#18: “Would You Go To Bed With Me Tonight?”
If you were a man walking across the campus of Florida State University in 1978, an attractive young woman might have approached you and said these exact words: "I have been noticing you around campus. I find you to be attractive. Would you go to bed with me tonight?"
Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
If you were that man, you probably would have thought that you had just gotten incredibly lucky. But not really. You were actually an unwitting subject in an experiment designed by the psychologist Russell Clark.
Clark had persuaded the students of his social psychology class to help him find out which gender, in a real-life situation, would be more receptive to a sexual offer from a stranger. The only way to find out, he figured, was to actually get out there and see what would happen. So young men and women from his class fanned out across campus and began propositioning strangers.
The results weren't very surprising. Seventy-five percent of guys were happy to oblige an attractive female stranger (and those who said no typically offered an excuse such as, "I'm married"). But not a single woman accepted the identical offer of an attractive male. In fact, most of them demanded the guy leave her alone.
At first the psychological community dismissed Clark's experiment as a trivial stunt, but gradually his experiment gained first acceptance, and then praise for how dramatically it revealed the differing sexual attitudes of men and women. Today it's considered a classic. But why men and women display such different attitudes remains as hotly debated as ever.
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I would suggest that, seeing as a female needs to carry the baby, she needs to be the one picky about males, both their willingness to stay with the female, and how attractive the male is. In this case, the suggestion isn't a long term relationship, just a one night stand.
Males on the other hand, just try to mate with an acceptable level of beauty.
Posted by kris on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 12:35 AM
O_o? Yeah, sure the baby... Everybody knows sex is about babbies... always...
Posted by printer on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 01:59 AM
I think that one reason for the fact that almost no women agreeded, has to do with culture, and how males are much less scared about rape/murder scandals, etc, than their female counterparts.
Posted by Rishi on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 02:55 AM
I agree with Rishi that culture is a more satisfying explanation than evolutionary just-so stories. Both hypotheses need testing, though...
Posted by outeast on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 06:08 AM
that was almost 30 years ago.
now would be 100% man would said yes and 50% for woman.
Posted by kayloro on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 07:52 AM
I tend to favour the evolutionary explanation. If you look at many animals, and including certain primates we closely resemble (i.e., chimps), males always oblige when females choose to make themselves available (you will also see male primates trading in food, etc. for sexual favours). You can hardly talk about primates having "culture", so the explanation must have more to do with our biology.
Posted by zamolxis on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 11:08 AM
I think the evolutionary explanation makes more sense. You can thank our science that today we have sex for pleasure without much chance of pregnancy. Thats not to say that people in the past didn't have sex for pleasure but a pregnancy was always a much bigger factor. Humans as a species have existed for hundreds of thousands of years and more (way, way longer than our written history) and I believe certain behavior is still drawn from those early ancestors of ours, only today we see it as human nature. I don't wanna make this into an essay so I'll stop there.
Posted by Dave on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 01:18 PM
Kris is right. Males are programmed to pass their seed to as many mates as possible, to sustain the species. Females can only become pregnant and deliver a baby during a long period, and have no internal biological need to mate often.
There are some women out there that enjoy sex for gratification with many partners, but they seem to require a little more sophistication beyond a bold proposition in public.
Posted by Albert Kohl in San Francisco, CA on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 03:41 PM
I always thought the difference between a man and woman's actions were due to the basic fact that people and animals are much more cautious about what they put into their body than what they put parts of their body into. For example, Consider putting your finger into feces vs. eating feces. One is unpleasant, the other is horrifically disgusting. Woman as receivers of foreign bodies into their own are rightly cautious. Culture has nothing to do with it.
Posted by John in UK on Thu Aug 30, 2007 at 04:10 PM
And a bit over 20 years later, someone turned it into a song! Couldn't help but be struck with the similarities with the spoken text mentioned above and the lyrics of this:
Posted by Marcel in Utrecht, Netherlands on Fri Aug 31, 2007 at 05:54 AM
I have often said something similar to John in the UK. Imagine a complete stranger who looks quite filthy. Now you have a choice, you can put your finger in thier mouth or they can put thier finger in your mouth. This is not to say that sex is filthy but one cannot be sure of a stranger's "condition" and taking something unknown into the body obviously produces more caution then putting the body into somthing unknown.
Posted by Lisa in Ontario, Canada on Sat Sep 01, 2007 at 01:15 PM
I remember reading of a story of a guy in Germany not too long ago who asked random womans whether they want to go to bed with him. Many agreed.
Posted by Arne on Sat Sep 08, 2007 at 04:53 PM
I think that the evolutionary aspect is part of it, but culture also plays a part. First of all, girls are taught from a young age to be afraid of rape and kidnap, more than men. And if a girl sleeps around with strangers, she gets a bad reputation, and if a guy does then he's a "playa".
Posted by Vicky in USA on Sat Sep 08, 2007 at 07:22 PM
I'm a Chinese.In China,or maybe in the east,if you ask a strange women such a question,it will be a very big problem,you will be underarrested.
Posted by john on Mon Sep 10, 2007 at 12:04 AM
The main reason is the woman has the power. A woman can get sex any time she wants - while the man has to get permission from the woman.
Thus when offered a "freebie" the man will say yes. The woman will be more selective, because she can.
Posted by VR on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 01:59 PM
John and Lisa are right, of course. Then there's also the fact that even with contraception, there's always at least a small chance of pregnancy, which is hardly a minor thing. I wouldn't have much sex either if it meant a chance I'd end up carrying around a parasite for nine months (unless I went through a painful procedure to get it removed). And then there's the issue of what it'll do to your reputation, and the threat of abuse.
With all these perfectly logical practical reasons, I don't know why you'd resort to a speculative evolutionary motive. Promiscuity certainly isn't "programmed" in anybody as though we're robots, and all other things being equal women do have evolutionary incentive to sleep around, even if it's less incentive than men. (Women want genetic diversity in their offspring - and in hunter-gatherer tribes women provide most of the food *and* childcare, while men hunt communally, so keeping the father happy is not as huge a concern as you'd think.)
Posted by Greg on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 02:57 PM
This experiment was done over thirty years ago when feminism and the sexual revolution was still very new and using the pill still had some social stigma to it.
I would be interested to see this experiment tried again in today's more liberated society. I'll bet if the guy were attractive many more women would readily accept the offer.
Posted by Sue on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 03:29 PM
Thanks for the analogy, Lisa, much better than mine and to the same point.
For all mammals around the world, through all time, woman control sex and select mates. The only explanation for this fact is the biological one.
Woman recieve and carry children, men just give.
Why bother inventing alternative exlanation that merely confuse the issue?
Until the mechanism of sex changes, woman and men will ALWAYS view it differently. No amount of enducation, indoctrination or argument will ever change this. Accept and move on.
Evolutionary psychology is bullshit because you we don't really know much about our past, so you can easily give any behavior an "evolutionary basis" and finally, we will never know the right answer.
Posted by John in UK on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 04:20 PM
I've seen women accept advances of this kind from men they don't know - in bars.
Posted by In the kitchen with Liza on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 04:23 PM
Men get things to have sex.
Women have sex go get things.
Posted by Ugly American in USA on Thu Sep 13, 2007 at 04:37 PM
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