Yesterday, my lab mate sent me an article in Scientific American about how oral contraceptives skew mate selection in a genetically unfavorable manner (thanks Boy Jessie!). It has been shown in a classic test reverberated in this article that a woman’s sexual/emotional attraction to a man is guided by his scent; a man with a more pleasant/sexy smell, unmasked by Old Spice, Axe, and/or other body deodorants that apparently turn women into sex vixens, is valued as more attractive (i.e. hott) because he has a very different major histocompatibility complex (MHC) from the woman that desires him.
Different MHC’s decrease the chances of genetic disorders manifesting from coitus and subsequent fertilization between genetically-related individuals (i.e. cousins). Now you understand why legal marriage between first cousins in West Virginia is highly stigmatized within the medical community. Basically, birth control misguides and deceives a woman by enabling her to become attracted to men of similar MHC’s.
More information on the societal detriments of birth control and olfaction can be found in A Scent of Desire by Rachel Hertz. She’s a smell expert (olfactionist?) at Brown University who has studied olfaction in the sleep laboratory I worked in as well. I’ll save that study for next post.