Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Newsflash: Women Have Eyes

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  • Bart Janssen,

    Sorry Gio didn't realise you'd had this conversation before.

    At the risk of arguing semantics what I was referring to was the initial attractiveness, if you like ... "the made you look" factor. So I'm happy to stand by the studies that show regardless of what people say makes them attracted to other people, when you do the studies, what makes them look and makes them look for longer at some people than others, turns out to be some very basic proportions. The evolutionary argument comes after that observation and the evolutionary argument may be wrong but the observation is not in question.

    And of course you are right that like all such studies with real humans there is variation, but interestingly there is a lot less variation than for most other such studies. You may like to believe you are different but the odds are very good that you are normal.

    That doesn't have much to do with what makes you want to keep looking the next morning or what makes you want to keep talking to someone or spend your life with them. And it also has nothing to do with discovering that some people are really nice to be with even if they don't look attractive (gasp). But since this thread is about a magazine with pictures of men that are meant to be attractive, it is kinda relevant.

    So does that make the comment a cliche?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Stephen I'm not trying to be reductionist at all. It's just an observation that has been made many times in many different studies. And as I said it's an observation with less variation than you normally get when studying real people.

    It's not about long term relationships or anything like that - just the initial "attractiveness" bit, that turns your head or makes you look at a magazine page just a bit longer.

    Or, y'know, gay people.

    That was the really cool thing about the initial studies and one of the most controversial. It demonstrated that gay men and women liked the same features about men and gay women and men liked the same features about women.

    that was controversial because it showed really clearly that gay people actually really were "attracted" to the same sex. That is, it wasn't just a "choice".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Sorry Gio didn't realise you'd had this conversation before.

    Not at all. I enjoy it.

    So I'm happy to stand by the studies that show regardless of what people say makes them attracted to other people, when you do the studies, what makes them look and makes them look for longer at some people than others, turns out to be some very basic proportions.

    Ah, but the first look doesn't tell the whole story. Not even in a magazine, I would argue - photogeniticity must have something to do with how you are able, however artfully, to project an allure, something else about you other than your raw measurements and features.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    that was controversial because it showed really clearly that gay people actually really were "attracted" to the same sex. That is, it wasn't just a "choice".

    And that's controversial for whom? His Holiness?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Ah, but the first look doesn't tell the whole story.

    Sure. Happy to agree with you about that second look and especially about the look that lingers after the third date. But of course that's all about pheromones :P.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    And that's controversial for whom? His Holiness?

    Hell yeah. The first studies were done in the netherlands and caused all sorts of crap to start flying in the Catholic community.

    It undercut one of the major arguments against gay rights and so played a political role as well. If gays really were biologically different then it would be wrong to discriminate, however if it was "merely" a choice well then surely the government had a responsibility to "help" them rectify that er wrong choice. Which of course was bollocks and these studies made such arguments particularly easy to dismiss.

    Which just meant even more silly arguments were raised - sigh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    If gays really were biologically different then it would be wrong to discriminate

    Much as it shouldn't be, 'choice' is still an issue, and a major argument against equal rights in the US. It was obviously still a Big Deal for John Barrowman when he made the BBC documentary The Making of Me a couple of years back, which I cannot recommend highly enough

    (part one of six)

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Oh and just in case I'm coming across as all clinical and biological about this stuff - I think all these things we discover about attractiveness - ratios, symmetry and pheromones - are incredibly romantic. I love the fact that there are parts of me that are hard-wired to fall in love with my sweetheart. Or is that just geeky?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    No, that's cool, I actually find Pinker's idea of "finding the best person who would settle for me" quite romantic myself.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    If gays really were biologically different then it would be wrong to discriminate

    I have always felt that is a very dangerous proposition to agree to. It is giving in to the fallacy that only what is "natural" is permissible.

    Fundamentally it's an issue of civil rights. We cherish and protect freedom of conscience in all sorts of areas of life. Bluntly, why should where I put my penis be any different? Whether biology compels me or the whim takes me is irrelevant.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    hard-wired

    This is on a shortlist of Words I Hate Seeing in Any Internet Forum.

    (Sorry Bart. I know you're not being one of those 'it is naaaaatural for me to spray my seeeeeeed far and wide, while you, timid loyal lady, stay at home nurturing my many behbehs!!!' dudes. But they all use 'hard-wired'. A lot.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Poole,

    Okay, now see, that's hardly fair when in one's head Ares looks like this.

