A Mini Adventure

I’m interested in everything: I want to know how everything works. And there’s nothing as fascinating as people. Sometimes I like to imagine how I’d explain aspects of human behaviour to intelligent aliens, because they’d be confused for sure.

Of course, a lot of human behaviour is related to sex, and there are so many completely stupid, embarrassing and illogical things we do because of it. So what do we tell the aliens? There’s a thriving trade in “evolutionary” explanations, but most of them are arbitrarily invented, without regard to any real ecological or biological theory. I read once that when our hunter-gatherer forefathers were out hunter-gathering, the ladies took to having fun with the younger, beardless boys; and that’s why we shave our faces today. The person who came up with that gem had a real university job and everything.

I’ve always wondered what it is about women’s legs that gets my attention. Explain that one, University Boy. Actually, university research has confirmed that people in general are attracted to images of the opposite sex where the legs have been tweaked to lengthen them by about 5%. Well, the authors of that report were at pains to emphasise that their research only included Polish people and therefore might not be applicable generally. I don’t know. I mean Poles are odd, but not that odd.

The anthropologist Desmond Morris theorised that we may be programmed to recognise long legs as an indicator of adolescent gawkiness, and hence prime fertility, but that explanation just doesn’t feel right to me. I wonder, why legs at all? An ex-girlfriend of mine said simply “It’s where they go.”, but I’m not totally convinced by that either. In fact, I’ve recently had some thoughts that may indirectly be an argument against that view.

miniskirtI was thinking about miniskirts, you see. Perfectly harmless occupation. But I realised that there’s a kind of optical illusion going on. You know, the kind of thing where two parts of a line look continuous when they aren’t, or your eye sees an angle that isn’t really there. If you look at the one in the picture (which I got off a feminist review website, incidentally), the girl’s crotch — can we say “crotch” on WordPress? How about “gusset”? Nice word, that.  — the girl’s crotch is, I suppose, about a hand’s breadth above her hemline. But, actually, our eyes tend to extrapolate the line of the legs upwards to the point where they would meet (not anatomically correct), and bingo! the illusion is created that the legs are longer.

I know that I haven’t actually come up with a fully-fledged theory here, but with appropriate funding, I’d be able to do extensive research.


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