Psychologists at the University of Arizona have found that even looking at a photograph of an ovulating woman is enough to trigger a protective response. (How could they tell from the photograph? Do women just know these things?)
And the better looking the rival or more desirable the partner the further women will go to protect their own.
The researchers even compared the phenomenon to the way men in islamic societies “isolate & sequester” female members at home away from prying eyes. Well that’s one point of view but probably says more about the way Islam regards women as second-class citizens and the husband’s property.
They suggest there may be evolutionary advantages dating from when having a male partner, albeit a distractible one, was essential for providing food and protection.
Is that idea still valid today? Well there are studies which suggest that more than half of women have tried to steal another’s partner and more than three out of four men claim to have been targeted by predatory females.
There are well-known studies which show men are more attracted to the faces, body odours and gaits of women who are ovulating and shown pictures of such women consider them more caring, flirtatious and more likely to accept an invitation for a date. There are also studies that suggest that when women are ovulating they choose a more rugged, sexually attractive partner than one they would choose to settle down with.
Back to the question of how people can tell – even the researchers are puzzled as the cues are so subtle. Maybe a scarcely perceptible reddening of the cheeks?
They tested the idea by creating a fictitious woman called Sara and asked women how they would feel if they saw her at a housewarming party laughing at their partner’s jokes or touching his arm. The women were more likely to dislike Sara and reject her as a friend if she was based on pictures of women ovulating.
Now I know why women choose to share intimate details with their friends; it’s preparation for a pre-emptive strike!