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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:13 pm 
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From The Sunday Times
January 31, 2010
One day, girls, you will laugh at this
Chris Gourlay and Chris Hastings

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Shazia Mirza says men will laugh at anything. Al Murray's pub landlord character has been described as using 'hostile humour'

WOMEN use more brain power and take longer than men to understand jokes but derive more pleasure from a good punchline, according to scientists.

Experiments at Stanford University in California found that women use more parts of the brain than men to process jokes and have less expectation that they will find them funny. The findings are part of an emerging body of research helping scientists to unravel the mystery of how our sense of humour works.

Advances in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology have allowed researchers to monitor how men and women respond to humour differently by observing their brain activity. In one Stanford study, 10 women and 10 men were placed in an fMRI scanner and shown 70 black-and-white cartoons on a screen. They pressed buttons to indicate how amusing they found each joke. The scanner measured the subjects" brain activity as they viewed both funny and unfunny cartoons, as well as timing how long it took them to respond to a joke.

The experiments found that women displayed more intense activity than men in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which controls language interpretation and in-depth analytical processes. They took slightly longer to react to jokes that were funny, but enjoyed the punchlines more. Researchers, however, said the time difference was marginal.

Professor Allan Reiss, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford, who led the study, said the findings indicated that women preferred more sophisticated humour and used more complex brain functions to process it. "Our findings fit the stereotype of how men and women react to humour," said Reiss. "We found greater activity in the prefrontal cortex in women, indicating women are processing stimuli that involve language areas of the brain. "The interpretation of that finding is that women tend to respond more to word play and narrative than slapstick.

"The scans also indicate that women have a lower expectation that they will find jokes funny — but when they do, they experience a greater degree of reward. Men have the opposite response. They show more activation of nucleus accumbens [the part of the brain involved in reward and pleasure], indicating they expect to get the joke — but when they don"t they get more depressed."

Reiss is now conducting similar tests on children to determine whether gender differences in humour are biological and genetic or nurtured through experience. There are also differences in the way men and women use humour in social situations. According to Rod Martin, a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, men are far more likely to use "hostile" humour to criticise each other and establish dominance — as seen in Al Murray"s pub landlord character — while women use humour to maintain relationships and put others at ease.

Kathy Lette, the writer and broadcaster, said: "Women tend to be more honest in their response to a joke. If they don"t understand the punchline, they will say so. Men will laugh even if they don"t get it. They don"t want to appear left out. "If I"m at dinner and a woman says something funny, the men there won"t laugh at all. Five minutes later, a man will say the same thing and they will all be in hysterics."

Shazia Mirza, the stand-up comedian, said: "You don"t need research to tell you that women are more sophisticated. I"ve noticed from working the clubs that men will laugh at almost anything. You only have to make a joke about a fart and a man will laugh."

Gender gags

Bloke joke A tramp knocks at the door of a smart house, looking for odd jobs. "Tell you what," says the owner, "take this can of red paint and paint the porch. You"ll find it at the side of the house." After an hour, the tramp knocks on the door again. "I finished the job," he says, handing back the can and gratefully accepting £20. "But you made a mistake — it"s not a porch, it"s a Mercedes."

Female friendly Jean-Paul Sartre, the French existentialist, is sitting in a cafe in Paris. "Can I get you something, Monsieur Sartre?" says the waitress. "Coffee, please," he says. "Sugar, but no cream." She leaves him to think, but returns a few moments later. "I"m sorry," she says. "We have no cream. Should I make your coffee with no milk instead?"

Source: Times Online UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:09 am 
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Why men never know what women want

According to a new survey, men don't know certain crucial details about their wives. Jasper Gerard reports.

By Jasper Gerard
10 February 2010

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Helen Hunt and Mel Gibson in What Women Want Photo: ICON FILMS

Yesterday morning, I rushed in late for my daughter"s school play and sat next to a woman who I took to be my wife. Erroneously, as it turned out. No wonder she looked bemused when I asked her what she"d done with my jogging kit. According to a survey published yesterday, I needn"t feel too bad: millions of British men are ignorant of such basic information about their wives as hair colour, job title, date of birth or name of best friend.

But if women are sometimes surprised by how hard men find it to remember the little details, they should have tried living with our fathers. The name of a wife"s best friend? My father could scarcely remember the name of his own wife he had so many, so he called them all "darling" to avoid confusion during interregnums.

The survey was commissioned by a seller of scents to show that because men are useless at choosing presents women must not be "subtle" about what they are hoping to be given. But shyness isn"t a condition I"ve noticed in many wives. Men are no worse at present buying than women; we simply try harder to disguise our disappointment. When we say "this year, darling, you have surpassed yourself; this is the craziest cardigan I"ve ever seen", play back the words. Wives like to believe they know everything about us, and sometime in late February the charity shop gains a few more cardigans, so everyone"s happy.

Yet I guarantee that a female"s first words, before she has even ripped open a Valentine gift this Sunday, are likely be those of my wife: "you have kept the receipt, haven"t you sweetheart?" The word "sweetheart" is delivered in the tone of a train conductor warning about suspect packages. If women won"t even pretend to like our trinkets, is it any wonder we stop trying to please them?

The first present I bought my (now) wife was a stunning, admittedly rather short, silver dress from Harvey Nichols. Her response? She threw it back shouting "so you think I"m a prostitute, huh?". Give a wife a homely present, on the other hand, and it will be, "so this is how you see me now: Nora bleeding Batty?" That was pretty well the reaction of a woman I know when she received from her brand new boyfriend a hot water bottle, albeit one covered in cashmere. It was hardly the steamy gift she"d been hoping for.

I confess men can, on occasion, fall short, and even I can see why the more exacting wife might assume a husband should know certain details. A friend (who has been married for years) was astonished to receive earrings from her husband for her birthday. Her ears have never been pierced. Another acquaintance who bought his wife lingerie cleverly checked her bra size beforehand against one in her drawer. He failed to notice that it was her old maternity bra.

