Dare to ask: Girl, you look good sexually
By Phillip Milano
Some of my teenage female students tell me they are hit on so much by men,
all ages, all ethnicities, that they are afraid to go buy gas alone. These
aren't skanky girls. What gives?
T.R., 48, female, Jacksonville
The media, advertising and our general culture teaches men that all women are
available (for the right price). Men are told that "no" means "yes" and that any
woman who bothers to put on lipstick is actively trolling for sex with anyone
who happens to want her. I've heard a guy say that any woman who works out to
have a good figure must be a slut.
D.L., female, Los Angeles
I'm so sick of men's demeaning catcalls and staring at me like a piece of
meat. It makes me wary of all men because it has happened so often. It seems to
be a way for them to gain control of us. It's harassment, but since it happens
so often in the public setting, people have resorted to "ignoring" it instead of
doing something about it.
Mariam, 19, Bay Area, Calif.
Nowadays you can't even tell a woman they look beautiful or any kind of
compliment without them feeling you are attempting to win them over for some
other agenda. I know all about harassment. I worked at a bar for more than a
year where 90 percent of our private parties were older women, and they would
harass me and another bartender constantly. I don't like hearing guys whistle or
yell down the street at women they don't know. It's childish and ignorant, but
nowadays a lot of younger women seem to enjoy it.
Rick, 27, Trenton, N.J.
It's apparently a low-down dirty old man fact that dudes have always been
something that rhymes with corny.
Males of all species are easily aroused sexually and are inclined to look for
extra partners, said David Barash, professor of psychology at the University of
Washington and co-author of The Myth of Monogamy.
"The best strategy evolutionary-wise is to be fast and loose," said Barash,
who researches evolutionary biology. "It's because those who are more successful
produce more offspring."
Even if a guy isn't looking to procreate, natural selection has endowed him
with a "sexual sweet tooth" - a penchant for responding to reproductive needs
with sexual arousal.
Research shows that young women can be more attractive to, say, a middle-aged
man because women who are similar in age to the older man have likely gone
through menopause - and that means they've lost at least some of their sexual
attractiveness, Barash said.
"Women who are age 18 to 30 are the most attractive, which is when they are
also the most reproductive."
The bottom line is men have a lower threshold when it comes to showing sexual
interest, he said.
"Studies show that a woman will smile, and the guy thinks, 'She's coming on
to me,' while the woman just feels she's being nice, and has no sexual interest
in him at all."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also hear his
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