One of my favourite words is NEOTENY
(I’m indebted to my friend at the excellent and highly informative Dear Kitty. Some blog for setting my chain of thoughts in motion for this article)
The word NEOTENY derives from the German word Neotenie, which in turn comes to us from a combination of two Greek words νέος (neos, meaning ‘young’) and τείνειν (teínein, meaning ‘tending to’)
NEOTENY is defined as: the retention, by adults in a species, of traits previously seen only in juveniles and is a subject studied in the field of developmental biology. It is also called pedomorphosis.
Many prominent evolutionary theorists, including Stephen Jay Gould and J.B.S. Haldane argue that neoteny has been a key feature in human evolution. See Wikipedia for more details.
These are the more obvious neotenous traits in humans: flattened face, broadened face, large brain, mostly hairless body, hairless face, small nose, reduction of brow ridge, small teeth, small upper jaw (maxilla), small lower jaw (mandible), thinness of skull bones, limbs proportionately short compared to torso length, longer leg than arm length, larger eyes, and upright stance.
So what are the effects of these neotenous changes?
In a cross-cultural study, more neotenized female faces were found to be the most attractive to men while less neotenized female faces were the least attractive, regardless of the females’ actual age. Michael R. Cunningham found that the Asian, Hispanic and White female faces that tended to be considered most attractive were those that had “neonate large eyes, greater distance between eyes, and small noses”.
This led Cunningham to conclude that “large eyes” were the most “effective” of the “neonate cues”.
Jones, D. Sexual Selection, Physical Attractiveness and Facial Neoteny: Cross-Cultural Evidence and Implications. p.723.
Now if these research findings are true, doesn’t this have profound implications for our society, and especially the way we demonise men, and some women, who are sexually drawn to young people and children?
I’m certainly not condoning pedophilia – I suffered sexual abuse as a kid so I know only too well how destructive of young lives this illness can be.
But I think we need to ask some searching questions of ourselves, both as a society and as a species.
Not surprisingly, one of my least favourite words is
PEDOPHILE is defined as an adult who is sexually attracted to young children. The word derives from two Greek words, paidos meaning a boy or child and phileein meaning to love.
The word PEDOPHILE is a term of abuse for many nowadays, yet much of our culture seems to focus on us looking like children. Has anyone else noticed this contradiction?
Fashion models are notorious for being extremely thin, yet what is this but an attempt to appear as pre-pubescent?
And what about Manga?
The great majority of mature women shave their legs and under their arms, pluck their eyebrows and other parts of their faces, use creams and potions to stave off or reverse the aging process, wear make-up to make the skin appear smoother and younger and try in many other ways to appear young.
What is this all about, if not to appear childlike? And if this is the case, shouldn’t we be talking about it?
So what do YOU think?
Are YOU drawn to younger-looking people? Is this natural, or is it created by marketing and advertising?
Do YOU want to appear younger than you really are?
If so, why?
If not, how do YOU feel about this process?
This cartoon speaks for itself…
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Are you Someone or Other?
FIRST STONE ANYONE?
I recently reblogged an article from my friend MADD suspicions about male and female brain types.
Click here to have a go at the fun quiz he found.
Also I’ve been reading, laughing and learning psychology from the witty and suave but spiky PinkAgendist. Stop by if you enjoy perceptive pieces.
And of course other fine blogs I haven’t time to mention now, but will soon.
We all affect each other.
Their posts led me to think about thinking – always fun but a slightly weird experience as well.
In my more political posts I’m calling for a paradigm shift in human affairs to move from a male-managed world to a female- and child-friendly future.
With cooperation rather than competition as the guiding principle.
No violence. Local organisation of life. Less people.
Women managing human society and reproduction.
No nation states and therefore no armies, weapons of mass destruction and no National Security.
But for this argument to make sense there must be actual differences between the sexes – not just differences we learn in life – but innate differences.
So yesterday I argued that we are all Equal But Different.
The title of this blog is Different But Equal
Let’s look at some differences now and start with brains.
How often have you heard men say, “I just can’t understand women…” or “My wife doesn’t understand me…”
Do women find men equally difficult to understand, or do they, on average, have more empathy and so can work men out?
Is there such a thing as female thinking or awareness? Can there be a ‘male’ type of thinking?
Are men and women more different or more the same?
And what about the brains of homosexual folk?
All interesting questions.
That’s why the relationship between sex differences in the brain and human behaviour is so controversial in psychology and society generally.
If there are real differences between the sexes then the implications are immense.
Recent studies show there are measurable differences in female and male brains.
For instance, there is a difference between sexes in the transcription of a gene pair involved in brain development unique to Homo sapiens.
Consequently female and male brains show differences in internal structure.
One of the main areas studied is the proportion of white matter relative to gray matter.
Gray matter is made up of neuronal cell bodies. The gray matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, and speech.
White matter is the tissue through which messages pass between different areas of gray matter within the nervous system.
So the gray matter can be thought of as the processing areas, while the white matter connects.
Blood flow is also different between women and men, with females able to move blood more quickly to the areas needed and not losing functions in old age as much as males.
There are also differences in the structure and size of certain areas in male and female brains.
Studies found men on average to have larger parietal lobes, responsible for sensory input including spatial sense and navigation.
Women usually have larger Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas, regions that are responsible for language processing.
Postmortem and imaging studies over the past two decades have revealed structural differences in both global structures and sexually-related brain structures between heterosexual and homosexual subjects.
Researcher Simon LeVay showed that parts of hypothalamus related to sexual orientation not gender.
The hypothalamus is an area known to be involved in sex differences in reproductive behaviour, mediating responses in menstrual cycles in women and the back of the hypothalamus regulates male-typical sexual behaviour.
These results were obtained from postmortem analysis of hypothalamic nuclei of known homosexual subjects compared to heterosexual patients.
The size of the brain’s hemispheres is a sexually dimorphic trait in which men tend to show asymmetry in the volumes of their hemispheres while women show more symmetry.
A recent study found homosexual men showed hemispheric volumes to be symmetric similar to heterosexual women and homosexual women showed asymmetry in hemispheric volumes as heterosexual men do.
However differences in brain physiology between the sexes and sexual preferences do not lead to differences in intellect.
This points to females and males taking different but equally successful routes to achieve the same outcomes.
Evidence for this was found in a 2004 study finding men and women achieve similar IQ results by utilising different brain regions.
So this suggests there is no singular underlying neuro-anatomical structure for general intelligence.
In simple language, different types of brains work equally well.
So, different but equal.
Equal but different.
These tests are really fascinating – please have a go and post your scores. I got 57 in each test. 🙂
Roman Catholic church’s paedophile investigator jailed for possessing thousands of child porn images
This report below is absolutely outrageous – why on earth should this man even have any access to victims of sex abuse? Members of the Catholic Church are regularly convicted of abusing children – so why should they sit on these types of teams? I suppose his job was to keep the Church out of further allegations.
Also the bloke got one year in prison – one year – was the judge a Catholic as well? Or a fellow abuser?
It’s all so corrupt and these monsters have the nerve to campaign against gay marriage…
A Catholic Church child safety coordinator who was in charge of investigating sexual abuse allegations was jailed for 12 months today for internet pedophile offences.
Christopher Jarvis, 49, a married father-of-four, investigated historic claims of child abuse, interviewing the victims when they were adults.
He was responsible for child protection at 120 churches and parish community groups for nine years.
He also, as a member of the Devon and Cornwall Multi-Agency Safeguarding Team, had access to police and social services information about victims of child abuse.