Ever hear the phrase, barefoot and pregnant? Clearly it wasn't spawned from current pop culture. Though this artifact of generations past was probably meant to be endearing, the subtext behind it seems to have more to do with territory and boasting rights than terms of endearment. By keeping a woman barefoot and pregnant, a man was not only staking his claim on her as his territory, but was also bragging that his penis worked and his seeds were lively and strong.
Men have historically been territorial where their women and sex are concerned and we women have come to accept this behavior, and to a certain degree, foster it. In fact, we seem willing to jump through all kinds of hoops to attract a man.
Throughout recorded history, women have learned to take the male's particular fancies into account when seeking a mate with whom to have children. Current fashions, style and cultural rituals typically dictate how women behave. Each generation and every culture adds new moves and brings a slightly different flair to the male-female mating dance.
It's generally accepted, for example, that men like long legs and so we wear high-healed shoes and short dresses to show them off. Why? We instinctually want to perpetuate humankind. Some studies show that women will wear shorter dresses and higher heels when ovulating -- we dress more provocatively during specific days of our menstrual cycles because we are consciously or unconsciously trying to attract a mate. Just for fun, notice what you wear between the 14th and 18th days after your period. Perhaps more telling, check out what your teenaged daughters wear on those days. Oh my -- Perhaps it's a good time to discuss birth control.
Another known turn-on for men is a high, rounded, voluptuous butt. Add that to a narrow waistline, and you get the classic hourglass figure. This so-called perfect figure has a ratio of 70 percent. Such a figure - the narrow waist, flat abdomen, large, round, easy-to-grasp fanny historically signaled 'fertility' to the male species. Women became aware of this particular male lure and went to incredible lengths to draw attention to their curves.
In the nineteenth century, women wore bustles under their skirts to accentuate the size of their hips. Was this comfortable do you think? Hell no, but what does comfort have to do with it? Our female predecessors strapped on torturous corsets to reduce their waist size to make the distinction between waist and hip even more obvious and alluring. Women of that era cinched their waistlines to the point of damaging their rib cages - going as far as surgically removing ribs to achieve that perfectly narrow waist.
Ohmygod. The corset squeezed their organs and restricted their oxygen intake and turned fainting into a gender-oriented pastime. According to studies on the subject, this ratio has consistently proven to grab a male's attention. So much so, in fact, that throughout history it was thought that a woman most capable of bearing children had a waist that was 70 percent smaller than her hips. Not surprisingly, the ideal waist size for a girl in the nineteenth century was one that matched her age. Could this have been a trigger for an eating disorder? Hmm. And all of this to attract a man.
Another feature of women thought to be highly attractive, is a long neck. This stunning attribute is so prized that we adorn them with jewels to show them off. Japanese Geishas painted their necks in white body paint, leaving only a small, seductively bare patch of skin showing at the nape, which at the time of Geishas was considered highly erotic, and could bring a man to his knees. It could also encourage a hefty payment.
The attraction to long necks is so pronounced in some Southern and East African tribes that girls begin to elongate their necks with silver rings as youngsters, eventually stretching the neck completely out of proportion, ultimately deforming the collarbone, and of course, the neck. These women can never take the rings off, for if removed, the elongated, deformed neck could not possibly support the weight of their heads, and their necks would break. A high price to pay for attraction.
Though we may not universally follow their lead, our culture's glossy magazine pages are filled with beautiful, young, painfully skinny models who promote skeletal thinness, body piercing, tattoos and sexy body wear - all of which is, essentially, this generation's iteration of male bait; Beauty chasing the beast.
Though some of our current come-hither trends are quirky, when I read about rituals that women of other cultures engage in to hedge their bets in the mating game, I think we of the westernized persuasion basically have it easy. Lucky for me my guy is a leg man. I can handle high heels.
What guys need to do to attract us is a whole different conversation.