Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Eye (and Nose) of the Beholder

You may want to send the children out of the room before you read this post. I'm just sayin' ...

Yesterday my attention was caught by two somewhat-related articles dealing with how men and women are attracted to each other. We'll do the PG-rated one first.

Over the years, people seeking dates (or mates) have tried ISO ads, singles bars, church socials, speed-dating, and even the much-maligned blind date. But it seems that there is a new approach to finding just the right guy (or girl) - Pheromone Parties, at which people seek out their prospective dates based on how they smell. It works like this: you sleep in the same t-shirt for three nights, then put the shirt into a sealed plastic bag and store it in the freezer (to help keep the scent fresh). You then bring your bag to the next Pheromone Party, at which it is marked with a label (pink for girls, blue for boys) and a number. Party attendees then open the appropriate bags, sniff the shirts, and choose their date based on the smell they find most appealing. You can read an article about this dating trend here.

It's long been known that an individual's personal scent plays a key role in establishing his or her sexual attractiveness. This is why we spend millions of dollars each year on soaps, deodorants, colognes, perfumes, and such. French emperor Napoleon Bonapart supposedly once wrote to his wife Josephine as he was returning from one of his campaigns, telling her that he would be home in a few days time, and not to wash; in some cultures, a woman would put a peeled apple in her armpit until it had absorbed her scent, then give the apple to her lover so that he could sniff it and be reminded of her when they were apart. You can read more about the relationship between sex and smell in this interesting article.

Scent is one sexual attractant ... color is another. Now we turn to the R-rated part of the post ...

The relationship between color and sex is also well-known. It's why, for example, women wear red dresses, lingerie, and lipstick, men wear power ties, and desperate people visit red-light districts. But there's a good deal more to the science of color and sex, as you can read in this fascinating article from Pretty in Pink: What Does the Color of Our Genitals Have to Do with Evolution?

It seems that many species of animals signal their sexual receptivity to prospective partners by enhancing the color of their genitals. The color-and-sex theory holds that, on a deeply-subliminal level, men are driven by a genetic attraction to swollen, brightly-colored genitals that once were used to attract mates, but are now hidden by proper ladies under layers of clothing ... the color of which is chosen - perhaps unconsciously - to remind the men of what is concealed.

Naturally, the hypothesis has been tested. I won't go into the colorful details here, but the full article describes how researchers obtained ... um ... representative images of female private parts, adjusted the pictures for a range of colors from soft pink to vivid red, and then quizzed carefully selected male volunteers* on their perception of the sexual attractiveness of each. The results were, to say the least, interesting, reflecting a general preference for pink, rather than hot red. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

So ...

When you are walking down the street, sitting on the bus, or making small talk at a party, consider the degree to which your evaluation of the sexual attractiveness of others is driven at some level by those persons' scent and choice of colors.

For the moment, we won't discuss the role of hearing in the process ... in an election year, chances are that even otherwise desirable people may turn you off with dunderheaded political rhetoric.

Have a colorful and aromatic day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* I was not selected, reflecting the degree of care used by the researchers.


The Bastard King of England said...

Very interesting. They even used a nurse midwife as a judge of the usual color range of human vaginas.

I wonder now the phallic series went?

eViL pOp TaRt said...

The power of scent is well-known. Mothers can actually discriminate which clothing was worn by their infants, as opposed to others. Also, maybe guys should take it as a compliment when a lady friend who is, er visiting, puts on one of his shirts. She's trying to mingle his scent with hers, or just simply is attracted to his scent.

As for the color of women's bottoms, the preference for pink is very plausible; as a matter of fact, it is possible to get one's bottom bleached in some localities! It's a pretty common practice to remove hair from down there. Can a common thread be an attempt to replicate an immature bottom?

I hope my nattering on like this isn't gross. Maybe the "I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours...." routine is involved.

Amanda said...

I've been told that my three day old shirts smell like peaches but I would definitely not like to sniff any shirt that Richard has slept in for three days. I just don't like that stale smell. So, I think I'd find it really hard to go sniffing for a mate at a Pheromone Party.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Can we conclude that showering and doing laundry might be self-defeating, then?

Most guys don't have a large range of experience with girls' private parts to be coneisseurs of them.

Big Sky Heidi said...

Oh gosh, one more thing to worry about! Getting a Brazilian makes the color down there more apparent!

Duckbutt said...

Evolutionary psychologists seem to have a lot of fun, don't they?

Some perfumes are musk-based. Humans are especially sensitive to detecting the smell of musk. Some major perfumes, such as My Sin, are musk-based. From the sweat glands of the civet.

Do Republicans and Democrats have different smells?

Mike said...

Weren't The Pheromones a 60's rock group?

Bilbo said...

King - I really don't want to know.

Angelique - "I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours...." is WAY farther than I figured to go with this ... we hardly know each other!!

Amanda - peaches? That's a new one.

Elvis - I suspect that's true, but most men would be unwilling to admit it.

Heidi - if you're willing to go to the pain and agony of a Brazilian, the color ought to be the least of your worries.

Duckbutt - The sweat glands of the civet ... now there's a real turn-on. And Republicans and Democrats both stink, just with a different odor.

Mike - you may be thinking of the Ramones, who (IMHO) also stank.