Hail Julie Henderson

Top 10 Ways Sports Illustrated Disrespects Women … The swimsuit issue features women models posed not as athletes of strength, skill, and endurance but as playthings; … showing women’s primary value to be their value as sex objects; … bodies as if they are merely body parts; … encouraging … to view women as sex toys … to ogle at; … numbing men to women’s humanity; … exhibiting women to men as the “other”; … sending a message to girls … that … all that matters is how they look to men. (more)

After reading that, I browsed the free videos at Sports Illustrated and — I liked them a lot. More even than their for-pay magazine pictures. I especially liked Julie Henderson, presented like a “flower child” from my generation’s youth (best in full screen):

This sort of thing isn’t easy to do well, requiring skill in composition, photography, makeup, costumes, etc. Hats off to the whole team, including Julie.

Of course I didn’t just admire production skills – I enjoyed the vid, in part because it made me feel attracted to Julie and helped me fantasize that she likes me back. And yes, that includes some sexual attraction.

But most everything that humans do to impress each other has a sexual component. Women are more attracted to men who do music, sport, art, politics, and even research well, and men do such things more as a result. Also, standard displays rarely give equal weight to all of a person’s aspects. A sport performance emphasizes different aspects than a poetry reading or a rock concert, and none give a whole view of the performer.

Yes a swimsuit video has sexual connotations and doesn’t emphasize all aspects of the performer, but then the same can be said of many rock concerts. Why do folks complain so much more about swimsuit vids? Some possibilities:

  1. Since common folks like swimsuits, liking them doesn’t signal elite class or culture.
  2. It takes fewer special skill to appreciate swimsuits, making it hard to signal discernment this way.
  3. For most other displays with sexual connotations, one can more easily pretend to be interested for other reasons. Homo hypocritus prefers ambiguous sex displays in public.
  4. Swimsuits are more salient to men seeking short term mates, and women seeking long term mates fear short term mates in disguise. To present themselves as seeking long term mates, both men and women disapprove of swimsuits.
  5. We prefer displays that emphasize effort over innate ability. and presume swimsuits mostly show off innate ability.
  6. [Added] For other displays we can more easily self-deceive to think that our displays are just as good.
  7. What else?
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  • effem

    I think it stems from religion. Sex is difficult to outlaw on any rational basis (other than sex crimes) since it seems to be beneficial to the parties involved under normal circumstances. Therefore an emotional, non-logic-based, aversion to sex has been beaten into our heads by our religious elders since the time we were young.

    Why have religions always wanted to outlaw various aspects of sex? My best guess is it is a combination of 1) the laws have been written by old men throughout history who were bitter about no longer being as sexually active as they would like, and 2) it was the easiest way to cut down on sex crimes since so many of them took place in the home or behind closed doors therefore leaving the justice system somewhat ineffective.

    That’s my guess – a long-stading, irrational bias towards demonizing sex thanks to the worlds religins.

    • John 4

      Ridiculous. Historically speaking, cultures have strong norms about sex because, if there weren’t, women would get “used” with little or no consequences, which would lead to children being neglected, which would lead to social decline, which would lead to the extinction of the society with no strong norms about sex.

      I’m not saying there’s no “free love” communitarian equilibrium. (I’m not saying there is either.) I’m just saying that if there is such an equilibrium, it’s hard to get and stay there. A much better bet is for a society to have strong norms about sex.

  • http://cephalicfurrow.wordpress.com PeterW

    3 makes the most sense to me. Note that very few people object to the manifestations of beauty bias in everyday life – it’s the unambiguous effort put into the presentation of beauty that seems to be objectionable.

    • http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~criedel/ Jess Riedel

      I definitely agree with PeterW here. The perception of men as the cruder gender seems tied to the fact that everyone understands what drives 90% of a woman’s sexual attractiveness to men (physical appearance) whereas the major components of men’s sexual attractiveness to women are much more obscure to both genders. (It’s with the latter that pick-up artists claim special insight.) So it’s easier for everyone to think that many male displays are non-sexual.

  • David J

    90% of the public attention that females get is for their appearance/sexiness, and not their other attributes.

    20% of the public attention that males get is for their appearance/sexiness, and not their other attributes.

