in a potential partner.

The answers were correlated with the global gender gap index, the World Economic Forum’s system for comparing levels of inequality among countries.

The index, covering work and educational opportunities, health and political empowerment in 135 countries, shows Iceland is the best country to be a working woman. The UK came 16th — behind most of Europe but above America and Canada.

Zentner stressed that his study did not mean men’s focus on looks and women’s enthusiasm for wealth would disappear. “It is a shift in emphasis, not a reversal.”

The York study is, however, likely to spark an academic row because it contradicts one of evolutionary psychology’s key theories — that men’s and women’s mate preferences are “hard wired” into the brain by evolution and so should hardly change at all.

Under this theory, beauty is simply a way for men to assess a woman’s potential fertility — a reasonable assumption as attractive people are also likely to be healthy, young and fertile.

Similarly, for women, wealth in men demonstrates a potential partner’s ability to accumulate resources.

Evolutionary theory suggests that as women can only have a limited number of children, they would be bound to seek out the men best able to provide for them.

Zentner and Mitura’s findings indicate that as society becomes more equal, men and women may be able to shed much of this “evolutionary baggage”.

Zentner said: “Our study suggests that increases in gender equality in the society around us can also change the way we think about the opposite sex. Men can relax about having to build up wealth but may benefit from looking after their looks a little more.”

MiniTheMinx Sun 09-Sep-12 21:25:03

Well isn't that great, capitalism needs new areas to exploit perhaps we will see men waxing themselves to within an inch of their lives and spending all their spare times fretting about their looks. Perhaps we will see men investing their borrowings on plastic surgery.

Just goes to prove that the patriarchy is after all rich white men.

Xenia Mon 10-Sep-12 09:13:13

Certainly I delight in the fact men may be worrying more about how they look as that evens things out.

It is great research because it shows new equality and the progress of women and also that women are not now just looking for men who can support them and that many will earn more than men so traditional issues such as does he look good gets more important than he has a massive beer gut and no hair but very rich so iIwill tolerate the physically disgusting appearance.

MiniTheMinx Mon 10-Sep-12 13:14:02

It's amazing how materialism can alter the course of history and how it shapes human behaviour. I remember a thread a few months ago ( about stay at homes, remember the red Indians grin)when I pointed out to you Xenia that historical materialism explains human behaviour and evolution. I wonder if the progeny of these wealthy women and stunning men will start to be better looking! will material forces really alter the way people look? of course not but environmental factors, diet and climate will, which is why this is not such good news after all IMO.

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