An Indiana University research team have concluded that while women look for financial security and long term commitment in a potential partner, men are most likely to go for more attractive women.
Yes, folks, based on a whopping sample size of 46, these researchers have proved that women are indeed baby obsessed gold diggers and men a bunch of shallow commitmentphobes.
The study was based on a behavioural analysis of the participants in a speed-dating session, apparently a “microcosm” of daily life. I don’t know about you, but my daily life certainly doesn’t consist of flirting with a series of strangers over a glass of red, enjoyable as that undoubtably would be. It also seems a little illogical to apply the behaviour of speed dating participants to the general population; I imagine it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and while those who do engage in it no doubt have a specific agenda, this agenda only applies to the speed daters as far as I’m concerned.
But methodology isn’t exactly my thing, I’m more interested the fact that the researchers, along with the ‘relationships expert’ quoted in the BBC piece, come to such stereotypical conclusions in their view of what men and women want. According to Dr Glenn Wilson:
It is well known that men select women for fairly superficial reasons, whereas women think much more about the long-term and the qualities and resources needed to bring up children.
Men will often find themselves falling into relationships by default after starting off looking for sexual adventure.
Supposing this were in fact true, I would argue that heterosexual men prize beauty above all else in a potential mate quite simply because they have been brought up in a society that prizes beauty above all else in a woman. As a result, women generally spend a hell of a lot more time beautifying themselves than men (didn’t really need to point that one out, did I?) and so while men are of course attractive there are far more women out there looking good than men. Men, in other words, have it laid out for them on a plate – we’ve been taught to lay it out for them, they’ve been taught to lap it up – so it’s no wonder they initially go for beauty above anything else. It’s also no wonder, then, that the study found that while women on average wanted to see only a third of the men they dated again, men were interested in every other woman they chatted with.
Continuing with our supposition that Mr Expert is indeed right, apparently women think much more about the long term and seek in a potential partner the security necessary to bring up children. Again, social conditioning would play a huge role in this; from the word go we have dolls shoved in our hands and the dream of a fairy tale marriage embedded in our hearts. Even those of us who escape our conditioning are well aware of the fact that, should we want kids, we are most likely to end up the primary care giver unless we are lucky enough to come across a man who is willing to give up his career instead of assuming you will give up yours. Chances of this being slim, we might as well at least find someone who will ensure we can raise our children in economic comfort.
But really, I don’t think it’s being too presumptious to state that pretty much everyone reading this probably knows at least one man who is desperate to settle down and have kids and one woman – if not dozens – who spend their nights out pulling fit men, more concerned about the size of their package than the size of their wallet. What’s more, neither the researchers nor our expert appear to have recognised that not all women are attracted to men, and vice versa, although this may of course be due to the BBC’s heterocentric stance in the report.
When it comes down to it, we’re all individuals, and although social conditioning certainly plays a factor in the choices we make in our relationships, studies like this and sweeping generalisations such as those provided by Dr Wilson serve only to fuel the fire of those who use men and women’s supposed essential difference as grounds for discrimination and oppression.