    Correcting this imbalance is a long-term societal goal for many, and will result in many benefits. As the father of 2 young daughters I am thinking hard about how to help them achieve their full potential in a culture that will ignore many of their strengths & attributes.

    The Swimsuit Issue profits from and reinforces the suboptimal status quo.

    (I have comprehensive links and footnotes to substantiate my claims, but this blog comment box was too small to contain them. Expectations bias, etc)

    • http://whyiamnot.wordpess.com Salem

      Correcting this imbalance is a long-term societal goal for many, and will result in many benefits.

      Similarly, Canute pointed out that we would have a lot more farmland if we could just persuade the ocean to recede.

    • anon

      If we really wished to “correct the imbalance” we’d promote male practitioners of body building for their sexy appearance. But male body building is a rather low status activity, much like posing in a swinsuit video is for women.

      I think we like to see sexiness bundled with other good attributes, because we can confer more status to sexy folks if they are also good at other stuff. So this is why we are somewhat disappointed when sexy gals get a lot of attention regardless of their other good qualities. This is somewhat like Robin’s 2 and 3, I think.

    • http://don.geddis.org/ Don Geddis

      You probably underestimate how much of the non-appearance attention that males get, is actually still about attraction. Men and women value different things in their mates of opposite gender.

      Couldn’t the different observed fractions of public attention, simply reflect the different desires of gendered brains? What makes it an “imbalance” that needs to be “corrected”?

      • anon

        “You probably underestimate how much of the non-appearance attention that males get, is actually still about attraction. ”

        Robin has stated this already in the OP. But we try to correct plenty of things which depend on established sex/gender differences. So why not appearance as well?

      • http://don.geddis.org/ Don Geddis

        I meant (since we’re just making up statistics here), that the real stats may be more like: “80% of public attention that females get is for attributes that are sexually attractive to men; similarly, 80% of public attention that males get is for attributes that are sexually attractive to women.”

        Framed like that, what imbalance is there to correct?

        And why not “correct” it? Because people are receiving the content that they want to receive. You can publicize all you want, the IQ scores of the smartest women … but that won’t cause (most) men to find them sexually attractive. The media is following men’s (and women’s!) innate desires, not leading it.

    • Marcus

      The imbalances fly both ways…they just look different. That’s the point.

    • prakash

      Hi David,

      Are you a transhumanist in any way? Transhumanism seeks to break the boundary of humanity and what you seek to be asking requires some pretty nifty surgery deep down.

      The way I think this situation can be broken is if female youth was as abundant as air and then no one would notice it, like air. Contribute to the sens foundation and stop aging among humans. Once youth starts lasting for a 100 years, a few nips and tucks and everyone will be pretty. ( I know your goal, I’m getting there) Once through the valley of all-prettiness, then other means of social signalling will start dominating. Then, your daughters’ other strengths and attributes will start getting noticed.

  • ghoul

    Because for much of human history, women were blocked from any kind of achievement that didn’t involve sexual gratification of men, and this social structure left many women destitute or objects of scorn when widowed, unmarried, or unattractive. This still applies in much of the world. Are you really not aware of this?

    • gfa

      this

    • http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~criedel/ Jess Riedel

      Low status men–which are a good, though imperfect, analog of unattractive women–have throughout history been the destitute objects of scorn. In particular: the poor, socially unskilled, stupid, and weak men (all of which are largely the result of random chance, rather than choices made). Yet it isn’t considered particularly offensive to celebrate the rich and strong, and it is considered appropriate to celebrate the socially skilled and smart. Robin’s question is: why the discrepancy?

      • ad

        Perhaps because the only people who suffer from discrimination against poor, socially unskilled, stupid, and weak men are in no position to complain about it and have no powerful or influential friends.

        On the other hand, there must be some plain women who are eloquent or well connected.

      • David J

        Jess, your question is much better to me than Robin’s.

      • gfa

        This is a helpful clarification. I guess my response depends on what you mean by ‘low status’ here.

        If by ‘low status,’ you count a white male who had an average set of opportunities/ resources for a white male, and has ended up working the cash register at Burger King at age 40, then there is an important and relevant disanalogy: this male’s low status is not the result of systematic disadvantage. There are historical and structural aspects of (e.g.) US society that systematically disadvantage women qua women.

