Friday, 29 October 2010

Submissive women, testosterone and elections

When You are awake, Sir, I am Your obedient slut, Your submissive fuck toy, Your silent property. When You rest or sleep, or when I am alone and I have finished my tasks, I am an ordinary girl who loves reading girlish mags.

That one says, and I like the idea: “Explore your nightie side; go for tempting boudoir rather than tacky bra if you’re looking to pull off one of the season’s toughest look…” Forget about Madonna’s conical bras, Sienna’s Bridget-style pants and Lady Gaga’s lace bodysuits, summer scariest-sounding trend is not as frightening as it would appear. Think boudoir inspired instead: camisole tops, slip-style dresses, stockings with a hint of suspender – either in the shade of blush and nude, or toughened up in black and charcoal. The look is meant to be sexy.

“Look for the woman in the dress,” Coco Chanel once decreed, meaning that her customer, not her clothes, should draw the eye first. With the current vogue of blush and “flesh”-colored fashion, following this directive is at once easy. Easy when the palette is deployed in transparent fabrics, like that nude lace top that made it impossible not to look at the model… or at least at her instantly discernible nipples. I’ll certainly buy that when I find it, Master bound to like. Must buy a small bag too. Small bags are alluring. I’ve done the big bag thing filled with 15 pounds worth of “essentials” and suffered angry red welts on my shoulder from hauling around all that cargo, and I’m over it.

What’s the next article? How do I make my makeup look fresh all day... Perfect makeup begins with perfect skincare etc. Why do I read always the same stuff and keep finding it so interesting?

But Master wants I read His serious papers and mags alongside my usual feminine stuff. I obey. Browsing “The Economist” I read an interesting paper on women’s rights in South Africa, which made me reflect on the thin dissimilarity between slaves involved in the old school of M/s. (Slaves with no limits, total respect and who surrender to their Masters complete and absolute control, that’s me!) and the picture of some women in South Africa.

In the World Economic Forum’s “gender gap index” South Africa comes an impressive sixth out of 134 countries in the world but in the UN’s “gender-related development index” it is ranked a poor 129th out of 182. Such a wide discrepancy is not simply because the various bodies measure different things, but also because the picture of women in South Africa is so mixed.

In the “founding provisions” of South Africa’s 1996 constitution, “non-sexism” is given equal billing with “non-racialism”. To promote women’s rights in what had been a predominantly patriarchal society among whites as well as blacks, the ruling African National Congress has brought in a slew of laws over the past 16 years, legalising abortion, giving women equal power in marriage, cracking down on domestic violence, criminalising sexual harassment at work, banning all gender discrimination and providing women of any skin colour with the same degree of affirmative action in education, employment and politics as blacks, coloureds and Indians.

On paper South Africa has one of the world’s most impressive legal arsenals for protecting women’s rights. But the gap between principle and practice is often wide. In other areas, however, women’s progress has been slower. It is in the home, particularly in black ones, that attitudes have changed least. There men continue to rule the roost, sometimes imposing their authority with drug- or alcohol-fuelled brutality. In its latest world report, Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby, describes the level of physical and sexual violence against South African women as “shockingly high”. South Africa has one of the highest incidences of reported rape in the world. In a study by the World Health Organisation, fully 40% of South African women claimed that their first experience of sex was non-consensual.

The (black) founder of a new women’s-rights lobby, the Sonke Gender Justice Network, says his biggest challenge is to convince men that abusing women is culturally unacceptable. But, and there is where I wanted to come, women are sometimes complicit, too, the paper adds. Violence is often seen as a normal part of male-female relations. According to recent research by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, a Johannesburg-based group, most black women believe a man has a right to have sex with his wife or partner whenever he wants. Another study showed that most black teenagers felt it is fine to force sex on a girl if you know her or if she accepts a drink from you.

Traditional customs die hard. President Jacob Zuma has at least 21 children by at least ten different women, four of whom he married; he is now engaged to another, who is pregnant. In certain rural areas women are still expected to walk a few paces behind their husbands. In KwaZulu-Natal thousands of bare-breasted maidens display their virginal beauty in a dance before the polygamous Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini. In villages in the eastern Cape teenage girls continue to be forced into marriages with older men who treat them as virtual slaves. Women who do not fit into the community are still sometimes burned as witches. Lesbians are gang-raped to “cure” them of their follies.

That is what I read.

Let’s continue with other news of the world, again from the same “Economist” copy.

When Barack Obama won the American presidency in 2008 his supporters cheered, cried, hugged—and in many cases logged on to their computers to look at pornography. And, lest Republicans crow about the decadence of their opponents, precisely the obverse happened when their man won in 2004.

Ha-ha. That, at least, is the conclusion of a study by Patrick Markey of Villanova University, in Pennsylvania, and his wife Charlotte, who works at Rutgers, in New Jersey. The Markeys were looking for confirmation of a phenomenon called the challenge hypothesis. This suggests that males involved in a competition will experience a rise in testosterone levels if they win, and a fall if they lose.

The challenge hypothesis was first advanced to explain the mating behaviour of monogamous birds. In these species, males’ testosterone levels increase in the spring, to promote aggression against potential rivals. When the time comes for the males to settle down and help tend their young, their testosterone falls, along with their aggressive tendencies. Something similar has since been found to apply to fish, lizards, ring-tailed lemurs, rhesus monkeys, chimpanzees—and humans. Previous research has found these hormonal ups and downs in male wrestlers, martial artists, tennis players, chess players and even people playing a coin-flip game. In evolutionary terms, it makes sense. If a losing male continues to be aggressive, the chances are he will be seriously injured (it is unlikely natural selection could have foreseen competitive coin-tossing). Turning down his testosterone level helps ward off that risk. Conversely, the winner can afford to get really dominant, as the threat of retaliation has receded.

For most species, determining that this actually happens requires a lot of boring fieldwork. But the Markeys realised that in the case of people they could cut the tedium by asking what was going on in those parts of the web that provide a lot more traffic than their users will ever admit to, on the assumption that men fired up by testosterone have a greater appetite for pornography than those who are not. To do this they first used a web service called WordTracker to identify the top ten search terms employed by people seeking pornography (“xvideos” was the politest among them). Then they asked a second service, Google Trends, to analyse how often those words were used in the week before and the week after an American election, broken down by state.

Their results, just published in “Evolution and Human Behavior”, were the same for all three of the elections they looked at—the 2004 and 2008 presidential contests, and the 2006 mid-terms (in which the Democrats made big gains in both houses of Congress). No matter which side won, searches for porn increased in states that had voted for the winners and decreased in those that had voted for the losers. The difference was not huge; it was a matter of one or two per cent. But it was consistent and statistically significant. If the polls are right, then, next Tuesday’s mid-term elections will see red faces in the red states for those furtive surfers who are caught in the act. In the blue states, meanwhile, a fit of the blues will mean the screens stay switched off.

Interesting. Could please my American followers tell me if they observe that? My Master is British, and frankly I don’t remember if He fucked me a special way after the recent pool in the UK.


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