A trawl of friends reveals a sorry litany of presents bestowed on gobsmacked wives, including a rape alarm, dog basket, deep fat fryer and an exercise machine carrying the motif "pound buster", to which the only possible response was "dearest, you shouldn"t have — really."

Kathy Lette, author of Men — A User"s Guide, says her husband gave her ladybird earrings, two Christmases running. And he once described her blue eyes ("my only attractive attribute") as brown: "Don"t Make My Brown Eyes Blue finally made sense to me. My mother said it was grounds for divorce. Actually, it"s grounds for homicide.

"For men, sensitivity is like airbags in a car, an optional extra. Women spend more time thinking about what men are thinking about than men spend thinking at all. While a woman ponders love and happily ever after, a man is wondering: 'do I have time to clean the car and get laid before kick off?""" Ouch.

But there is something to be said for husbands bearing unimaginative gifts, for how much more alarming are husbands who try? A woman in our village was mortified on Christmas morning to open, in front of children and relations, a Rampant Rabbit. Much better to be another local wife who every year receives a jumper from M&S. "I"d worry if he gave anything else," she offers. "I know where I am with him."

Yet, just occasionally, husband really does know best. A few years on, the only thing a certain woman mentions more warmly than her now beloved husband is that cashmere hot water bottle ...

Source: Telegraph UK.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:11 am 
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Sperm count 'more important than career' poll reveals
16 March 2010
By Jane Kirby, PA

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Having a healthy sperm count is more important to men than a successful career or being popular with women, a poll revealed today.

Settling down with a partner tops life's priorities, followed by owning a property, it found. But having good quality sperm or a high sperm count ranks equal third place with maintaining a healthy bank balance.

Being successful at work came in fourth place, followed by having a good appearance in fifth.

Men regarded being good at sport and driving a nice car as joint sixth place, while popularity with women came last, in seventh place.

The survey of 3,000 men was carried out by Government-funded charity the National Gamete Donation Trust. It has launched a campaign to encourage men to come forward as sperm donors to tackle a national shortage.

Today's poll also found that while 13% of men believe sperm quality is their top priority, 91% underestimate the number of couples suffering infertility in the UK. One in six couples are thought to have problems conceiving.

Laura Witjens, chairwoman of the charity, said: "As our research shows, men view their sperm count and ability to have children as crucially important in life, and the new campaign we're launching today - called Have You Got the Balls? - aims to get men thinking about sperm donation. "In the UK, there are hundreds of couples who need a sperm donor to help them conceive the child they long for so much, either because of infertility or genetic disease. "These couples rely on men stepping forward as sperm donors."

Source: The Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:27 pm 
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Women only TV
15 March 2010

The first German women-only TV channel goes on air within weeks - with a ban on all football.

Sixx channel - which starts broadcasting from Germany in May - will schedule dramas like Sex and the City, Ugly Betty and guides to shopping and fashion.

Boss Katja Hofen - who used to work on blokes' channel DMAX - explained: "Men are easy - greasy guys, roaring tyres, something blowing up. Women are more complicated."

Source: Croatian Times.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:19 am 
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A his and hers guide to classic screen goddesses: Why men like Ursula Andress and women prefer Audrey Hepburn
By Simon Cable
5th April 2010

It takes just a quick glance at these lists of favourite film heroines to see which belongs to men, and which to women.

Because one group chose lots of strong female roles - and the other plumped for bikinis and lingerie. For men, the top choice was the character of Honey Ryder in 1962 Bond film Dr No, as played by Ursula

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For the boys: Miss Andress as Honey Ryder

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Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly came first in the women's vote and fifth in the men's

Her emergence from the surf in a white bikini was one of the great iconic screen moments of the 60s. Second was Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in the Alien saga, who was a strong woman, admittedly, but spent some of the time running about in her pants.

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IN SECOND PLACE: Sigourney Weaver (The Alien Saga) for the men and Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music) for the women

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia came third for the men, perhaps thanks to the infamous gold bikini she donned in 1983's Return of the Jedi. Their fourth was the highly sexed Barbarella, as played by Jane Fonda in 1968, and fifth was good-time girl Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961).

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IN THIRD PLACE: Carrie Fisher (Star Wars) for the men and Judy Garland (Wizard of Oz) for the women

Golightly actually topped the women's list, but this was perhaps more to do with her elegant wardrobe than her saucy behaviour. The women's list was much more wholesome overall, with places two and three taken by characters played by Julie Andrews: Maria in 1965's The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins in the 1964 Disney film.

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IN FOURTH PLACE: Jane Fonda as Barbarella for the men, Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz for the women

Fourth was Judy Garland's Dorothy from 1939's The Wizard of Oz. The only really racy performance in the women's list was Julia Roberts as prostitute Vivian Ward in 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman - the 'tart with a heart' who ended up finding true love.

The poll conducted by the Radio Times questioned 2,000 film fans. Radio Times film editor Andrew Collins said of the results: 'It comes as little surprise that male voters put Ursula Andress's definitive Bond girl Honey Ryder in Dr No at number one, while she failed to make the female voters' top ten.'

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IN FIFTH PLACE: Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany's) for the men and Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman) for the women

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Source: Daily Mail UK.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 7:21 am 
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Hmm... in this case women see themselves more to come from Demeter (the goddess of the home, hearth etc) than from Venus. It would be the men that see them coming from Venus exclusively!
:D

The classic case of how women like to see themselves and how men prefer to see them.

Women like to see themselves as something more than a sex object to men, and men, well... LOL, men like to see women primarily as a sex object, and after that, as their mother; housewife, mother, cleaner, caretaker. A non-sexual person.

Looks to me both men and women need 2 of each for a successful relationship.

Women need one man that cares for them as a person, appreciates their input and companionship outside the bed, someone that isn't obsessed continuously with taking their panties off, and they need another man to have good sex with.

Men need one woman to have sex with, well... more than one preferably, and one woman to take care of everything else. This way at least one woman can concentrate solely on sex and is not burdened by other concerns.

