Sex By Numbers: Survival of the Fittest

A weekly look at sex and culture, by the numbers.

It’s hard being a member of the human species these days—what with all that competition for procreation and all those standards of beauty and gender norms to live up to. This week’s Sex by Numbers takes a look at just how hard.

143: Apparently, men freak out when they’re outnumbered; a study that examined the male-to-female sex ratio in 143 cities found that men spent more money (presumably on things like jewelery and taking women on expensive dates) in cities where women were harder to find.

1.618: A Belgian researcher who surveyed the vaginas of 5,000 women found that those whose measurements were closest to the “golden ratio” of 1.618 (a number derived from the Fibonacci sequence) were the most fertile.

48: When it comes to reporting on the sexual habits of animals, a new study which surveyed 48 articles in popular media found that journalists have a strong tendency to scandalize the findings of evolutionary biologists. The Washington Post headline “Brokeback Mutton” serves as a particularly egregious example.

350,000: It’s long been thought that the small percentage of DNA that Europeans and Asians share with Neanderthals came as a result of interbreeding. However, new evidence suggests that geographic separation that arose 350,000 years ago between Neanderthals and the species that evolved into modern humans is the more likely cause.

15-26: In a French study, waitresses who wore red while waiting tables earned 15 to 26 percent more in tips than their colleagues wearing more subdued hues.

60: When 60 students were presented with two robots—identical except for that one had a head of hair, while the other did not—they were more likely to assign the hairless robot stereotypical male tasks and traits such as “assertive” and  able to “repair technical devices.”

90: “I was mousy on the outside but inside I’m this tiger and I have to get on with it,” so said Helen Gurley Brown, former editor of Cosmopolitan, who was 90 years old when she passed away this week.

14: When it comes to the 14th Amendment, Paul Ryan thinks equal protection rights should be extended to the unborn. However, he seems to not feel the same way about women—a reminder that if Ryan finds his way to the White House, women might find their own species in danger.

Flickr: Wondermoney2k

Rosie Spinks

Rosie Spinks is a freelance journalist from California with a degree in Environmental Studies. Her work has been published in publications including Sierra magazine, GOOD magazine, the Ecologist, and the Guardian Environment Network. A passion for travel, running barefoot outdoors, and reconnecting people to what is good dominates most of her thoughts. You can follow her writing on Twitter and Tumblr.