Reader Query: “The Science of Sex Appeal”

A reader writes:

Has anyone seen the documentary “The Science of Sex Appeal,” and if so, could you please recommend academic sources that counter the claims made by this video?” While Cordelia Fine’s book is great for arguing against this evolutionary psychology bullshit more generally (sorry; maybe it isn’t all bullshit, but THIS stuff is), I’d really like to be able to point to specific claims made in the video and offer specific, scientifically supported claims to the contrary. I haven’t found anything through database searches.


UPDATE: This post has been a nightmare to moderate.  Do to many requests, I tried to confine comments to ones that really address the reader’s query, rather than dealing in big generalisations about whether feminists hate evolutionary psychology, etc. I’m now closing comments.

 

FURTHER UPDATE: This is being briefly re-opened.

Jezebel’s Lindy West on the National Review

Sometimes, my desire to blog about sexist cultural commentary is frustrated by my desire to avoid driving further blog traffic to a column obviously approved by editors in order to “trend” online.  But this week, Lindy West does all the hard work for me over at Jezebel, as she explains why a recent column in the National Review is over the top with the “Obama might as well have fallopian tubes” thing.

Abortion and Teenage Depression?

The first can cause the second, right?  Not exactly; in fact, that looks wrong:

 A press release for the study, which is published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, explains, “The researchers found that young women in the study who had an abortion were no more likely to become depressed or have low self-esteem within the first year of pregnancy — or five years later — than their peers who were pregnant, but did not have an abortion.” The data was pulled from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which surveyed 289 girls between the ages of 13 and 18.

The possibility of psychological harm has been appealed to in arguments for parental notification and pre-abortion warnings.  But now it looks as though the harm may well not be there.

 The truth, according to science, is that “on average, abortion does not appear to have major psychological consequences — for adult women or for teens,” says [lead author Jocelyn] Warren. Marie Harvey, a public health professor at Oregon State University, which conducted the research with the University of California, San Francisco, said: “We have policies being made that are not evidence-based, and that have adverse consequences for women’s health.”

Gosh!  Not evidence-based?!?  Who would have guessed?  It makes it sound as though maybe there’s another agenda being acted on.

Professor Sarah B. Hrdy

We’ve mentioned Profession Hrdy a few times on the blog – I know JJ has quoted her in some posts. But I’m just rereading Mother Nature in preparation for a class I’m teaching on evolutionary psychology, and I just thought I’d recommend it most highly to anyone who’s interested in biology and gender. Professor Hrdy is an anthropologist and primatologist who has made several major contributions in evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. A common theme in her work is the behaviour of female primates, particularly mothers. Her personal webpage can be accessed here. There is also a Wikipedia entry.