:happy0192: :lovesign:

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PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2010 2:59 pm 
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Sex doctor: The gender gap and how to get over it
By Tracey Cox
Monday, 22 September 2008

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There are certain classic mistakes that men and women are always making concerning the opposite sex. So, if you want to find out what sort of lover you really are, check that you're not committing any of the following carnal sins.

The mistakes men make

  • Men think women want loving sex rather than lusty sex: The two aren't mutually exclusive. While we like a soft touch in some places, we're not adverse to a bit of rough handling of other parts. The trick is to ask what she feels like on that particular day.
  • Men think women aren't as 'dirty' as they are: In a recent study which measured blood flow in the genitals (blood flow increases when we're turned on) women were more aroused by explicit fantasies than romantic ones.
  • Some men still cling to the myth that women orgasm purely through intercourse: Only 30 per cent of women can climax from penetration alone. Most need stimulation of the clitoris by hand or vibrator during intercourse, or for you to perform oral sex or hand stimulation before or after intercourse, in order to orgasm.
  • Men think all women want big penises: If anything, width tends to count more than length. This is because nearly all the nerves of the vagina are concentrated in the first inch or so and a thicker penis connects with more nerve endings.
  • Men think sex isn't sex without intercourse: It's your main course with foreplay as the starter. For lots of women, foreplay is the main course and intercourse is a rather delicious side order. Get in the habit of being specific when you talk about sex. Divide it up: say, oral sex, hand stimulation, intercourse. This reinforces the idea that sex is about a lot more than penetration.
  • Men think women are impressed if they change positions lots during intercourse: It's always wise to mix things up a bit, but don't do it purely for the sake of it, especially at the start. Changing positions works best when you know each other's orgasm patterns because you can sense when the other needs more stimulation or is close to climaxing and choose a position to suit.
  • Men tend to rush women to orgasm: Even experienced male lovers underestimate how long women take to orgasm. The statistic most cited for oral sex — the fastest, most direct route — is 20 minutes. That gives you a bit of an idea, but it also depends on how turned on we were before you even touched us, and how much we've had to drink (two drinks and it's delayed, over four and forget it, everything's numb!). Stop thinking of oral sex or heavy petting as paying your dues and instead think of them as complete sex acts in themselves.

The mistakes women make

  • Women think men are always ready for and always want sex:
    Real life dampens a lot of men's sex drives more efficiently than a bucket of water poured over a lit match. Work, stress, pressure, bills, arguments — they all stop him, and you, feeling like sex, all day, every day. He's not like your vibrator — you can't just plug him in and expect him to perform on cue.
  • Women think sex is over once he ejaculates: This is often the case. A selfish lover will collapse into a heap and leave you dry and sadly not high. But while his penis might be temporarily out of action, there's nothing wrong with his hands or his mouth. What's to stop you saying to him, "We're not finished yet!" If his orgasm has wiped him out — and it's true that his body does get flooded with "sleepy" hormones immediately after orgasm — explain that you need to have yours before he does.
  • Women don't realise that sex is more than just sex to men: Sex for men appears to be a primal form of giving — it's a way for him to feel accepted both physically and emotionally. Because some men still aren't as verbose or comfortable with expressing emotion as women are, sex tends to be used as a means of showing his love and getting close to you. All of this means that when you reject sex with him, you're not just rejecting sex. In his eyes, you're effectively saying, "I don't like or want you." Always make it clear you're saying no to sex, not a cuddle or cosy chat.
  • Women worry too much about their body during sex: If body worries are making you self-conscious, give yourself a huge kick up the bottom so you land somewhere in reality, which is this: if a man obviously wants to have sex with you, he thinks you're the sexiest woman on the planet at that moment. It's also worth remembering that lots of men find curvy women way more attractive than the skinny girls you envy.
  • Women don't give instructions: Learn to show him or tell him how to touch you. And try letting out a little groan to let him know he's on the right lines, or giving a one-word command like, "Softer". You'll get there.

'The Sex Doctor' by Tracey Cox, is published by Corgi (£7.99)

Visit LoveHoney for relationship tips and advice from Tracey Cox. Every week, Tracey answers questions from visitors to the site.

Source: The Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 7:02 am 
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Women and body image: a man's perspective

Ever wondered why a man can look at an advert featuring a six-pack and laugh, while a woman might look at a photograph of female perfection and fall to pieces? William Leith thinks he might have uncovered the answer

By William Leith
23 May 2010

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Advertising for lingerie William Leath body image Photo: PHILIPPE HAYS / ALAMY

Plenty of guys have told me this story. The guy in question is preparing to go to a party with his girlfriend. She is trying on shoes and dresses. He is telling her how good she looks. She tries on more shoes, more dresses. And then: the sudden, inexplicable meltdown. She crumples on the bed. Something is horribly wrong. Now the party is out of the question.

The guy sits down. He hugs her. What's the problem? Gradually the truth emerges. 'Do you know what it was?' the guy will say later to his friends. 'She said she "didn't look right". She felt … I don't know. Fat. Or that she was the wrong shape. It's all about her body.' He goes on: 'I told her she looked great. Which she does, right?'

At this point the other guys will say, 'Yeah — she looks great.' And: 'She looks fine.' And: 'I saw her the other day, wearing those shorts.' And: 'She is hot.' Then the first guy will say, 'That's what I kept telling her. And that's when she got really upset. She said, "You just don't understand."'

It's true — men, by and large, do not understand. In her book The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf made this point very powerfully. When a woman has a crisis of confidence about the way she looks there is nothing a man can do to console her.

'Whatever he says hurts her more,' says Wolf. 'If he comforts her by calling the issue trivial, he doesn't understand. It isn't trivial at all. If he agrees with her that it's serious, even worse: he can't possibly love her, he thinks she's fat and ugly.'

But it doesn't stop there, says Wolf. What if the man were to say he loves the woman just as she is — that he loves her for her? An absolute no-no, of course, because then 'he doesn't think she's beautiful'. Worse still, though, if he says he loves her because he thinks she's beautiful. There's no way out. It seems to be, in Wolf's words, 'an uninhabitable territory between the sexes'. So why don't men understand? And, given a bit of education, can the situation be improved?

