One intrepid young female artist has taken it upon herself to cast light into the dungeon of ignorance that is middle-age sex. "It's appalling and shocking to think that scientifically, the clitoris was only discovered in 1998," says Sophia Wallace. The problem is, you see, that "there's still such ignorance when it comes to the female body."
This comes as quite a shock to the tens of millions of women of our generation who have been quite on top of the clitoris for most of their lives, and the millions of us who have been worshipping at its shrine. Not to beat my own drum–no, actually, to beat my own drum–I devote tender attention to the biology of the clitoris in The Magic of Middle-Aged Women. If she reads it, Ms Wallace may be surprised to find that the physiology is more subtle than she has discovered.
She opines, "It is a curious dilemma to observe the paradox that on the one hand the female body is the primary metaphor for sexuality… Yet, the clitoris, the true female sexual organ, is virtually invisible." So very true. She may be surprised to know that for many women the center of sexuality is the brain, and that is completely invisible.
What is obviously the story here is that Ms Wallace herself has finally discovered HER clitoris, and, with the supreme egoism of youth, assumes that the world is in concert with her–though a few steps behind. She extends her (washed off) hand to us in her campaign for "cliteracy," involving street art and interactive installments.
One hopes that when Ms Wallace reaches middle age and finally experiences vaginal orgasms, she will look back on this campaign as a forgivable embarrassment. Now the rest of us can try to extend similar generosity to the Huffington Post, and other electronic rags that have chosen to broadcast this sophomoric bilge into our lives.
According to a new study by Dartmouth College, female politicians with more feminine features tend to win elections, while those with more masculine features tend to lose. This is independent of other characteristics that have always been thought bear on a candidate's success, such as her competence and attractiveness. The femininity was assessed by 300 participants in the study, who were shown pictures of Senate and gubernatorial candidates between 1998 and 2010.
A video accompanying the study showed the two women above, Judy Baar Topinka, who was defeated in her run for governor of Illinois, and Nikki Haley, who became governor of South Carolina.
What distinction did the authors see? "Larger eyes and rounded features convey femininity whereas lateral bone growth and prominent upper brows signal masculinity."
Larger eyes and rounded features are features of youth. With age, fat in the lips and cheeks, which provides roundness, drains away. Noses and ears lengthen, making eyes less prominent. The differences between male and female faces naturally diminishes.
Which means that, according to this study, the natural aging of a woman's face is a powerful factor against her in the eyes of voters.
THAT health and beauty are linked is not in doubt. But it comes as something of a surprise that who is perceived as beautiful depends not only on the health of the person in question but also on the average level of health in the place where she lives. This, though, is the conclusion of a study just published in Biology Letters by Urszula Marcinkowska of the University of Turku, in Finland, and her colleagues—for Ms Marcinkowska has found that men in healthy countries think women with the most feminine faces are the prettiest whilst those in unhealthy places prefer more masculine-looking ones.
Ms Marcinkowska came to this conclusion by showing nearly 2,000 men from 28 countries various versions of the same female faces, modified to look less or more feminine, and thus reflect the effects of different levels of oestrogen and testosterone. Oestrogen promotes features, such as large eyes and full lips, that are characteristically feminine. Testosterone promotes masculine features, such as wide faces and strong chins.
Previous studies have shown that women with feminine features are more fertile. A man’s preference for them is thus likely to enhance his reproductive success. Ms Marcinkowska speculates that testosterone-induced behavioural characteristics like dominance, which might be expected to correlate with masculine-looking faces even in women (they certainly do in men), help in the competition for resources needed to sustain children once they are born. But why that should be particularly important in an unhealthy country is unclear.As the chart shows, the correlation is remarkable—and statistical analysis shows it is unconnected with a country’s wealth or its ratio of men to women and thus the amount of choice available to men. The cause, though, is unclear.