    Man, bet you're upset that you missed the version of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' that my English class went to in 6th or 7th form. The bit where Kevin Smith, as Stanley, appeared on stage sans shirt recieved an ear-deafening greeting from the mostly teenaged-female audience.

    Ouch, my ears.

    Good actor, but. Killer abs too.

    Since Dec 2008 • 161 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Man, bet you're upset that you missed the version of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' that my English class went to in 6th or 7th form.

    Au contraire, dude, I was at that. My English teacher was a) an old friend of Kevin's from our local theatre group, and b) gay, so oddly enough our class made the trip up.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Megan Wegan,

    My apologies for even the merest suggestion that Megan is anything other than ravishing.

    <blush>
    I go away for four hours, and look what bloody happens.

    Welly • Since Jul 2008 • 1275 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Oh, she's back...

    < swoons >

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Great timing...it probably looked a little more sinister, like I was lurking in teh shaddows, just waiting for you.

    But not so. Just serendipitous timing.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Sorry Danielle.

    I certainly wouldn't want to imply that biological imperatives are an excuse to do what is culturally or morally wrong and uncivilised.

    There is pretty good evidence for some kind of biological drive to do some pretty horrible things. The mark of civilised folks is that they can do what is right even if it doesn't fit with what was good for us a million years ago.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Poole,

    Au contraire, dude, I was at that. My English teacher was a) an old friend of Kevin's from our local theatre group, and b) gay, so oddly enough our class made the trip up.

    Shit, small world. You weren't in the group of girls that passed notes to the tall, long-haired guy suggesting he go goth? That was a bit creepy. I suspect I was too young for your attention, however.

    Since Dec 2008 • 161 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I have always felt that is a very dangerous proposition to agree to. It is giving in to the fallacy that only what is "natural" is permissible.

    I agree, as I bet does Danielle.

    The point was the argument being tossed around was that it should be illegal because it was an "unnatural" choice, which it very clearly was not.

    That we can decide to use our intelligence to do what is right even in cases where our biology might push us to do what is wrong is to me a pretty serious marker of civilisation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Does that make peiople who are non-breeders by choice the epitome of civilisation?

    (Heard it pronounced as 'epi-tome' by a newsreader this week - cracked up.)

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Stewart: I have to admit that up until very recently, that's how I said it too. Such are the perils of knowing words from reading only.

    (I also, as a child, believed that there was a verb "to misle", meaning "fool or deceive", which I inferred from what I thought was an obvious reading of "misled").

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Scott A,

    "Small world," Simon? You're not kidding!

    Finding comments from Jack who I used to flat with while people pranked called the Minister of Police, on a blog post about the magazine published by a woman who I once played in a band with, it all points to the same honest truth - Wellington, indeed New Zealand, really is a very small place.

    None of that suprises me about anything involving Suraya, though. Suraya's one of those people who, for one reason or another, are social hubs - one could play 'six degrees' with Suraya Singh as well as with Kevin Bacon.

    And I wish her all the best with the magazine. Quiting one's job to launch not just a magazine, but a niche magazine, would scare the bejeebers out of me. But Suraya's done it, which is just... well, it's awesome.

    Oh, and back to an older comment - I also don't find the word 'Filament' very erotic - I really did like one of the earlier names 'Spitfire' but I understand that was problematical. But, then, I'm not a heterosexual female.

    'Moist' on the other hand, is pretty frisky.

    The wilds of Kingston, We… • Since May 2009 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    You weren't in the group of girls that passed notes to the tall, long-haired guy suggesting he go goth?

    Nah, we'd have been the group of girls that reeked of cigarette smoke.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Does that make people who are non-breeders by choice the epitome of civilisation?

    Given you can trace almost all the environmental problems with the planet to "too many people" it's not far wrong.

    It's also the subject of some good and some not-so-good science fiction exploring the social implications of changes in culture around breeders vs non-breeders or restricted-breeders.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Xeno,

    Which Greek god, though? Aephestus was supposedly very ugly indeed (although, great buns according to the old Italian 50 Lire coin).

    Oh dear. He looks like he's about to do something with that hammer that Warren Ellis would link to.

    Since Oct 2008 • 27 posts Report Reply

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