RUSH: Wall Street Journal: "The Tricky Chemistry of Attraction." And I will just say, we're guided here by an expert on male-female relationships, a man who exhibits animal magnetism wherever he goes, Bo Snerdley. "The Tricky Chemistry of Attraction --Taking Birth-Control Pills May Mask the Signals That Draw the Sexes Together, Research Shows." The author is Shirley Wang. Now, as you listen to this -- and I would appreciate Mr. Snerdley's input either during or after -- if what you hear here is true, it possibly changes everything we know about our lives since the pill.
"Much of the attraction between the sexes is chemistry. New studies suggest that when women use hormonal contraceptives, such as birth-control pills, it disrupts some of these chemical signals, affecting their attractiveness to men and women's own preferences for romantic partners. ... Evolutionary psychologists and biologists have long been interested in factors that lead to people's choice of mates." And believe me, men have been trying to figure this one out since the Garden of Eden.
"One influential study in the 1990s, dubbed the T-shirt study, asked women about their attraction to members of the opposite sex by smelling the men's T-shirts. The findings showed that humans, like many other animals, transmit and recognize information pertinent to sexual attraction through chemical odors known as pheromones." Snerdley is nodding his head as though he's fully aware of pheromones, and he now assures me that he is.
"The study also showed that women seemed to prefer the scents of men whose immune systems were most different from the women's own immune-system genes known as MHC." For those of you in Rio Linda, we're not talking about Levi's here, we're talking g-e-n-e-s. "The family of genes permit a person's body to recognize which bacteria are foreign invaders and to provide protection from those bugs. Evolutionarily, scientists believe, children should be healthier if their parents' MHC genes vary, because the offspring will be protected from more pathogens. More than 92 million prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives, including pills, patches and injections, were filled last year in the US, according to data-tracker IMS Health. Researchers say their aim isn't to scare or stop women from taking hormonal contraceptives. 'We just want to know what we're doing' by taking the pill, says Alexandra Alvergne, a researcher in biological anthropology at University College London in the U.K. 'If there is a risk it affects our romantic life and the health status of our children, we want to know.'
"Both men's and women's preferences in mates shift when a woman is ovulating." You know what that is, right, Snerdley? Animal magnetism strikes again. For those of you in Rio Linda, that is the period when the woman is fertile. For those of you in Rio Linda, most often day 14. And if you're still confused, it's probably when you use the condom, okay? I gotta keep everybody on board here.
So, "Both men's and women's preferences in mates shift when a woman is ovulating. Some studies have tracked women's responses to photos of different men, while other studies have interviewed women about their feelings for men over several weeks. Among the conclusions: When women are ovulating, they tend to be drawn to men with greater facial symmetry and more signals of masculinity, such as muscle tone, a more masculine voice and dominant behaviors." That is, when they're ovulating. "The women also seemed to be particularly attuned to MHC-gene diversity. From an evolutionary perspective, these signals are supposed to indicate that men are more fertile and have better genes to confer to offspring." And all of this happens in a split second. It's not something that's calculated. It just happens. You don't even know it's happening. But it does, they say, dictate your behavior and choices and so forth.
"Women tend to exhibit subtle cues when they are ovulating, and men tend to find them more attractive at this time." A woman wrote this, keep in mind. When they're ovulating, "'Women try to look more attractive, perhaps by wearing tighter or more revealing clothing,' says Martie Haselton, a communications and psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Research on this includes studies in which photos that showed women's clothing choices at different times of the month were shown to groups of judges. Women also emit chemical signals that they are fertile; researchers have measured various body odors, says Dr. Haselton," who has a paper on all this. "Such natural preferences get wiped out when the woman is on hormonal birth control, research has shown." All of this ceases to exist.
"Women on the pill no longer experience a greater desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulation." Now, this, to me, explains most marriages in Washington. "Women on the pill no longer experience a greater desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulation. Their preference for partners who carry different immunities than they do also disappears. And men no longer exhibit shifting interest for women based on their menstrual cycle, perhaps because those cues signaling ovulation are no longer present, scientists say." The signals, the chemicals that alert men to all this are just wiped out by virtue of the pill.
"There is also accumulating evidence indicating men react differently to women when they are on birth control. A 2004 study in the journal in Behavioral Ecology used the T-shirt study," where they sniffed it. "But instead put the shirts on 81 women. A panel of 31 men, smelling the T-shirts, experienced the greatest attraction for the non-pill-using women when they were ovulating. Twelve women on the panel didn't detect any difference." And then they did the study on primates and so forth. And basically if this is true, the natural selection process of a woman wanting a traditionally masculine guy when she's ovulating goes out the window. Nothing to do with sexual orientation here. But this, for example, could give rise to this whole notion of the metrosexual, if this is true. That's why if all of this is true, then it changes everything we know about our lives since when the pill became profligate in 1970.
It also tells me what robots we sometimes are. I mean all this stuff is happening and we don't even really know it. It's programmed in. I don't know about you, Snerdley, you have the animal magnetism out there, but I would not know any of this stuff. I couldn't tell you today when a woman's ovulating or not, but apparently I know, but I couldn't tell you. Apparently I act on it, well, I used to. But I don't now. And I still don't know why or how. So it's fascinating. Now, you couple this with the obvious role changes that militant feminism brought on, and it could explain a lot about general unhappiness, confusion, who's supposed to be what that both sexes seem to exhibit.
Another thought on the impact of hormonal birth control and how it affects women and men, when the pill was approved for use in the US in 1960, the divorce rate in 1960 was less than 10%. Over the two decades that followed divorce rates climbed to over 20%. So maybe it's harder to stick it out in a marriage if the power of attraction wanes, and if the attraction wanes because the chemicals aren't there that make it possible, well, that would explain a lot, too. Now, pheromones, Snerdley, of course, assured me he knows what they are. It's pheromones that cause women to synchronize their menstrual cycles, and Snerdley's intimately aware of that. Three wives in there, imagine what that must have been like in Bin Laden's compound. Imagine the fun. Three wives and the place was still a pigsty.
RUSH: (interruption) Different what? (interruption) Oh. Oh. Okay, okay. We are back. Rush Limbaugh, the EIB Network. (interruption) Snerdley was lecturing me on how to tell when a woman is ovulating. Sheez. (interruption) They have "bloat clothes"? (interruption) They got a "bloat section" in the closet? (interruption) Okay.