Do You Like Pretty Boys Or Are You Worried About Tuberculosis?

Which one do you like better and how healthy is your country?

There was a fascinating piece in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal which centered on a recent experiment conducted by Science. A bunch of white ladies from around the world were shown a series of pictures of dude faces. The faces were of the same dude, but had been altered so that some were more masculine (wider jaw, bushier eyebrows, etc.) and some more feminine (fuller lips, rounder eyes, etc.). The women were asked to choose which face they found more attractive. The results?

After crunching the data-including the women’s facial preferences, their country of origin and that country’s national health index-the Face Lab researchers proved something remarkable. They could predict how masculine a woman likes her men based on her nation’s World Health Organization statistics for mortality rates, life expectancy and the impact of communicable disease. In countries where poor health is particularly a threat to survival, women leaned toward “manlier” men. That is, they preferred their males to have shorter, broader faces and stronger eyebrows, cheekbones and jaw lines.

Masculinity, says Science, is a result of testosterone, which is a predictor of good health, but also makes a dude a real dick. In the countries where health is not as much of a concern, women have started to decide that it’s not worth putting up with some asshole who will cheat on you and drive drunk and smack you around and stick his hand in a trash compactor to pull out the bottle he will break over somebody’s head. You can take the pretty boy and have his babies and not have to worry that you’ll be doing all the housework. Science!

Anyway, how do American women like their mates? Turns out they prefer masculine men. They came in “fifth out of the 30 countries in the study, one of the highest. This is, after all, the home of James Dean and Clint Eastwood. And where does America stand in the health index ranking? Twentieth of 30 countries, one of the least healthy.”

So listen up, ladies: If you’re tired of dating assholes, you owe President Obama and the congressional Democrats a huge thank you. Ten years from now, when there is adequate health care for all, you will no longer have to saddle yourself with the real pricks out there. Unless we’re living in a world where violence and massive poverty are the order of the day. In which case all bets are off! All I know is, with my jutting chin, bird’s nest of brows, and pretty, pretty eyelashes, I’m going to do just fine either way. I hope you like guts!

[The other fascinating part of this story is how a photo of New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger was subtly used to illustrate femininity. This is another shot in the war between the Times and the Journal and is perhaps an indication that the Journal is heading in the direction of many of Murdoch’s low-rent holdings (Fox News, the Post, etc.), where the deliberate tweaking of the competition is as important to the organization as the stories it delivers. But don’t focus on whether or not this is just the latest example of the Journal being taken further downmarket; focus on the healthy chicks like pretty dudes aspect! It’s the It’s Scienciest! story we’ve had in the It’s Science! category for some time.]