        Alternatively, if by ‘low status,’ you mean lower/ working class, in a society in which class markers do systematically disadvantage people, then there’s not much of a difference. But now consider the analogous publication: imagine, in Dickensian Britain, a magazine aimed at captains of industry. This magazine, once a year, publishes an issue showing off lower-class factory-line workers who were exceptionally strong but also exceptionally subservient/ obedient to management. I would find that fairly vile. But maybe I’m overly sensitive. (Any ideas for the magazine title?)

  • http://hertzlinger.blogspot.com Joseph Hertzlinger

    I’m reminded of “the swimsuit issue of Chemical Abstracts” mentioned in Science Made Stupid by Tom Weller.

  • James D. Miller

    It raises the status of younger women at the expense of women over 30.

  • lemmy caution

    The Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit issue is a historical oddity. It is weird that a magazine dedicated to sports has a single issue each year devoted to half naked women.

    The president of the US, or your kids history teacher, can’t publicly subscribe to Playboy but he can publicly subscribe to Sport’s Illustrated. The Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit issue defines the edge of respectable “objectification” of women.

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  • Dave

    The Swimsuit issue is a joke. Do real people actually look at it? It doesn’t really deliver if sexy pictures are what you want. If you really want to have a swimsuit issue in a sports magazine, you could do something interesting by showing some shots of real women athletes like the gals in the WNBA. They are tall like fashion models so the women should like them too. They could just put on swimsuits, like those gals who play beach volleyball. You could get guys to pose too. What about Tiger Woods? Then it would be an honest deal.

    It seems to me that these pictures are mostly part of the pseudo- sexual exploitation of men for commercial purposes. You see it in beer, car and boat commercials. If you want to sell a marine generator, you show a sexy young woman draped over it. In reality when you buy one you will soon find yourself draped around it trying to repair an oil leak in high seas.

    • http://don.geddis.org/ Don Geddis

      Re: athletes in swimsuits. They do that too.

      Re: it’s really about sexual attraction. Yeah, you’re right. But we all know that too. Robin’s question is: why does that bother you so much?

      • Dave

        Not bad.

    • JAMayes

      “If you really want to have a swimsuit issue in a sports magazine, you could do something interesting by showing some shots of real women athletes like the gals in the WNBA”

      Interesting to whom?

    • Evan

      The Swimsuit issue is a joke. Do real people actually look at it?

      im pretty sure the swimsuit edition is SI’s highest selling single issue. so yes, people actually look at it. i think what we are trying to define is ‘why?’

      I think lemmy caution got it right by noting it is socially acceptable to subscribe to SI but not playboy (more homo hypocritus). Its similar to how some people claim to get playboy ‘for the articles’

  • JAMayes

    The ones who complain about this sort of thing are women and, to a lesser extent, beta males. The neutered, beta males complain because they think it will make them more attractive to women in general. (I’m no chauvinist!) They are generally wrong about that, but their thinking is understandable.

    The women who complain are, I’ll wager, on the less attractive side. Trying to raise their status by dragging down the attractive women in the magazines. It’s like cheerleader bashing but painted with an intellectual veneer.

    Also, for both groups, complaining might serve other instrumental goals, as feminism is orthodoxy in academia and heretics get punished while zealots are rewarded.

    • http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com Hopefully Anonymous

      Non-beta male technocrats can also be concerned about optimizing macrosocial norms regarding women.

    • Konvkistador

      “The neutered, beta males complain because they think it will make them more attractive to women in general. ”

      This is a very much unfairly underestimate factor. The manospherer is crazy in some resepcts but their observations on “white knighting” are very much spot on.

    • Konvkistador

      “The women who complain are, I’ll wager, on the less attractive side. Trying to raise their status by dragging down the attractive women in the magazines. It’s like cheerleader bashing but painted with an intellectual veneer.”

      Reminds me of Sailer’s law of female journalism
      http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/07/sailers-law-of-female-journalism.html

  • Buck Farmer

    Yawn.

    Sexual attractiveness due to visual appearance is not tremendously useful to the tribe as a whole (as useful as it may happen to be to the person and his or her mate.)

    Intelligence, resourcefulness, physical strength (in certain societies) produce goods that can benefit the whole tribe.