Well, I'm a man, so let's see. The first thing to say is that, when it comes to their bodies, men have a completely different attitude. I'm not saying they don't think about their bodies, or worry about them, because they do. But men relate to their bodies in a simple way. A man's body is either fine, or it's not fine. For a man, the body is a practical object. It's a machine. Sometimes it works well; sometimes it needs fixing. Some guys know how to fix it, by taking up a sport, maybe, or cutting down on the carbs. Some don't, and go to seed.

Men see their bodies as machines because, for most of their time on this earth, they have defined themselves as hunters and protectors. They equate being attractive with being strong and fast and muscled. That's a simple concept, isn't it? And that simplicity is hard-wired into the male brain.

When his girlfriend has a meltdown, and says she hates her body, that is not a simple concept. Unlike men, women do not have a simple relationship with their bodies. They have a complex relationship with their bodies. This is what men often don't understand. When it comes to their bodies, women are extremely vulnerable — and, what's more, lots of people take advantage of that vulnerability. This makes the situation worse.

Men don't have to contend with this — the hair people, and the make-up people, and the fashion people, and the shoe people, and the bra people, and the nail people, and the eyelash people, and the Botox people, and the cosmetic surgery people, and the perfume people, and the hair-removal people. Oh, and the diet people. Men are not at the mercy of corporate manipulation on remotely this scale. Sure, there are six-packs creeping into our field of vision every so often. And, sure, this is making us feel insecure. I know — I was fat, and it's no fun being fat, especially with all those pictures of Brad Pitt nagging away.

And then there are the adverts for Lynx, and the Reebok advert in which a man is chased around town by a big fat hairy belly. But for men the message is very direct. Buy some running shoes. Go to the gym. Cut down on the carbs. For men there is no mystery behind the veil of the adverts. You either tackle the situation, or become a fat slob. End of story.

For men the holy grail is within reach — you just need to get fit, and then you'll be fine; then you can think about something else. But the messages aimed at women are much more complex and confusing. As the American social commentator Warren Farrell has pointed out, women's magazines often contain articles about being Superwoman, which are next to adverts about being Cinderella. In other words, the words tell women how to be independent and in control. But the adverts, where the money is, tell them they have to be beautiful.

Farrell said this more than two decades ago — and, shockingly, nothing has changed. There's a solid pulse running through everything our culture aims at women — be beautiful, be beautiful, be beautiful.

But being beautiful, it turns out, is a near-impossible task. It keeps getting harder and harder. Everybody knows that it entails being slim — and every year the ideal gets slimmer and slimmer. In 1960 the average model weighed 10 per cent less than the average woman. Now she weighs 25 per cent less. Soon she will weigh 30 per cent less. But she doesn't have the breasts of a skinny woman — nor, as Susie Orbach has recently pointed out, the bottom. To achieve the ideal is vanishingly impossible.

And it's getting worse. Orbach believes that we are exposed, on a weekly basis, to several thousand images that have been digitally manipulated. And this, in turn, makes more women opt for cosmetic surgery — which, of course, moves the goalposts even farther away. When lots of people have surgery to make themselves look more beautiful this has the effect of making everybody else feel less beautiful. And this is happening on a global scale — in 2007 people spent £9 billion on cosmetic surgery; the vast majority of them, of course, were women.

So: men are told they should aspire to fitness and strength, and women are told they should aspire to something more nebulous. But that still does not explain, in terms a man could understand, why the female message is so much more powerful and disturbing. It doesn't explain why a tenth of women are anorexic, why a growing number are bulimic, why almost half of women, at any given time, are on a diet. It doesn't quite explain the meltdowns. And it doesn't explain why women want to be so skinny. Why they think they are fat, when they are not. It doesn't explain why, when a woman's body is perfectly attractive, she often thinks it isn't, and can't be persuaded otherwise.

In short, it does not explain why a man can look at an advert featuring a six-pack and laugh at it, whereas a woman might look at a picture of Gisele Bündchen and feel a sense of unease that hangs around for days.

John Updike once said that the female body is the world's prime aesthetic object — we look at it more than we look at anything else, including landscapes, gadgets, cars. In fact, cars and gadgets are often designed to resemble the female body, and landscapes can be painted to remind us of it. When we talk about 'the nude' in art we are almost certainly referring to the female nude. As far as nudes are concerned, the male nude is a distant runner-up.

I once wrote the introduction to a book of male nudes by the photographer Rankin; it was a sequel to his previous book of female nudes. One thing struck me above all — male nudes were a much, much harder thing to portray than female ones.

That's because the female body carries with it a huge weight of iconic significance — thousands of years of being looked at. The female body has meaning. Pictures of the female body can be profound, serious and complex. For thousands of years they have been depicted with reverence. Now imagine having one of those bodies. It puts a bit of pressure on, doesn't it?

Now I'm beginning to see why women might be so addicted to perfection. They have a lot to live up to — a couple of thousand years of art history, and a couple of thousand airbrushed boobs and bums to deal with every week.

But what started this off in the first place? Why aren't there so many airbrushed pictures of men around? Of course, these pictures do exist, and their numbers are increasing. But why are women so much more vulnerable to pictures of perfect bodies than men?

In his book The Evolution of Desire, the American psychologist David Buss goes some way towards explaining why this should be so. Since the Stone Age, he explains, men and women have had different attitudes towards sex. Men can pass on their genes with very little risk — all they need is a fertile woman.

But it's different for women, because pregnancy is incredibly risky. What women need is a man who looks like a good provider — better still, who looks like a proven provider.

So let's think about our Stone Age man and woman. If he's going to settle down, and stop playing the field, he wants one thing above all — a woman who looks fertile. More than that, he wants a woman who looks as if she'll be fertile for many years to come. In other words, he might consider being a provider and protector, as long as his mate looks young, fertile and unblemished.

And now consider his mate. What does she want? Not just a man who is a good hunter and a good fighter, but a man who has a track record as a hunter and fighter. In other words, an older man. And this is not only true of Stone Age couples. In a survey conducted by David Buss, 10,000 people, in 37 cultures, were polled. 'In all 37 cultures included in the international study on choosing a mate,' writes Buss, 'women prefer men who are older than they are.'

