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Does Ovulation Change Women’s Behavior?

Does Ovulation Change Women’s Behavior?

There’s some “new research” that reiterates old and incredibly misogynistic conclusions, and predictably offers conclusions that will help advertisers sell women more stuff they don’t need.  They also provide insights into ways that women can better find a mate.  What are these findings, you ask?  They are, of course, based on the female menstrual cycle.

According to various evolutionary biologists (the source is never really clarified in this article):

“When a woman is ovulating, her behavior changes in a startling number of ways from the way she walks, talks and dresses to the men she flirts with…Fertile women may even be better at getting the men they want.”

According to the article’s author, Emily Sohn, this is all part of nature’s clever plan to snag a desirable man and get him to settle down.  Women feel sexiest when they’re most fertile, they are more attracted to men with deep voices and “chiseled, masculine faces,” and they tend to wear sexier and more revealing clothes.  The implication, of course, is that when women are more fertile, they are engineered to be more likely to appeal to men and thus to procreate (which is, of course, all that our ovaries desire).  A helpful tip for lap dancers: you’ll be able to get more tips when you’re most fertile, so schedule lots of shifts for when you’re ovulating.

This kind of pop evolutionary biology is all predicated on the notion that women are, deep down, looking for a man with whom to mate for life, that this is the way nature designed us.  But it’s also absurd to assume that desirability is solely dependent on where women are in their menstrual cycle.  The suggestions of the researchers, particularly Kristina Durante, a social psychologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, are condescending and ultimately stoop to the worst kind of biological essentialism. 

And for goodness’ sake – what about women who are going through menopause?  Do they lose all desire simply because they’re not ovulating?  And it’s also incredibly heteronormative to assume that all women are attracted to men.

“If women are aware of the five or six days in their cycle when they’re most fertile, they may be more likely to become more or less attracted to different types of men, or they might want to rein in their purchases if they happen upon a Victoria’s Secret,” Durante said. “Your picture might look more attractive near ovulation, so take your Facebook picture mid-cycle.”

Are you serious?  This is supposed to be science?

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88 comments

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11:16AM PDT on Sep 12, 2010

Go Emma !.......... took the words out of my mouth. Thank you. Hormones are not regular cycles. Many things in life can influence it. Just trying to understand what is going on in the body is hard enough. Hormones can be influenced by chemicals, time of the month, personal cycles, The hotie you just saw........and more. It is still our minds that have to 'work' the situations the body gets into.

1:32AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

something new?....this is old story...and of course a generalization...

4:00AM PDT on Sep 4, 2010

When I would be ovulating is the time I didn't want to have sex for fear of getting pregnant.

12:37AM PDT on Sep 1, 2010

I never know when I'm ovulating. My cycles are irregular, and I only know within 24 hours (many times less) that my cycle is here. I get both the PMS and current symptoms all at once. My cycle takes a lot out of me, and well, when I feel good, I feel good. That's sexy by it's self. If I don't feel good, I don't.

7:04AM PDT on Aug 31, 2010

People need to stop pretending there are no differences between men and women. Of course not everything is cultural, some of it is biological.

If your hormones change, your behaviour changes or at least is influenced -- maybe a lot, maybe a little, maybe not at all for some women. What I know is that my behaviour changes and most of my friends's also and many men (and women) can notice this on their female friends.

It is up to us to realise that this happens and control our behaviour accordingly if we so wish.




8:46PM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

Many women in menopause feel sexy because they can go have fun w/o having to worry about pregnancy. This is so full of bull it's not funny. Not all of us want to have children, you know.

4:17PM PDT on Aug 30, 2010

So some poor male can get a glimpse of hell once a month. If you treated her right, there would probably be no negative consequences. That said, time of the month has no real bearing on whether or not I have reason to be upset with said male.

12:13PM PDT on Aug 28, 2010

I don't remember. I'm in early menopause. My daughter's mood changes all month.

12:36PM PDT on Aug 25, 2010

My wife does act differently while ovulating, a lot different...

2:00AM PDT on Aug 24, 2010

what's next?

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