November 19, 2013
I saw an article recently in the New York Times where there was an experiment that intuitively measured female aggression and competitiveness toward one another. The article made me think about the double standard and the fact that there are more women than men on college campuses these days. The article also mentioned that people are waiting longer to get married and not rush to the altar. The experiment was conducted in a laboratory at McMaster University in Canada.
The experiment took place in a laboratory; sometimes the researchers had a woman enter the classroom pretending like she was searching for another colleague. The woman had clear skin, a nice figure, and large breasts. When she entered the room wearing jeans and a simple gray t-shirt, she went unnoticed. The times that she came in wearing a low-cut blouse and a skirt, girls hawk-eyed her and talked shit in a passive-aggressive manner when she left. Female students remarked that she must be dressed that way because she wanted to sleep with a male professor.
A psychologist from Ottawa, Dr. Vaillancourt, suggested that women become especially aggressive towards one another when they view each other as competition to reproduce with a healthy man. This intrasexual struggle is a threat to future American families because it can be psychologically damaging to young women who are still developing a personal identity. Women should stand together and build each other up, but biologically speaking, this competitive nature makes sense. There is a huge amount of “slut shaming” in today’s culture, and Dr. Vaillancourt believes that the double standard is mostly enforced upon women by each other. When a woman has sex with a man too quickly, there is an assumption that she is giving up power and that makes other women feel hostile towards her.
A study at Stetson University in Florida “found that women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies did not correlate with what they watched on television at home.” The dissatisfaction stemmed from comparing themselves to their peers. Amongst college-age females, sexual competition seemed to increase because of the lack of available bachelors. In polygynous societies, dominant males often took multiple wives and women were all assured of the possibility of reproducing. This is not the case today.
Women who feel confident about their bodies may feel comfortable showing more skin in public; this may lead other females to believe that the woman is promiscuous. The research study showed that college-age women feel more satisfied with their own bodies when they are presented with “rivals” who wear sweatpants and no makeup. If a woman in business attire and spotless makeup is in the same room with them and an attractive male, there was shown to be an increase in the dissatisfaction they felt regarding their own bodies.
Yes, there are fewer men on college campuses today and that is increasing hostility among young women. But also, due to advances in technology, the dating pool has become larger. Adolescents are now searching longer and are able to search farther for a desirable mate. We may see a trend in the American family because some young people are meeting from across country via social media; they may adopt trends and practices from other states or cities. Because of this increase in the number of rivals from across the country, competition could become fiercer.