October 08, 2004

Are women getting more feminine?

A reader of iSteve writes that perhaps women are getting more feminine:

I suspect the traits that make being a mother attractive are "feminine", such as taking pleasure in nurturing others. An ambitious woman with a aggressive personality is likely to choose to be a newspaper reporter (explaining partially why the writers or so feminist), but this choice is likely to go along with having fewer children. (Alas, high IQ makes a interesting career easier to achieve and leads to fewer offspring). Thus, I suspect there is already strong selection for femininity.

An interesting suggestion, but an argument can be made in favor of women becoming less "feminine". If a person's femininity or masculinity depends on how feminine/masculine their parents are, then in today's age many "feminine" men are choosing the homosexual lifestyle [1] instead of choosing to lead a "regular" family life. This probably shifts the genetic balance in favor of "masculine" traits, in addition to the common observation that often girls might pick up more "male-like' traits due to being raised in a house by a "masculine" father who does man-like activities [2]

A second argument is that success in the workplace in many cases depends on being attractive. Attractive, feminine women get more career breaks, hence they may be more likely to have decreased fitness. Not to mention that attractive people are often more intelligent, as both intelligence and attractiveness are partially depended on health which in turn depends on genetic factors.

[1] Lesbians on the other hand are (i) fewer than male homosexuals, and (ii) have a much easier option of having kids if they choose to. Hence increased lesbianism and increased male homosexuality do not balance each other out.
[2] This would affect the frequency of feminine phenotypes but would probably be counterbalanced by improved cosmetic technologies which are leading to a more efficient phenotypic feminization of women.

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