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Saturday, January 17, 2004

Arm Candy

The other night I was talking to a friend about the secondary values of a date. Put another way, why date very attractive women?

There are several rationales:

1) Genetic. Attractive women have desirable genetic qualities to pass on children. Since our sexual drive has evolved from a mandate to reproduce and create successful offspring, this makes us want to date attractive women.

2) Personal. We are greedy and want to feel good about ourselves. We assume that an attractive woman has greater demand for her attention, so the value of her attention is greater. When it is lavished upon us, we feel commensurately better. We are greedy because during evolution the accumulation of resource was a reproductive advantage.

3) Social. Attractive women say something about our position in society, and implicitly give us power in a social setting. Since our socio-political behaviors evolved from a mandate to achieve good social position (and thereby allow us to procreate), we want to date attractive women.

Interestingly, if you talk to men about their opinions on women, or look at an Internet forum where men discuss women, you will find a set of numerical measures that are only somewhat consistent with these rationales.

Almost all measures of a woman will include Looks. Hey, men are like that, ok?

If you are married you will rate the genetic rationale. Families may discuss this across generations: "She makes good children." In modern dating (thanks to contraception), the genetic rationale is not important unless you are looking for a marriage.

The personal rationale is very common. A common rating system is the "LAE" or "LAS" measure. L: looks, A: attitude, E: experience or S: service for an escort. Attitude and experience/service describe how she treats you on the date. This is how good YOU feel about the date.

The social component is when you take her out to meet your friends, or show her off at a public event. When somebody says, "oh, they are a cute couple", or "why the hell does a gal like that date a guy like that?" it's a statement about the social rationale.

The fascinating thing to me is that providers are not rated on the social component.

Long ago, providers could be courtesans, with a socially acceptable position in society. This differed from a street hooker, with whom transactions were brief. The salient difference was that a courtesan was shown off in society. The relationship was not hourly, transactional, or only behind closed doors.

In American society, prostitutes are rarely courtesans or mistresses. They are transactional, hourly, and kept in private. Girlfriends may be shown off to society, due to their social acceptability.

One of the things I freely admit that I do, is that I blur this line between girlfriend and provider. I will take a provider out in public, to events, and show her off. The social rationale is as important to me as the personal (and more important than the genetic), and sometimes I am willing to pay for the convenience of a relationship with fewer obligations.

To me, arm candy is important. And girlfriends or escorts have to be physically and socially presentable.

I know friends who don't care about that. They enjoy girlfriends or escorts who look like post-op Pamela Andersen, a hyperinflated stripper look, a surgical Barbie, a Stan Lee heroine. That look doesn't go with the company I keep.