    Is there any wonder why cultures might prioritize certain forms of attractiveness over others?

    Since our economy developing away from needing physical strength is a comparatively recent, I’m not surprised that we’d still be coping with the transition on the edges.

    • http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~criedel/ Jess Riedel

      Fierce loyalty to one’s mate over the tribe would also benefit individuals at the expense of the tribe. But such loyalty does not invite any of the scorn associated with the swimsuit issue. In fact, it is often celebrated in movies, books, etc.

  • Sandeep

    I think the way the feminist psychology works is mostly like this :

    (i) Programs like these throw to women an additional option of pursuing some money-fame combination.
    (ii) As a result, female participation in remaining arenas like sports, academics etc. takes a statistical hit.
    (iii) Since, as per feminists people respect other areas more than modeling (your point 5), women as a group get lower net respect than men as a group. Identifying with their gender, feminists feel insulted.

    Additionally there could also be :
    (iv) SI Pavlovian-trains men into looking at all women as sex-objects.
    But I don’t know how many actual women buy this. I think it is just a conspiracy theory framed by women who have evolutionary-psychological fear of men.

  • Sandeep

    And this study says :

    Interestingly, it was found that the female interviewers assigned attractive looking male interviewees more high status job packages as compared to average looking men. They also preferred attractive men over attractive women and gave them more high status packages.

    Possibly they consider their own discriminating tendency while analyzing male mindset, and scale it for perceived sex-craze of men as instantiated by visual stimulants like the SI issue, and this scaling resulting in a frightening female guesstimate for male discriminating mindset.

  • http://dorsetnaga.wordpress.com/ dirk

    My theory is that the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated exists to countervail the homoerotic implications of all the other issues.

  • http://www.permut.wordpress.com Michael Bishop

    While I’m sure that some of Robin’s 6 possibilities have explanatory power, isn’t it also possible that exposure to images of exceptionally beautiful women, hurts women’s self-esteem in ways that exposure to images of rock stars (or other attractive people) does not hurt men’s self-esteem. Perhaps it is harder to delude oneself about what one looks like than about one’s abilities in other areas?

    • http://www.uncrediblehallq.net/ Chris Hallquist

      Or, it hurts men’s self-esteem, but men conceal this because whining about their self-esteem won’t get them laid.

    • Konvkistador

      This is an interesting angle, female beauty (as in sexual desirability) can be relatively accurately objectivley measured.

  • http://www.isteve.blogspot.com Steve Sailer

    Actually, not very many people complain about the SI swim suit issue. Sports Illustrated encourages people to complain and plays up their complaints to get free publicity and make themselves sound daring and controversial. As for why feminists write the same old same old year after year, well, why did Pravda publish the same kind of thing on Brezhnev’s birthday every year?

  • Michael

    Robin, I’m a little bit curious. You’ve previously said you’re not much of a sports fan, but your post implies some familiarity with the photos in the magazine. I don’t imagine you subscribe to Sports Illustrated (maybe I’m wrong though), so I’m guessing you specially bought this issue?

    Actually, I think it’d be interesting if people commenting also gave the following information:

    - whether they’ve seen this years swimsuit issue, or when did they last see a copy of the swimsuit issue (I have not seen this one, or one in probably ~3 years)
    - how often they read Sports Illustrated, or comparable magazine like ESPN, or Sporting News (I read online, but not in print)
    - whether they follow sports in general, and in particular football, baseball, and basketball. (I follow football, baseball)

    There are a number of people who don’t follow sports, and count being a sports fan as a mark against someone. Probably, some of the criticism the magazine gets, from some sources, is because it’s the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

  • richard silliker

    nice horses.

  • http://garrettlisi.com Garrett

    The bottom line is that cover photographs of furry theoretical physicists posing in bathing suits on Maui beaches doesn’t sell as many magazines. Amusing as hell though! http://is.gd/F4K2rQ

  • Mitchell Porter

    “This sort of thing isn’t easy to do well”

    Let’s compare the relative difficulty:

    1. Lean against a tree and smile at a camera.

    2. Just about any other human activity of significance.

  • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

    effem, people don’t seem much averse to *having* sex.
    David J, why exactly is it good to make male sex preferences more like females?
    ghoul, surely even in the worst patriarchy fems were also valued for raising kids and working hard. Are depictions of those activities offensive as well?
    James and JAMayes, and why would vocal men tend to support older or plain women in that bid to reduce other women’s status?
    Buck, Jess has a good point. Eloquence and wit are also not useful to the tribe, yet celebrated.
    Michael B, yes that seems another option.
    Michael, I browed the issue at the supermarket, and don’t follow sports much.
    Mitchell, try competing in this market before you conclude it is easy to win.

