Is skinny really just a fashion choice?

Ideals for body shape in women have changed markedly over the ages, ranging from the not-exactly-svelte Venus de Milo of ancient Greece, to the very ample nudes by Flemish painter Rubens, and then on to the stick thin, large breasted beauties typically featured in today’s media. This much is well illustrated in a recent Buzzfeed video. So does this mean that there are no real advantages of one body shape over another? Do perceptions of what’s attractive in a female physique just come down to what we get fed on our computer, TV or cinema screens?Continue Reading

Which sex wins is a question of supply and demand

If you sit in a pub with a bunch of single women of a certain age and they’re talking about men, the common refrain will be that there are hardly any good men, the ones they fancy won’t commit and the best are already taken. Men – of any age – seem mostly concerned with getting into women’s knickers. Ok yes, there are lots of exceptions but you know what I mean; for most men getting a variety of sex presents more of a challenge than they would like. The point is, at some point both genders think they’re at a disadvantage, women in getting commitment, men in getting sex, and neither sex get enough of what they want.

So what is the truth of the matter? Is it harder for men or for women? Who has the upper hand? According to newly published research, which sex gets its own way is a question of supply and demand.Continue Reading

Disney has worked out what makes women really angry

When my kids were small they, like other small kids, loved Disney movies. One we watched over and over of course was Snow White, but it always made me a bit uncomfortable when it got to the so called ‘happy ending’ where the handsome Prince plonks SW on to his big white horse and they ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

“But no”, I wanted to tell them, “In the real world this would just be the beginning of her problems”. Let’s face it, an alpha-male like that who’s both gorgeous and minted will have plenty of pretty princesses fawning at his feet and so Snow White will have her work cut out for her.Continue Reading

Why the Mystery About Women’s Orgasms?

What do you know about women’s orgasms? If you’re a woman you know about your own ones but you’re probably in the dark about whether they’re the same in quality and quantity as your friends’ (they’re probably not) and if you’re a man, unless you’re particularly attentive, the whole thing is most likely a total mystery. But then, mysterious is exactly how a lot of women like it I reckon.Continue Reading

What you didn’t know about how ‘the pill’ is affecting your relationship.

Like multitudes of other women across the globe, I’ve been using oral contraception for a good few years, but although the doctors who handed me prescriptions for these tiny discs of sexual freedom were always careful to point out the health risks and check my blood pressure, none of them ever told me about the effect of the pill on how I look, how much I fancy my partner, or how jealous I am.

It turns out that the use of hormonal birth-control impacts on our sexual desire, our relationship satisfaction and our attractiveness in a multitude of ways, but before you rashly chuck your contraceptives into the bin, take note that the effects can be positive as well as negative.

Seems confusing? Scientists certainly think so, and studies of pill effects have yielded mixed findings, but new research presented by Stirling University’s Kelly Cobey at last month’s meeting of the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association has finally shed light on the puzzle. It turns out that the important issue is not simply whether you’re on the pill or not, but whether you change your use of the pill after embarking on a relationship.Continue Reading

What should we tell our kids about having kids?

The actor Dame Helen Mirren has never wanted kids. “I have no maternal instinct whatsoever”, she once proclaimed. Maybe she’s got other stuff to keep her busy.

Another who has eschewed having babies is Lionel Shriver, author of We need to talk about Kevin, who calls herself an “anti-mom”. She says she has been in the perfect situation to have kids but never wanted them; they are untidy and ungrateful and would have siphoned too much time away from writing her precious books.

Then there’s historian and TV presenter, Lucy Worsley, oft quoted as saying that she’s been “educated out of reproduction”.

She’s probably right. Highly educated women do have a higher chance of not having a family. Childlessness is on the rise and has nearly doubled in the UK since the 90s, but given the extensive press coverage in recent times of high-profile or careerist women choosing to forego the child-rearing experience you could be forgiven for thinking that most of those without children are of the ‘child-free by choice’ variety. In fact they represent only a tiny fraction of the childless and hide a growing swathe of the population who would like a family but for one reason or another just haven’t managed it. While half of all women in top jobs have no children, the vast majority of childless women are low or middle-income earners. So why is childlessness on the rise?Continue Reading

Not just a pretty face


All else being equal, men find especially feminine women’s faces the most sexy and appealing – think Angelina Jolie. So does that mean women who don’t have the optimal gigantic eyes, pert little nose and small chin can never quite cut it and be the apple of their lover’s eye? Well no it doesn’t, for the simple reason that all else is not equal.

I talked in an earlier post about how more masculine body shapes could give women advantages in the realm of competition for resources and so might be more preferred in a female partner in particular environments. Now in research presented at the annual conference of the European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association (EHBEA) earlier this month, Urszula Marcinkowska of the University of Turku in Finland has looked at what constitutes a beautiful face in different places.Continue Reading

Young Dads have Better-Looking Kids than Old Dads (on average)

Breaking news:

As I talked about in a recent post, men, just like women, need to plan the timing of their reproduction since older fatherhood comes with increased risks of adverse health and behaviour outcomes for their kids. Children born to older dads are more likely to suffer from conditions like autism, ADHD and bipolar disorder, are more likely to exhibit suicidal behaviour, get worse grades at school and become obese.

If all that’s not scary enough, it turns out that if your dad was old when you were born then you’re more likely to be challenged in the looks department too.Continue Reading

“Men are not the Enemy, Women are the Enemy”

Lily Allen is irritating feminists again. Here’s what she thinks about how women are judged:

“I don’t think men are the enemy, I think women are the enemy. I know that when I’m sitting in a restaurant and a really beautiful woman walks in, who’s skinny, I instinctively think, “Oh she’s really skinny and beautiful and I’m really fat and ugly.” Every man I speak to always says they find that kind of woman gross, and they prefer a bit more meat on their ladies. So it’s more of a competitive thing. It’s weird. It’s just really unhealthy and we’re our own worst enemy. We should stop being so horrible to each other.”

Or as Callie Beusman at Jezebel has helpfully summarized:

“Ugh, women are so mean to each other. I’m jealous of other women. But it’s ok, men say they’re disgusting and I’m better. God, we should stop being mean to each other!”

Ok so Allen is as bad as anyone else on the bitching front but actually she’s right on the money in her analysis of women’s attitudes to each other.Continue Reading