Why Do Men Check Women Out In Public? Evolution, Allegedly

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You’ve probably seen it countless times, whether you’re walking down the street or chillin’ at a cafe with your friends or just people watching. You’ll notice some guy–teenager, thirties, hell, even sixties–automatically turn his head to check out a woman’s backside as she walks by. Your boyfriend could be guilty of this too, and maybe you’ve seen it happen. Subtlety just flies out the window, doesn’t it? It’s cringe worthy and a little creepy, but apparently there’s some science behind it all.

According to Daily Mail, a new study has shown that while women are attracted to familiar faces, men are more turned on by people they haven’t seen before. This was concluded after male and female participants in the study were shown dozens of different faces. When the women saw the same man’s face multiple times, they liked them more. On the other hand, when men saw photos of the same woman multiple times, they started to become less attracted to them. The researchers believe that this dates back to the early days of man, when men sought out multiple mating partners so that he can produce as many offspring as possible.

“Men are geared to reproduce as much as possible and some take full advantage of that,” said Psychologist Dr Jane McCartney. “But from a practical point of view it doesn’t make sense to go round having lots of children with different women.”

Wow, no kidding. I suppose that if you can’t sex up some random woman on the spot, openly checking her out is the next best thing.

This study emphasizes everything I hate about evolutionary psychology. I don’t understand this obsession with relating everything back to the human race’s equivalent of an “awkward stage.” How often do these so-called studies, with sample sizes smaller than an overcrowded classroom, end up justifying everything that men do with super fun cavemen facts? Is evolution going to be used to explain away the grossness of CreepShots, a blog full of photos that men secretly snap of women’s bottoms and breasts? What about sexual harassment?

Even if there is some truth to these findings, they’re still incredibly limited. For example, will gay and lesbian men and women have the same responses? Could the fact that it is socially acceptable and encouraged for men to publicly objectify women’s bodies play a part in this research? Women notice bodies too, but is that just some inexplicable fluke because our cavewoman cousins were too busy picking berries?

While I can’t claim to know the ins and outs of human instinct, I can claim one thing: Societal norms have a huge impact on what we do, even the things we assume are natural reactions. And no matter if it’s all due to men’s evolutionary wiring or not, I still don’t like to be checked out so openly in public. It’s pretty damn awkward to be treated like the living, breathing equivalent to the Do She Got A Booty meme. The “but I’m a caveman” defense just doesn’t cut it for me.

 

What do you think of this research? Do you think that nature is stronger than nurture? Tell us in the comments!

 

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  • Drake Carnahan

    I think you have some good points, especially when looking at societal norms. Even the individual down there who pointed to biological, psychological and personal disorders on the inner workings of behavior didn’t give much thought to how society plays on encouraging and reinforcing how men and women should and can act. When looking at history, its no wonder that men objectifying women has been acceptable and only further encouraged by media. Strong female roles have been lacking. By strong, I mean intelligent, nurturing, loving and justice supporting women- women wearing next to nothing and trying to get attention with her physical body only shows she has been subjected to the same programming that everyone else is grappling with. Basically all powers of control have been held by men for most of human history; the privileges of women have only started to come out in more force in the last century. If we allowed women to teach the men they bring into this world more diligently about how to treat others, I don’t think this type of behavior would be as commonplace.

  • Gicelle

    “This study emphasizes everything I hate about evolutionary psychology.”

    Um, I study evolution in college, and gotta say I’m kinda offended by that. Evolution is how we’re programmed-it’s not meant to offend anybody, it just is. No, nothing is excusable about sexual harassment or a secret stalker stash-you can put that down to biological, psychological, and personality disorders (my parents both have degrees in psychology). This simply explains why men check out women, and I find that kind of fascinating. I mean, we do it to, and it all comes down to the same thing-sex. But you could also say that, concerning evolution, we have evolved to a higher level where whenever we see someone who we’re sexually attracted to, we don’t have to DO anything about it (no pun intended:P) And when you consider that evolution takes thousands of years, I think that’s pretty good=)

  • Kara

    Sorry, but I feel this is incredibly one-sided. If, as a straight girl, you see a guy with an amazing body walk past, do you just look away? Plenty of times when I’m at the beach with girls, they would check out and graphically objectify a guy they had just seen and thought was attractive. I’m just saying, men aren’t the only ones guilty of this, but it seems to be classed as “creepy” when men do check girls out.

  • Sarah

    i’m relatively heavy chested, and when i walk through a mall or a grocery store, i can feel the guys checking out my boobs!! its awkward! i have next to no butt though, so no one ever checks that out…