    • JAMayes

      why would vocal men tend to support older or plain women in that bid to reduce other women’s status?

      They don’t have a shot with the super hotties of the caliber in SI anyway. You don’t hear professional male athletes and rock stars bashing swimsuit models the same way you don’t hear the football team bashing the cheerleaders in high school. The males complaining about the swimsuit issue mistakenly think that most women (including the 5s, 6s. and 7s in their orbit) will find them more attractive if they make “sensitive,” “good guy” sounds. The older and plain women are the ones who determine what qualifies as sensitive and good thinking in this area.

    • gfa

      Re: “ghoul, surely even in the worst patriarchy fems were also valued for raising kids and working hard. Are depictions of those activities offensive as well?”

      If _Sports Illustrated_ replaced the swimsuit issue with an issue devoted to showcasing the best female child-rearers, cooks, cleaners, [insert whatever lower-status role women have been expected to fill here], etc., then I at least would find that offensive too. Maybe I’m too sensitive. (Anthony’s reasoning below expresses my view well.)

    • David J

      Robin, let me try again. I am not proposing to change anyone’s sex preferences.

      The problem is that nearly nobody is paying attention to the capability of females to contribute to society in business/political/technical/athletic/leadership capacities. Rather females are seen as good for their sexiness, and for a few other purposes. The human race loses out by systematically ignoring the full range of their potential contributions.

      It is wholly analogous to the problem of why racism is bad for humans. By pigeonholing people we lose.

      SI contributes to and benefits from the pigeonholing of women as sexythings.

      • Konvkistador

        It has been thus far maladaptive to notice their other contributions. Women have a limited reproductive time window its suboptimal from a eugenic standpoint to have the most talented and capable women loose a large part of that window to pursue a career or do demanding research.

        Much like how we have internalized the relative worthlessness of male lives compared to female ones, this too has been beaten into us by memetic and perhaps genetic selection.

        This isn’t about efficiency.

        Fortunately there are two possible game changers:
        1. Indefinite life extension (including reproductive viability)
        2. Artificial uterus

  • Buck Farmer

    Eloquence and wit are signals of intelligence which can be used by the tribe to gain resources, etc.

    Physical beauty can also be used by the tribe to gain resources, but generally only through barter. Societies in which women can be directly exchanged for resources are arguably more comfortable with celebrating their physical beauty.

    As for loyalty to one’s mate…

    …first, loyalty in general is beneficial to the tribe. Promoting loyalty is probably on balance good.

    second, loyalty to one’s mate if it means betraying your tribe is less frequently celebrated and/or may be portrayed negatively (lack of spine, obsessive devotion, anyone remember Ceaușescu?).

    third, the value of loyalty to one’s mate probably varies in both nature and magnitude between monogamous and polygamous societies. I am wary of diving into the debate about the benefits of monogamy or polygamy to a tribe generally.

    • Buck Farmer

      Addendum: Sexual attractiveness can often be a signal for fertility and so for tribes in need of population growth, yes, it can be useful.

      Conveniently enough…the societies which didn’t have control over their fertility also were societies where infant mortality and life expectancy were such that celebrating fertility-signaling-attributes was beneficial.

    • http://www.uweb.ucsb.edu/~criedel/ Jess Riedel

      (lack of spine, obsessive devotion, anyone remember Ceaușescu?).

      I think far more people remember Romeo and Juliet than Ceaușescu.

      • Buck Farmer

        Would Romeo and Juliet be as popular if it were written so that we would identify the Montagues or Capulets as the out vs. in group…

        …instead of as a morality tale about the tragedy of internecine conflict (as well as the tragedy of young love)?

  • Anthony

    The issue isn’t women in swimsuits (or less) – the standard feminist complaints about Maxim or Playboy aren’t about picturing nude (or nearly so) women so much as about the attitudes that the articles (or specific photo poses) encourage.

