The progenitors of a certain radical feminist blogger display marital bliss at their 51st anniversary party
Today’s dudely, reassuring, women-are-fragile-little-flowers study comes from the University of Virginia, where assistant professor of neuroscience James A Coan stuffed 16 ‘highly satisfied’ married women into MRI tubes, threatened to zap’em with electric shocks, and measured their brains when the threat of electrocution coincided with the opportunity to hold either their highly satisfied husband’s hand, the hand of a male stranger (satisfaction level unknown), or no hand at all.
I’m sure we don’t need to be dudely assistant professors of neuroscience to see where this is going, but for the record, I’ll tell you how it ends: women who claimed to be in “highest quality” marriages showed the most dramatic reduction in “threat-related brain activity” when they held their husbands’ hands.
There are always difficulties, when one’s source is a 200-word press release variously summarized by moron media outlets, in determining exactly what goes down in any given MRI tube. James A Coan, according to the UVA release, says “This is the first study of the neurological reactions to human touch in a threatening situation.” That’s as may be, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and hypothesize that any research involving heterosexual spousal hand-holding and women on the receiving end of clinical cattle prods is going to end up, as far as media are concerned, portraying dudes, heteronormativiity, and the dear old institution of marriage in a rosy light.
Imagine my dumbfounded surprise that the evidence turns out to support my hypothesis. Here’s what China Daily makes of the UVA press release: “High-quality marriages are the best stress-busters for women.” UPI declaims that the hand of the patriarch “calms a threatened wife.” “Marital Bliss Calms Stress,” quoth psychcentral.com. My personal favorite, Irish Health, not only morphs “the message” into a full-on advertisement for patriarchy, but gives it a pine-scented, seasonal twist as well: “Holding hands helps Xmas stress.”
As far as I have been able to determine, assistant professor of neuroscience James A Coan did not study the female brain response when the electrically-imperiled subject was offered the hand of her girlfriend, or her mother’s hand, or a golden retriever puppy, or a margarita. No male brains were studied, either, presumably because these were all engaged elsewhere, dreaming up new and clever ways to get grant money for jolting women with electrodes.