Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jealous competition

A study confirms common sense: Women see sexy women as competition and adopt a competitive attitude.

Elizabeth Daniels, assistant professor of psychology, studies the relationship between the media and girls’ body image. She conducted the project by creating two identical Facebook profiles for the fictitious Amanda Johnson, with one crucial difference: Hot Mandy’s picture featured her in a split-thigh red dress (garter and all), while Responsible Mandy’s photo saw her wearing jeans and a tee, with a scarf covering her breasts. Suffice to say, the lady in the red dress did not impress her female peers. Sensible, cleavage-free Amanda was responded to far more positively.

They talked down “Hot Mandy’s” abilities, because they know in a head-to-head competition on first contact with a man, she will be preferred over them. They lose the beauty contest, so they dig in and plant the seeds that she is an unsuitable relationship prospect—which isn’t a bad strategy, if the man is indeed looking for a relationship. If he’s not, then her ability, or lack thereof, to do anything matters little to him.

If men are looking for a relationship, if they’re looking for marriage, beauty becomes less of a factor in their decision-making, and the sexual marketplace is fairer to all women, although never completely level. A conservative sexual ethic, it turns out, is beneficial to women.

I’d like to see the same study done with married women, just to see if the women who react more jealously are still married to the same man 20 years later. My instinct says the correlation would be strong between lesser degree of jealousy and length of marriage. Women in satisfying and secure marriages don’t worry as much about competition from other women.

Looks matter to women, as a trait to attract men. Status matters to men, as a trait to attract women.

Men’s jealousiess are less publicized because, for women, since looks are often superficial, sexy women are easier to humble. For men it’s futile to talk down a sexy man’s status. Energy is better invested towards enhancing one’s own status.

You could run the same study with men, where one picture is a man on a yacht drinking champagne, or attending a boxing match scowling like a bad-ass, and the other is a man sitting at a desk.

I’m not jealous of the guy pecking at his keyboard. I’m jealous of Ray Liotta! When I see him cozy up to a model half his age, all kinds of thoughts run through my head, not least of which is: What’s he doing that I should be doing?

Resist that temptation. It’s a fabricated image intended to produce an unfulfilled desire, which is appeased by buying something to make one more attractive, or marketable.

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