Now I'm getting close to understanding why women are so critical of their bodies. Since prehistoric times they have had a hard-wired link to how they look. For tens of thousands of years it was crucial; it could be the difference between having a protector and not having one — between life and death, even.

For men it's not the same at all. The odd wrinkle or grey hair doesn't matter. Hell, it might even be an advantage. As long as you're good at throwing spears and building shelters, you'll be fine.

Twenty thousand years on, what has changed? Well, as David Buss points out, it's unlikely that a Stone Age man would have seen 'hundreds or even dozens of attractive women in that environment'. But now, when he looks at a Playboy centrefold, he is seeing a woman who has competed with thousands of other women for the part — not only that, he's seeing the best picture out of thousands.

And it's not just centrefolds, is it? Just look at newsreaders — mostly, it's a pretty girl and a grey-haired man. Message to men: relax. Message to women: panic! And then there are the girl groups, and the short-skirted girl on Countdown, and even the characters in the Harry Potter films, where the boys are allowed to look like geeks but the girl must look like a model.

As the art critic John Berger wrote: 'Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only the relations of men to women, but the relation of women to themselves.' It's a tough one, isn't it?

Surely guys can understand that, at least. If it happened to us, we'd have a meltdown, too.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:39 pm 
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Christina Patterson: Men: the latest endangered species

Boys are being vomited out of an inadequate school system at 16 and left to rot. If the state keeps them from starving, it probably won't for much longer

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

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OK, so they run the economy. And the country. And the world. OK, so they earn more. In global terms, an awful lot more. OK, so they took that having dominion malarkey — over the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth — horribly literally, extending it to all kinds of areas (the duvet, the remote control) that God forgot. But men had better look out. Poor darlings, they're doomed.

That, at least, is the conclusion of a new article in Atlantic Monthly, which has created a bit of a stir on both sides of the pond. "Earlier this year," says its author, Hanna Rosin, "women became the majority workforce for the first time in US history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women's progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what," she asks, in a manner faintly reminiscent of a super-coiffed Carrie Bradshaw tapping away at a laptop before nipping out for a Cosmopolitan, "if equality isn't the end point? What if modern, post-industrial society is simply better suited to women?"

Women in poor parts of India are, she says, learning English faster than men. Women own more than 40 per cent of businesses in China. In some war-torn states, women are "stepping in as a sort of maternal rescue team". And in America, parents are beginning to choose girls over boys. "We can," she says, "see with absolute clarity that in the coming decades the middle class will be dominated by women." It is, in other words, as the headline makes screamingly evident, "The End of Men".

Oh, well. All good things must come to an end, etc. Anyway, they've had a pretty good innings. And being on the sidelines isn't that bad. Sort out the hair, the pecs and the buns and they'll be just fine. Cheer up, lads! It might not happen!

In her argument that it will, Rosin draws on figures which, as so often with our giant transatlantic cousins, are rather more extreme than ours. There's no evidence here (and not, it seems, much in the US) that parents are choosing girls over boys. The British workforce is not made up of more women than men. There are still more male managers here than female ones, and there aren't three women for every two men who get a degree. But it is true that more girls are now going into higher and further education — 57 per cent — than boys. It's true that more women are undertaking full-time postgraduate study than men. And it's true that boys aren't just doing worse than girls at GCSE and A-levels. They're also experiencing higher levels of graduate unemployment.

According to a new report from the Higher Education Policy Institute, 17.2 per cent of young male graduates are failing to find jobs, compared to 11.2 per cent of women. "One possible reason," says Carl Gilleard, the chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, when called upon to explain this largely middle-class male meltdown, "might be a degree of complacency because of an extensive period of growth... and it may be that these male students think the fact they went to university is going to be enough to guarantee them the dream career."

So, spoilt, lazy and bursting with inappropriate confidence! Is this the legacy of those primary schools that give children stickers for turning up, or smiling, or breathing? Primary schools like the one where I once did a residency, where the children ended a report on a school football match by congratulating themselves on their performance and just looked baffled when I pointed out that they'd lost? Is it the legacy of pass-the-parcel parties where everyone gets to open one and stagger home with a Naomi-Campbell-sized goodie bag? Is it the legacy of parents who wanted to be cool with their kids, parents who often behaved like kids?

Heaven (or perhaps Hanna Rosin) knows. If complacency is the problem, then the mass unemployment that's on its way should help. A bit late, perhaps, for the current crop of graduates, but when the machete strikes (sorry, but if I hear the word "axe" once more, I'll take one to my throat) they might think about diluting some of their dreams and getting, as most of us did when we started out, anything they can lay their hands on, anything that keeps the wolf from the door. At least, with a degree, they can probably read and write. Maybe even get out of bed.

The much bigger problem is the boys without degrees, the boys, in fact, without any qualifications at all. White working-class boys are doing badly. So, unfortunately, are black ones. With the migration of manufacturing to the Far East, and the disappearance of most of the traditional blue-collar options, these boys — many of whom don't have a working parent, let alone a male one — are vomited out of an inadequate school system at 16 and left to rot. If the state keeps them from starving, it probably won't for much longer. Frank Field, who was asked by Tony Blair to "think the unthinkable" on welfare reform and then, when the unthinkable proved unpalatable, quietly bundled off, is, as the coalition's new poverty tsar, planning to remove benefits from many of them. He hasn't yet said how he's going to force employers, who are turning away graduates who don't have a 2:1, to opt instead for boys without a single GCSE.

And who, by the way, will marry them? Not, presumably, the women who now make up 40 per cent of the medical profession (and who, by 2017, will dominate it) or the women who now make up 60 per cent of the graduate intake of lawyers. (But let's not get too excited. Only 11 per cent of FTSE companies have women on their boards. Less than a quarter of public appointments are of women. A fifth of MPs are women, and only a sixth of the Cabinet. Of 17 national newspaper editors, only two are women. The pay gap between men and women is still about 16 per cent. In the financial sector, up to 55 per cent. The end of men? Sweetie, you're having a laugh.)

