This week, I write a story for New Scientist, describing the work of Meghan Provost and her colleagues from Queen’s University, Ontario, who say that women appear to walk less sexily at ovulation. In her research paper, she writes, ‘If women are trying to protect themselves from sexual assault at times of peak fertility, it would make sense for them to advertise attractiveness on a broad scale when they are not fertile, yet still being attractive to people they choose to be with (i.e., during face-to face interactions).’ In other words, the swaying walk becomes less pronounced at ovulation as a protective measure. The story was picked up by BBC News, GMTV, the Daily Mail, the Metro, the Telegraph, and in Canada, the The Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen.
Strangely, in some places, the research findings have been reported as evidence that a sexy walk is a lie [Telegraph] or a con [Daily Mail]. I think about the hostile reaction to Jenny Eclair’s choice of gadget (her lipstick) in the technology section of the Guardian, and ponder over the interaction between science and gender in the media.