    In the case of Sports Illustrated, the issue is that out of 52 issues in a year, there’s often only one week where women are the cover story, and they get the cover for something other than athletic performance.

    • http://weblog.hotales.org/portal/python Jarno Virtanen

      In the case of Sports Illustrated, the issue is that out of 52 issues in a year, there’s often only one week where women are the cover story, and they get the cover for something other than athletic performance.

      So you’re saying that women shouldn’t be made into a cover story at all?

      Surely there isn’t any discrimination over who should be featured in cover stories on athletic performance. If anything, women are over-featured because of their sexual attractiveness.

  • Oligopsony

    If the physical beauty (and skill in accentuating it) of the SI models were really the equivalent of [literally all other skills] in men; profiles of men who had substantively accomplished things would be primarily for the sexual enjoyment of women, whose heterosexual members would see no reason for women to be profiled in such a way. But there doesn’t seem to be any strong gender bias in the consumption of such things, as there is for the SI swimsuit issue, and moreover women seem more inclined than men to feel that such things unfairly overlook accomplished women. The most prominent male sex symbols, like the most prominent female sex symbols, all work in the entertainment business, rather than simply being “high-status” in general. The only exception to this that I can think of would be – and only every so often – some male politicians, who have to possess an entertainer-like skill set.

    • http://don.geddis.org/ Don Geddis

      Ordinary men might enjoy reading about high-status men, because they are role models that the ordinary man might try to emulate. If a regular guy learns that rich men are attractive to women, he can devote future effort to trying to become rich.

      Unfortunately, it is a cruel fact of nature that what attracts (most) men to women is physical beauty, which is mostly genetic and can only be affected slightly by effort. So an ordinary woman looking at supermodels, really learns little that can improve her life. Obsessing about it might lead to depression, unlike for men, where obsessing about those higher status than oneself has the chance to eventually make the man higher status himself.

  • http://www.uncrediblehallq.net/ Chris Hallquist

    My hypotheses:

    (1) Women don’t understand men, and are frightened by what they don’t understand.

    I’m not joking about this. Many women seem to have trouble grasping that for men, “I like looking at naked women a lot” does not entail “I think women were put on Earth for me to look at naked.”

    I find this explanation most satisfying in terms of the superficial data, but if I were to press for a deeper, darker explanation with some inspiration from evo-psych, it would be one of

    (2) Women look for excuses to complain about things men do, just to see which men will capitulate.

    (3) Aggressively pursuing women while making the base nature of the attraction less than obvious is tricky, therefore doing this is a way for men to show off how smooth they are, and men who are too clumsy in showing off their base desires are unattractive to women.

  • http://akinokure.blogspot.com agnostic

    “Sports Illustrated disrespects women by photographing their bodies as if they are merely body parts–breasts, buttocks, and crotches.”

    There’s nothing mere about tits, ass, and pussy. Those are meaning-of-life body parts. And anyway, the one body part that is always photographed, while others may or may not be in a given shot, is the face and hair.

    • SayinItLikeItIs

      Guys like you make me want to projectile vomit and then move to a different planet.

  • Dave

    What else? Professor Hanson ameliorates many negatives, if any, caused by the production of sexy videos by noting how much human skill, art and effort goes into it. In the world we are privileged to inhabit, doing things like this is beneficial in many ways. The people who criticize human enterprise miss out on the fact that there is meaning, practical knowledge and clever technology in doing these things. Thus the hyper-literate class demeans the salesman, but I know salesmen who thrive in their profession. If you look at the director” cut of any DVD movie, even the Reanimators or Nightmare on Elm Street, you will be amazed at the craftsmanship exhibited by the professionals who made it.
    Having attended a lecture by a highly paid photographer for Southern Living, I too found how demanding and exacting is the production of any professionally produced publication. Not one thing is left to chance. The editorial staff bends all efforts to create the product and this is in turn driven by consumer demand and ultimately profit. These, sophisticated media products are unprecedented, and pervasive so one could ask if they are unintentionally harmful in some way. For example do these frankly manipulative depictions aimed at stimulating fantasy, and consumption cause any damage .
    I suppose the, Alphas are too busy getting laid by the Tens to worry about this, leaving the field to the women and Betas. By the way, how many Alphas buy the SI swimsuit issue anyway?

