The Power Of Woman: Sexy Or Scary?

BlogHer Original Post

Women are friggin’ powerful. And during that fertile time of the month, our power escalates, especially with respect to how the opposite sex responds to us. At least, that’s what the research shows.

This scares the hell out of some people. Just watch a man melt into a puddle of goo when a woman he finds attractive walks into the room. And then tell him he’s apt to respond even more dramatically if she’s ovulating, and you’ll see him start to quiver in his Nikes.

Where Biology And Feminine Power Intersect

I’m an OB/GYN, founder of OwningPink.com, and a woman, so you could argue that I’m an expert both at observing the biology and behavior of women and at being my own guinea pig. And this nexus point of biology and feminine power fascinates me. I can’t help wondering where our power truly lies. Is the patriarchy justified in fearing the power of women? Does our biology program us to play Eve and tempt men to give away their own power? Or are we -- as thinking, feeling, evolved, awakened women -- able to overcome our animal nature?

Let’s investigate. Check out the latest research study that dives into this issue.

Do Men Find Fertile Women More Attractive?

The New York Times reported about a new study from Florida State University that evaluated the response of men to women who were ovulating. The guys who signed on as guinea pigs were tricked into thinking the study was all about playing Lego puzzles with a fellow female student. But the Legos were a ruse. What they didn’t know is that she was in the fertile time of her menstrual cycle, and the study was meant to assess the reaction of men to women during that time of the month.

After the Lego-playing ended, the guys were asked to assess the attractiveness of their Legomates. Prior research suggests the men find fertile women more attractive, but this study aimed to determine whether it made a difference whether the dude was a free agent or in a committed relationship. As it turns out, it does. Single guys found the fertile women more attractive than guys who were already in romantic relationships. In fact, the committed dudes found fertile women significantly less attractive during this fertile period.

Researchers postulate that this has an evolutionary advantage, since natural selection favors couples who mate and then stay together to raise their children. It’s as if the committed guys know they’re most at risk of straying when a women is fertile, so they trick themselves into believing she’s actually not sexy at all. That way, he’s less likely to cheat.

Beautiful flower "cosmos"But how can guys tell if we’re ovulating? Do we literally release a scent? Is it pheromones? Can we, like dogs, figure it out by sniffing each other’s butts from across a crowded room? And does his own biology make him powerless in the presence of a fertile woman? If you’re a woman in a committed relationship, you’ll be relieved to hear that, according to the new study, he’s not a victim of his own biology. In fact, his values hold more power over him than his penis, even when confronted with the scent of a woman in heat.

Does Our Biology Make Us Powerless?

Research suggests that we women actually shift our behavior during this time of the month. We appear more receptive to members of the opposite sex. We smile more. We dress more provocatively. We lean in. We flirt. If our partners are physically unattractive, we engage in this kind of behavior even more shamelessly, as if having a fling at mid-cycle gives us the best bang for our buck from an evolutionary perspective.

So are we biologically doomed to be at the mercy of our biology? Hell no, girlfriends! As empowered modern women (we call ourselves “feministas” at Owning Pink), it’s all about learning what makes us tick and understanding our bodies so we can make choices about how we live our lives. This is why I wrote What’s Up Down There: Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend -- so we can own our feminine selves without letting our biology rule us.

Sure, maybe we’re biologically programmed to try to cheat on our hubbies with sexier guys during ovulation so we can pop out a boatload of genetically superior offspring. But does that mean we’re powerless to change our behavior? Nope. It’s about being mindful of our biology so we can go with the flow of the body -- and evolve beyond our biology.

How To Embrace Our Animal Nature

If you’re a fan of fidelity, consider your behavior at mid-cycle. Go ahead and wear your sexy blouse, shimmy your hips on the dance floor, and let your feminine freak flag fly. But if you’re tempted to hop in the sack with the DJ when you value fidelity, remind yourself of your biology. Then make your choice consciously.

And if you’re unattached but looking for Mr. (or Ms.) Right, work it, baby! Put yourself out there when you’re ovulating, bat your eyelashes, and let your biology give you a boost. Let your authentic self be seen, strip off your masks so others can see the real you, get out of your own way so you can attract the soul mate of your dreams, and let potential mates sniff your sexy butt (okay, not literally).

The more we learn about how our bodies work, the more empowered we are to integrate the physical with the spiritual. We are spirits living in bodies, and our spirits are here for a reason -- not to be enslaved by our biology but to have a whole, vital human experience while we’re here on earth.

You have the power to guide your life down whatever path you choose. And while we have primal behaviors and reflexive instincts, we are blessed to be more than our biology.

So fear not. Just because these instincts exist doesn’t mean we can’t guide how we live. We need not be prisoners of our bodies. In fact, our bodies can set us free, if only we educate ourselves. The more you know, the more friggin’ powerful you are. So own it. And rock on with your sexy feminine scent.

Breathing you in,
Lissa

Photo Credit: higetiger.

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