All you need is money or power, the notion goes, and beautiful lovers present themselves to you for the taking.
When Homer Simpson once came into a pound surfeit of sugar, his id instinct was to turn it into fortune and sexual prosperity. University of Notre Dame sociologist Elizabeth McClintock has done exhaustive research on the idea of people exchanging traits.
Her work was published last month in American Sociological Review, looking at data from 1, couples in various stages of relationships, somen dating, cohabiting, and married. The dominant force in mating is matching. What appears to be an exchange of beauty for socioeconomic atractive is often actually not an exchange, McClintock wrote, but a series of matched virtues. Economically successful women partner with economically successful men, and physically attractive women partner with physically attractive men.
If the guys are hot, too, then sure, they can get a hot girl. More than 90 per cent of the customers are women.
I watched a woman as her lips were injected with Restylane, a dermal filler deed to make faces look fuller, lips more pouty. Her face was being stretched and jabbed, stretched and jabbed.
Skin was being hoicked and yanked, and then stuff was pumped into her. It looked like a cooking procedure. It looked like abuse. Afterwards, she got up. She was shaky on her feet. She had the bearing of someone who had been in an accident.
Before and after the procedure she was normal looking. They might help a bit. But women increasingly crave beauty — and for good reason.
So women, in their tens of thousands, feel a new acceptance of the pain, the fear, the microdermabrasion, the chemical peels, the intense pulsed light. They try not to think of the procedures that go wrong, leading to more wpmen. In the mirror they observe their faces with a new expertise, noting the downward slide of the malar fat p, the atrophy of collagen.
They save money. They book appointments.
People yank and jab their skin. Afterwards they still look un-beautiful. Just at the point when women were becoming more liberated — the moment when they began to act, as well as appear — the old patriarchy hit back. In The Beauty Myth she makes a loiking case. The more power women have, she says, the more pressure there is on them to be beautiful. And passive. And what do they tell us?
In The Evolution of Desire, David Buss, professor of psychology at the University of Texas, says that it all comes down to the basics of sex. Men fpr attracted to women who look fertile.
Women are attracted to men who will make good providers. Throughout history, in other words, women are desirable when they look healthy and unblemished.
Symmetrical features are a of health; a narrow waist and wide hips are a of fertility. Women like symmetrical features too. How did we get here and why is the situation so extreme? I recently read a debate about online porn that asked: why are female porn stars much better looking than male? Why is porn all about normal-looking blokes having sex with beautiful women?
They want to identify with the male actors, which would be more difficult if the male actors were as beautiful as the women. The male gaze le from money to female beauty.
Forty years on, for the most part men still act, women still appear. And the distinctions are becoming sharper.
The ideal of male agency and female beauty goes back millennia. When, in the last century, it was challenged by feminism, it fought back. Naomi Wolf was right. Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley, former presenters of Countdown PA Since then, in an increasingly mediated, monetised society, the old atill has hardened and intensified. Sponsorship and advertising endorse conservative values.
The internet has brought us porn on demand, which focuses the male gaze. And porn is a hub that radiates outwards — towards fashion, music, films and novels. As the feminist writer Ariel Levy pointed out in her book Female Chauvinist Pigs, lots of women seem to want to become pornographic versions of themselves, mainly because it works.
It places them in the dominant culture. Some wore T-shirts with the slogan porn star. In her book Honey Moneyshe points out that, just as men in patriarchal societies have always tried to control the way women dress, so have some feminists. Why does no one encourage women to exploit men whenever they can?
Or a world in which to look normal is to look ugly, or in which I can womeb my power several notches just by how I dress. Just think of John Malkovichanother normal-looking leading man.