The sad fact is that we're producing a whole sub-species of men that nobody wants. Employers don't want them. Society doesn't want them. Women don't want them. Or only for their sperm. Which, of course, ensures that the whole damned merry-go-round of boys with no fathers, and few male teachers, and few male role models (except a bunch of preening idiots who are famous for being famous and footballers who are famous for being rubbish) judders miserably on.

We have a choice. We can, at a time when the mass cull of people's hopes and livelihoods appears to have become a national sport, decide to focus on the education and needs of this soon-to-be-lost generation, or we can encourage Toby Young and his equivalents across the country to siphon off funds for so-called "free schools". With universal cuts at 25 per cent, which have suddenly become 40 per cent, we can't do both.

Among the skills that many of these young men lack, which adds to their all-round unsuitability for the changing workplace, is one that Rosin calls "social intelligence". The other word for it is "conversation". Frankly, it's not just young men, or working-class men, or uneducated men, or unemployed men, for whom it's a bit of a struggle. It's a skill that could usefully be taught to all boys, in all schools, from an early age. One which would have women, relieved of the need to be Jeremy Paxman, even on a date, weeping with gratitude. And one whose absence was highlighted by a questionnaire in a newspaper at the weekend.

Ted, a parliamentary officer, who had had a blind date with Anna, a primary school teacher, was asked what they had talked about. "Most of the conversation," he replied, without irony, or embarrassment, "seemed to revolve around me."

Source: The Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:34 pm 
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Male and female ability differences down to socialisation, not genetics

Behavioural differences between the sexes are not hard-wired at birth but are the result of society's expectations, say scientists

by Robin McKie
Sunday 15 August 2010

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Gender agenda: Mel Gibson in What Women Want. Photograph: Icon Film Distribution

It is the mainstay of countless magazine and newspaper features. Differences between male and female abilities — from map reading to multi-tasking and from parking to expressing emotion — can be traced to variations in the hard-wiring of their brains at birth, it is claimed.

Men instinctively like the colour blue and are bad at coping with pain, we are told, while women cannot tell jokes but are innately superior at empathising with other people. Key evolutionary differences separate the intellects of men and women and it is all down to our ancient hunter-gatherer genes that program our brains.

The belief has become widespread, particularly in the wake of the publication of international bestsellers such as John Gray's Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus that stress the innate differences between the minds of men and women. But now a growing number of scientists are challenging the pseudo-science of "neurosexism", as they call it, and are raising concerns about its implications. These researchers argue that by telling parents that boys have poor chances of acquiring good verbal skills and girls have little prospect of developing mathematical prowess, serious and unjustified obstacles are being placed in the paths of children's education.

In fact, there are no major neurological differences between the sexes, says Cordelia Fine in her book Delusions of Gender, which will be published by Icon next month. There may be slight variations in the brains of women and men, added Fine, a researcher at Melbourne University, but the wiring is soft, not hard. "It is flexible, malleable and changeable," she said.

In short, our intellects are not prisoners of our genders or our genes and those who claim otherwise are merely coating old-fashioned stereotypes with a veneer of scientific credibility. It is a case backed by Lise Eliot, an associate professor based at the Chicago Medical School. "All the mounting evidence indicates these ideas about hard-wired differences between male and female brains are wrong," she told the Observer.

"Yes, there are basic behavioural differences between the sexes, but we should note that these differences increase with age because our children's intellectual biases are being exaggerated and intensified by our gendered culture. Children don't inherit intellectual differences. They learn them. They are a result of what we expect a boy or a girl to be."

Thus boys develop improved spatial skills not because of an innate superiority but because they are expected and are encouraged to be strong at sport, which requires expertise at catching and throwing. Similarly, it is anticipated that girls will be more emotional and talkative, and so their verbal skills are emphasised by teachers and parents.

The latter example, on the issue of verbal skills, is particularly revealing, neuroscientists argue. Girls do begin to speak earlier than boys, by about a month on average, a fact that is seized upon by supporters of the Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus school of intellectual differences.

However, this gap is really a tiny difference compared to the vast range of linguistic abilities that differentiate people, Robert Plomin, a professor at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, pointed out. His studies have found that a mere 3% of the variation in young children's verbal development is due to their gender.

"If you map the distribution of scores for verbal skills of boys and of girls you get two graphs that overlap so much you would need a very fine pencil indeed to show the difference between them. Yet people ignore this huge similarity between boys and girls and instead exaggerate wildly the tiny difference between them. It drives me wild," Plomin told the Observer.

This point is backed by Eliot. "Yes, boys and girls, men and women, are different," she states in a recent paper in New Scientist. "But most of those differences are far smaller than the Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus stereotypes suggest. Nor are the reasoning, speaking, computing, emphasising, navigating and other cognitive differences fixed in the genetic architecture of our brains. All such skills are learned and neuro-plasticity — the modifications of neurons and their connections in response experience — trumps hard-wiring every time."

The current popular stress on innate intellectual differences between the sexes is, in part, a response to psychologists' emphasis of the environment's importance in the development of skills and personality in the 1970s and early 1980s, said Eliot. This led to a reaction against nurture as the principal factor in the development of human characteristics and to an exaggeration of the influence of genes and inherited abilities. This view is also popular because it propagates the status quo, she added. "We are being told there is nothing we can do to improve our potential because it is innate. That is wrong. Boys can develop powerful linguistic skills and girls can acquire deep spatial skills."

In short, women can read maps despite claims that they lack the spatial skills for such efforts, while men can learn to empathise and need not be isolated like Mel Gibson's Nick Marshall, the emotionally retarded male lead of the film What Women Want and a classic stereotype of the unfeeling male that is perpetuated by the supporters of the hard-wired school of intellectual differences.

