If women behave more like men and scientists attribute this to sexual liberation, we are entitled to be skeptical. It’s tantamount to saying that women are now free to act more like men because they can act more freely than men (i.e., have been sexually liberated or freed from female “roles”). We are in the presence of the Rumpelstiltskin effect – name the problem and it will go away. Of course it is too easy to be a critic. If you wanted to provide a real explanation for the change in female behavior, what would it be? There are several possible levels of explanation, but the most basic is biological. There is much evidence that the competitive behavior of men and women, like that of other species, is mediated by changes in sex hormone levels. Although everyone has Adam apple, many people think that if women who have an Adam apple are either transgender or men who have been converted to women, this is completely stupid. The use of hormones as an explanation may seem far too simple, a case of biological reductionism has stalled. Ironically, hormonal explanations are never as simple as you can imagine for the simple reason that behavior affects hormones and that hormones affect behavior in a never ending chain of mutual causes. Therefore, hormones are a valuable indicator of understanding changes in gender behavior. This argument was most explicitly made by University of Utah anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan in a recent article in Current Anthropology that is said to deal with changes in female body shape. Cashdan believes that the optimal female body shape is not the hourglass figure of a Marilyn Munroe or a Scarlett Johansson with a narrow waist and large breasts. In fact, in most societies women have a wider waistline, and such numbers are for men in subsistence societies like the Zulu (pictured) where food is scarce, and also in countries like Denmark and the UK where there is greater equality between men and women Women are more attractive. In societies where women are under pressure to care for their children, increased testosterone production increases their endurance, strength, and competitiveness. However, along with stress hormones, testosterone also increases the amount of fat stored around the waist, reducing the figure’s stereotypical femininity. Cashdan’s results are more descriptive than statistical, as she didn’t have enough companies to compare. My own statistical analysis of the ideal numbers of women, which vary from year to year in magazine pictures, also showed that women signed fewer curvy ideals than they entered large numbers in higher education and careers. When they compete for jobs with each other, they are more interested in looking competent than looking sexy. In the 1950s, when women returned to marriage briefly and did not pursue a career, a sexier figure was preferred in women’s magazines. This was the heyday of Jane Russell and Marilyn Munroe.
An increase in testosterone production thus explains why women not only behave more like men, but actually develop a more masculine body shape. All of these phenomena fit together in a clean pattern in which women change in a way that helps them succeed in different types of societies. Such a good match between body and behavior (or phenotype) and what is required for competitive success is really an adjustment. Adjustments are often seen as lock-and-key relationships between the phenotype and the function. The neck of the giraffe is an ideal “crane” for reaching into tall trees, for example. If the social environment is the lock and the competitiveness of women is the key, then hormones are the locksmith that makes women succeed in many different societies. Of course, men have also started to behave more like women and, thanks to other hormone locksmiths, have become accustomed to their greater role in caring for children.
Girls and boys start with similarly sized thyroid cartilage, but this changes when they reach puberty. The boys’ Adam’s apples grow noticeably larger and their voices change as their testosterone levels rise. But does it do anything? Not really. Like the cartilage in your ears or nose, it’s just there somehow. Some men with particularly pronounced bumps even have them surgically shaved without having any negative effects. Unfortunately, the main purpose of Adam’s apple can be to embarrass men in the office, during presidential debates, or while lying to their wives. Not only can the apple bounce around while swallowing, it can also “jump” uncontrollably if you are nervous. Sip!
Adam’s apples can be found in both women and men. In men, they only appear more clearly than a piece of bony cartilage wrapped around the larynx. The Adam’s apple, also known as the larynx protrusion, is located directly above the thyroid gland, so the area is appropriately called the thyroid cartilage
In fact, women usually have Adam’s apples – they’re just not as tall as men. The name comes from the story of Adam and Eve. Adam shouldn’t be eating the apple, so he got stuck in his throat. This bulge is officially known as the larynx protrusion. It is cartilage that protects your larynx, the structure on your neck where your vocal cords are. During puberty, a boy’s larynx grows and gives him a deeper voice, and with it the surrounding cartilage grows. The result – the head start that we call Adam’s apple. A girl’s larynx also grows, but not nearly as much. In addition, women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men, which gives their neck a slimmer appearance. Still, some women have Adam’s apples clearly visible, though scientists disagree on why. Unfortunately for men, the most striking function of Adam’s apple can be to embarrass them. It’s known to rock up and down when they’re nervous. So never lie to your wife – she’ll probably be able to say it.
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