Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Intelligence, Agency, Attractiveness and Perception

This news is unbelievable and certainly resonates for me.

A friend first posted the piece on Facebook and then Andrew Sullivan highlighted The Psychology of Nakedness by Jonah Lehrer over at Wired.com.

It's worth clicking over to see the pictures.  Will make me consider wearing an off the shoulder dress, for sure!  

And I really appreciate the discarding of Descartes' division,
This work also raises important philosophical questions. Ever since Descartes, it’s been suggested that people are natural dualists, dividing the world into an immaterial realm full of souls and a physical world full of objects. This simple framework, however, appears to be a bit too simple.
Indeed.  I found that framework too simple and unhelpful in yoga and disease as well.

Then there is this:
 Instead of seeing the individual as having agency, he or she became a means to an end, nothing but a vessel for our satisfaction. Kant was describing a phenomenon known as objectification, in which seeing a body turns the entire person into a physical object. This idea is frequently invoked when describing studies like this, which found that women are far more likely to appear in magazine advertisements as an attractive body, while men are typically represented by their faces.
Followed up by this:
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the redistribution of mind can’t do damage. If you’re a female applying for a job, the sometimes sexist tendency of men to focus on the body will unfairly diminish perceptions of agency and intelligence; you will be punished for having breasts. Although the woman won’t be literally objectified, the redistribution of mind will still make her much less likely to be hired.
It's surreal to have experience and instinct backed up by now by new science.  The minds of men, when they perceive attractiveness, have trouble believing an attractive woman also enjoys intelligence and agency.  Hence the disturbing tendency of some intelligent women to downplay their sexual attractiveness and keep that light under a bushel.   What a quagmire.  What a shame.  

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