This point was also stressed by Fine. "Many of the studies that claim to highlight differences between the brains of males and females are spurious. They are based on tests carried out on only a small number of individuals and their results are often not repeated by other scientists. However, their results are published and are accepted by teachers and others as proof of basic differences between boys and girls. All sorts of ridiculous conclusions about very important issues are then made. Already sexism disguised in neuroscientific finery is changing the way children are taught."

So should we abandon our search for the "real" differences between the sexes and give up this "pernicious pinkification of little girls", as one scientist has put it?

Yes, we should, Eliot insisted. "There is almost nothing we do with our brains that is hard-wired. Every skill, attribute and personality trait is moulded by experience."

What they say

Cambridge University psychologist and autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen:
"The female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy. The male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems"

Writer and feminist Joan Smith:
"Very few women growing up in England in the late 18th century would have understood the principles of jurisprudence or navigation because they were denied access to them"

John Gray, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus:
"A man's sense of self is defined through his ability to achieve results. A woman's sense of self is defined through her feelings and the quality of her relationships"

Sociologist Beth Hess:
"For two millennia, 'impartial experts' have given us such trenchant insights as the fact that women lack sufficient heat to boil the blood and purify the soul, that their heads are too small, their wombs too big, their hormones too debilitating, that they think with their hearts or the wrong side of the brain. The list is never-ending"

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:10 am 
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Why women live longer than men: Male bodies are much more genetically 'disposable'
By Niall Firth
26th October 2010

It is the ultimate battle of the sexes - and women usually win.

Now scientists have come up with a new theory for why woman live, on average, longer than men: men are more biologically "disposable". The controversial theory, developed by Professor Tom Kirkwood of the University of Newcastle, suggests that the female body is better at carrying out routine maintenance and keeping the body"s cells alive.

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A British man who has reached 65 can expect to live another 17.6 years - women get a further 20.2 years

Professor Kirkwood believes there is now growing evidence to suggest that men are more disposable than women, because the cells of their bodies are not genetically programmed to last as long as they are in females. Many scientists believe that the aging process is caused by tiny faults throughout our body. As the tiny faults build up the length of our lives is determined by how quickly our body is able to carry out running repairs. As the cells miss opportunities to repair themselves our body gradually degrades until we eventually die.

Professor Kirkwood"s theory behind why our cells do not mend every tiny problem in our body is that it is built into our DNA. The reason we do not live forever is because it would have cost our hunter-gather ancestors too much energy to constantly replenish cells when hunger was a more immediate danger, he says.

    Life expectancy for other animals
    ImageImage
    Male: 45 yearsMale: 50-60 years
    Female: 59 yearsFemale: 90 years
    ImageImage
    Male: 1 weekMale: 18 years
    Female: 1 monthFemale: 30 years

"Under the pressure of natural selection to make the best use of scarce energy supplies, our species gave higher priority to growing and reproducing than to living forever.," he writes in the magazine American Scientist. "Our genes treated the body as a short-term vehicle, to be maintained well enough to grow and reproduce, but not worth a greater investment in durability when the chance of dying an accidental death was so great."

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This theory"s next logical step would suggest that women live longer because their bodies are less disposable than those of men, it makes more sense for the cells to put in more effort to correct any laws in the DNA, for example. This makes sense on purely reproductive grounds, Professor Kirkwood argues. 'In humans, as in most animal species, the state of the female body is very important for the success of reproduction', he writes. "The foetus needs to grow inside the mother"s womb, and the infant needs to suckle at her breast. So if the female animal"s body is too much weakened by damage, there is a real threat to her chances of making healthy offspring. The man"s reproductive role, on the other hand, is less directly dependent on his continued good health."

In the past scientists had suggested that the fact a man"s working life was more demanding could have accounted for their shorter lives. But although life expectancy has risen steadily in Britain over recent decades the narrowing gender equality gap has seen no corresponding narrowing of the life expectancy gap between men and women.

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An ONS graph showing how average life expectancy has risen over the past 20 years

Professor Kirkwood has carried out research that shows that females in most animal species live longer than males. Studies have also shown that neutered animals live longer and castrated men also live longer than normal men. Professor Kirkwood told The Independent: "In females, reproductive success is so inextricably bound up with the integrity of the body and the evidence is really clear right across the life course — men have a statistically significant, higher likelihood of dying at all ages compared to women.

'It seems to be deeply engrained in the biology. Obviously differences in lifestyle may add or subtract to it, but I'm absolutely convinced that there's an underlying biological explanation for the gender differences we see between the life expectancy of the sexes.'

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:41 pm 
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NYC Considers a No Catcall Zone
October 30, 2010

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Getty Images

Whistles, catcalls and lewd come-ons from strangers are all too familiar to New York City women, who say they are harassed multiple times a day as they walk down the street. Now lawmakers are examining whether to do something to discourage it.

A City Council committee heard testimony Thursday from women who said men regularly follow them, yell at them and make them feel unsafe and uncomfortable. Advocates told stories of preteens and teenagers being hounded by adult men outside city schools and pleaded for government to address the problem.

"This is not our way of not being able to take a compliment," said Nefertiti Martin, who testified at the hearing. "This is an issue of safety."

Street harassment of women is as old as cities themselves and is common around the world, but the pushback against it is a more recent movement. Volunteer activists in Cairo are planning to launch a website, Harrasmap, where women can instantly report cases of leering, groping and other sexual threats.

Soon, the group Hollaback, an organization formed five years ago to stand up to street harassment, will release a smart phone app allowing women everywhere to do the same. Hollaback told councilmembers that women have left jobs, broken leases and skipped school all just to avoid incessant unwelcome advances from strange men they pass on their commutes.

Holly Kearl, author of "Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women," said she informally surveyed more than 800 women from 23 countries and 43 states, and 99 percent of them had been harassed by strangers. "Because of street harassment, from a young age women learn that public spaces are male territory," Kearl said. "They learn to limit the places they go, they try not to be in public alone — especially at night — and when they are alone, they stay on guard."

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, chair of the women's issues committee that held the hearing Thursday, recalled learning as a young teen how to "speedwalk" to dodge certain men, and which corner stores she should always avoid. "This harassment limits the rights and freedoms of women and girls to enjoy a simple walk outside," she said.

