3You're Slightly Androgynous
The decreasing divide between genders is definitely a good thing, and one of the first stepping stones toward a truly equal world. In theory. In practice, researchers have found that being too gender neutral and ambiguous can actually make you seem less likable and less trustworthy -- and not just to bigots. No matter how progressive you are, it turns out that, deep down, nobody likes your androgynous haircut. Everybody really just wants to know what sex gear you're packing as soon as possible, even if they have absolutely no personal interest in learning how to use it.
Think this doesn't affect you? Maybe your personal life is based solely around your own aggressive gender bias -- all Tapout shirts or pink skorts with frills about the ankles? Well, how about your Internet avatars? Are they all straight-up pictures of your prominently displayed junk, or are some of them maybe an obscured photo, a movie still, a band you like, or a funny drawing? Yeah, that's going to come right around and bite you in your completely sexless ass.
In one study, researchers had participants evaluate the likability, credibility, and trustworthiness of people they were chatting with in an online setting. Each person had a different avatar: One was an antiquated female stereotype, another was slightly more androgynous, and the last was a ketchup bottle with a face, because Science got bored that day.
Three's Company meets Naked Lunch.
In all cases, the participants were more likely to evaluate the clearly female avatar as the most positive, likable, and trustworthy, regardless of the nature of their interactions. Second was the pixie cut, then the ketchup bottle. But in all fairness, that ketchup bottle does look mad sketchy:
Don't move. It can sense your fear.
Oh, but we don't mean to imply that this is solely an Internet issue: In another study, researchers prepared three different offices -- one owned by a chauvinistic manly man with posters of naked women and giant trucks and such, another owned by a progressively minded man with posters for breast cancer awareness and probably some flowers or something, and a third with no posters at all. They had female participants take tests in one of the three rooms after telling them that they'd be working in a man's office.
Researchers found that the women who had previously rated themselves as sensitive to sexism were more likely to get lower scores in the progressive and neutral offices than in the sexist office with the soft-core-porn posters. They were more unnerved to be working in the office of a man they couldn't immediately categorize via outdated, exaggerated stereotypes than that of a "progressive" man, or even just one who hasn't had time to decorate.
Just realize the message you're sending with this type of decor, guys.
Seriously, who puts up posters in their office?
2Your Voice Is Too Masculine (for Men) or Feminine (for Women)
According to pop culture, the perfect guy has a deep, soothing rumble of a voice that spills out of his mouth like a landslide, and the perfect girl communicates exclusively via coquettish, youthful squeaks. That's the ideal we all subscribe to, wearing our pricey voice augmenters and taking all those voice-enhancement supplements the spam keeps selling us -- all in the name of trying to conform to the part we think we should play. But researchers have found that, despite what society tells us, people actually don't like the stereotypical masculine and feminine voices. At least not when it comes to relationships. In a study by McMaster University, researchers recorded feminine and masculine voices, then altered them to make versions that were higher (for the women) and lower (for the men). They had these voices make short, neutral sounds, like "aah," "ooh," and "touch it."
Why is this image after that sentence so disturbing?
Then they brought in participants of both sexes and had them listen to the voices and rate them on their respective attractiveness. Scientists found that men rated the more feminine, high-pitched voices as the least datable, while women did the same for the more masculine, low-pitched voices. It gets weirder: Without knowing anything else about the person, both sexes believed that the owners of the voices at either end of the spectrum were not only less datable, but also the most likely to cheat on their partner. Seems awful specific just for the pitch of a voice, doesn't it?
There's a reason for it: Men with the lowest voices are also men with the highest testosterone, which bestows a tendency to run around and cheat; and for women, those with the highest pitches had the most estrogen, which made them more "adventurous" as well. Researchers believe that the dislike of both deep and high voices evolved to stop us from getting together with less loyal mates.
Sorry, opera fellows.
Hey, there's a reason why James Earl Jones and Barry White had multiple marriages.