  • http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com Hopefully Anonymous

    I’ve thought about this topic a lot but I don’t think I’ve commented about it much.

    My intuition is that sexual preference distorts activity away from optimized public welfare -for both men and women.

    But I think the impact of male preferences on female activity is worse.
    Women have a decent-sized share of quantitative administrative competence in our species. But I think they face a stronger perverse pressure to focus on things like physical appearance, to the detriment of the general welfare.

    Trapped talent is a global and macrosocial logistical problem. I think paternalism in the direction of optimizing female quantitative/administrative competence is low-hanging fruit with regard to improving the general welfare.

    • David J

      What (s)he said.

    • SayinItLikeItIs

      We live in a patriarchy.  Important to point out that patriarchal values also diminish the potential of boys, who focus more energy towards being “cool” – in our society, this usually means stereotypically masculine, aggressive, dominant, and lacking emotion – instead of pursuing fulfillment, education, etc…things that will help them in the long run.  Not to mention the psychological burden of always having to be tough.
      Our society hurts our men just as much our women.  Just in different ways.

  • http://makemeahypocrite.blogspot.com Steve S

    This post and the comments make me think about the advertisements in the Sunday paper or in the mail.

    Take department store ads. No matter the size of the ad, whether a 30-page book or a fold-out front and back flyer, there is always a bra on sale.

    Why? Why out of your 20,000 products do you always feature a model in a bra for $1-2 off the normal price?

    Is this a way to get sexually deprived males to peruse your ads?

  • Jon Redden

    I remember seeing the original link on Bill Easterly’s Aid Watch blog. When I saw it, I forward it to Bill’s twitter saying that Robin had a contrarian view of it. Bill has since updated his blog post. He even takes a small ding at Robin for not mentioning his post (but then doesn’t drop a hat tip to me on the forward). Lesson is that it is hard to remember where you got your info from in this day and age so don’t take it to heart.

    • http://hanson.gmu.edu Robin Hanson

      I saw it on some fb update, not sure whose.

  • http://avirilenagalingam.blogspot.com/ Nandalal Rasiah

    About #5, how does “American Idol” and modern R&B ballads fit into this observation? Singing, to a far greater degree than playing instruments, is an innate ability and the country, even the world, are always delighted to hear this innate ability presented in all sorts of media. (This applies less to Carnatic music where control of micro-tone in singing can be expressed through the rich voice of an innate singer or the nasal twang of of an old man with sinus blockage.)

    The ‘folks’ you’re talking about (doing the complaining) often say that they think about their own ‘privilege’ but that is really a way of signaling status within their community (even the ‘intersectional’ branches.) Might not the difference in reaction be due to the fact that in music there are many choices which signal discernment within that particular community of folks and with not-porn-not-high-brow-art there are no choices. I remember how most feminist outlets turned against the photographer Terry Richardson’s nudie shoots which before had been untouchable as high-fashion but now were unacceptable with the revelations of alleged sexual abuse of the models.

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  • Jaclyn

    I love Julie Henderson- Check out this great interview with her as she talks about her style– LOVE IT!! http://bit.ly/mhFPyM

  • Steph

    Thanks for this article! I enjoyed it! I find the discussion of women athletes and their looks interesting. There’s something to be said for being a good looking athlete, just like male athletes, but it shouldn’t override their abilities. There’s a good discussion of this over at TC Huddle. I found your article looking for more opinions on this.

    This is a good article. Thanks! Here’s the article if you’re interested: http://www.tchuddle.com/2011/07/women-athletes-and-the-need-to-objectify/

  • http://huylioooyhger.info Carlos Vanhoesen

    My son is now an ‘entrepreneur.’ That’s what you’re called if you do not have a job.
    Business, that’s easily defined – it’s other’s money.

  • SayinItLikeItIs

    Going by this article’s logic –
    people who consume SI swimsuit edition are common, unskilled, simple, hypocritical, shallow, self-deceiving, and stupid.  Answering criticism by ignoring the legitimate arguments of your critics and insulting your fan base FTW! 

    Honestly though, let’s call a spade a spade – the SI swimsuit edition is a porno magazine.