The Associated Press heard similar stories from New York City women.

Kat Pope, 28, of Manhattan, said she quit going to her gym in the mornings because she was harassed so badly on her way there and back. Men at a construction site would whistle, stare and yell at her as she passed, every single day. She still gets harassed in other locations, but it happens maybe once a week instead of daily. "It feels disgusting," she said. "In the moment, I feel helpless and I never know what to do to make it stop."

Carrie Goodman, 27, a student who lives in Manhattan, said she hears a whistle or comment "once or twice a day." "It bothers me, but I just keep walking," she said. Goodman is skeptical that lawmakers can do anything about it, though. "You can't really control what comes out of people's mouths," she said.

Hollaback is pushing the city to commission a study, a public awareness campaign and perhaps even legislation, including "no-harassment zones" around schools to protect young women. "Too commonly, street harassment is believed to be the price women pay for living in New York City," said its executive director, Emily May. "But we're not buying it."

Councilmembers said they are open to many of the ideas, but said they are in the early stages of exploring just what can be done. If there were to be legislation, a key issue would be enforcement, since the concept of no-harassment zones could encroach on First Amendment rights.

New York men who told the AP they have called out strange women on the street said they were doing it just to be friendly and seemed genuinely surprised that any attention can be unwelcome. "We say hello, that's all, nothing derogatory," said Tony Alibrandi, 54, a construction worker taking a lunch break with several of his fellow workers. "We see a friendly face, we say hello."

Terrence Beam, 41, said he had no problem with lawmakers investigating "whistling and howling and that sort of thing." "Yeah, because that would be harassment," he said.

Source: NBC New York.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 2:54 pm 
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Men Pay More Attention To "Sexier" News Anchors, But Remember Less
By Ben Popken
January 25, 2011

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Megyn Kelly

TV networks try to boost ratings by hiring comely female anchors and dressing them and shooting them in ways to accentuate their visual assets, but a study finds it actually reduces the amount of information recalled by male viewers.

The "sexier" the female anchors, the more attention men pay, but the less they remember of what the news was about.

Two researchers had their subjects watch newscasts that were the same except for one variable. In the first version, they wrote the anchor, "was dressed in a tight-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt that accented her waist-to-hip ratio... She also wore bright red lipstick and a necklace." In the other, the woman wore "a shapeless and loose-fitting dark blue jacket and skirt," and did not wear a necklace or lipstick.

Based on their answers to 10 multiple choice questions about the content of the five stories in the newscast, men remembered "significantly more information watching the unsexualized anchor deliver news than her sexualized version." The reverse was true for women, but the effect was far lower. (The study should probably be repeated with "hot" male anchors.)

Good news for Fox News ratings, bad news for their viewer's intelligence.

Source: Consumerist.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 10:41 am 
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Study: Men want cuddling, women want sex
July 5, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (UPI) -- Middle-age men in Japan report 2.61 times more sexual satisfaction in their relationships, compared with U.S. men, researchers found.

Lead author Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, and colleagues questioned more than 1,000 couples ages 40-70 from the United States, Brazil, Germany, Japan and Spain, who were either married or living together for a minimum of one year -- but overall the couples were together an average 25 years.

The study found Japanese and Brazilian women were more likely than U.S. women to report being satisfied sexually.

"We know from other research that being in a long-term relationship has some value to health," Heiman said in a statement. "Perhaps we can learn more about what makes relationships both sustainable and happy."

The study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, found men said cuddling, caressing, kissing and tenderness were important ingredients for long-term relationship satisfaction, while women were more likely to report deriving satisfaction from their sexual relationship.

For men, relationship happiness was more likely if the man reported being in good health. A partner experiencing orgasm predicted happiness for men, but not women. Both men and women reported more happiness the longer they had been together, as did those who scored higher on several sexual functioning questionnaires.

Source: UPI.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 7:22 am 
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The lovestruck male: Half of men know Miss Right after just one date... but women need at least six
By David Wilkes
17th August 2011

A meaningful glance across a crowded room. A glimpse of a smile. A whiff of perfume.

That, it seems, is all it takes to fall head over heels in love — if you are a man. A chap barely even needs to have spoken to the object of his desire before declaring she is the one, a survey has found.

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A survey has found that more than half of men are smitten with a partner after only one meeting, with one fifth claiming to fall in love at first site

Women, on the other hand, appear to take much longer to give their hearts away. While a man may be swooning at first sight, she needs more time before she decides he is Mr Right. In the survey, one in five men claimed to have fallen in love at first sight. Just over half were smitten after one meeting and nearly three-quarters had lost their hearts within three dates. In contrast, only one in ten women said they had experienced love at first sight. Most waited until at least the sixth date before deciding whether or not they had found the "real thing".

The findings appear to fly in the face of the popular conception that those lightning-bolt moments of instant love are a somewhat feminine experience. But experts said the results probably tell us more about the differences between men and women"s views of what it means to fall in love and how they choose a partner.

Image
Both sexes agreed their first love was the one they took the longest to get over

Professor Alexander Gordon, a chartered psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society, was intrigued by the findings and agreed that the gender difference was stark. He said men tended to tick more superficial boxes, such as looks, to help them decide whether they were "in love". Women were a little more complicated and likely to weigh up the pros and cons before settling on their choice. Women are better at reading social situations and are more likely to ask more questions of themselves after meeting someone, like is he going to make me feel secure and will he be a good father to my children," he said. "They are cannier than men at making a lifetime choice." The survey, of 1,500 men and 1,500 women aged 16 to 86, was commissioned for the launch of Elizabeth Noble"s novel, The Way We Were, the story of childhood sweethearts who reappear in each other"s lives years later.

According to the findings, the average British man falls in love just over three times in his life while the average woman falls in love only once. And more men than women claimed to have loved someone who did not love them back. Men were also more likely to say "I love you" first and to pine after their first love.

Both sexes did agree on one thing though. They declared their first love was the one that took the longest to get over. One in four said they felt they would never fully recover from the heartbreak.

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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