A recent study declared that, when ovulating, the majority of women prefer to look at a man with a “low pupil-to-brow ratio”. The study didn’t specify whether this was the glower of Heathcliff or the lumpen brow of the Neanderthal so it’s difficult to know whether the expected follow-on from the look is a life – or, at least, a night – of maddening melodrama or one spent crouched in a cave grunting and fashioning hunting implements from bits of flint. I suppose it depends on taste, level of commitment desired, level of communication required (the likelihood of needing couples’ counselling is probably slightly higher with a highly strung foster brother than a caveman, though both are likely to be poor communicators), and mood at the time.
Presented with the images of two men – one rugged; the other barely pubescent – the female subjects decided the former would be more likely to satisfy their sexual desires as he looked to be more dominant. He of the masculine prominent jaw line, thinner lips, smaller eyes, larger nose, and lower brow (whole new meaning to the expression) was considered a more attractive mate than a wide-eyed boy. Not hugely surprising.
Their husbands and boyfriends were not impressed. It seems that, when at the “high risk” stage of their menstrual cycle, women were more likely to take a critical look at what exactly their men had to offer and set it against the possibility of future happiness surely there behind a chiselled jaw line and large nose. Quite what the scientists carrying out the study meant by “high risk” is unclear – they didn’t clarify their terms. High risk to whom exactly? Surely not to the women themselves if their ovulation days were spent evaluating their relationship and wondering just where their lives were going. Not to humankind, either: masculine facial features, the scientists concluded, are the result of high testosterone and men with a high testosterone level have better genes, stronger immune systems, and are likely to produce hardier children. Really, in choosing to ditch her weak-chinned, high-browed, button-nosed boy to run off with Action Man, she’s only doing her bit for the survival of the species.
In response to the possibility of losing them to the more handsome alternative, men became more jealous and possessive of their partners, attempting to assert greater dominance in the relationship. These aren’t hugely attractive attributes so if – as the study concludes – they’re the most common things men come up with to convince a woman they’re everything she could wish for in a mate, it’s hardly surprising the testosterone-high, better-looking guy gets the girl.
Quite where this all leaves us, I’m not sure. Science says it’s all subconscious and the result of aeons of evolution. Could be that years spent playing with Ken has left us believing he’s the ideal man. He’s missing a few vitals, but the study only looked at the most appealing faces – it didn’t extend to the crotch. I really don’t know, but I do know that if the flame is waning between you and your mate, don’t look to therapy, lingerie or pills. Just get him to scowl.