More “All Women Are Manipulative Whores” — This Time With Science!

by Cara on August 27, 2008

in media, misogyny, objectification, patriarchy, sexism, sexual exploitation and harassment, stereotypes

A note to CNN: if you have an article that contains a sentence beginning with “Call it crass, sexist or gender stereotyping all you want,” chances are that you do not want to print the rest of that sentence, and most likely do not want to print any of the article.

You see, according to CNN, all women are apparently prostitutes.  They illustrated this “fact” with the above image, just in case you weren’t getting the point.  Not that this is a new line of bullshit, but it’s rather obnoxious and upsetting to see printed uncritically in such a mainstream news source in 2008.

Throughout history, humans have used their bodies to get what they want — from ancient Egyptian ruler Cleopatra, who cemented her power through liaisons with Roman rulers Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, to the man and woman who were arrested at a Fort Wright, Kentucky, motel in late June for allegedly swapping sex for gasoline. Regardless of our motivation, scientists say we’re hardwired to use our bodies as a bargaining chip.

A recent study of 475 University of Michigan undergraduates ages 17 to 26 found that 27 percent of the men and 14 percent of the women who weren’t in a committed relationship had offered someone favors or gifts — help prepping for a test, laundry washing, tickets to a college football game — in exchange for sex. On the flip side, 5 percent of the men surveyed and 9 percent of the women said they’d attempted to trade sex for such freebies.

And although they weren’t hard up for resources, the students surveyed “recognized the value of this socioeconomic currency system,” says Daniel Kruger, research scientist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, who published his findings in the April issue of “Evolutionary Psychology.”

“It’s more about getting what you want than getting what you need,” he says. “Unless you think everyone needs a $200 Louis Vuitton bag.”

Ah yes, all women aren’t just whores, we’re also all very frivolous.

I single out women because the article did.  Even though the results of this study — which doesn’t actually tell us a damn thing about how we’re “hardwired,” by the way — show that both men and women trade sex for favors or gifts at rather comparable rates, the article only feels the need to illustrate with examples of women using sex to get what they want. Not a single anecdote about a man who traded sex for a non-sexual favor or gift.  But women, we want our personal tour guides, Louis Vuitton bags, gasoline, and men to do shit around the house because “a partner who provides more resources — wealth, shelter, home repairs — is seen as more attractive and stands to reap more sexual rewards.”  Notice how “partner” is gender neutral, but in context the implication is that only women are attracted to (male) partners who “provide,” and not vice versa.  Original, CNN.  Really original.  If only there was a reference to women picking berries in there somewhere, I’d probably have bingo.

Before someone says it, I don’t care that CNN didn’t write the story themselves.  They’re running it on their website under their banner, and are therefore responsible for it. You can send feedback here.

Thanks to Nicole for sending me the link.  She also mentions that the comments there are particularly repulsive.  I don’t have the stomach for them this morning and haven’t even looked — but be forewarned.


1 Kristen August 27, 2008 at 11:15 am

Arrggghhh…don’t they see how demeaning this is for both women AND men. Women never want sex. Men always want sex. Same old shit all the time, from rape cases to this bs. I swear, the universe would be a much better place if we could just break those two stereotypes.

2 yazikus August 27, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Okay, my question is this. You gotta figure that CNN has a whole team of people figuring out how to post stories that will draw the most readers that will provide the most revenue for the company, right?
They picked this?
What the hell is it about our society that this kind of thing consistanly makes it into the news?
Who reads this crap? Why do they keep publishing it?
Are all of their readers men?
Sorry for ranting, but really, what gives?

3 Cara August 27, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Yazikus –

My theory is that many people really like reading things that affirm and reinforce the dominant world view. This is also my theory on why Republicans are in power, even though they do such a shit job; people need to believe that they didn’t believe a lie, and so they’ve got to keep the lie going.

Then again, I’m a snob. And related, I’m convinced that most people don’t engage in critical thinking nearly enough. So take that into account.

4 Ellis August 27, 2008 at 1:24 pm

I like how even they realise how bad the article is: “Call it crass, sexist or gender stereotyping all you want, but there are thousands of years of biological programming at work here”. Uh huh, so that’s why even you feel the need to point out that many see it as the former.

And the Brazil and handyman parts are just weird and irrelevant. To hell with the scientific evidence, let’s have sleazy, unquantifiable testimonies! Adds that extra zing.

5 jfpbookworm August 27, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Okay, the way I understand those statistics:

27% of men offer goods in exchange for sex, and 9% of women take them up on it.

14% of women offer goods in exchange for sex, and 5% of men take them up on it.

Sounds to me like the ratio is about the same (1 in 3, assuming no skew in which people get asked, which there may well be), and the only difference is who’s socialized to be the “buyer.”

6 Lemur August 28, 2008 at 12:37 am

No, no no. Just- no, dear gods no. CNN, fail! And it’s not the first time they’ve published something dumb either. Just no.

7 Lee September 1, 2008 at 12:32 am

If they wanted to write about choosing “a partner who provides more resources — wealth, shelter, home repairs”, how come they didn’t mention McCain?

8 Liberty December 8, 2008 at 3:49 pm

I especially like how they found that more men than women are offering sex in exchange for favors, yet we’re supposed to conclude women are the people doing this.

9 molly December 10, 2008 at 12:29 am

KILLER bingo board! I have never gone to an evolutionary psychology class, but I have bingo in 2 directions from conversations with sexist engineering (my field) undergrads

10 James April 16, 2010 at 7:02 am

A story: I have a picture on my desktop from a 1969 protest against the “Miss America” pageant. The slogan on several signs reads: “All Women are Beautiful” So I, wanting to learn more about this positive and clever protest, began to type “all women are” … into google. Try it. Then try “all men are”. This man is sad, very sad.

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